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Guitar Tragedy: Life Imitates Games

Tuesday, 8 Jan 2008 | 3:35 PM ET

It was truly odd. At Bill Gates' keynote speech, the show ended with what was supposed to be a cutting contest between Gates and the president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, Robbie Bach. But when Bach was to start the competition, Kelly Law-Yone, a guitar-Hero "champion,” strode on stage and faked her way through “Welcome to the Jungle,” raising her fist to the sky in true rocker fashion.

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Then it was Gates' turn. His “ringer” was none other than Slash, the guy who actually played on Guns N' Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle." I know games such as Activision's"Guitar Hero" are off the charts, but they have led to an odd phenomenon: Not only are real guitar players competing against fake guitar players. Real guitar companies are now making fake guitars

Yes, true “guitar heroes,” including Peavey and Gibson are now making fake guitars for gamers. And yesterday, I stood in the Peavey Booth, listening to a rocker-looking guy noodle his way through “Slow Ride,” a few bars of Cream and finally, the ultimate Guitar Hero anthem, “Welcome to the Jungle.” Geesh.

Peavey's RiffMaster guitar controllers are made from real maple with a rosewood fretboard, and come with 11 exclusive artwork designs, including Kiss, Skynyrd and the ever-popular Megadeath. Oddly enough, the Peavey representative told me these games had actually increased interest in real guitars among youngsters. At $500, it ought to increase interest in something.

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Gibson makes its own Les Paul guitar controller for Guitar Hero. But oddly enough, the only real nod to it in the Gibson tent was a Guitar Hero setup pushed way over to the side. The guitar wasn't even there and the representative told me point blank that if I wanted information, I'd have to go to gibson.com.

Clearly, the real guitar players were the star of this show.

Editor's note: As part of our extensive coverage of CES, CNBC.com's Brian Clark and Ted Kemp will be at the event and contributing to this special edition of Tech Check.

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