Part of the reason for the drop in popularity of rhythm games in recent times may be because the appeal of the plastic, button-oriented peripherals is starting to wane, and indeed avid fans of the genre have been crying out for a way to play "real instruments" alongside a game. The solution could already be here in the form of You Rock Guitar, a multi-use peripheral that acts as a MIDI controller, can be plugged into an amplifier, headphones, or directly to a computer via USB for use with software like GarageBand and Cubase. Most interestingly it's compatible with Rock Band and Guitar Hero on all three platforms.

It features six steel strings, a full-sized neck, an electronic whammy bar and can be dismantled for carrying around. It also offers a wide range of presets, synth sounds, jam tracks and open tunings and is always in tune, so should appeal to beginners, musicians and gamers alike.

Those looking to replace a Rock Band or Guitar Hero guitar peripheral will need to pick up a Gameflex cartridge as well. This is basically a dongle that simulates a wireless controller for their particular platform, and two sets of color-coded frets then replicate the buttons on a standard gaming guitar.

You Rock Guitar retails for US$199 and platform-specific GameFlex cartridges will cost US$19.99 each. It’s currently available for pre-order from Inspired Instruments and shipping is expected within the next month.

Check out the video below for a quick demo, and there are plenty of resources on the official site if you want to know more.