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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 12:00am

Playing guitar is supposed to score highly in the cool stakes. But no one ever tells you how much it hurts to fumble your fingers around on the strings while learning that three-chord classic. Wannabe guitarists can take heart. Japanese toy manufacturer Takara has produced a guitar that puts an end

to blistered fingertips.

The WLG ('we love guitar') has no strings. Instead, 24 buttons on the neck produce 48 chords, which are 'strummed' by the user on a virtual strum pad in the same way a conventional guitar is played. The sound produced is highly realistic. There are also 24 Japanese and western pop songs stored on the instrument, including those by the Beatles and boy band SMAP, which players can learn. Because the WLG is battery-operated, there are no fiddly power cords and no need to plug it into an amplifier.

The WLG isn't on the shelves in Hong Kong shops, but one Mongkok store, Start Up, will help customers import them from Japan ($988 each, with a $500 deposit when you place an order). Start Up is at shop 114, CTMA Centre, Mongkok, tel: 3188 4323.