The Fender Digital division continues with the strategy of “maintaining user engagement” to ensure a consistent market for its products. From some market research conducted some years ago, the Fender management came to the conclusion reducing the drop out rate of guitarists keeps market demand for their products strong and consistent. In order to achieve this during the last years, Fender has been looking at ways to keep guitarists inspired by producing a series of educational apps to help create awarenesses for how budding guitarist can play their favourite songs, and ultimately define their own unique sound.

Fender Songs another App to sit alongside Fender Tune, Fender Tone & Fender Play
A new APP –

Article fender-is-betting-on-machine-learning-and-apps-for-its-future Fender is reinventing itself for the future of music while holding onto its past
By Mike Murphy December 13, 2019

Here is a really good looking guitar with something different going on – “the pickup is driven by tubes!”
Looking for a rich analogue sound here is the first tube-driven electric guitar pickup.

In action
See the rich tones of the Valvebucker

Softube’s “Heartbeat”

Classic drum synthesis is back with a vengeance! Flexible and tweakable

Native Instruments’s “Battery 4”

BATTERY 4 adds powerful new features for accelerated workflow, more powerful sampling and sound manipulation, and a new library ready for 21st century electronic and urban styles.

FXpansion’s “Geist2”

Geist2 is a streamlined environment for beat creation and sound sculpting that provides instant inspiration and new ideas for your productions.

G2 takes true-bypass switching to an entirely new level using technology never seen before on a pedalboard switcher. The most important difference is the ‘Passive True Bypass Matrix’. This guarantees the most direct signal path possible with no loading of your guitar signal. It’s a game changer – you simply won’t believe your tone.

Daniel TheGigRig


Similarly to Fenders “Digital Campaign” to address the “drop out rate” other brands are also looking towards digital applications to enhance user experience to maintain engagement.

Are digital campaigns going to produce results? It will be interesting to see how the music industry and digitalization mesh.

MUSOPIA APPS KEEP BEGINNERS ENGAGED INDUSTRY LEADERS including Yamaha, Ibanez, Kala Brand, and Little Kids Rock have joined forces with app specialist Musopia to offer personalized learning tools to their customers. With its digital learning solutions, Musopia addresses one of the industry’s most stubborn challenges: beginning players who quit in frustration. Estimates quoted by Musopia suggest that if early abandonment could be reduced by just 10%, the M.I. industry could ultimately double in size.
Musopia’s approach offers a highly personalized and engaging musical experience, allowing beginners to start playing popular songs immediately and enjoy near-instant gratification. For more experienced players, Musopia’s suite of apps offer more advanced chord progressions from a digital library of nearly 2,000 fully licensed hit songs from top artists ranging from Adele and Ed Sheeran to Clapton and Coldplay. Each song offers varying chord options based on skill level, plus embedded video learning tutorials and an intelligent “listening” feature that provides detailed personalized feedback, telling users which chords they are playing perfectly and which need more work.
In addition to customized learning tools, music companies that partner with Musopia gain access to demographic and psychographic consumer data, penetrating insights into consumer behaviour, and unique opportunities to identify and engage directly with targeted consumer segments.

An interesting new device that’s just come out that is worth noting. Can this really help with one of the cornerstones of musical discipline and develop rhythm ability?

The Modern Metronome
Soundbrenner Pulse
Smart, wearable, and powered by vibrations.

On the path set out by the Floyd Rose’s revolutionary take on the tremolo in the 80’s where a whole new level of stability and versatility opened up new approaches to playing styles, here comes the VegaTrem double-action VT1 UltraTrem vibrato.

Music Radar

VegaTrem website

Kickstasrter campaign

Boss team up with Swedish Guitar builder Strandberg

A new address of Virtual Sound Modeling with Boss sound technology & Strandberg’s address of guitar design.

Top-level guitarists dare to be different and are never afraid to step forward and let their individual voices shine. To support their ambitious artistic drive, they look to innovators like Strandberg and BOSS for state-of-the-art tools that inspire the creation of all-new sounds and groundbreaking musical ideas. Now, these two pioneering companies have joined forces to introduce one of the most powerful and versatile electric guitars ever made.

Boss’s website…

Strandberg guitars website website…

Guitar World review…

Pemier Guitar review…

Fender address “drop out rate” with Fender Digital division

Can Fenders online education expand the guitar market?

Fender Digital is betting that with a team of 85 producing content designed to inspire and assist guitarists, it can keep them playing longer.

Fender’s market research claims 90% of first-time guitarists give up within a few months, putting their guitar in the closet.

Ethan Kaplan, General Manager Fender Digital has said “Ninety percent of people who pick up the guitar will drop out after one year, and we see Fender Play as a solution to that challenge. Our intuitive platform, whether used on its own or as a practice supplement to in-person lessons, allows first time players and beginners to get started.”

Andy Mooney, Fender CEO says that reducing that “drop out rate” by just 10% could double the sale of new guitars.

In addition to stimulating demand for guitars, he says the Fender Digital division can be a profitable business in its own right. He estimates that the money spent on guitar lessons and educational materials is about four times larger than the sums spent on new guitars.

Given the increased affinity for accessing information online, he sees a natural market or a digital offering, and a potentially meaningful revenue stream.

Can a high-quality online education program expand the market for guitars by inspiring guitarists of all levels to spend more time with their instrument?

Is there a profit to be made in online learning?

Fender Digital, the division of Fender Musical instruments, is attempting answer those questions, with a comprehensive suite of online educational materials launched in July 2017.

Fender Digital is an ambitious undertaking, backed by a significant investment. A team of 85 headed by Ethan Kaplan has been hard at work in Los Angeles for nearly two years, developing a guitar curriculum, creating online lessons and educational apps, and integrating them into the appealing, user-friendly “Fender Play” website. All with the goal of transforming the educational process and stimulating the market.

Accessible from laptop or mobile devices, Fender’s digital content is organized into two broad categories: Fender Play, which includes a constantly expanding library of online lessons, and Fender Tone, which serves as a gear reference, providing a wealth of information on amp and effects set ups and how to recreate specific artists’ sounds. Fender tone also includes useful tools like a free tuner.

Both the Tone and Play content are designed “so that they aren’t intimidating for the beginner, but aren’t so limited that an expert won’t use them,” says Kaplan. Full access will be offered for a $19.95 monthly fee. Ethen Kaplan is quick to point out that the Fender digital offerings have little in common with them multitude of free youtube instructional videos. “We are not using the ‘goPro and player on a couch’ approach,” he says.

Instead, a production team drawn from the ranks of local television and movie studios, using five cameras and high-resolution audio gear, has turned out educational videos with cinematic production values. From the performers to the script to the lighting, every facet has been calibrated to “address all the flaws in online learning,” adds Ethan Kaplan. In other words, Ethan is claiming Fender digitals approach to online guitar video learning is at a higher standard than average.

Multiple cameras allow for an unobstructed view of finger positions, and crystalline audio quality lets users really hear different techniques and tone settings. However, according to Ethan Kaplan, what truly sets the lessons apart is a carefully crafted song-based curriculum designed to get beginners engaged quickly. “Rather than scales or strumming techniques, we start you into your first song right away,” he says. “Within the first hour, we want the beginner to get that endorphin hit that comes when you play something that sounds like one of your favourite songs.”

The lesson site is organised by five basic genres: Rock, Pop, Folk, Country, and Blues. Within each genre, are discrete lessons on songs ranging from classics like Smoke on the Water to contemporary songs from bands like the national and Band of horses. An accompanying glossary Video section illustrates guitar terminology like “rosewood” or “humbucker,” and playing techniques like palm muting or arpeggios. The two sections allow a student to focus on a song without interruption, consulting the glossary when they encounter something unfamiliar or need a more in-depth explanation.

The Fender online offering also includes the recently acquired Riffstation, a unique digital application that allows users to import audio, learn basic guitar chords for any song, master riffs, and create custom tracks for jam sessions. The program is available in two versions. The free mobile app provides chords and play along functions for a large catalogue of popular songs. The desktop “Pro” version, available online for $34.99, has the capability of transforming any MP3 audio track into a powerful educational device. Within about eight seconds, the program can process an MP3 file and isolate the basic chords, thus helping beginners master their favourite songs. Vocal and solo tracks can also be eliminated, creating an ideal play-along backup. In addition, tempos can be altered without shifting pitch.

Kaplan says that Riffstation currently exists as an “island” within the Fender digital offerings, but will be integrated more fully into the system in the near future. Detailing Fender’s online offering is challenging because the content is being added almost daily. Plans are in the works to add worship and gospel genres, as well as lessons for bass and ukulele. In addition, the glossary section is updated every time Kaplan or one of his team members come across some guitar jargon that might need to be explained to a beginner. Whether targeted to a beginner, intermediate, or advanced players, each lesson has been scripted under the guidance of online learning specialists and accredited music educators.

“Online teaching hasn’t been done well or right,” says Kaplan. “We’ve analysed every aspect to correct what’s wrong and make something that really works.” He bases this boast on extensive field testing with absolute beginners. Working with a Fender online lesson, in most cases, they could play a passable rendition of one of their favourite songs in about 25 minutes.

There are guitar teachers in every market, not to mention enough existing instructional materials to fill several libraries. How then does the Fender online program make a material impact on the number of guitar players? Kaplan explains, “What we’ve found in our consumer research is that there are a lot of people who have played for a long time and still consider themselves beginners. Like a gym membership, they start in January and then quit by March. Then they lose their calluses and go through the pain of starting all over again. We think we can help keep these people going by giving them a realistic sense of accomplishment—learning to play their favourite songs, at the time of their choosing, like in a dorm room at 2:00 a.m.”

Unlike other online programs, Fender’s has the support of a wide range of notable artists who are excited about the prospect of their music being used to help launch a new generation of players. Kaplan says, “Every top act we’ve talked to, whether they’re 22 or 50, has vivid memories of being a beginner, putting a needle on record to decipher a riff, and struggling to master a song. They all see the potential of what we’re doing here, and are excited to be involved.” Fender’s management ranks are filled with guitar “geeks” steeped in the minutiae of pick-up windings, fret dimensions, and wood.

Developing an online educational program required a very different skillset, like the one Kaplan brings to the enterprise. As a teenager in Orange County, California, his free time was divided between playing in local coffee houses and writing computer code. While he was still in high school, his computer skills sufficiently impressed the management of the Orange County Register that they tapped him to develop an online version of the newspaper. Surreptitiously, he used the newspaper’s server to develop a website for his favorite band, R.E.M. the site quickly became a magnet for fans, brought Kaplan to the attention of R.E.M. and its management, and later led to a job offer from the Warner Music group. R.E.M.’s manager described him as a “geek who knows music.” At Warner, Kaplan developed a digital product division that presided over 600 artist websites, fan clubs, and a direct-to-consumer sales channel. He left Warner to head product, technology, and engineering at live nation Entertainment’s lab division, where he built an online platform from the ground up. “We offered more than just a ticket buying experience,” he says.

“We developed content that enhanced the fans’ concert-going experience before, during, and after the show.” Most recently, he served as senior vice president and general manager of Music at Gracenote, which provides video and music content and technology to top streaming services including iTunes.

Fender Digital represents the first time an instrument manufacturer has made a significant investment in online education. That doesn’t mean that new site is without competition: thousands of free online videos are also vying for the finite attention of players. Kaplan is confident that the linear curriculum, high production value, and absence of ads and filler, will make the Fender content a potent draw. “You can learn to do just about anything piecing together YouTube videos,” he concedes. “But, it’s hard to figure out where to start, what’s good, and what’s bad. We figure it out for you, giving you place to start and a curriculum that will take you where you want to go. It’s like you could buy parts and assemble your own Stratocaster, but it’s easier and more effective to buy one from us.”


OVER HALF OF ALL FENDER dealers in the U.S. offer some type of on-site lesson program. Fender CEO Andy Mooney says Fender Digital offerings represent a complement, not competition to these important efforts. To that end, Fender’s online learning program includes significant profit opportunities for retailers and instructors. Retailers will have the opportunity to bundle discounted Fender Play subscriptions with the sale of any Fender guitar. In addition to adding value to the instrument, Mooney says that the subscription sales also offer a “good margin” with no inventory commitment. The mechanics of the sale will be seamlessly managed by Fender Digital. In 2018, Fender Play will add an “Instructors Edition,” that Mooney describes as “closing the circle.” In-store instructors will be able to tailor elements of the Fender curriculum for their students and make use of tracking software to monitor their progress. Instructors who sign up for the program will have their bios and contact information listed on the Fender Play website. Mooney adds, “we want to share the financial success of Fender Play with our retail partners, and create a seamless learning experience for students either online or in person. We all share the same goal, reducing the abandonment rate to grow the entire industry.”

See Fender’s new online approach here…

See Fender’s news release…

Fender buy Sonic Ladder, makers of Riffstation

April 25, 2017 – Fender today announced the acquisition of Sonic Ladder Ltd., a software development firm based in Dublin, Ireland, which took effect April 2015. The strategic acquisition marks a significant milestone for Fender Digital, as the brand continues to take a leadership role in the evolution of its digital suite of products – designed to inspire and enable aspiring players on their musical journey.

Fender address “DROP OUT” rate – It is estimated 90% of all people who begin to play guitar give up. If this figure could be reduced to 80% it would double the size of the potential market! This is where in recent years Fender have been addressing a digital campaign to maintain guitarists engagement.

2015 Fender® employ first ever Chief Digital Products Officer

Ethan Kaplan to lead expansion into digital products and services


Fender acquire RiffStation 2017

Read more here…

Sonic Ladder – RiffSttion

IK Multimedia is an international music technology company founded in Modena, Italy in 1996, IK Multimedia now operates worldwide with offices in Italy, the US and the UK. In 1996 two Italian engineers got together to solve a problem, could you get the sound of classic analog gear from a computer? Or put another way “could you emulate electronic circuits using DSP algorithms and feed an audio signal through the computer and get the same sound?” The answer was yes, the piece of gear they emulated was a vintage Abbey Road console, and a company was born.

The company’s best known for products made for music production, creation, live performance and has also expanded to various music segments. The most notable in recent years are their apps and accessories for Apple’s iOS platform using Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

IK released its first product GrooveMaker, a loop-remixing software package, in 1998. 1999 saw the release of T-RackS, an analog-modelled desktop mastering solution. SampleTank, a multi-timbral, sample-based virtual instrument workstation plug-in, was released in 2001.

AmpliTube, a guitar amp and fx plug-in modelling the entire rig for all platforms, is released in 2002. Amplitube was the first mainstream program to demonstrate what could be achieved with virtual amps and effects, Amplitube was then eclipsed by Native Instrument’s powerful Guitar Rig, which incorporated a pedal so that guitarists could take their virtual show on the road.

A new version of SampleTank was released, including a resampling engine enabling the user to independently modify the time/pitch/formant parameters of the sound samples. In 2004, IK Multimedia released Amplitube Live and Amplitube LE.

In 2010 IK Multimedia brought out the the first guitar interface for iPhone/iPod/iPad and have subsequently produced a host of mobile applications that provide affordable effective mobile interfacing solutions.