Rocksmith: Love it or hate it?

posted in: Music, Technology | 0

RockSmith 2014Looking to learn how to play guitar but don’t want the expensive lessons or have limited time?   Here is my perspective…I hope someone finds it helpful.

First, my music background at a glance

I started playing drums as a child.   I played, poorly, all the way through grade and middle school.   High school is when I started taking it seriously and had a blast then all the way through college with the Eastern Illinois Panther Marching Band (GO BIG BLUE!) and the Midwest Funk Factooorrryyyy!…..SUP!   (Sorry, only alumni would know what I’m talking about there.)     I played drums in a few rock bands in Chicago, almost made the Blue Man Group, etc, etc.     I understood all the basics of music.   Sight-reading, aural training, time signatures, scales, chords and the like.

Life flew by, I got married, had kids and bought a small house.   I didn’t have the room for my drum set and didn’t want to piss off the neighbors.   I missed the challenge of playing and continuous improvement.

My intro to guitar

One day, I was prepping and packing for a camping trip and decided it was time to get an acoustic guitar.   I was originally wanting a guitar as a musical outlet but also wanted to keep myself occupied while sitting around the campfire.    I headed down to the local Guitar Center during a 4th of July or Labor day weekend sale to see what deals were out there.     I ended picking up a ruby red Ovation Applause shallowback acoustic-electric guitar for about $200.   Normally retails for $350ish.    I picked it because the guitar was very comfortable to hold, compared to a dreadnought and it was shallow and small enough to pack with the rest of my camping gear.

I loved the color and the fact that I could play it outdoors and plug it in to an amp.   I thought it sounded good at least for a beginner guitar.   I knew how to play a few chords that my uncle Jack taught me as a kid and from messing around with my dorm mates guitar on occasion.

I was watching YouTube videos and memorizing the chords but I wasn’t really progressing at the rate that I wanted.    I had RockBand and Guitar Hero which is hardly a learning tool.   They were great for drums but not so much for guitars when the toy guitars had 5 buttons for frets and a toggle paddle.

Then along came Rocksmith (version 1)…I saw the marketing videos and was a definite lock on my Christmas wishlist.




Rocksmith – What is it?

Essentially, Rocksmith is a guitar game where you plug in a real guitar to your XBOX, PlayStation or PC/Mac and play along with the songs in a game-like fashion, earning points for your progress.   When you buy the game, you can choose to purchase the game with their Tone Cable (instrument cable to USB Adapter) included with the game or order separately.     This tone cable helps pick up which strings/frets or notes you pluck on your guitar and converts to ones and zeros for the digital game platform.

You can choose Rhythm Guitar or Lead Guitar mode.   For example, you want to play chords or do the lead shredding?

What type of songs?

Lots of different styles and genres!   Rock, Metal, Blues, Folk, Pop, etc.    If you don’t like the default songs they include with the game, you can purchase and download additional songs as their developers release them.

Does it have lessons?

Yes!   It has built-in lessons where it walks you through all the way from holding the guitar and the pick to doing harmonic double-stops.

What about Bass Guitar?

Yes, Bass guitar mode is available as well.

Initial impression?

HOLY SHIT!   Once I got passed the audio/video sync or lag problem, I started having lots of fun and burning through song after song until my fingers blistered and bled.    If you’ve never played a fret-based game before where the notes and patterns are shown on the screen, it may take some getting used to.    The strings are color coded and the frets are numbered on the screen to help you know where to play.   It will even show you the fingering (which fingers to use) if it doesn’t feel quite right.

This game changed my life!    I’ve spent countless nights going through the library trying to improve my skill level and accuracy.     I’m a better guitar player as a result.   Like with ANY instrument, you need to invest the time to craft your skills.   You are not going to be a guitar god overnight.    You will get out of it, what you put into it…


Please come out with the drum version too!   RockBand was pretty decent with the drum parts except you were limited to the 4 pads.    If Ubisoft allowed a midi-enabled electric drum kit to plug in and also had the drum parts, I’d be in heaven and wouldn’t leave the house for months…well, I do need to go to work to pay for the electricity consumed by my TV.