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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
So, you’ve joined Fretish™. Listed an instrument. Someone made a rental request. And you’ve accepted the request. Congratulations!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Embed a YouTube video of you playing the instrument.
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.
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.
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.
Share your fabulous new listing to your social media accounts. Let your network know you have gear to rent.
It’s not uncommon for me to hear from guitar owners, when I tell them about the peer-to-peer music instrument marketplace Fretish, “I could never rent my instrument to someone else. I’d be too afraid something bad would happen.” Fair enough. Some musicians may never be open to join the “sharing economy” when it comes to their precious gear. In fact, I do not list all of my instruments for rent on Fretish.
However, almost every guitarist I’ve spoken to over the past year has either borrowed an instrument from a friend, or conversely, has let a friend borrow one of their instruments. This willingness to share gear among musician friends has been reinforced in surveys conducted by Fretish where 80+% of guitar owners have confirmed to have let a friend/acquaintance borrow an instrument. So, what explains this disconnect? Borrow = OK, Rent = Panic Room? Perhaps the root issue is fear of the worst case scenario. That’s valid. And there are ways to mitigate risk.
For those musicians who are open to renting out their gear, here are some of the options (and tools) available to you which increase the likelihood of a pleasant and satisfactory renting experience:
Only rent to people you know and trust. (i.e., those same friends you let borrow your gear for free)
Only rent to people who have previously rented through Fretish before and who have high feedback ratings.
Structure the rental period to be supervised (at a location and time duration of your choosing).
Only offer in-person pick up/drop off when renting.
An Owner has up to 3 days to review a rental booking request. During that time they can communicate with a potential renter through the Fretish messaging system. Ask them anything (e.g., Are there small children in your household? Is your place climate controlled? Are you a smoker?). If something doesn’t feel right, then they have every right to reject the rental request.
Also, don’t start by listing your “crown jewels” for rent. Ease your way into the process of renting. Start by listing an instrument of modest value from your collection. If you’re pleased with the transactions you have had with the less-precious instrument, then start adding instruments of greater value.
Lastly, if you absolutely, positively do not want to rent your gear on Fretish, you do have the option list the instruments for outright sale.