Creating the world's largest music instrument sharing service
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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.

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.

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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).

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The case for respecting guitars

Image uploaded from iOS (9)
Joe Perry smashing a perfectly good instrument.

About a week ago, the following picture appeared on my Instagram feed.  It’s Joe Perry, of Aerosmith fame (and a guitarist that I long held in high regard), smashing his guitar at a recent performance.  You may also notice the following details:

  • This is Joe Perry’s official Instagram account
  • Joe appears to be in reasonably good physical shape
  • Supro amps power this rig
  • Johnny Depp is in the background
  • I have not liked this post

I admit that, in my youth, seeing Townshend or Cobain smash their instruments provided a surge of adrenaline – like a visceral thrill one gets when witnessing a stadium demolished in a controlled explosion.  No longer, though.  Now, watching people destroy their instruments intentionally, produces a sense of frustration and lost opportunity.

How did we get here?

Pete Townshend is generally credited with being the first guitarist to smash his guitar on stage in the early 1960s.  The crowd’s reaction so impressed Pete, that he decided to make this a somewhat regular gimmick of Who concerts.  Somewhat after the fact, Pete argued that his destruction of guitars was a legitimate artistic statement: the “auto-destruction” motif, inspired by Gustav Metzger.

Jimi Hendrix then took auto-destruction to a new level at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 – both lighting his Stratocaster on fire and then smashing it to bits.  No artistic rationale was provided.

Over the five decades since, guitarists of various fame and notoriety have mimicked their guitar heroes by laying waste to their gear.  But, with each successive “homage” to Townshend and Hendrix, the act of destroying guitars generates less publicity and dilutes any artistic integrity which may have actually existed in the first place.  Whatever the motivations are by these guitar-breakers, to the outside observer it’s seems like an act of desperation – someone trying to become or retain their relevancy.

The alternatives

Getting back to Joe Perry’s post.  I was heartened to see a fair of amount of commenters giving the picture a thumbs down or asking why he destroyed a perfectly good instrument.  Indeed, there were quite a few suggestions of what he could have done with the guitar instead of smashing it.  Here are a few of my own suggestions for any musician who considers destroying their instruments:

  • Don’t smash your gear.  Put it back in its case and continue to play it.
  • Donate your unwanted instrument.  There are tons of charities who accept instrument donations, including Girls Rock Campaign Boston.
  • Gift the guitar to one of the fans in the audience.  How much goodwill and positive word-of-mouth would come from that?  A ton.  You’d have a fan for life.
  • Sell your unwanted instrument.
  • List your instrument for rent on Fretish.  It’s free to join.  It’s free to list.  Your fans will get to play your gear, you’ll make money and you’ll deepen your relationship with your fan base.

Final thoughts

When George Harrison started to learn sitar from Ravi Shankar in the mid-60s, he committed himself fully to the endeavor, practicing for 3+ hours per day.  But, Ravi demanded more than time.  In one of his earliest lessons with Ravi, George recalled getting up to use the restroom.  He placed the sitar down and stepped directly over the instrument.  Ravi immediately reprimanded the young Beatle.  Respect the instrument George was told!  Respect your practice.  Respect the art.  Respect the instrument.  That lesson stuck with George for the rest of his life.  And I think it’s one we should all consider.

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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.