The somewhat promising future of a tiny, app-based guitar called FretPen

Categories: Commentary

From the Fretpen Kickstarter video
Are you a music lover with a burning desire to carry a tiny guitar wherever you go? Don't fret (Ha! See what we did there?), because Avon-based inventor Mark Roebke has created just the thing: the FretPen! What is the FretPen? It's a pen - just a normal pen - that doubles as a teensy guitar. "But Backbeat!" you may be screaming to yourself, "How can I play guitar on a pen?!" Ah-ha! That's the genius behind this little guy. Plug in a bluetooth extension, and you can play your FretPen via an iOS device.

If you're a musician, or if you know/live with a musician, you may have noticed a tic that's common to everyone from drummers to bass players: they tap on everything constantly. Roebke hopes to channel that annoying tic with FretPen and gives it a purpose. The pen features a wooden fretboard with three steel frets, and the design mimics the spacing on a traditional guitar. Using just the pen, unplugged, folks can practice their fingering and build dexterity. By plugging in the bluetooth-enabled guitar body, users can connect to an app in their iphones to actually hear the results.

FretPen is, at this moment, in pre-production. The team that created it has a Kickstarter page where they're offering perks for donations that range from stickers and shwag up to a chance to fly to Seattle to hang out with Queensryche (who are surprisingly enthusiastic about this thing). The fundraising is ongoing through the end of the month, and as of the first week they're about a third of the way toward their goal.

Mark Roebke, the brains behind FretPen, is affable and easy-going. A start-up techie by day, he also plays in a band in Vail in his spare time. "I'm one of those guys that went to the college counselor and said, 'I don't want an internship, I want to be a rockstar!'," he says, "But all the other guys in my band quit after college and I thought, 'Oh crap, I have to figure out what to do with myself." Roebke has found success in the tech world, and he's looking for more with the FretPen

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