As music listeners and as fans, we’re on a constant and never-ending mission to find even better music to enjoy. Since our music playlists are filled with such amazing songs that musicians spent countless time to produce, it’s hard not to get inspired and want to get involved. I am one of those people, and it is because of this, I’ve been able to keep writing about Japanese rock music for so long!

However, unlike me, there are other people who project their passion for music into other fields, such as fashion, art, and technology, but maybe the closest way to get to the core is to actually become a musician?

This time around, I will tell you about my experience on how I learned to play the iconic song filth in the beauty by the GazettE on guitar… with the help of LED lights! If for some incomprehensible reason you haven’t heard the song filth in the beauty yet, have a listen to it below!


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Why use LEDs?

The US-based company Fret Zealot asked if we wanted to try out their neat product that would add sparkling LED lights to our guitars. We were immediately intrigued and I took the opportunity and decided to give it a go. Besides the LEDs that came in the box, you will need to download their free companion app to get it working, available on iOS and Android.

I should probably let you know that my guitar playing skills would likely not be categorized by anything else than “beginner”, but since I played other instruments before such as piano, I already know my music theory.

The first thing to address, why should anyone use LED lights to enhance their guitar playing skills? The answer is simple: it’s a lot more fun! But more practical reasons; learning chords and scales no longer require you to look at your sheets and see if you put your fingers correctly, instead, you rely on the colorful LEDs to guide you. In addition to that, it allows you to learn at your own pace without a guitar teacher who charges you per lesson or hour. As a beginner, learning chords and scales using LEDs is probably the most compelling reason to get Fret Zealot—because it lowers the hurdle of mundane repetitive tasks like these.

Not only will the LEDs guide you when learning chords and scales, but it also guides you through entire songs! This lets you see what to play and when to play it. Once you’re familiar with the song, it can be used as a reference to see that you hit the correct notes on time. The coolest and the most powerful feature about Fret Zealot is that it’s possible to upload your own songs (tabs) to the app and have the LEDs light up to it!

What comes in the box: Capo, 3.5mm 4-pole connector, phone stand, micro-USB cable, Bluetooth module, guitar picks, and a LED strip that will stick to your guitar. Make sure to position the LED strip correctly before applying it. Once it sticks, avoid repositioning it as the LED strip is delicate.

With Fret Zealot installed and ready to go!

Learning how to play “Filth in the Beauty”

With all that said, to learn how to play the GazettE’s Filth in the Beauty, we don’t actually need to know too much about the standard chords and scales, which mostly stands true only if you decide to learn guitarist Aoi’s part, the rhythm guitar. The secret to learning how to play many of the Japanese rock songs comes down to something called “power chords”. Once you know the shapes of power chords, you can simply slide your fingers anywhere horizontally and it will still sound good. This technique is not only used in rock, but it’s a pattern we tend to find in Japanese rock, and of course in Filth in the Beauty too. The app itself doesn’t teach you the music theory behind power chords, but do not fret, as the app will tell you what to play—in addition to the guiding LEDs.

After installing the Fret Zealot LED strip onto my guitar, I start by powering the Bluetooth module on, open the app to let it automatically sync and connect, then select the “Play” mode. In here, you will find guitar tabs from all the biggest bands, but surprisingly, a bunch of Japanese bands too like the GazettE, X Japan, L’Arc-en-Ciel, girugamesh, DIR EN GREY, Maximum the Hormone, Crossfaith, UVERworld, and so much more! I’ve been told the company is planning on adding even more Japanese bands this week!

The app shows 422 listed tabs for the GazettE. The picture to the right shows the app when in “Play” mode, when playing along to a song.

What I find is the biggest downside is that it’s not possible to see how to rhythmically play the song using the app. In other words, there are no musical notations, you don’t know how long or fast a note should be played, and how to accentuate them (like palm mute, or pitch bend). On the other hand, that makes reading the notes a lot easier thanks to a simplified view. Perhaps a button to toggle between showing and hiding notations could be a solution?

One particular thing that I noticed while learning Filth in the Beauty is that there are a few places at the beginning where the rhythm guitar doesn’t play at all, rendering the app completely silent during those parts. This is because the app only produces sound when the guitar should be played, so you won’t be able to lean back on vocals or drums for guidance. Due to the aforementioned reasons, it’s best to pick and learn a song you’re already familiar with.

By using the LED lights to get familiar with how to place my fingers, I built a muscle memory on how to play the chords. At this point, I was able to rely less on the LEDs and started following the notes on the app instead. From there, I started picking up speed and went from half-speed to normal speed. This process took me about three days, memorizing the entire song was the most taxing part. I did, however, exclude Aoi’s acoustic intro when learning the song, just for the record. After all that, I began practicing with the actual song itself to copy the GazettE’s style of playing. So in about less than a week, I was able to play the song quite decently.

Conclusion

Learning Filth in the Beauty using Fret Zealot’s LEDs was a fun experience! I’m happy that I’m now able to play such an iconic Japanese rock song, and it only took me a few days to get down the basics. While I’m not sure more advanced players would benefit from learning songs using Fret Zealot due to the lack of musical notations, I’m certain beginners will greatly benefit from the LEDs, especially during the early stages when getting familiar with chords, scales, and the guitar itself. For the general public, this is where the product shines the most!

But for me personally, the biggest selling point is the aspect of being able to carry around a massive library of Japanese rock songs in your pocket. Combined with the killer feature of being able to upload your own tabs makes Fret Zealot so much more flexible and powerful!


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You can grab your own Fret Zealot over at their official website or at the Japanese music store, BIG BOSS. The company also recently successfully funded Fret Zealot for ukuleles.

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