Is learning to play guitar hard work or fun like playing a game? Work commonly requires dedication and commitment. Play is generally something you can stop at any time. In other words, nobody will push you to play. Work and games are not mutually exclusive, and it will always be healthy to achieve a good balance between your time to work and your time to play. As you can see, this Rocksmith review will be about playing games. Rocksmith 2014 Edition Remastered is a guitar video game like the old Guitar Hero, but it takes the guitar games to a new dimension using your actual instrument as your joystick.
I’ll show you in this review how Rocksmith will help you learn the basics of how to play a real instrument. Having 30 years of experience playing a real instrument, I feel I have a very good understanding of what it’s a good way of learning to play. In this review, I’ll try to give a comprehensive approach to Rocksmith.
How Does It Work?
Rocksmith 2014 Edition Remastered is the newest version of Rocksmith. It’s a very revolutionary concept that applies a real musical instrument to a guitar game. Rocksmith 2014 is a simple and effective game. You only need to plug in your instrument, start Rocksmith and begin to perform the song you like.
On the screen, you’ll see a track scrolling. It displays numbers and strings that tell you where to place your fingers. You need to work along with the notes of the song, you must touch the notes and strum the strings that the screen shows on your instrument, so your score will increase as you keep playing the right notes.
Rocksmith PS4, PC, and Xbox versions will track your performance. It’s an interactive tablature that responds to how you perform. The idea is that you’ll be able to start playing your favorite tunes. Over time you’ll gradually improve your scores as you practice more and become a better player.
What Do You Need to Play Rocksmith?
One of the most important things to mark in this review is that if you already have a guitar, you need really little more to begin playing.
If it’s not included in your Rocksmith Bundle, you need to buy a Rocksmith Real Tone Cable. This is the cable you’ll need to actually plug your guitar into your console or computer. It’s just a ¼ inch USB cable. There are cheaper cables from some third party brands that can work as well. But it will be better to buy the official Ubisoft Cable (Click here to see today’s price on Amazon).
You can play with an electric or an acoustic guitar with your PC, Xbox, and PS4 Rocksmith versions. But it’s fair to say that electric guitars are best for Rocksmith 2014, as they are easier to connect, more responsive and because almost all of the songs are geared towards the electric guitar.
Rocksmith 2014 also supports USB microphones, so you can use your acoustic guitar. It works pretty well for the most part, but it depends a lot on the quality of the microphone you’re using. So there is less guaranty of Rocksmith to work fine with an acoustic guitar than with an electric one.
Can you really learn guitar with Rocksmith?
Rocksmith 2014 Edition is said to help a beginner guitar player to master the guitar in only 60 days. I think that this isn’t very realistic. Although there are a lot of valuable things about the way this game tries to teach playing guitar, you must keep in mind that it’s just a game, and it’s very different from an actual guitar course.
Rocksmith 2014 is fun, engaging, and maybe it can help players to raise their skill levels. But I don’t recommend you buy this product just thinking that it will teach you how to play your instrument. I recommend you try a guitar course as a real alternative to learning. I have said it on different articles here at All Stringed. A guitar course is the best way to start playing songs while you learn some theory, scales, and do some exercises.
As I commented at the beginning of this review, you need time to work and time to play. So Rocksmith is a good alternative to clear your mind, but keeping some focus on your guitar skills at the same time. At the moment that you start to try playing that song you choose, it will help you feel like you are in a rock band.
As you start playing the song, it’ll continually add notes till you reach to perform the song as good as it appears on your screen. The game automatically adjusts the difficulty based on how you’re performing. Rocksmith displays the notes intuitively with numbers and strings that represent your guitar neck. It’s essentially guitar tablatures mixed with some Guitar Hero style. This certainly isn’t a learning guitar method, but it can be a way to introduce non-musician people to the guitar world.
Is Rocksmith actually good for learning?
Rocksmith 2014 Edition can be a great tool that compliments your practice routine but should not be seen as a replacement for a real guitar course to learn guitar. Rocksmith it’s basically a lot like “Guitar Hero” but using a real guitar. It offers lessons to improve your playing and is a kind of gaming combined with some finger exercises practice.
This video game is actually a topic of debate among musicians and non-musicians. The main subject of the discussion seems to be whether this game is really an effective learning guitar method or just a game where you can practice some minimal guitar skills.
There are tonnes of “success stories” posted around YouTube, but some of them, for and against Rocksmith, are imprecise and do not reach convincing conclusions. You have the option of learning the songs included with the game, you can take lessons, you can learn some basics as you play arcade games using your guitar as your joystick, and you can jam with a virtual rock band. Also, there is an option to create your own tone like using the game as a pedal too.
The lessons offered in this game starts from the very basics, such as how to hold your guitar and how to hold a pick. But there are master lessons too, for the more advanced players. You can use it as a platform to practice some advanced techniques while you perform. The master lessons include master bending, master slides, and master chord lesson.
The automatic difficulty adjustments apply to all aspects of the game, and when you miss a lot of notes or struggle with a technique, the game will slow it down for you until you catch up. There are some minigames that try to show how to play some basics guitar techniques. It can help provide context, and it will help you with your finger endurance and skill.
It’s never easy for your fingers when you start playing the guitar. Your fingers will lack the strength and flexibility to properly fret the notes. But with some practice, things will get easier. Playing Rocksmith can be a great way to help build up your finger strength because it will expose you to all different types of chord and techniques.
Since your practice consists of actually playing songs, you’ll be training your fingers to perform in a real stage. You’ll work your fingers in different ways as you perform different styles and kinds of music. It also will help you keep your mind off the pain because you’ll be very busy trying to perform songs and minigames.
As we always say here at All Stringed, practice is the best you can do if you want to properly learn guitar. You’ll have to practice some hours every day so that you can improve your skills. Maybe the real goal behind Rocksmith is that it can attract and put non-musicians people to begin practicing guitar.
The game includes quite a decent list of songs from a few different styles like Ramones’s “Blitzkrieg Bop”, Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”, Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and much more. In the play-along style learning, the difficulty is adjusting as you hit more notes accurately. Based on how accurately you played the song you chose, you will get feedback.
Rocksmith has several popular songs and from many different genres. In the Rocksmith Store, there are more than 1,100 songs available. Surely you’ll find some that you like. Rocksmith is designed to let you jump right in with its intuitive interface. As you improve, the game will show you more of the song’s notes until you execute the full song in session mode. Rocksmith will give you a score with the notes you played correctly, allowing you to be able to keep track of your progress.
Can Rocksmith replace an online guitar course?
To end this review, I would like to talk about Rocksmith and online guitar courses. Though there certainly is a lot to like about Rocksmith, it certainly falls short in some critical areas. You will have a lot of stuff on your screen, there will be things like numbers, characters, and taps flashing in front of your eyes. So it will be very difficult that you reach to pay attention to all this data shining on the screen while you’re playing song after song.
You can find the way that this game tries to teach guitar a little awkward. Instead of mash one of 4 plastic buttons as in Guitar Hero, now you have to fret one of the 144 notes on your guitar fretboard, having to touch several notes sometimes.
Rocksmith will try to make your effort to improve your score every time you play. But to learn to play guitar, you’ll need to be able to listen to yourself playing, understand where your weaknesses are, and put some focus on these areas. And this is something where Rocksmith isn’t doing a great job till now.
In order to play Rocksmith, you’ll need a real guitar as a joystick. Accurate tracking is something that will be very critical, and Rocksmith’s tracking it’s good enough to work consistently. Both in PC and on the consoles, there will always be some latency between you touch the note and the time when Rocksmith registers it. And this is a significant problem when it comes to playing a musical instrument.
To compensate for this latency, the game has to work with a very large time window. And while it can be useful when we talk about video games to manage this type of time windows, it’s inadmissible when you are dealing with music and musical instruments. Because when you’re playing with other people like in a rock band, you need to perform properly in time to avoid ruining the sound of the entire band. Instead of trying to get a proper rhythm practice with this game, it would be better for you to buy and use a simple metronome to always play in time.
Rocksmith works in such a way that it seems to throw the whole song to you, so you can’t pause to be able to work part by part. Although it may seem positive to try to play an entire song at once, this can become very frustrating and, therefore, very negative for a beginner. Perhaps the game creators should strive to add the possibility of adjusting the speed of the game. Or let the gamers being able to play each part of the song at a time, to avoid the constant frustration of the players.
When you want to learn guitar by yourself, you must try to avoid developing some bad habits that are hard to break later. With Rocksmith, you run the risk of acquiring some of these bad habits, because it’s not designed so that it can see and correct the mistakes you will make while you play. The game can’t point them out to you, so you can fix them and prevent making them in the future.
This video game can only show you if you hit or not all the right notes, but it will never know if you’re actually playing it with proper technique. Rocksmith should be used as a way to complement other learning methods. Rocksmith is just a guitar game and can’t replace online courses like Guitar Tricks.
Conclusion – Rocksmith Review
To end, I recommend you take an online course where you will actually learn the guitar properly. When you’re done with that and want to take a break, then just go to your PC, PS4 or Xbox One and start jamming to your favorite tunes. If Rocksmith can motivate you to pick up your guitar and take several hours playing, then it’s definitely worth your while.
Click here to see our reviews of the top 10 online guitar learning programs!