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Cheap guitar of the week #24 - Fretlight 5

Fretlight 5

Times have changed, and now this is affordable. Really affordable.

I remember a time - and this truly was not all that long ago - when a Fretlight guitar was quite expensive, but now it's cheap.

Why was Fretlight expensive before and cheap now?

When the Fretlight guitar was first introduced, it was not cheap to make. The very idea of having lights on the fretboard showing you where to place your fingers for certain chords and scale patterns was just mind-blowing.

As time went on, the technology got cheaper. Think of it the same way as the way smartphones have progressed. It used to cost $500 for one. Now it's under 30 bucks.

In addition, modern machining allows for smaller electronics to be put into guitars these days with relative ease. Heck, there are guys who even put fiber optic lightning in fretboards and binding now.

Is the Fretlight the best way to learn guitar?

I would call it one of the best (the best teacher is experience.) For learning chords and scales, having lights directly on the fretboard is really, really convenient.

Why is this one called the "Fretlight 5?"

Answer: Because only the first 5 frets and the nut have lights on them. And to be honest, those are the only frets that matter when it comes to learning chords and scales.

It is important to note that the Fretlight 5 is in fact a real guitar. Some think it's a toy. It isn't. While the guitar is really basic, you still have to install strings and tune it up just like any other solid-body electric. It also has a truss rod, again just like any other solid-body.

The two best parts about the Fretlight 5 is that it's affordable and stupidly easy to use. All you have to do is tune up and then literally follow the lights to start learning immediately. It doesn't get much easier than that.

What are the more expensive Fretlight models like?

This is a Fretlight Pro model, in acoustic flavor:

Frelight Pro Acoustic

This is more than double the price of the Fretlight 5. The advantage is that almost the whole fretboard lights up, allowing to learn over 5,000 different chords and scales. I'm not kidding.

The Fretlight Pro Acoustic is, without a doubt, the more usable guitar. There is a Fishman system within that allows this axe to be used for studio or stage, if desired. The Fishman system also has a built-in tuner, EQ controls and so on.

So not only do you get a guitar that's more usable, you can also learn more because more stuff lights up on the fretboard.

Do you need the Pro model? That's up to you.

Personally, I think the Fretlight 5 gets the job done. But if you want something that goes beyond being just a basic learning tool that you could play in a studio or band, Fretlight Pro answers the call there.


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