This is my full Fret Zealot review, covering both the mobile app (iPhone in my case) and the LED guitar device.
For those who don't know, the Fret Zealot is a strip of LED lights that sticks to your guitar's neck and - in conjunction with the app - tracks your playing and helps you learn the fretboard. These LED lights help you learn certain patterns, chords, and songs, with the end goal being the eventual removal of the light strip and using your guitar without them.
To be up front, I was a bit skeptical of this program and device, but after just a few minutes of use, I was totally impressed by how it functioned and how helpful it was
It's an extremely effective and addictively fun learning tool.
Read more: Best online guitar lessons
Compare Fret Zealot to Similar Programs
Fret Zealot rates among the best of the practice assistance tools we've reviewed, far outpacing the ChordBuddy fretboard device.
Full Fret Zealot Rating
Fret Zealot gets strong remarks for device functionality and ease of use, as well as honorable mentions for their tabs and song section, as well as their EDU quality score. The programs weakest area is topical order because of the course navigation within Fret Zealot's app. Still, the overall point total easily keeps Fret Zealot in our confident recommendation section.
Point Value (weight)
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Concept Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Device Functionality
8. Ease of Use
My Experience with Fret Zealot
As I've already mentioned, Fret Zealot is two parts - the device and the app.
The device itself has multiple components, primarily the LED strip that sticks to your guitar's neck (you have to make sure you have the right sized strip), and the connecting device that sends a Bluetooth signal out for your phone.
Once I received the Fret Zealot in the mail, I noticed the boxing and packaging is quite nice.
Here's a shot of it on my dining room table:
From there, you need to fix the LED light strip to your guitar's neck, which - for me at least - was a fairly awkward and tedious process.
After some sticking and re-sticking, I finally got it set up right. My advice is to definitely remove your guitar's strings before sticking the light strip on. I tried to cheat and do it without removing the strings, which did not go well.
Once setup was done, you connect the LED strip to the included device that then clips onto the headstock of your guitar.
This is what will help you connect the device to your phone via Bluetooth.
From there you can download the app and get started.
Using the LED Light Strip
One thing I was concerned about when putting on the light strip is whether or not it would get in the way of my fingers, or feel strange to use. But for the most part, this wasn't an issue.
While you certainly feel and notice the lights underneath your fingers, it didn't distract or cause any problems playing.
With the light strip on, the guitar still felt like my guitar.
My playing was never impeded or interfered with by the light strip, partially because it sits in the corner of each fret near the fret divider. But it's also just flat and easy to pass over with your fingers.
Getting used to it on your fretboard takes just a few quick minutes.
Using the App
The app's interface is fairly easy to use and certainly well-designed. Though it is a little bit difficult to figure out where you are supposed to go.
Once the guitar is connected to the Fret Zealot device, there are several different places to go that you kind of just have to feel your way around. The first four sections are the following:
These naming conventions are a bit cryptic and hard to decipher, so I just had to poke around through trial and error to figure out what lessons and sections I wanted to test the Fret Zealot with.
The Learn Section
The section I found most helpful, and kept returning to, was the "learn section" which had the following options:
- Notes & Scales
This is where I found the Fret Zealot to be most helpful/functional, particularly as it relates to learning and/or memorizing chords and scales.
While the app was a little difficult to navigate, learning chords and scales with this device was significantly more fun and engaging than I ever thought possible.
Even just playing through scales, which typically isn't the most exciting thing, becomes extremely attention grabbing and enjoyable.
My kids, in particular, loved to play my guitar when using the LED lights.
It just brings an entirely new dimension to learning chords and scales.
Beyond those sections, you can get much further into the weeds in terms of learning guitar. You can take courses and learn/practice songs, all of which sync up with the LED lights via the app. If you go into the "courses" section of the app, there's a ton of third-party content, all of which works with the light strip.
The only thing I didn't like about the course section was that it didn't have any kind of discernable organization or order to it.
I vastly preferred Fret Zealot for spot training, practice assistance, and learning particular songs.
In terms of following a lesson plan, the app and courses weren't my favorite pick if you're going that route.
The Songs Section
The songs section in Fret Zealot works the same way as the chords and scales. You can play along with the app which displays tabs and then lights up the fretboard accordingly.
This can be a bit overwhelming when playing songs at full speed, so I often went back and slowed the song down to make it easier to follow.
The moving tab combined with the LED lights makes song learning highly accessible and engaging. For me, it made the learning process fun and entertaining, as opposed to just wanting to "get through it" so I could play the song.
While not all songs have a video lesson accompanying the tab, there are a ton of tabs available that sync up with the LED light strip.
Does it help you improve over time?
As one testing the Fret Zealot, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage because I'm not using it like a beginner would. Since I've already been playing guitar for over 25 years, I'm not trying to "get better" in the sense that most people who buy the Fret Zealot would be trying to improve.
However, I would suspect that using the Fret Zealot over time would improve your practice sessions, your focus, and - as a result - would help you improve over time.
As I've already alluded to, Fret Zealot is a tool.
How effective that tool is will depend on how consistently you use it and how committed you are to the process.
It's not a shortcut, but it is a helpful sidekick that can help you improve as you practice. If you use it over the course of say, six months, I'd be willing to bet that you'll progress more in those six months with the Fret Zealot than you would have without it.
The target time-frame for using the Fret Zealot before taking it off should probably be around one to one and a half years.
What is Fret Zealot's best use?
I would recommend the Fret Zealot for these types of practice sessions, in particular:
- Learning songs
- Strengthening hands for chords
- Improving horizontal and vertical fretboard movement
- Improving fretboard fluidity
- Learning scales and fretboard patterns
These types of practice sessions are helped tremendously by the Fret Zealot, and it's one of the few tools I've used that actually improves the amount of fun and engagement I've had while working on these concepts.
When you're learning any kind of pattern on the guitar, it's going to be tedious. Yet Fret Zealot actually manages to remove a lot of what makes it tedious, and actually make it fun.
I'd argue Fret Zealot is at its best in that context.
Who is the ideal Fret Zealot user?
We'd highly recommend Fret Zealot for anyone looking to improve their practice sessions, since it will help you memorize patterns and will hold your attention for longer periods of time.
Bright lights have a way of doing that, even for the shorter attention spans among us.
But we'd also caution that there are some limitations in the courses and that we wouldn't necessarily recommend the Fret Zealot as a standalone guitar learning solution.
Those looking for an organized course won't be satisfied with how the app is set up and what it offers.
But those in the market for a practice tool, especially if you're talking about kids or beginners, will absolutely love the Fret Zealot.
Price and Value
Is Fret Zealot worth the price of admission?
First, there are a couple different components that we need to address:
- Price of the device
- Price of the app/membership
The app is downloadable and provides a fair amount of content for free, so let's talk about just the device first.
To get the Fret Zealot device you'll have to put up $200, which is a fairly significant up-front cost. It's also worth noting that once you remove the Fret Zealot device from your guitar's fretboard, it probably cannot be used again because the sticky material wears off.
So there are some limitations to the value with a price that high, but I don't think it's unreasonable to ask $200, given what you get in return.
- The light strip
- The Bluetooth-enabled device
- The app with a lot of free content
From there, you can add the $39 membership which gets you three months of access to all the paid material and licensed song lessons. There are actually a total of three price tiers, all of which give you access to the same content:
- $39.99 / quarter (3 months)
- $139.99 / year (12 months) - $11.66/month equivalent
We'd argue the device and app are worth the $200 up front cost and that it's worth your time to explore the free content before deciding whether you want to tack on the three-month membership. Even then, you can decide after the three months is up whether you want to renew again.
This is mostly focused on the song video lessons and the courses, which we don't necessarily focus on because you can always access tabs for songs.
We'd suspect you'll be just as happy with the free content, without the video song lessons or courses, neither of which are the program's strong suit.
To conclude our Fret Zealot review, we'd argue that the device and program should certainly have their place as one of the most helpful practice tools we've ever tested (and we've tested quite a few at this point).
We'd recommend it for beginners, kids, and those who are trying to have a little bit more fun with the learning process.
For those wanting organized courses, we'd probably recommend looking elsewhere.
But for learning the basics and getting more mileage out of your practice sessions, the Fret Zealot absolutely delivers on its promises.
If you have questions about our Fret Zealot review or about the device itself, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below. We'll jump in and help out as much as possible.