FretPen: A New Pen-Sized Guitar


If sufficient funds are obtained via Kickstarter you could soon treat yourself to the perfect antidote to guitar withdrawal symptoms. There will be no need to suffer the blues again when you are forced to leave your guitar behind because you will be able to play them instead and on a pocket sized instrument that doubles as a pen. Fretpen is a portable wireless instrument that you can take anywhere and play any time and the skills you learn and the muscle memory acquired can be transferred to a full sized instrument.

fretpen-mini-guitar-gadget-iphone-penTravelling Light

Let’s face it, a guitar is not the most practical thing to travel with whether you are heading off holiday or commuting to work. It is not quite as challenging as having to move a piano but for the most part guitars must be left at home which is an annoyance if you are suddenly seized by the need to play. What fellow commuters would think of a spontaneous outburst of rock ‘n’ roll remains to be seen but it would certainly make a change from the usual MP3 white noise that now seems to be the soundtrack of public transport.

No Strumming

FretPen promises to be a fully playable instrument which you can pop in your pocket wherever you are going. The fretboard (real maple) detects finger placements and there is a controller in the body of the miniature guitar which enables the player to adjust the available notes. There is no strumming, you just tap the fret but there is a single string for visual effect.


How it Works

The body of the instrument connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth which turns the player’s actions into sounds which do actually resemble a guitar and you can even choose between electric and acoustic outputs. You can tweak your music with reverb and other effects to produce a pretty convincing result. If you do have the sudden need to make a note (pardon the pun) then the fretboard can be removed from the body of the tiny instrument to become a handy writing implement.

The Cost

The anticipated price for the FretPen in $150, should it reach its funding goal of $35,000. The first 50 people to donate will receive a generous discount on their purchase. It is quite a lot of money to splash out on a guitar which isn’t really a guitar at all but I would guess that music enthusiasts would love this little gizmo and it would be a great party trick!

Success Story?

I also think it likely that the novelty of such an instrument would wear off fairly quickly mainly on the grounds that it isn’t really an instrument at all but rather a mobile app with something to tap and a pen that you would rarely use because you have an app for memos too. It looks cool though which is half the battle these days but I think this one is more smartwatch than tablet in the potential sales stakes. I can’t see this really taking off but it could be useful for buskers who are sick of carry around their acoustic guitars all day!


Without much details provided we noticed that the funding project has been cancelled now. People who are further interested in the progress of the FretPen are able to sign up their email address for updates on the FretPen homepage. Quote:

FretPen will be back soon! We are making some adjustments based on your feedback, so please stay tuned.

About the Author

Sally Stacey is a keen writer who keeps an eye out for interesting product and developments.

Photo credit: FretPen, 55Laney69

YouTube: ‘Hail to the FretPen’ by Mad Hatter Agency

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