Creating the world's largest music instrument sharing service
Uncategorized

Fretish acquires Sparkplug. Thousands more instruments to rent. Thousands more users to rent instruments to (when everything returns to “normal”).

Boston, MA, April 15, 2020 – Fretish, LLC (“Fretish”), New England’s leading music instrument sharing service, announced today that it has acquired Sparkplug Marketplace, Inc. (“Sparkplug.it”), the original peer-to-peer music instrument rental marketplace and community.

Founded in 2014, Sparkplug introduced the “sharing economy” of music instruments to working musicians. Playing a prominent role at SXSW and other music festivals, Sparkplug quickly became an invaluable resource to musicians needing gear while on tour or heading into the recording studio. Within 5 years Sparkplug grew to several thousand users with an equally impressive number of listed instruments and recording venues.

Fretish was launched in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Sam Tharp. With a strong focus on developing a musical community and instrument sharing service, Fretish quickly became the number one platform for New England musicians – including hobbyists, Berklee students and professionals – to play fine instruments on an as-needed basis. Within 3 years, Fretish participated in the music tech accelerator program Project Music Portfolio at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and has been lauded as the future of MI by some of the biggest musical influencers on YouTube and Instagram, including Paul Davids, Mary Spender, Ryan “Fluff” Bruce and many more.

“We created Sparkplug in order to empower musicians. Building this platform into a thriving community and enabling our thousands of users to earn money on some of their most valuable assets – sometimes to fund a new record or extend a regional tour – has been incredible. Equally amazing has been connecting musicians all over the world with access to instruments and equipment they would otherwise have been unable to afford or find” said Jennifer Newman Sharpe, CEO of Sparkplug. “It is an incredible opportunity for Sparkplug to join forces with Fretish – a company that shares our values, vision, and priorities – to bring instrument and gear sharing to even more musicians.”

“This acquisition was made to bring the two biggest music instrument sharing services together on to one platform,” said Sam Tharp, CEO of Fretish. “By combining our assets – the users, instrument listings and recording studios – under the Fretish brand, we will achieve a critical mass that creates a defensible, unique value proposition no other MI ‘selling’ marketplace can match. If you are a musician that needs to rent a guitar, bass, amp, effect pedal or other quality gear, then Fretish is your go-to resource.”

How Fretish users will benefit from this acquisition:

  • Thousands of additional instruments available to rent – in the US and around the globe.
  • Thousands more prospective customers to rent to.
  • Set rental periods by hour, week or month. Plus, create custom quotes.
  • New mobile app (to be introduced in a few weeks).
  • Improved pricing! Joining the service is free. Listing gear is free. Whenever your gear is rented through the platform there is a 4% transaction fee.

The combined assets will operate under the Fretish® brand at https://fretish.com.

Terms of the deal, which officially closed on January 1, 2020, were not made public.

Remember: Stay safe and healthy. Follow social distancing/isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When the medical community says it’s safe to come back into contact with others, then Fretish will help you get back to the business of making music.

About Fretish

Fretish® is a trusted community and peer-to-peer marketplace for musicians to list,
discover, and book unique guitars and gear for rent. Whether the available instrument is a Martin flat top guitar for a night, a Dunlop Wah pedal for a week, or a Fender Jazz Bass for a month, Fretish is the easiest way for people to showcase their instrument collection to a wide, yet qualified audience. By facilitating bookings and financial transactions, Fretish makes the process of listing or booking musical equipment effortless and efficient. Fretish was founded in July 2017 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
About Sparkplug Marketplace, Inc.

Sparkplug Marketplace, Inc. is the first peer-to-peer music instrument and recording studio rental marketplace. For professional musicians, their selection of thousands of instruments in music-centric locations like New York, Los Angeles, Austin and more help players secure their instrument and equipment needs as an alternative to backline services. Recording Studios and instrument owners use the mobile app to monetize their underutilized fixed assets. Sparkplug is trusted by thousands of musicians around the world. The Company is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Uncategorized

New Year, New Pilot with B&G Guitars

As 2019 begins, we’re excited to announce a new pilot. Fretish has partnered with B&G Guitars to share their hand-crafted electric guitars with musicians in key cities throughout the United States. If you’re a guitarist, then you’ve probably seen B&G Guitars demo’d on YouTube by Guitar, Guitarist and TonePedia. But, have you been fortunate enough to actually play one of these custom built masterpieces? Because B&Gs are not mass produced, you may be challenged to find one in stock at your local guitar shop. To fill the gaps, Fretish has leveraged its network of recording studios and individual collectors to make key models available.

We currently have four B&G models available for musicians to “try before you buy” in Austin, Boston and New York City.

  1. Austin – Little Sister Private Build in Tobacco Burst Finish
  2. Boston – Little Sister Crossroads with Cut Away
  3. Boston – Little Sister Private Build in Tobacco Burst Finish
  4. NYC – Little Sister Private Build in Lemon Burst Finish

Take these guitars home. Plug them into your own rig. Explore the different pickup and tone combinations. Avoid the audio pollution of a big box retailer. And, if you decide you want to make a custom order for yourself, head to B&G’s website to submit a request. Or, if the guitar you’re playing is the guitar of your dreams, let us know and we’ll sell it to you directly (less the cost of renting the guitar).

Uncategorized

Visit the Fretish Booth at the 2018 Artisan Guitar Show April 13 – 15 in Harrisburg, PA

Fretish is proud to be a sponsor of the 2018 Artisan Guitar Show which is being held in Harrisburg, PA this Friday April 13 through Sunday April 15.  It’s a one-of-a-kind event featuring the finest handcrafted guitars ever produced, the visionary luthiers who created these instruments and musicians from all around the globe.  Come join us!

Details:

https://artisanguitarshow.com/

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

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Rewarded for Respect

Operating a two-sided marketplace, like Fretish, can be a complicated thing.  First you need to find a supply of cool musical instruments.  This can be a challenge.  Then, almost simultaneously, you need to notify the right set of musicians that there is cool gear to be played.  Also, not an easy task.  But, having built and operated digital brands over the past 20 years – including AOL Instant Messenger, Monster.com and CoachUp – you become adept at overcoming marketplace challenges.

What feels unique about this latest endeavor is how central the role of respect must play – on all sides of the marketplace.  A culture of respect is required to make Fretish successful and sustainable.  And this culture must be shared by all participants: the company, the supply side of the marketplace (instrument owners and guitar builders) and the demand side of the marketplace (the renters and buyers of equipment).

Why is respect so important?  Because it directly benefits you (the Fretish member), regardless of which side of the marketplace you reside.  If you are a guitar player and are respectful, then you’ll get to experience playing that really cool guitar.  And, you’ll receive a positive review which will make other owners interested in renting to you.  If you are an instrument owner and are respectful, then you’ll earn money from your collection.  And you too will receive positive reviews.  For the company, respect is central to the brand identity.  If musicians don’t feel – at a gut level – that Fretish is a company dedicated to respect, for people and musical instruments, then the foundation for a sustainable business does not exist.

Some examples of practicing respect:

Players (renters or buyers)

  • When making a rental request, suggest possible times and location for pick up (if location hasn’t been specified on the instrument details page).
  • Respond promptly to owner inquiries.
  • Provide complete answers.
  • Be on time for instrument pick up and drop off.
  • Take extremely good care of the instrument while it is in your possession.
  • Thank the owner for entrusting you with their instrument.
  • If you are seeking to negotiate a lower price on gear that is for sale, don’t engage in endless debate on “what the instrument is worth”.  Succinctly present an alternative offer.  If the owner says “no thanks”, then consider the negotiation concluded.  Don’t pester the instrument owner.
  • Make sure to leave a review of the transaction so that other Fretish users know if this was a good experience or not.

Owners

  • Make sure to complete the payment settings on your account when listing instruments.  Users cannot rent from you until you complete those steps – nor can you get paid.
  • Respond promptly to player inquiries.
  • If your instrument is unavailable for rent or sale, then either a) update the availability of the instrument on your availability calendar or b) de-list the instrument from the site.
  • Inspect the instrument before it is delivered for rent.  Are the electronics working as they should?  Are the strings (relatively) new?  Is the guitar in tune?  Has it been wiped off with a soft cloth?  Yes, to all of the above?  Great!
  • Be on time for instrument pick up an drop off.
  • Make sure to leave a review of the transaction so that other Fretish users know if this was a good experience or not.

If you ever encounter a disrespectful experience on Fretish, let us know here https://fretish.com/en/user_feedbacks/new so we can address the issue as soon as possible.

photo credit: BET