Posts Tagged ‘rocksmith’

Will Rocksmith teach you to play guitar?

Monday, March 6th, 2017 | Music

If you have ever wanted a real-world version of Guitar Hero, Rocksmith may be for you. However, learning guitar still takes a lot of practice.

Guitar Hero has proved to be a very popular game, and it was only a matter of time until people started asking “is there any way this could be done with a real guitar?”

The answer was yes, in the form of Ubisoft’s Rocksmith. You plug a guitar into your games console using a USB to 1/4” jack cable and then play a Guitar Hero-style game, with the idea of it teaching you to play a real guitar.

But does it actually work? I took Ubisoft up on their 60 day challenge: put in an hour per day and you will play guitar for life, or so they say.

Did it work? Sort of. On the positive side, I can indeed play guitar. Within a year or so of first picking it up I was good enough to join a band, if only to hold down some chords while the real guitarists played the fancy stuff.

On the flip side, it really takes practice. I played for two hours per day, instead of one. I also acquired a guitar teacher for one-to-one lessons and still it was really six months before I could play a simple song.

That ignores the fun I had using Rocksmith though. You are playing your favourite tunes, even if it is just the occasional note at first, and while the adaptive difficulty can be annoying at times, it does make it accessible to everyone. Even if it doesn’t turn you into a guitar player for life, you may find you have just as much fun playing it as any other video game.

Rocksmith Rap

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 | Video

Heini posted this on my wall.

Rocksmith in review

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 | Music, Reviews

Now that I have never to play Rocksmith again (I have been doing anyway, but I do not have to which is a big psychological difference), it is probably time to express my overall thoughts on the game. As Sherlock Holmes would suggest, it might be best to know the worst of each other and see if that is tolerable than being sold on the shiny veneer.

Here is what I found annoying:

Automatic difficulty
This is not perfect. Take American Idiot. I did it with the full chords and got 58% mastery. But then the next time I played it, it had downgraded me to single notes. Not even the two note in-between stage, just all the way down. I hit 95% accuracy, but only got 28% mastery. Why would it do this?

At the end of a song a voice tells you how you did. But it is a bit silly. For example, if you do something really easy it will say “brilliant performance” even though you have not improved your skill. Fine I guess, it was pretty accurate. But when the game makes it harder and your accuracy drops to 70%, even though you might move your mastery of the song up 10% it will still say something far less encouraging like “needs more practice”. Again, true, but you have just got to the higher difficultly, what does it expect?

The lessons are of very little use. They are just too difficult. I cannot do the riffs they introduce – even if it is about something else. For example it might be a hammer-on lesson, but you have to jump around the fret board at the same time. This would be fine except the game is throwing me this stuff in the songs, so I have to go look it up elsewhere.

It cannot tell you what you are doing wrong. Take bends for example. I almost always miss my bends (apparently). But I do not know what I am doing wrong. Too much? Too little? Wrong pattern? Wrong speed? Oddly, on some songs I get “miss” followed immediately by “late” and these only come up after I have finished playing my bend.

The chord book included in game is not much use. Nine times of out ten, I cannot find the chord I am looking for. I am fairly sure it is not in there. Of course there are a huge variety of chords, but it is not difficult to include lots of them. If you can build an entire game, you can stick a few more chord diagrams in there – indeed they must be in the same somewhere.

It crashes from time to time.

The recommended song list is strange. At first, once I played a song it would move down the queue and give me some different recommendations. Then, 45 days in, it started making me play a song twice before it would move it down the list. No indication as to why.

Also the R.E.M. song pack appeared in my list, even though I had not bought it. This could be a commercial feature rather than a bug, but it only appears randomly. One time I turn it on and they are there, the next time they are gone, the next time they are back, etc.

I would totally recommend Rocksmith. It has its problems, but there is nothing else out there like it to compare to so they might be really difficult issues to overcome. Ultimately, it kept me engaged for the whole two months. The hardest part of learning an instrument, indeed some research suggests the only part, is committing the time to learning. Rocksmith managed to get me to do that.

Rocksmith Diary: Day 60

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 | Music

I’m done! Check it out:


More of a review is coming up later.

Rocksmith Diary: Day 41

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 | Music

Yesterday I rocked so hard that one of my guitar strings exploded.

Luckily I had another set of strings ready so thanks to a few YouTube videos, and a bit of help from Chris when I one of the balls got jammed in the bridge, I managed to re-string it.

Here is the video:

And part 2:

The new strings are pretty cool. They feel about the same as the old one, but they produce a slightly different sound. In the case of the low E string, it really produces a notably different sound.

Also they are far more visible. When people said that strings dulled over time, I was assuming they meant sound-wise. But the new strings are are clearly much easier to see when I am looking at them than they were before, probably because they have more of a shine to them.

Rocksmith Diary: Day 35

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 | Music

I have a new found respect for Green Day. Yes, their songs are composed almost entirely of power chords. But have you ever tried to hold the power chord shape for five minutes straight? Oh my god it hurts so much! Barre chords hurt a bit. But not like this. I physically do not have the strength in my hands to get all the way through Oh Love.

I start missing chords by the end of the song because my hands just are not strong enough to keep going. I have tried to end every session with the song to build up my strength.

Speaking of barre chords, I had a fucking F today! I am still missing a lot of Cs and I do not think I have managed to hit an A yet. But F is very slightly in the bag.

I really knocked my mastery percentage in some songs today. I do not know how. I started with My Own Summer by Deftones and apparently got an accuracy of 69%. There is no way that happened. I think I hit about 10% of notes. I am not convinced the game can tell the difference between a wrong note on Eb tuning…

Rocksmith Diary: Day 32

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 | Music

I was wondering how Rocksmith recommends songs today. I did a google around and it seems to be some kind of magic. At first I thought it might just be a formula based on difficulty and mastery but maybe not. It keeps recommending the new songs I have downloaded over and over again.

I am also taking exception to the difficulty setting on an Oasis song. I keep hitting all the chords (and most of the other stuff too) but then because I miss something else, it downgrades the entire song. Then I get a few 93% and 95% accuracies and it upgrades the difficulty. Then the cycle repeats. Very annoying.

I also tried connecting my guitar up to my Mac to see if I could use Garageband as an amp. It is far too quiet though. I have to max the gain on Garageband and my speaker volume just to get it heard above the sound of me strumming. I had a look at the input devices that let you connect it to iOS devices but they are well expensive.

Long term I would really like to run my guitar through one of my devices though. This way I can test out different amps and FX pedals before I buy them so that I know which ones I want.

Rocksmith Diary: Day 31

Friday, January 24th, 2014 | Music

Yesterday I finished playing all the songs on the rhythm path. The songs seem to vary in how different the two versions are. For some, the lead and rhythm are almost the same. In others they are very different. You also need strong hands when an entire song is basically the same chord over and over again.

Today I spent some time working on playing in position. This is where you keep your hand in the same place and use different fingers for the different frets. Of course this limits you to four frets, so it all goes tits up when it moves outside of this. However, I think I have made a good start.

Rocksmith Diary: Day 29

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 | Music

I am still having problems with the E string not registering on Heart Shaped Box. I had a google around and at least one other person is having the same problem. The forums suggested that I try and strike the notes more softly, which seems to help.

More bitching about the Play Station Network. I tried to buy The Smashing Pumpkins pack, however it said my credit card was invalid. I logged on to try and edit it and it would only let me enter a 3 digit CV2. American Express has 4 digits and they clearly know this because they have a picture of an AMEX showing the 4 digits.

I tried deleting the card and re-add it. This time it left me enter a 4 digit CV2 but when I submitted the form it insisted the card number was invalid even though it was not. Irritating.

In the end I used my MasterCard and finally managed to add the credit. For my £9.69 I got five songs. However, when I went to play them I found that two did not have lead guitar parts. I guess the two songs are single guitar acoustics but I felt a little cheated as I did not see it mentioned.

As a positive consequence though I then had to switch to the rhythm guitar path which got me thinking I could do that more. When I get tired of not being able to do the flashy solos I can switch to rhythm and spend some time not being able to do all the chords.

Thinking about it, they come with a bass track too…

Rocksmith Diary: Day 25

Saturday, January 18th, 2014 | Music

The game was definitely having a problem registering my E string today. I was playing Heart Shaped Box and it kept saying I missed the third fret. It was suspicious, so I stopped doing anything else and just played that note. Most of the time, even when I was playing it perfectly, I would say I missed it. I tried it on the forth fret too and one time it registered it correctly, then went back to saying miss.

I tried re-tuning to no affect. That adds up somewhat as I was playing Temple of Bends earlier and it kept failing to register my bends. Other strings were fine – I just got my bends wrong on those, but E did not even show up.

I also played some Harmonic Heist for the first time today, which seems fine.

Learning guitar seems a lot like learning to drive. At first everything moves so fast that you cannot really do anything but try and keep up. Then as you acclimatise to it, you can work on the finer points. So far it has been madly stabbing at different strings to try and get the right note. But as things seem to move a little slower, I have been able to think “maybe I could just use this other finger here for that one.”