Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on May 3, 2014.
About this project
FretPen will be back soon! We are making some adjustments based on your feedback, so please stay tuned. Click HERE to follow our progress. Thanks!
SPECIAL THANKS to @adamnajberg of The Wall Street Journal for his video review of FretPen!
MUSIC is powerful; it unites, motivates and inspires us. We dream of joining our favorite band or artist on stage. And, nailing that solo or favorite song on guitar.
But, where's your stage? Days filled with commutes, meetings, classes and other activities don't leave much room for playing guitar. Or, do they?
Practice, learn, or just have fun making music — anywhere — with FretPen. With matchless portability and an authentic playing experience, FretPen means you'll never leave your guitar behind again. And best yet: The real-world skills and muscle memory you develop with FretPen are directly transferable to a full-size guitar.
Portability meets playability
Ever had a practice session cut short by demands like work, school or a dentist appointment? Unfortunately, bringing a full-size guitar with you to these places isn't an option.
That’s why we created FretPen. Much of the time you spend waiting could be spent playing — if only you had the right guitar.
FretPen goes with you anywhere, and it's built from authentic materials to deliver a realistic playing experience. Its modular design combines superior portability with wireless playability through your iOS device. Enjoy studio quality guitar tones through headphones or external speakers.
"Finally, something I can take and play anywhere!" —Parker Lundgren, Queensrÿche
Something for everyone
FretPen is for beginners and experienced players! It's an accessible and fun introduction to guitar for those just starting, kids and air-guitarists-turned-shredders. Pick it up and you’ll be jamming in seconds.
So… is it actually a pen?
Why? Because we were inspired by the pen. It’s one of the most pervasive, portable, take-anywhere objects in the world.
Pens exist even in a “fun-vacuum.” Like a meeting or the doctor’s office. Even the DMV. Pens aren’t confiscated by airport security, won’t get you kicked out of class, and don’t require a roadie to carry around.
We built FretPen with premium materials, similar to those you’d find on a custom guitar. The neck features a wooden fretboard with steel frets, black fret markers and a replaceable guitar string. The fret spacing is equal to frets 9 - 12 on a full-sized guitar. The neck back is made of aerospace-grade alloy with a matte black finish.
We obsessed over every detail of FretPen's patent-pending design. It has a clean, modern aesthetic that's true to the guitar and also feels great in your hands. The overall shape, weight and finish of FretPen deliver a very high-quality and unique product experience.
"It's a great creative tool... it sounds amazing... and it's really fun to play." –Scott Rockenfield, Queensrÿche
FretPen consists of three primary components:
FretPen Neck — The wooden fretboard with electronics to detect finger position.
Pen Tip — The accessory that turns your FretPen neck into a pen!
FretPen Body — The accessory that contains the electronics for wireless playback and navigating strings and frets.
FretPen’s modular design allows you to disconnect the pen tip and attach the body to the neck for wireless playback through your iPhone or iPad.
With FretPen's Bluetooth LE technology, enjoy simple pairing and a tangle-free wireless playback experience. (Bluetooth LE runs on iPhone 4S or newer, iPad 3 or newer, iPad Mini or iPod Touch 5th generation.)
Size doesn't matter!
Despite it's size, FretPen plays a broad range of notes on a full-sized fretboard using navigation buttons on the body.
The four-way buttons on FretPen's body communicate with the mobile app to move up and down the scale to access six strings and 12 frets. That's a full 3-octave range from a device that fits in your pocket and can be used to sign autographs!
The FretPen mobile app
The FretPen mobile app is easy to use, delivers a broad range of functionality, and provides a long-lasting, engaging and fun experience. The app defaults to PLAY mode for impromptu jam sessions or shred-fests, but also has a LEARN mode with a structured learning system for lessons on the go!
- Choose from acoustic or electric guitar tones
- Add effects and personalize your sound
- Play in time with a metronome
- Experiment with different playing styles (single notes and chords)
- Access beginner through advanced level content
- Discover finger dexterity exercises, riffs, scales and more
And better yet — every skill you develop on FretPen directly transfers to your full-sized guitar!
"FretPen really helps players focus on finger isolation exercises." –Glen Drover, fmr Megadeth and King Diamond
How we got here!
FretPen started as a "wouldn't it be cool if...?" demo project in the garage with some wood, an Arduino microcontroller and a few circuit boards. Along the way, band saws and belt sanders were replaced by a MakerBot Replicator 2 for 3D-printed parts and the Arduino-based 'Frankenstein' became test circuitry. Finally, we built high-quality prototypes using CNC machined parts and custom circuit boards.
It’s a lot of fun looking back to see how far we’ve come! Here are some of the first Post-It note drawings and prototypes:
We are also super proud to have brought FretPen to this point because of the work of our very talented and exclusively Colorado-based team!
We couldn’t have done it without them! Which brings us to how YOU can play a part.
We’ve made a lot of progress:
✓ Hand-built prototypes: Fully-functional
✓ Key features of mobile app: Validated
✓ Manufacturing partner: Identified
✓ Initial engineering design reviews: Completed
But we still have work to do to get FretPen to everyone! We need your support to:
- Prepare for production manufacturing
- Cover manufacturing setup and tooling costs
- Complete mobile application development
- Continue testing and fine-tuning the FretPen playing experience
Launching on Kickstarter is just the beginning for FretPen. We'd love to have you join us on this journey! We've always wanted this to be about more than just cool new hardware. This is our opportunity to experience more music in more places.
All along, it has been our vision to make this yours. Your instrument. Your skills. Your way. We want your feedback and ideas on how to make FretPen awesome for you. We can't wait to see and experience the places you create music with FretPen. As it’s been said, "All the world's a stage."
So where's yours?
About the Founder
Mark Roebke is an avid guitarist and experienced entrepreneur with expertise in mobile technology and electronic sensors. He's developed patented technologies and award-winning mobile applications.
FretPen combines his passion for music, technology and delivering new experiences!
Special Thanks to WORLD CLASS partners and friends:
Chris Crowley - Table Mountain Innovation
Mike Ingoldby & Mike Stemple - Fob Foundry
Tony Grieder - Alloy Design
Brandon Swonger - Visual Design
Al Evans - AltaDesign
Jason Kae and Team - Drum City GuitarLand
Eli and Team Madness - Mad Hatter Agency
Extra Special Thanks To:
Risks and challenges
There are inherent risks in hardware projects that can impact delivery schedules. Our goal is to provide the most realistic timeline to deliver a high-quality product!
It's worth noting:
- We've been through 3 mechanical and 4 electrical prototype revisions and have designed for manufacturing. You won't be waiting for us to figure out how to make the product work. We're focused on building it!
- We have an experienced team and manufacturing partner with a track record of delivering consumer electronic products of high quality and in high volumes.
We believe we've done our very best to mitigate delays in manufacturing, but there’s still a risk that unexpected challenges will arise. One thing we can guarantee is that we will be transparent and consistent in communicating any information related to delivering FretPen!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are currently evaluating Android support for FretPen. The native audio processing capabilities of Android are different than iOS and we want to be certain we can deliver an awesome, low-latency playback experience on Android. We will keep everyone posted on our progress.
Yes, there will be a setting in the mobile app to support left-handed players.
- (30 days)