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INTERVIEW: 'The MI market is being brought into the mobile age, and we're taking full advantage' - Fret Zeppelin

Laura  Barnes
INTERVIEW: 'The MI market is being brought into the mobile age, and we're taking full advantage' - Fret Zeppelin

In a recent Crowdfunding Corner, we featured Fret Zeppelin – a digital training tool that fits right onto the neck of a guitar to help guitarist learn chords and songs.

The device fits underneath the strings of any full-sized guitar and uses lights to teach you how to play. There’s also an accompanying app to help you master your instrument.

We caught up with Fret Zeppelin CEO Shaun Masavage to find out more about the guitar-teaching gadget, how crowdfunding helps develop new MI products, and the opportunities smartphones are opening up for MI accessories…

What is Fret Zeppelin and how does it work?
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Fret Zeppelin is an LED add-on for your guitar. You get the guitar you love and Fret Zeppelin teaches you how to play it. Almost everyone has wanted to learn guitar or another musical instrument at some point in time, but is either intimidated or simply lacks the tool to learn intuitively, in their own time, and affordably.

You install Fret Zeppelin similar to how you would put a screen protector on your cell phone. The LED strips go right above each fret and are lower in height than the frets themselves, so there's no interference when playing. There's a small battery/wireless pack that clips onto the head stock of your guitar similar to how you'd store your capo when it's not in use. Control is via Bluetooth from your phone, where the app lets you display anything from chords and songs to light shows and effects. It also has Wi-Fi capabilities in case a performer wanted a lighting engineer to control things during a performance.

How does it differ from other similar products such as the FretX?

In this direct comparison, Fret Zeppelin is the "no shortcuts" solution. Fret Zeppelin spans the entire neck down to where it attaches to the body of the guitar. Each LED is full spectrum and can display any colour you desire. The battery is also rechargeable whereas FretX's is not. You have the option to connect to Fret Zeppelin via Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth. Finally, we use a non-damaging and temporary adhesive to attach Fret Zeppelin to guitar necks in such a way that no material wraps around the bottom side of the neck where your hand slides, so you will never even feel that Fret Zeppelin is on your guitar and can learn proper technique without interference.

How important has Kickstarter been to the company?

Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general is tremendously important for testing the market and learning where the market "hotspots" are. Did you know our second market after the USA is Japan? We didn't! Thanks to Kickstarter, we can plan out our distribution model to follow interest. Kickstarter also allows us to ask devoted backers their opinion about new or upcoming features. The feedback is genuine, which is surprisingly hard to come by in the modern retail world. Finally, Kickstarter allows us to give visual updates that are sent to everyone automatically. This is very important since our product is not scheduled for delivery until October. Multi-month pre-orders require clear and regular updates to customers and crowdfunding platforms facilitate that perfectly.

Are you looking for distribution or retail partners? If so how can they get in touch?

Yes we are! Any interested distributors or retail partners should email sales@fretzeppelin.com and we'll work with them directly.

What do you think of the current state of the MI and MI accessories market and do you think it does enough to support new brands?

Expanding and absolutely! With the presence of smartphones expanding throughout the world at a viral pace, the market is shifting from stand-alone devices to "smart" devices. There's incredible demand for accessories to be able to adapt to users' needs and be controlled easily though mobile devices. We're taking advantage of this trend and making sure all our products interface with a convenient mobile application. Not only is the interface important, but the smart phone platform opens up, literally, and entire world of value-add possibilities with its data connection. The market is in the process of being brought into the mobile age.

What’s next for the company?

We'll be creating two smaller versions of Fret Zeppelin exclusively for emerging markets like India, then a bass version of Fret Zeppelin, then a ukulele version. We want to expand the product line to include as many fretted instruments as possible.

For more information visit http://www.fretzeppelin.com/

Tags: guitar , Interviews , crowdfunding , Fret Zeppelin

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