Guitar Hero: Gateway Drug to Six-String Bliss

Guitar Center, which set up virtual shop in Guitar Hero and has offered deep discounts to gamers who buy real instruments, thinks "interactive videogames such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band are minting more guitar players," according a representative of the store.

A new crop of online teaching services has appeared to help this wave of new musicians learn guitar in a familiar way: through video.

"[We] see a strong future in selling guitar lessons online, partly because of the accessibility of it and the convenience of it," Schroedl said, "but also because of the visual nature of learning to play music -- being able to see a real professional teacher's fingers on the fretboard and seeing it up close, along with onscreen [tablature sheets]."

There's even a videogame coming that promises to bridge the gap between game guitar and music lesson: Guitar Rising will purportedly let users play a Guitar Hero-type game using an actual guitar instead of a plastic controller.

Grondah, the metal fan who's on his way to becoming a cop, said he likes the idea of a game that teaches him something.

"Forget this pushing buttons crap," he said. "You're actually strumming and playing strings.... That sounds like a cool premise."

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