During those important early stages of learning to play guitar, when you need to grab every possible opportunity to practice, digital teaching aids like iPerform3D and the upcoming Rocksmith can be on hand whenever the mood grabs you. There are also solutions that make learning available wherever your instrument happens to be - such as Castiv's Sidekick (along with an iPhone and the Rock Prodigy app) - and it's to this camp that the Tepoe Guitar belongs. Rather than positioning the device screen at the end of the fingerboard, inventor Michael Tepoe Nash has sliced away a section of the upper horn of the guitar and placed a small computer there instead.

The guitar itself has a Maple neck, a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard, chrome hardware and a humbucker-single-humbucker pickup configuration. Looking down towards the neck, the learner is faced with a 24-bit, 16 million color, 4.3-inch LCD computer screen with physical, push-button controls that supports 720p high definition playback and has 8GB of internal storage (with expansion possible via SD card). Nash has pre-loaded the Tepoe Guitar's computer with over 30 video lessons, more than 800 instructional diagrams, a music theory e-book, and drum and backing tracks to which students can play along.

Users can also upload their own content - such as video lessons from a favored instructor - from any Windows 7, XP, Vista, and 2000 PC via the included USB port. The device is also capable of playing NES.net, GBA, and some 32-bit BIN and 64-bit games utilizing the game program of the guitar. The computer includes its own external speaker with eight different EQ settings but audio can also be routed to headphones or onward to an amplifier via a 3.5 mm jack.

"For now we only have this one electric model which is geared primarily to teach the beginner," Nash told Gizmag. "We do have plans on developing a more advanced model for the professional in the future similar to the earlier acoustic prototype, which has the capability of the contemporary laptop computer - including a digital recording studio, effects processor, Bluetooth, touch-screen, 60GB of memory, tablature editor, and many more features that will help the professional guitar player."

The Tepoe Guitar kit includes a guitar (available in four different colors), headphone practice amp, headphones, digital tuner, guitar strap, computer screen protector, amp adapter plug, USB cable, wall charger, cords, pick, and gig bag - and is available now for US$499.

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