But wait, there's more! Get your Fretish listing seen.
How To

Pro Tip: Get your Fretish listing seen

It never gets old.  I love receiving the notification that someone has registered with Fretish.  It feels equally good when someone requests to list their musical gear on the platform.  Being the world’s largest peer-to-peer music instrument sharing service means your gear will be seen by qualified musicians looking for short term rental (or outright purchase).

But, once you’ve joined and listed your instrument(s) on Fretish – which is completely free to do – are there any steps you can take to increase the visibility of your listing?  Absolutely!  Here are just a few of the recommended steps to take once your listing is live:

  • Tell your friends about your listing on Fretish, in person and via email.
  • Check sites like Craigslist to see if anyone is asking to borrow or purchase an instrument just like yours.  Reply to their ad letting them know you have just the thing and include a link to your Fretish listing.
  • Share your listing on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest.
  • Create a demo video of yourself playing the instrument and post it to YouTube with a link to the Fretish listing. Conversely, you can now embed that YouTube video into the description field of your Fretish listing so people can actually hear what it sounds like.  See this example.
  • Like and tweet other instruments on Fretish to grow visibility on social networks.

Have any other suggestions?  Send us a note to let us know.

How To

How To: Photograph Guitars

In the 1989 movie Drugstore Cowboy, the protagonist Bob (played by Matt Dillon), is a superstitious man with a bad drug habit.  Bob’s perception about how lucky he is at any given time drives his decision on whether to score drugs.  If Bob feels lucky, he successfully acquires more drugs.  He’s happy.

But, things can change quickly.  When Bob gets a bad sign, he takes a self-imposed hiatus from getting drugs.  No drugs = unhappy Bob.

What constitutes a bad sign?  The first omen occurred when Bob was watching TV – a number of dog food commercials appeared, all in a row.  That was a sign.  He informed his crew that there would be no more attempts to procure drugs for a month.  Not seeing any logic behind that decision, Bob’s crew asks if there are any other bad omens they should be aware of.  “Hats”, Bob replies, “if I ever see a hat on a bed in this house, you’ll never see me again.” Why a hat, they ask?  “Cause that’s just the way it is.”

Well, not long after this warning from Bob – spoiler alert!! – someone places a hat on a bed and things indeed go horribly wrong.

And at this point, you may be asking yourself, why is a blog post titled “How to Photograph Guitars” going on at length about Drugstore Cowboy and hats on beds?  Because, dear reader, if there is only one thing you take away from this post, it is this: NEVER PHOTOGRAPH A GUITAR ON A BED.  Not even if you’re Annie Leibovitz.  No good can ever come from a picture of a guitar on a bed.  It’s not aesthetically pleasing.  (9 times out of 10 you probably haven’t even made the bed.)  It’s lazy.  It will guarantee that no one will rent or purchase your instrument.  Why?  Cause that’s just the way it is.

Now here are some other tips for shooting decent pictures of your guitar:

General Setting

An uncluttered, simple background is best.  Are there any loose papers, food or clothing visible anywhere in the frame of the image?  If the answer is yes, delete the photo, remove all the background “noise” and re-shoot the picture.

Lighting

Type: Natural light, particularly during the “golden hours” of early morning or late afternoon, produces a warm glow that is ideal.  Normally, you don’t want your instrument in direct sunlight.  Using indirect, natural light during the “golden hours” makes just about anything look great.

Origination source: Regardless of the type of light being used, the origination or source of light should be coming from behind the camera, and hitting the surface of the instrument which is being photographed.  So, as a general rule, don’t take a picture of your guitar when it is in front of a window.

Example (bad): Lighting from behind an instrument

IMG_3370

Example (good): Lighting from in front of (or from the side) an instrument

IMG_3371

Distance/Range

Medium range to close up shots are the two best options.

Medium:

A medium distance is approximately 7 to 10 feet from the guitar.  This shot will provide a full view of the guitar from the top of the head stock to the bottom of the instrument.  It sets the context of everything.

Close up:

A close up distance can be anywhere from 2 feet to 2 inches from the guitar.  These shots are designed to zero in on specific parts of the guitar – the body, the head stock, the grain of the fretboard, etc.  Close ups can serve many purposes.  They can highlight details that are unique and aesthetically pleasing.  They can also show known issues with the finish or hardware.  It is always best to capture these imperfections and include them very prominently in your listing because you don’t want to mislead a potential renter or buyer.  You will get a negative reviews if you don’t.  You will get unhappy messages.  You will get requests for refunds.  Just save everyone the hassle – visually capture and share all of the known blemishes up front.

Focus

Is the picture of the guitar you have just taken in focus?

  • If yes, proceed to the next section.
  • If no, are you Annie Leibovitz?
    • If yes, then you probably have a good reason for taking the picture.  Carry on.
    • If no, then delete the photo and re-shoot the picture.

Parts of the instrument to photograph

At minimum, you should take the following shots:

  • Front of guitar – full length, head to toe
  • Back of guitar – full length, head to toe

And give serious consideration to adding these as well:

  • Front of body – close up
  • Back of body – close up
  • Front of neck/fretboard – medium or close up
  • Back of neck – medium or close up
  • Front of head stock – close up
  • Back of head stock – close up

Angles

Shooting straight on is the safest approach.  There is room for experimentation here, but if you review your photographs and notice that all of your “experimental” shots are only pointing down (e.g. the camera is pointing at a 45 degree angle from above the instrument), or only pointing up, then you should probably mix up the approach.

Example – Straight On

IMG_3355

Example – Down

IMG_3379

These are just some of the most obvious suggestions for how to photograph guitars.  For more detailed and expert advice on photographing guitars, here are some additional resources:

Gary’s Classic Guitars – https://www.garysguitars.com/advanced-techniques-photographing-vintage-guitars

Digital Photography Review – https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3860366

Annie Leibovitz’s Masterclass – https://www.masterclass.com/classes/annie-leibovitz-teaches-photography

 

 

 

 

How To

How To: Pack A Guitar Like A Pro

When I was 16, my first boss shared an invaluable lesson with me: always go beyond what the customer expects.  That first job of mine was a lowly service role.  I was a pool maintenance guy.  And the only way my company was going to stand out versus all other pool maintenance companies was to go above and beyond the specific tasks laid out in our service level agreement.

So, beyond vacuuming the pool, brushing the tiles, cleaning the filters and making sure the pH and chlorine levels were correct, I would spend an extra 10 minutes to tidy up the surroundings of the pool like brushing the surface area around the pool and arranging the deck furniture.  When I was done, not only was the water clean and inviting, but the entire pool area looked like it was ready to be photographed for the cover of Architectural Digest.

The memory of that first career lesson came back to me earlier this week when I received a guitar that I had purchased from Capital Guitars Online.  The guitar is a blonde 2007 Fender Telecaster GE Smith Signature Model.  It looks great.  It plays great.  And I love it.  But, there was one additional thing that has stuck with me several days later – the way the guitar was packaged.  It was, by far, the best packaging of any guitar I have received in the last decade.  Capital Guitars Online could give a masters class of packaging.  But, rather than relying on CGO to share the do/don’ts of preparing a guitar for shipping, the Fretish blog will provide this tutorial.

Exterior

Image uploaded from iOS
Exhibit A – Plain Brown Box

Less is more: Keep your package contents a mystery by choosing a box with no obvious text or images which scream “highly valuable musical instrument in here”.  Adopt a blank canvas approach.  Most retailers or online instrument marketplaces tend to slap their logo and an outline of their most popular model on the box, leaving no doubt to potential porch pirates that this is their lucky day.

Image uploaded from iOS (4)
Exhibit B – Short & sweet messaging

Clear, simple labeling: Concise instructions are better than verbose ones.  People will retain a three word message better than a ten word message.  And if you can use intuitive icons instead of words, like an arrow to indicate “this side up”, that’s even better.

Image uploaded from iOS (3)
Exhibit C – Seasonally relevant messaging to prevent instrument damage

Additional instructions with proper explanation: Receiving an instrument from the post man is always an exciting time.  But, to open your package immediately after it arrives during a harsh New England winter could lead to bad outcomes.  To be on the safe side, always label your package between November to March (even longer, depending where you live) with a sticker telling the recipient to wait 24 hours before opening their package.  This sticker above works well because it sets the context (“hey, we’ve shipped this from a very cold environment”), provides the instruction (“wait 24 hours”) and the risk one assumes if they don’t follow your direction (“finish checking”).

Interior Packaging Materials

Image uploaded from iOS (2)
Exhibit D – Peanuts, bubble wrap or heavy stock paper

I didn’t properly document this photographically, but here are the steps they appeared to take:

  1. Stack the box vertically (see Exhibit A photograph above)
  2. Line the “bottom” of the box with a layer of bubble wrap
  3. Load guitar case gently into the box, leaving space for shipping peanuts and/or heavy stock wrapping paper on all sides
  4. Add shipping peanuts and/or heavy stock wrapping paper so the instrument has equal protection on all sides.  Also, please consider using biodegradable shipping peanuts.
  5. Top off the box with a layer of bubble wrap

Inside the Guitar Case

Image uploaded from iOS (1)
Exhibit E – More bubble wrap, heavy stock paper and plastic cushions

This is where they went from good to great in my opinion. Bubble wrap on the head stock is becoming a more common packaging practice, particularly with brands that have notoriously weak head stocks (e.g., Gibson).  But, make sure the bubble wrap does not lift the neck above the built-in neck rest of the case.

Image uploaded from iOS (5)
Exhibit F – Head stock bubble wrap

Paper lining, between the strings and the fretboard, is also becoming more common.  But, what made Capital Guitars Online’s approach different was the heavy stock used, the way it was perfectly measured slightly wider than the neck AND the fact that they triple folded it to add an extra bit of “cushion”.

Image uploaded from iOS (6)
Exhibit G – Perfectly measured paper to protect the fretboard

Here is what I have never seen before – one layer of bubble wrap over the top of the guitar and the use of plastic cushions in the corners of the case and just below the strap button.  Was it necessary?  Probably not.  Did it make me think that this box could have withstood a drop from a two story building?  Definitely.  That’s going above and beyond.  Hat tip to Capital Guitars Online.

Image uploaded from iOS (7)
Exhibit H – Top, sides and bottom all taken care of

 

How To

How To: Set a Rental Price for Your Guitar

A common question I get asked by instrument owners upon joining Fretish™ is, “what should I price my [guitar brand] [guitar model] at?”  Sure, there are some simple formulas one could apply:

Scenario 1 – My guitar is an unexceptional instrument.  It works properly, produces quality sound and has a standard finish.  But, there is nothing unique or special about it.  If this is the case, then consider a nightly price somewhere between 3% – 5% of the instrument’s retail value.  Example: $1,000 Retail Price for American Made Fender Stratocaster * .05 = $50/night

Scenario 2 – My guitar is an exceptional instrument.  Not only is my guitar rare, it is a beautiful sounding instrument.  A work of art with extensive purfling and magnificent detailing.  In this situation, one could charge potentially a third of the instrument’s retail value.  Example: $6,000 Retail Price for Gibson L-5 * .33 = $1,980/night

Scenario 3 – I, the instrument owner, am guitar legend Edward van Halen.  In this case, the formula is P=WTFYWTPI*  (* – Whatever The F**k You Want To Price It.)

But, for everyone else who is not a guitar legend, there are nuances to setting a rental price.  Consider the following when pricing your guitar(s):

  1. Determine your goals.  Are you a guitar builder trying to get your instruments into the hands of as many players as possible?  Consider pricing it on the lower end of the spectrum.  One guitar builder on Fretish, Peter Occhineri, takes a very aggressive approach to pricing his custom builds – listing several as low as $6/night. Or, are you interested in maximizing profit from your instrument collection?  Then price at the higher end of the market.
  2. Estimate demand for your listed instrument.  Do you live in a town where guitarists would appreciate a one-of-a-kind Rickenbacker?  You may have room to price the instrument relatively high.  Or, are you located in the heart of Nashville where Fender Telecasters practically line the streets?  Then, that tele you just listed may need to be priced more aggressively (i.e., lower).
  3. Consider the cost of renting out your instrument.  How much gas will you use to reach your pick up/drop off location?  How much profit do you want to make from renting out your instrument?  Make sure these considerations are factored into your price.
  4. Set a price.  Watch what happens.  Do you have tons of rental requests?  You probably have room to increase the rental price of your guitar.  Or, are you hearing crickets?  Consider lowering your nightly rate since you have priced yourself out of consideration by the market.
  5. Adjust your price as necessary.  The wonderful thing about being part of an online marketplace is that nothing is set in stone.  (Now, to be clear, once you have accepted a rental request at a certain price, you cannot ask for more money.  But, if you have no pending rental requests or orders to fulfill, then modify your instrument’s rental price as much and as often as you like.)

Have additional suggestions?  Let me know: https://fretish.com/user_feedbacks/new

How To

How To: Prepare Your Instrument for Rent

So, you’ve joined Fretish™.  Listed an instrument.  Someone made a rental request.  And you’ve accepted the request.  Congratulations!

Now what?

To ensure that the person renting your instrument is satisfied with the transaction and, as importantly, that you receive a positive review once the rental is complete, you should consider taking the following steps:

  • Clean the guitar.  Are there fingerprints on the finish?  Is there “gunk” between the bridge and the pickups?  Are the tuning machines looking a bit tarnished?  Now is the perfect time to use an air duster, an extra soft toothbrush and/or a soft cloth to gently remove any schmutz.
  • Change the strings.  Use your judgment on this.  If the strings were changed within the past three months and the instrument has only been played a few times, it may not be necessary to completely change the strings.  But, if you cannot recall the last time you changed the strings or there is obvious wear (signs of rust or sections where the nickle is worn down), just do the right thing – change all the strings.  Also, make sure that if you’ve listed a particular gauge string in your Fretish listing (i.e., .11 high E), that the replacement strings match what you have “advertised”.
  • Confirm that your pick ups and volume/tone knobs are in working order.  (Obviously, this only applies to electric guitars.)  Plug in your guitar to a functioning amplifier.  Run through all the settings on  your instrument – neck pick up, bridge pick up, any other pick ups and all the different configurations your instrument supports (neck and bridge pick ups simultaneously engaged, etc.).  Are the pick ups working?  Is the volume working?  Is the tone working?  If not, get thee to a guitar repair person – prior to the rental.
  • Tune the guitar.  Before meeting the renter at the pick up location, make sure the instrument is in tune.  It’s the little things that make a transaction go from good to great.
  • Document your good work with a short video or set of pictures.  Whether you choose to share all the steps you’ve taken prior to the rental with the person renting the guitar is up to you.  But, at a minimum, it’s a nice way to keep a record for yourself of the shape the instrument was in each and every time you rent out your gear.
How To

How To: Find Cool Guitars and Gear for Rent in Locations Beyond New England

A big challenge faced by new marketplaces – like Fretish – is to generate sufficient “supply”, so when consumers arrive at the site they actually have stuff to consider renting or buying.  Supply, in the case of Fretish, equals musical instruments – very nice guitars, basses, amps and more.  Fretish started in the summer of 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.  And as you would expect, the instruments listed and the visitors to the site are primarily from New England.

We are now faced with an interesting problem – a good problem, really – which is that people from around the world are learning about the first peer-to-peer music instrument rental marketplace.  They want to play cool guitars and gear in the comfort of their own homes – whether that’s in Chicago or the UK, France and New Zealand.  However, they don’t see gear listed in these areas (yet).

So, how to address this challenge?  Increasing the amount of advertising is the most obvious answer.  And that is something we plan to do in the months ahead.  But, to really grow an audience on a sustainable, global level, there needs to be a groundswell of positive word of mouth by musicians.  “Hey, you’ve got to check this out” resonates more when it’s coming from a peer (or multiple peers) than from some TV ad running on the Olympics.

Below are some ways to help grow supply on Fretish.

  1. Tell Your Friends About Fretish – In person and via email*
  2. Contact people who have listed cool instruments (ones that you are interested in playing) on sites like Craigslist – especially, people who have described in their listing that they really don’t want to sell their instrument but need money.  Ask them if they would consider renting the instrument to you through Fretish.  Explain that they can A) join Fretish for free, B) list for free and C) keep the instrument and make money by renting it out.
  3. Follow Fretish on FB/Twitter/IG
  4. Forward the Fretish How It Works video to fellow musicians
  5. Forward the Fretish for Guitar Builders video to luthiers you know
  6. Visit Fretish.com
  7. Like and Tweet Instruments on Fretish to grow visibility on social networks
  8. Register with Fretish (it’s free).
  9. List an instrument for rent.  It’s free too.  Plus, when your peers see that you’ve listed gear, then they will follow suit.
  10. List an instrument for sale.  Ditto.

========================================

* This pre-drafted email below could be used to describe Fretish to your musician friends.  Make sure to BCC all of the people you are sending this to (for privacy and common email etiquette).  And feel free to adjust to your own “voice”.

Proposed subject and body copy:

Subject: Sharing new musical community/marketplace called Fretish.

Body:
Hello.

I’m writing to pass along information on a new guitar community and marketplace that I think you might appreciate.

I recently discovered a peer-to-peer guitar rental marketplace called Fretish at http://fretish.com. It’s a bit like Airbnb, but instead of renting out your extra bedroom or guesthouse, you can list that extra guitar from your collection that regularly goes unplayed. In fact, with the extra cash earned by renting out some of your gear through Fretish, you could add to your guitar collection. You also have the option to list your instruments for sale.

There’s no cost to join Fretish. There’s no cost to post an instrument for rent or sale. You set the price for renting your instrument. You can set dates when your instrument is not available for rent. And you can define the terms of who you will rent to (example: must be smoke-free, climate controlled environment; rental provided only under supervision, etc.). How does Fretish make money? All transactions made through the site have an 11% processing fee, similar to how a consignment shop works.

So, how is Fretish a community? Music brings people together. And that’s what Fretish strives to do. Fretish is a community of, by and for musicians. It is built upon the principles of respect, honesty, encouragement, trust and discovery.

For more details, visit https://fretish.com/en/infos/how_to_use.  Or, watch this How It Works video.  Have additional questions?  You can write to Sam T, founder of Fretish, with questions here: https://fretish.com/user_feedbacks/new.

Thanks,
[Sender Name]

========================================

Finally, the more Fretish knows about where you are located and the type of gear you are interested in playing, the better we can target our marketing efforts.  So, if you have the time and interest, please consider following these additional steps:

  1. Contact us – https://fretish.com/user_feedbacks/new
  2. Tell us:
  • Where you live
  • Which music-oriented YouTube Channels you subscribe to
  • Which music-oriented Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts you follow
  • The names of any off or online publications you regularly read/watch/listen to
How To

How To: Set Up a Really Good Listing

You’ve heard about Fretish.  You’ve visited the site.  You’ve joined (it is free).  And now you’ve decided to list one of your musical instruments (which is also free).  So far, so good.

But, how do you maximize the quality of your listing to get the most clicks on the Rent button?  Here are some tips:

  1. List one instrument per post.  Highlighting your entire collection, or even just two pieces of gear, in a single listing is a recipe for confusion and dissatisfaction.  It’s also true that consumer response drops dramatically when people are given a choice between multiple items to pick from versus a single item.
  2. Before photographing your instrument, clean it.  Does it have finger prints on the body?  Give it a quick wipe with a cloth.  Are there any broken strings?  Replace them with new strings.  If it looks like you take good care of your gear, then other people will feel compelled to take good care of it.
  3. Post multiple high quality pictures of the instrument being offered.  Show the front of the guitar, the back of the guitar, the body, the neck, the head stock.  A separate blog post will go into greater detail on what constitutes “high quality”, but here’s a quick rule of thumb: If a picture is blurry, dark or shot from 10+ feet from your instrument, then it’s not a high quality picture.  And, as a general rule, don’t use manufacturer or stock images of your instrument.
  4. Write a succinct, accurate title.  This will typically include the year the instrument was made, the brand, the model, the country of origination and any distinctive upgrades or accessories. For example: 2018 Fender American Professional Series Telecaster with Bigsby.  The finish of the instrument (blonde, sunburst, etc.) can, of course, be included.  But, if you have decent pictures, including the finish in the title may be redundant.
  5. Describe the guitar with facts and relevant anecdotes.  What type of wood is the body made from?  What type of wood is the neck?  The fretboard?  What type of pick ups does the instrument have?  How many settings on the pick up selector switch?  Are there any mechanical or aesthetic issues with the instrument?  Be honest.  Potential renters really need to know these things.  Then, there is information that isn’t critical to know, but may draw the reader in, such as: When did you buy the guitar?  Are you the original owner?  Do you take any special care when storing the instrument?
  6. Embed a YouTube video of you playing the instrument.
  7. Don’t be afraid to detail the conditions of who you will or will not rent to.  Don’t want your instrument to be played at a gig?  Say so.  Don’t want your instrument in the home of a smoker?  Say so.  Set clear guidelines of your expectations as an owner about how and where your instrument should be played.
  8. Set a price.  The price you set for your instrument will have an obvious impact on a person’s willingness to rent.  There are many ways to approach this, so let’s tackle this topic in greater detail in a future blog post.
  9. Provide a specific, accurate pick up/drop off location.  When renting out an instrument through Fretish, it is strongly encouraged to fulfill orders through in-person pick up and drop off only.  Shipping instruments for short term rent can be costly and have other unintended consequences.  The pick up/drop off location you choose is entirely up to you.  Most people select a safe, public venue (e.g., Public Library, Police Station, etc.) for their pick up/drop off location.  Sometimes exact locations are not provided as part of a listing.  This approach has downsides.  For example, when people conduct a search by city or town (and you haven’t provided an accurate or specific pick up location), your instrument may not appear in the search results.
  10. Share your fabulous new listing to your social media accounts.  Let your network know you have gear to rent.