The Fretlight is a real guitar. You can use it with any amp, effect, or recording device that you want with the LEDs turned off. When the LEDs are off you are in "Performance Mode". With the LEDs turned on you are in "Practice Mode" and there will be certain limitations. The Fretlight's learning system utilizes 132 LED’s, which naturally produce a slight electronic noise that, if improperly connected to your amp, effect, recorder, or with the wrong settings used on the guitar, could be heard through your amp. Please be sure to use all of the appropriate settings as they will help ensure you get a great clean sound when practicing through an amp with your Fretlight electric guitar's lights on.
Acoustic: If you have an acoustic Fretlight guitar this is of course not an issue at all. Even if your acoustic has a preamp so it can be plugged into an amp it is not a problem as our acoustics only use a piezo pickup that works solely on vibrations so it is not able to pick up any electronic noise.
Acoustically: You can 100% practice acoustically with any electric guitar. You will not get any LED noise this way and your neighbor(s) will really appreciate it (especially if you are a beginner).
Effects: In general, whenever you are practicing with an electric or an acoustic through an amp you naturally do not want any effects turned on as they will possibly mask your playing errors. Effects like gain, overdrive, fuzz, etc. can also naturally boost the noise's presence.
Pickups: A magnetic pickup works by sensing changes in their magnetic fields. A guitar's metal strings moving through those magnetic fields is what creates the guitar's sound. The electricity used by the LEDs that is moving near or through those fields will also cause disturbances in the pickup's magnetic field and create sound. This is simply how magnetic pickups work. It is an issue of proximity as the further the pickup is from the LEDs the least amount of noise it will hear. As such, if the LEDs are on, ONLY use the bridge position pickup. It will have zero noise.
The EMG, Shelby, or Ori pickups are hot, high-output, very refined, and extra sensitive as they are designed to hear as much playing detail as possible so they will naturally sense more of the LED noise. Also, the EMGs are going to pick up more of the LED noise than a humbucker because it is a single coil pickup that hears higher and brighter sounds better. A humbucker has a higher output than a single coil and that compressed mid-rangy sound happens because the extra output boosts the mids while cutting the highs.
Tone Adjustments: In addition, there are a few settings that you can adjust to reduce the noise further like rolling back the highs on the guitar via its tone pots or lowering the highs through the amp via its EQ, if available.
Power: Make sure any device (computer, phone, effect pedal, amp, iPad, etc.) you have connected to the guitar is grounded using a three-prong plug or running off its battery's power. Try not to use power strips or extension cords, as they WILL introduce extra noise into the system. Make sure that you are using a shielded guitar cable. There is a difference when it comes to extraneous noise introduced into the system - use a good cable, we recommend using a name-brand cable like the Monster Cable that we offer.
Other Options: You can optionally use a MIDI system like the Fishman Triple Play, Variax (via a body swap), or Roland GK-3 that uses a piezo pickup to completely avoid the noise.
If you are using all of the correct settings and there is still is noise while in the bridge position please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.