FretLight Guitar

Started by Elantric, January 02, 2014, 11:02:19 AM

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looking through this thread, when I hit this...
' If you follow my threads its easy to see Im not a "one guitar/ one tool / one software/ one computer platform  type guy' .

I did almost choke on my coffee :-)

I imagine Elantric to have some kind of Area 51 style bunker absolutely full to the brim of guitar tech - 99% of the time I start to research a bit of kit, he has it already!  :-)



Fretlight Wireless is released - for those who are interested... on sales from April, 1st

And can anyone please help with fretlight cable pinout (8 pin din > usb)? Maybe, Elantric? (if it will not bother you)


Hi all,
I recently aquired a fretlight 521 strat style guitar and while I love it as a learning tool it is very problematic to play amplified. When the LED's are active there is a high frequency noise present in the output. It is at its least obnoxious level on the bridge humbucker and most obnoxious level at the neck single coil. I have tried using it with a wireless to see if that would help but no dice. I originally thought it might be my laptop charger but the noise is the same on battery power. I have seen the question asked on sweetwater support and their answer is to chase ground loops but I fail to see how that could be the case in this case. The guitar is a great learning and composition tool with my fishman triple play and recently I've been thinking of upgrading the pickups and using it to record some original music but I don't want to spend money for nice pickups if I can't get rid of the noise. Any ideas? I imagine that it must be noise generated in my USB power circuit or something of that nature but I have no real knowledge of such things. Maybe I could rewire the LED's to run on battery power or maybe a filter could be installed?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.


The LEDS are great for practice but the EMI field from the neck LED driver switching matrix will impart noise into your passive magnetic pickups

Piezo  pickups are immune to these EMI fields

To minimize noise, avoid using the  Fretlight neck LED Lights during a Live performance situation

( or install a Fishman Fluence pickup set


Thanks for the reply. I would never attempt to perform with it but it would be nice to get rid of the noise while playing it.


You are getting the noise by using the 1/4" jack on the Fretlight-to-USB cable.  You need to use the output jack on the guitar body instead.
"There's no-one left alive, it must be a draw"  Peter Gabriel 1973


I get the noise when I use them both. I use the 1/4 inch jack on the guitar body to output the mag pickups to an amp and I use the usb to light up the led markers on the fretboard. I'd like to be able to play noise free with the lights lit and amplified for practice purposes. It's unusable amplified with the lights on now. It's like nails on a chalkboard.  The video below isn't me but I have the identical issue.


Your guitar may have a wiring problem.  Contact Optek tech support.

Mine does not have this issue.
"There's no-one left alive, it must be a draw"  Peter Gabriel 1973


This would be a post post on any forum ::) So forgive my lack of knowledge of protocol. I just purchased a Fretlight 2008 (according to company) 400 series guitar:
I contacted the company to see if there was a way to repair this item.. in which the tech gave me my options:1) Probably not as the internal wires have been cut which usually means that it was sold by us as a b-stock guitar with a non-working neck. 2) If it was just the cable, that part is only about $20 dollars but a new neck, which we do not have for this guitar, would be $150-200 dollars. 3) You can get a 500 series Fretlight guitar for about $100 on our eBay page.

4) If you want just a guitar then it would be a good project but if you want a Fretlight with LEDs then I would say its not worth it as it would be near impossible to fix.

5) We could find the year with the serial number. No problem. 2008.

I'm thinking about converting this to a midi guitar.. using my Roland kit if I can't fix the fretlight issue at hand. I'm asking anyone that may have an ideal of a way to test the led on this or any wiring diagram. I thought about purchasing the 500 series just to look at the internal setup... Any help from the pros here or constructive advise?

Again I apologize to the forum if my lack of protocol.. please advise...



Hi Guys,

Here is a little project I just finished...

As you may know Optek, the company who makes the Fretlight guitars are really horrible people, their led system is totally incompatible with magnetic pickups and the multiplexed voltage system they use to save wiring produces an unbearable whining noise interference when used in conjunction with ANY magnetics pickups.

You would have thought, after 30 years of using that technology, that they would have come with a piezo equipped guitar but no, they would rather keep on duping their customers as they have always done...

Anyway, I still think it's a valuable learning tool for visually oriented people so I came up with this little idea:

I started with a second hand JTV69, I fitted a second hand fretlight neck, not a straightforward swap, lots of routing involved here, I found a way to fit the fretlight electronics in the already busy variax body, upgraded the pickups, fitted a cool decal and presto,


The neck was slightly reshaped and is actually very comfortable, a million times better than the original neck, and, to my surprise the guitar sounds really, really good with the magnetic pickups, it is on par with the best superstrats out there, with the added bonus of the variax sounds which work perfectly with the lights on...

I researched the net a bit before i did this and found no other mention of a similar project so this might be the only in existence :-)

Let me know what you think, and I'd be happy to assist anyone embarking in a similar project!


I'm having no luck trying to add pictures, either using chrome or safari, any help appreciated....



Albeit an expensive one, here's what I did...


For the Snapagogo links, you must choose BBCode Full Image (linked).  Click on the dropdown menu in Embed codes to get the options.
"There's no-one left alive, it must be a draw"  Peter Gabriel 1973



At first glace the headstock name looked like 'Fender'.
Free "GR-55 FloorBoard" editor software from


If you are subscriber to the Optek Fretlight Guitar products newsletter , there are significant sales occurring right now  on the new wireless version


Guitar Tunes™ is a completely new way to learn your favorite song. We're talking about the REAL song... no "MIDI", no "sounds like", no "in the style of"... just the REAL song. A Virtual Fretboard displays real-time fingering positions for every guitar part while you're listening to the original artist recording. See your favorite part, slow it down, create custom loops, improvise and more!

In addition to a growing library of great songs, Guitar Tunes includes instructional videos, artist and genre-specific "Play Along" videos, lessons, improvising Jam-Alongs and more... content is available free and for in-app purchase.

Guitar Tunes is the most comprehensive guitar education app in the world, a "must have" for every guitar player.


Learn at your own pace. Complete Tempo control for every song, all the way to one-note-at-a-time.

Repetition is a key to learning. Create custom loops for any part you choose.

Multiple Guitar Parts
Multiple guitar parts in your favorite song? Most songs include Lead, Rhythm, Bass and 2nd guitars – even easy chords!

Multiple Fretboards
Whether learning by yourself or jamming with friends, Multiple Fretboards let's you see fingering for multiple parts in real-time!

Digital Guitar SMARTuner™
Guitar Tunes displays tuning for every song. Not A=440? Not a problem. A digital tuner makes it easy to match the original recording.

Watching on a small screen? SMARTFretboard will zoom and fill your screen for easier viewing.

Song structure, like "Intro", "Verse", "Chorus", "Bridge", etc., is displayed right on your timeline for easy navigation.

Lefty Mode
Lefty's are people too! Tap the nut to switch any song to left-hand viewing or choose "Global Mode" for default viewing.

Learn and play with the original artist recording – no midi, no sounds-like, just real songs displaying on the virtual Fretboard.

Want more than just a song? Artist videos, Play-Along and a complete library of Lessons for every level.

Jam Alongs™
Learning to improvise or working on a progression? Scales and Chord Tones display over great backing tracks to advance your soloing skills.

Fretlight® Connectivity (optional)
Guitar Tunes is fully compatible with the Fretlight Wireless Guitar! Step up from Virtual to Real and see fingering positions right on the fretboard of a real guitar! Allows simultaneous display of up to 7 Fretlight Guitars. Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Bluetooth Low-Energy, Bluetooth Smart) or newer required for Fretlight Wireless Guitar.


- Android 6.0 or higher
- Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Bluetooth Low-Energy, Bluetooth Smart) or higher required for use with the Fretlight Wireless Guitar. Most phones manufactured 2012 and later should have Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. Check your device's hardware specifications on your manufacturer's website or with their support.

All Songs and Album Art licensed by Label and Publisher copyright holders.
All songs copyright their respective owners.


I picked up a 612 recently for £200, including a great padded gigbag and a Hercules guitar stand – nice.

I'm with Elantric on this. It's not a top-flight player's guitar by any stretch but as a learning and inspiration tool, it's great. Pick a scale, light it up, and play around; you quickly find yourself getting out of your usual box positions and discovering some nice lines and licks.

I will add that it's not actually a bad guitar. The polycarbonate / plastic fretboard plays quite nicely and it feels like a flatter radius than a normal Strat, quite fast to play in fact. And the sounds are fine. It's never going to be my main axe but as ideas machine, it's a keeper.

One point to note: the Android app is terrible and simply doesn't pair (at least not on a Pixel 6 running stock Android). iOS pairing is pretty much instantaneous though, but reading the reviews, there doesn't seem to be any appetite to address the Android issues. Caveat emptor!