Little known facts about Jimi Hendrix 

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.  He was one of the pioneers of utilizing guitar amplifier feedback artistically, and helped to popularize tone-altering pedals like fuzz distortion, wah-wah, and Uni-Vibe.

“Jimi Hendrix 1967-cropped waist” by A. Vente is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Here are some facts you might not know about the “Purple Haze” artist. 


His name was changed as a child. 

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in 1942, Hendrix’s name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix in 1946 in honor of his father, James Allen Hendrix (“Al”), and Al’s late brother, Leon Marshall.


He started playing on a ukulele with one string. 

Hendrix first got his hands on a string instrument while helping his dad with a side job. The client allowed Jimi to keep an old, one-stringed ukulele that was among the items being removed from her home – and he taught himself by ear to play Elvis Presley songs.


He was left handed. 

“Jimi Hendrix Experience-‘You Got Me Floatin”-1967″ by scottallenonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

One of the most famous left-handed guitar players of all time, Hendrix adapted by playing his guitar upside down. 


He played backup guitar for some huge stars. 

Hendrix started his professional career by playing guitar for some big names, including Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Ike and Tina Turner, and The Isley Brothers. At that time, he was playing under the name “Jimmy James”. 


He jumped out of planes while serving in the U.S. Army. 

Hendrix served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper, enlisting in 1961.  He was even awarded the Screaming Eagles patch in 1962 – however, he disliked being in the military, and later that year was granted a general discharge under honorable conditions. 


How to jumpstart your creativity

Do you sometimes struggle with creativity when it comes to writing music?

If you’ve hit a creative block and aren’t sure what to do, here are some useful tips to get your creative juices flowing once more. 


Go for a walk 


Put your guitar down for a bit, lace up your sneakers, and get walking! A 2014 Stanford study found that creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter – either indoors or outdoors. 


Listen to something new

Your Spotify playlist might have all your favorite songs, but it can be helpful to listen to something completely different to get your creative energy going. If you mostly listen to metal, try listening to some country. If you listen to mostly indie music, try some K-pop. Branching out into a different genre will help you get a new musical perspective – even if you don’t love the music. 


Spend some time in nature 

A Danish study from 2015 found that spending time in nature can help boost creativity by recharging directed-attention. Directed-attention is maintaining focus on a specific task, which can sometimes lead to mental fatigue. Bonus points if you take a walk in nature! 


Let loose

Writing music can sometimes feel daunting because of the pressure to write better and better – so why not write worse? Let yourself write something that’s silly or cliche – just for the pleasure of writing it. You might not add a song about dinosaurs to your next album – but it might help you unlock some really good ideas. 


Go see some live music 

Watching another band or artist play original music is a great way to find new inspiration. Check out a local band in your city – or go to an open mic night! 

Five random facts about Guns ‘n Roses

Known for their massive hits like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle”, Guns ‘n Roses made a huge impact on rock music as we know it and inspired countless other musicians. 

Here are some random facts you might not know about them: 

  • Guns ‘n Roses was formed in 1985 when two Los Angeles bands – Hollywood Rose, which had Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose as members, and L.A. Guns founding members Tracii Guns (lead guitar), Rob Gardner (drums), and Ole Beich (bass) decided to combine into one band. 
  • Rejected names for the combined band included “Heads of Amazon” and “AIDS”.
  • Appetite for Destruction, the band’s debut album and the best-selling debut album of all time in the U.S., was one of the last albums to be “handmade” – meaning it was mastered for vinyl, edited with a razor blade on two-inch tape, and was mixed on a non-automated mixing board. 
  • Growing up, GNR guitarist Slash was a champion BMX rider. 
  • Slash’s signature top hat is almost as iconic as his playing style. He said in 2010 that the hat helps with his natural shyness. “You can pull it down, pull your hair down over your face and just sort of hide behind that,” he said. “I’ve always been a little nervous in front of crowds,” he added, “and that made it – made me – feel a lot more comfortable.”

    “Slash en Vivo!” by Edvill is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Review: Maestro guitar effects pedals

Which Maestro guitar pedal (or combinations of pedals) do you need to create the sound you want?

We reviewed them. 



Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-M Pedal

Maestro created the world’s first fuzz pedal – the Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1. Introduced in 1962, the Fuzz-Tone became the sound of rock and roll and a must-have accessory for guitarists everywhere after the success of 1965’s (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, which prominently featured its cutting edge sound. Now Maestro is bringing the fun and sonic fury of those early Fuzz-Tones back with the new Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-M.

Maestro Invader Distortion Pedal

The Maestro Invader Distortion is a high-gain, all-analog modern distortion pedal with a heavy, aggressive, dominant sonic character and loads of rich harmonics. With the Maestro Invader Distortion, users can generate a wide range of distorted sounds.

Maestro Comet Chorus Pedal

The Maestro Comet Chorus pedal uses iconic analog bucket brigade device (BBD) technology to deliver warm, classic chorus tones. This all-analog pedal boasts a Mode toggle switch for increased sonic versatility.

Maestro Discoverer Delay Pedal

The Maestro Discoverer Delay is a modern analog delay pedal that proudly utilizes legendary analog bucket brigade device (BBD) technology to deliver classic, warm, and inviting delay sounds.

Maestro Ranger Overdrive Pedal

Inspired by the overdriven tones of some of the world’s most cherished vintage tube amps, the Ranger is a modern, all-analog overdrive pedal featuring a Mode toggle switch that provides two different tonalities; a warm, expressive, amp-like overdrive and a second tonality that’s slightly cleaner and exceptionally touch-sensitive; it blends in some of the clean signal and is a great choice for use as an “always on” effect that can be controlled with your pick attack and your guitar’s volume control.

How to recycle guitar strings and other guitar equipment

Playing guitar – like any hobby – can produce a decent amount of waste. From disposing of old strings, to getting rid of instruments once they’re past their prime – here’s how to recycle your guitar parts in an environmentally-friendly way.



You should be changing your guitar strings regularly – but what do you do with the old ones?

Guitar strings, with the exception of nylon strings, are made from metal, and can be recycled. You can take old strings to your local scrapyard to be recycled, and you might even make some money off of it, since many scrap yards offer compensation for metal junk. Your best bet is to save up a collection of old strings and recycle them all at the same time. 

D’addario also offers a string buyback program, which lets you take your old and unwanted to strings to one of their partner locations for recycling. Click here to learn more



Every guitarist has gone through some destroyed amps, fried pedals, and other broken gear. Instead of tossing it, consider putting it for sale on sites like Reverb or Craigslist. Even broken gear has a market – Reverb has a special category for non-functioning gear. Enterprising tinkerers might be able to repair the gear for sale, or else use parts for projects. 

If you don’t get any bites, you can also take the gear to a scrap yard. 


Unwanted/broken guitars

Unfortunately, guitars don’t last forever. If you find yourself with old, unwanted guitars, here are a few things to do with them: 

Donate them: Many programs, including Guitars Not Guns, Music is Art, and Guitars 4 Vets collect used instruments and put them in the hands of those who need them. Most organizations accept only functional used guitars, so if yours is damaged or broken, check with the organization’s guidelines. 

Sell them: There’s likely someone out there who wants the challenge of fixing up an old guitar – or who needs parts! 

Trade them in: Several retailers offer buyback programs for used gear. Check out these options (but make sure to read all of the details):

Get crafty: There are plenty of cool ways to repurpose an old guitar – as a planter, birdhouse, and more! Check out this guide to guitar crafts. 

Recycle them: Electric guitars are e-waste. Check your local government’s guide to recycling e-waste in your area. 

Introducing – Fret Zealot 2

Your guitar goals are at your fingertips with Fret Zealot 2! 

The LEDs of Fret Zealot 2’s LED strip are 200x brighter than the original version, making it that much easier to see chords, arpeggios, riffs, and more! 

Here’s what else is new with the Fret Zealot 2: 

LED System 

Magnetic Detachable Connector

Thin and Smooth “spine”

Improved Protective Coating

Music Responsive Light Shows

Smooth LED transitions (fading)

Customizable Light Shows

  • Controller / Battery
    Onboard Piezo / MEMS Microphone
    Gesture Control via Accelerometer
    Smart press-button on/off switch
    Pre-built light shows (no app needed)
    Bluetooth 5 (LE)
    USB-C charging
    Smaller Size

Jam With 250,000 Song Tracks!

The Fret Zealot song library has pretty much any song you’re looking for. If it doesn’t, you can upload your own Guitar Pro files.

Once you’ve chosen your song, you can slow it down (fully adjustable BPM), loop sections, select different tracks (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, etc.), or use AI Mode to have the tab wait for you to play the correct note or chord before moving on.

The Fret Zealot 2 fits on almost any full-size guitar, and comes in 24.75” and 25.5” lengths. It partners with the Fret Zealot app on iOS or Android, where you can find 4,000 video lessons, 250,000 song tracks, and every chord, note, and scale. 

Installation is simple and takes 10 – 15 minutes. Just follow our video guide!

 The tape adhesive is not permanent. Reach out to our team at [email protected] any time if you have questions. Responses guaranteed within 1 business day.

 Order yours today. 


A brief history of the guitar

How old is the guitar, exactly?

Stringed instruments, played with two hands, pre-date written history. Two of the main forebears of the guitars we know today are the oud and the lute. 

The oud dates back to ancient Persia (originally called the barbat), and was used throughout the Middle East. The oud has a pear-shaped body, a fretless fingerboard, and a short neck. Its name in Arabic, ūd (“wood”), refers to its body, made of aloe wood.

“Oud (Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris)” by dalbera is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The lute is descended from the Middle Eastern oud, brought to Europe through Spain in the 8th and 9th centuries. During the Medieval Period, the lute usually had five strings that were played with a quill as a plectrum. In the late 15th century, lutists mostly abandoned the quill and plucked with their fingers, as sixth (sometimes more) strings were added. 

“File:A Woman Playing the Theorbo-Lute and a Cavalier MET DP145907.jpg” by Gerard ter Borch is marked with CC0 1.0.

By the 16th century, Spanish musicians started to use string instruments that more closely match the curved guitars we recognize today. They were known as baroque guitars and featured five “courses” (strings) and movable frets. 

These guitars, known as Baroque guitars, effectively replaced the lute as the go-to stringed instrument for musicians from about 1600 to 1750. Further refinements, such as five courses of gut strings and moveable frets, made these instruments easier to play.

“Tielke baroque guitar” by Jo Dusepo is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

By the 1790s, a sixth course was added to Spanish guitars, and a standard body type was established (although it was smaller than modern guitars). 

In the mid-1800s, Spanish musician and luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado created the guitar design that resembles the modern classical guitar. It featured a wider body, a thinned belly, and had machined heads instead of wooden tuning pegs. The strings were split evenly between gut (now plastic or nylon) and metal-spun silk. 

In the United States, the guitar continued to develop. Christian Frederick Martin, who was born in Germany, created the flat top acoustic guitar in the U.S. in the 1830s, which was designed to handle the extra tension caused by modern steel strings. 

The harder, tighter steel strings required musicians to change up their playing style from the delicate, plucked melodies of a classical guitar. Many started using picks, which helped to popularize chord-driven music. 

 Despite the popularity of picking, early guitars still often got drowned out in the mix during the big band jazz era. Innovative musicians tried to use attached microphones or telephone transmitters to increase the volume of the guitar. The first commercially available electric guitar – as we know it today – was released in 1931. 

The Rickenbacher A-22 Electro Hawaiian – also known as the “Frying Pan” was created by George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker. The guitar included an electromagnetic device that changed the strings’ into a clear resonant sound. Although Rickenbacher and Beauchamp won the first patent for the electric guitar, there were plenty other inventors who worked on electrifying guitars – including        , who designed the solidbody design for Gibson Guitars, Leo Fender, who created the Fender Telecaster in 1951. 

“File:Rickenbacher Frying Pan (clone), short scale, 22 fret – 2011 TSGA Jamboree.jpg” by brad_bechtel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.



Musicians Institute: Guitar History: How the Guitar has Evolved

Britannica – Guitar 


Yamaha Corp – The birth of the classical guitar

Level up your guitar skills with these unique courses

Are you feeling stuck in a rut playing guitar? Try something completely different to get your creativity flowing! You may even find a new technique that you can apply to your own music. 

Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco instrumental music is a culturally significant art form from Andalucía (Southern Spain). It includes free flowing styles that rely heavily on improvisation. Try out this course – designed for the absolute flamenco newbie – and take flamenco guitar for a spin! 

Flamenco Ukulele

Flamenco isn’t just for guitar – try it out for ukulele too!

The Guitar of Chuck Berry – Fifties Rock & Roll Guitar Styles

Chuck Berry was one of rock and roll’s original pioneers! Learn his signature style and memorable licks and riffs that embody 1950s rock and roll with this course. 

Funk Essentials – Level 1

It’s time to get funky. If your usual playing has been feeling lackluster lately, let this comprehensive course take you from a funk novice to confidently playing through James Brown-style grooves! 

Ultimate Guitar Tone School

If you’re sick of basic guitar tones, attend Guitar Tone School for a crash course on all things tone – including how guitar tone is created, understanding how sound waves work, pickup demonstrations, and how to make amps, pedals, and effects work for you. 

Rockabilly Guitar for Beginners

If you want to play 1950s Rockabilly and Rock ‘n’ Roll the right way, then this course is perfect for you. It will take you through the Nashville Number System, teach you to recognize the key of a song, and help you through chord progressions.

Musical Meditations

Need to relax? This course uses beginner guitar techniques to help you reach a space of meditative peace. It’s a well known fact that music is good for you. Embrace that give these “meditations” a try!

Songs about eclipses to learn for the 2024 total solar eclipse

The Great American Eclipse is happening over much of North America on April 8, 2024! Fret Zealot’s headquarters are in Buffalo, New York, so we have the best seats in the house to celebrate this rare celestial event. Check out these eclipse-centric songs to stream – or learn on guitar! 


“Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler 

“Total Eclipse” is Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler’s biggest career hit, and she’s made the most of power ballad’s astronomical themes. In 2017, Tyler performed the song live onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship during the solar eclipse of Aug. 21. 

“Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers

What better song to play when the moon blocks the sun for around four minutes on April 8? Check out this website for exact times.


“You’re so Vain” – Carly Simon

Simon’s 1971 hit includes the lines “you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia/To see a total eclipse of the sun” referring to the March 7, 1970 total solar eclipse. “You’re So Vain” is one of the very few recorded songs to mention a specific eclipse. 


“Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden

Depending on where you’re located, the eclipse may look like a “black hole sun” at the point of totality. Just be sure to wear the correct protective glasses when looking at it! 


“Eclipse” – Pink Floyd 

This song from 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon contains the line “… and everything under the sun is in tune/but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” Want to play it just like David Gilmour? Check out this player study. 

“Back in Black” – AC/DC

Black never goes out of style – but it’s certainly the color du jour with the “blackout” of the sky being imminent. What better song to learn for the occasion?

Check out these new 2024 guitars in the Fret Zealot store

April is International Guitar Month, and we’ve got some great new axes to pick from in the Fret Zealot store. 


ESP LTD EC-256 | Candy Apple Red Satin

RED HOT. Grab the ESP LTD Eclipse EC-256 solidbody electric guitar for a huge value in a rock-ready instrument. You’ll get rich, snappy tone from the mahogany body, and the set-neck design gives you sustain for days. A pair of ESP humbucking pickups onboard the ESP LTD Eclipse EC-256 solidbody electric guitar gives you a great foundation for a wide variety of styles, plus the extra versatility of push-pull coil tapping. Check out how it sounds in this review. 


ESP LTD EC-256QM | Black Cherry Sunburst

It comes in Black Cherry Sunburst, too! 


ESP LTD Viper-256 | See-Thru Black Cherry

There are no sonic limits with the ESP LTD Viper-256 solidbody electric guitar! Whether you play rock, metal, blues, or punk, the LTD Viper-256 has the tone you’re after. That’s because ESP loaded this super-versatile double-cutaway guitar with a set of dual-mode ESP-designed LH-150 humbucking pickups with onboard coil splitting. These fire-breathing pickups are perfectly paired with the naturally warm and harmonically rich sound of a mahogany body and neck, with a stunning quilted maple top adding more brightness and bite to your tone. 


ESP LTD TE-200 | Snow White

The LTD TE-200 delivers the essence of ESP — a company founded on taking existing guitar designs and supercharging them. The TE-200’s single-cut body shape and bolt-on neck borrow from the first mass-produced solidbody electric guitar. Outfitted with aggressive high-output humbuckers, the TE-200 is a hot rod that serves up huge helpings of fat, snarling tone. 

Traveler Ultra-Light Acoustic Electric Travel Guitar

On the go? The Ultra-Light is a portable and travel-friendly version of your favorite at-home guitar that you can take anywhere and everywhere you go. Weighing 2 lbs 14 oz and measuring 28”, this will be your steadfast road companion. Forget lugging around your full-sized acoustic electric guitar and worrying about it getting damaged. The detachable lap rest allows this to fit perfectly into the carry-on friendly gig bag and provides protection in an overhead bin.

Our proprietary In-Body Tuning System eliminates the need for a headstock by relocating standard tuning machines into the body. Even though it’s small, it’s still crafted with a full 24 3/4″ scale experience with 22 frets.