The Inventor

Circa 1990After receiving a congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, Rusty Shaffer attended The University of Connecticut where he earned a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. It was at UCONN that he found his love for playing guitar. "It just spoke to me. Even just being able to learn and strum a few chords really touched off a passion inside me." Rusty found his eureka moment a couple of years later after graduating and returning to live in Silicon Valley, the heart of inventing at the time. He envisioned a guitar that would speed the learning process by lighting up chords and scales right on the fretboard, showing the player where to place his fingers. “I was at a point in my playing where I was trying to learn scales. For me and for most players, going back and forth from chord and scale books to the guitar was slow and agonizing,” Shaffer recalls. “I kept thinking, why can’t this information be put where I really need it – right under my fingertips?”

In 1987, Shaffer invented the Fretlight Guitar and forever transformed the experience of learning to play. During the following 2 decades Shaffer would go on to build the company and prepare it for where it is today. Shaffer remains the CEO and besides driving the Fretlight vision, he still answers sales calls. When asked why he replies, "Because I'm still a customer of Fretlight myself. I love talking to customers about where they are and pinpointing how Fretlight can help them advance." Rusty has performed with with the legendary band America numerous times and recorded two albums. Along with his musical accomplishments Rusty is also an intellectual property attorney and a member of the Massachusetts State Bar as well as a certified flight instructor and commercial pilot. He currently lives in Reno Nevada with his wife and their blended family.

The Company

Based in Reno, NV, Optek Music Systems is the manufacturer and distributor of the groundbreaking Fretlight Guitar and learning system. The company celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014. In 2015 the company celebrated successfully selling Fretlight guitars into its 75th country. Tens of thousands of players worldwide are using Fretlight and it continues to grow. The Reno facility houses the company's corporate, warehousing and distribution facilities. Read the in-depth Music and Sound Retailer Interview with Rusty. Success stories from all over the world prove time and time again that the Fretlight is more than just a guitar - it's the only guitar that shows you where to play and the only guitar that has helped guitar players young and old achieve their guitar playing dreams!

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