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With today’s advancements in modern technology, there is an increasing number of ways to learn the guitar. A beginner no longer needs to rely on meeting in person with an instructor to learn the instrument.
Unfortunately, this can cause a beginner to become confused as to which method is the best for learning guitar. You’ve likely heard of Rocksmith, as this game has become quite popular in recent years.
But is Rocksmith a good method for learning the guitar? In this article, we will answer that question by covering the various features offered in the game.
Does Rocksmith Work? Can You Learn Guitar With It?
Rocksmith does indeed work as a tool to learn the guitar. This program is essentially a video game designed similarly to famous games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The biggest difference between Rocksmith and these other games is that Rocksmith actually utilizes a real guitar.
Rocksmith offers a unique approach to learning the guitar by adding traditional game elements to the learning process. By doing so, the game aims to make learning the guitar much more fun.
However, Rocksmith may not be the most ideal for specific reasons that will be covered throughout this article. Despite its excellent approach, there are some potential pitfalls associated with using this game to learn the guitar. In fact, there are better ways to learn the guitar depending on what your goals are as a guitarist.
What Is The Fastest Way To Learn To Play Guitar?
Believe it or not, taking lessons is still the fastest way to learn guitar. This might seem like a bit of a bummer considering the number of different methods available to learn the instrument.
The biggest reason for this is that taking lessons will allow you to learn from another human’s playing experience. In-person lessons with an instructor will also give you personalized feedback directly correlating to your playing issues.
However, not everyone has the capability to learn from an instructor, especially if you are interested in certain genres. This is especially true if you’re in a sparsely populated area, as it may be hard to find an instructor. If you’re interested in learning from someone with specialized experience, you will likely have to travel a long distance.
Of course, if you’re in this type of scenario, your options are not completely limited. A website like Guitar Tricks will be able to teach you how to play guitar quite well. In fact, this resource allows you to draw upon the playing experience of many different instructors.
By taking lessons, whether, through Guitar Tricks or a private instructor, you will learn things you can actually apply. You’ll also learn the concepts that underly the fundamental aspects of guitar within music, and why/how certain things work.
With that being said, Rocksmith can still be enjoyable to use if you’re looking for a fun change of pace. Let’s take a closer look at what Rocksmith has to offer within its game to help you learn guitar.
How Does Rocksmith Help You Learn Guitar?
As Rocksmith is a video game, it essentially uses video game elements to create a fun atmosphere to learn guitar. The interface during gameplay is very similar to the aforementioned Guitar Hero and Rock Band games.
Rocksmith primarily teaches guitar by offering a list of songs that can be learned and played within the game. Each song is playable in multiple difficulties, with an easy mode for complete beginners, and the hardest for experienced players.
While the game has many songs in its database, you can purchase song packs from your favorite artists. This can help to keep your interest by allowing you to learn some of your favorite songs.
For the most part, the songs seem to be transcribed fairly well. It is obvious that the developers have taken their time when integrating songs into the game.
The game does offer several different focus pathways to allow you to learn what you wish. These pathways include:
- Rhythm guitar
- Lead guitar
Rocksmith does offer some guidance on the techniques used within each song so you can play the song correctly. To help with techniques, Rocksmith has a number of different mini-games built into the game. Each mini-game focuses on a specific technique (such as string skipping) but disguises the exercises within a game element.
A Riff-Repeater game mode allows you to practice segments of songs so that you can nail down difficult phrases. This aspect of the game is similar to learning songs in real life by slowing them down and looping phrases.
For those who are complete beginners, Rocksmith does offer some video lessons on guitar basics. This is designed to help you get started if you’ve never touched a guitar before.
Does Rocksmith Provide Playing Feedback?
While you are playing the game, Rocksmith does offer minimal feedback in regard to your playing ability. This will show you if your attack is late, which can often be heard by an accompanying “miss” sound.
At the end of each session (mini-game or a song performance), Rocksmith shows you how well you did overall. This will appear as a percentage, which will motivate you to be able to play each song to 100% completion.
In this manner, Rocksmith does incorporate your stats into the game-oriented format. Knowing your personal stats can give you a great idea of how your skills stack up overall.
Rocksmith does give some feedback in ways you can improve your performance on a song. This will generally tend to be a brief overview of certain techniques and phrases that were misplayed.
However, despite this, Rocksmith will not give you the feedback that a dedicated instructor can provide. Furthermore, if your musical ear is not developed, you might not pick up on your own mistakes.
Again, for this reason, Rocksmith might not be the most ideal for someone who is serious about learning guitar. Receiving detailed feedback on nuances will propel you much further than a brief statistical overview of performance.
Does Rocksmith Offer In-Game Customization?
Character creation within any video game tends to be one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game itself. This facet allows you to create an alter-ego of yourself, representing yourself within the game.
One of the more fascinating aspects of Rocksmith is the level of customization available within its interface. Rather than giving you generic digital gear for your in-game profile, Rocksmith allows for extreme personalization.
In fact, Rocksmith has a large number of different partnerships with well-known companies within the music industry. These include:
- Ernie Ball Music Man
Within the game, you can choose what guitar you are using. You can completely customize your digital guitar by choosing the color, fretboard finish, and a number of other factors.
Along with this, Rocksmith allows you to choose which digital amplifiers you use. This can make you feel like a true rockstar.
Taking it one step further, Rocksmith offers the ability to choose which effects you are using in your signal. You can choose from a large variety of effects including fuzzes, distortions, delays, and more. This is an excellent way to experiment with how certain pedals and combinations sound.
You can then use your customized effects within the game. As recorded songs tend to feature more than one guitar part, these customized sounds will take their place while playing. For instance, you will have a dedicated sound for an acoustic/rhythm track, and a sound for your leads.
You’re sure to find something within this facet of Rocksmith that suits your tastes. This amount of customization makes the game more of a personal experience rather than a bland and straightforward playing experience.
I’m Colorblind, Can I Still Use Rocksmith?
Rocksmith utilizes a color code for each of the strings on the guitar. This can be a bit of a problem if you are colorblind.
If you have color-blindness, Rocksmith does allow you to customize certain aspects of the gameplay to accommodate your needs. You can change the colors of the coding to a shade that you will be able to see.
Many of the animated features that are used in-game can also be customized to your liking. This is another example of the lengths Rocksmith’s developers have taken to provide inclusivity to the game.
How Do You Connect A Guitar To Rocksmith?
Rocksmith is unique for being a video game that utilizes a real-life guitar as opposed to a game controller. There simply isn’t another game available offering this kind of opportunity to learn a real-life skill while playing.
There are several ways you can connect your guitar to Rocksmith. These include using:
- Rocksmith’s Real Tone cable
- An audio interface
- Rocksmith’s mobile app in conjunction with the game
Rocksmith’s Real Tone cable is essentially a hybrid guitar cable that has USB capabilities. Simply plug the cable into the guitar with the USB into your device and you’re good to go. The Real Tone cable should be able to track your note playing, registering it in the game.
You also have the ability to use an audio interface with Rocksmith, which is a major advantage. If you’re already using an audio interface to record guitar, you can readily use what you have available.
Another way you can connect your guitar to Rocksmith is by using the microphone on your mobile device. Rocksmith has an app that will utilize your device’s microphone to record your guitar and send it to the game. This is probably best suited for acoustic guitars.
What Platforms Does Rocksmith Support?
Rocksmith is available on a number of different platforms which means that people need not feel excluded. Currently, you can play Rocksmith on:
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox One
- Xbox Series X
- Android devices
- iOS devices
Can You Learn Chords On Rocksmith?
You can in fact learn chords by using Rocksmith. The game offers some videos covering some of the more basic chords used within music.
More complicated chords can also be learned depending on what song you are playing. The game gives an indication during play of what chord is being played throughout the songs. This helps with the anticipation of what is coming next on the scrolling board as the song continually progresses.
With some songs, you have the option to play the chords in the song as either open chords or barre chords. Having this option allows you to learn a song in multiple ways, and opens the fretboard for further understanding.
Can You Learn Scales On Rocksmith?
Rocksmith does offer some guidance on basic scales. There are some mini-games within Rocksmith that deal directly with scales.
However, this game does not offer very in-depth lessons regarding how to use scales. This is a little unfortunate for guitarists that wish to learn skills to utilize outside of the video game.
Perhaps one of the best features of Rocksmith is the “Session” mode that emulates a real jam session. Within this mode, you can choose what kind of band you are playing with. You can choose from over 70 different instrument types to add to your virtual band.
Ever wondered what a band would sound like with guitar, drums, banjo, synthesizer, and slap bass? With this mode, you can certainly find out.
In the settings, you have a large number of different customizable options. Some of these options include the ability to set your tempo and the key signature of the jam.
It gets even better. Each virtual band member plays reactively to what you are playing. This means that the other instruments will play along in a complementary way, similar to an actual jam session.
While in the Session mode, Rocksmith will display scale patterns on the screen, giving a framework of possible solos. This helps to push you to experiment within the jam setting.
To further help with your skills, there are missions within the Session mode. These are provided to give you an achievable goal within your jam session. The ultimate goal here is to be able to improvise on the guitar.
Traditionally, guitarists have used backing tracks to learn how to improvise solos. The Session mode provides an intuitive and dynamic experience that beats jamming over a static recording.
Can You Play In Different Tunings On Rocksmith?
An interesting feature offered on Rocksmith is the ability to play in different tunings. It is no secret that many recorded songs are actually written and recorded in alternate tunings.
In an effort to keep the song transcriptions true to the recording, Rocksmith offers a number of different tunings including:
- E Standard
- Open D
- Open D Minor
- Drop D
- Drop B
- Drop A
- Double Drop D
- B Standard
Rocksmith also offers the ability to play songs with a capo.
Overall, this opens many doors for learning how to play the guitar outside of regular E Standard tuning. Before each session, Rocksmith guides you through tuning to ensure that your guitar is correctly tuned to pitch.
Are There Any Known Technical Issues With Using Rocksmith?
Some people have experienced a number of different technical issues when attempting to play Rocksmith. While these can be remedied with a workaround solution, these might be a bit annoying.
One of the biggest problems that many people experience is connectivity issues between the guitar and the game. This seems to be more common when using Rocksmith’s Real Tone cable. Unfortunately, this simple cable can be a bit expensive to replace.
Even if the cable is not faulty, some people have had issues with connectivity due to firmware incompatibility. Some devices do not support plug-and-play compatibility. Do check to make sure all of your firmware software is up to date.
If you do have connectivity issues using the cable, it is recommended to try using an audio interface. This connectivity method seems to work the best without any problems. Interfaces can be fairly expensive, but they will at least be usable for other applications outside of Rocksmith.
Many people have experienced lag when playing Rocksmith. This can be very annoying, especially when your played notes do not correctly register with the game. Rocksmith does have settings that can help with this.
If you do experience lag and changing the settings does not help, it is recommended to try using headphones. A dedicated set of speakers (not built into your TV or computer) can also help with this issue.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar With Rocksmith?
If you’re considering using Rocksmith to learn the guitar, you’ve undoubtedly wondered how long this process will take. The reality is that the answer to this question depends wholly on what your goals are for playing the instrument.
In the past, Rocksmith has had open challenges designed for beginners. This is what is known as the 60-Day Challenge. The goal is to get you to practice the guitar and work towards mastery.
Does it work? Well, it depends. Let’s take a closer look at the details involved with the challenge itself.
To enter the challenge, you’ll have to sign up with the game’s developers. Then, you’ll need to practice the guitar on Rocksmith for 1 hour every day for 60 days.
When boiled down, this is exactly what you would be doing if you learned the guitar in any other fashion. So what makes Rocksmith worthwhile?
Rocksmith has found a way to make learning the guitar far more engaging and rewarding than traditional methods can offer. By completing certain tasks within the game, you unlock new items to use. This can certainly help motivate and incentivize you to continue learning.
How much progress you make on the guitar is subjective to how much time and dedication you put into it. Whether you can use what you learn outside of Rocksmith might be a completely different story.
Traditional methods of learning can allow you to learn guitar fundamentals within 6 months with the same dedication. Whereas, Rocksmith pretty much guarantees that you’ll at least be somewhat competent at playing the game over 60 days.
Which is the better route? Something that will teach you skills you can use anywhere, or skills that can likely only be used in Rocksmith?
Let’s take a closer look at what is missing from Rocksmith.
Will I Learn Everything I Need To Know Through Rocksmith?
Rocksmith does a lot of things the right way. By applying a game element to learning the guitar, you can be far more motivated to continue your efforts. In fact, the game does touch on quite a few of the basics involved with playing guitar.
Aside from this, there are many crucial aspects of being a guitarist missing from Rocksmith. While they might not apply to Rocksmith itself, they are necessary in order to become a competent musician.
One of the biggest things Rocksmith will not help with is developing a critical musical ear. Ear training is an invaluable practice for anyone with aspirations to play professionally (or just with other people in general). This will allow you to tell when you are playing something incorrectly and help you to learn songs by ear.
There is minimal guidance on strumming. Rhythm is a seriously important aspect of music. Not being able to dial in your strumming patterns is going to hamper your progress as a guitarist.
Important music theory lessons are also missing from Rocksmith. You’ll be lost on music theory concepts such as how to use the Circle of Fifths. Ultimately, this will hurt your progress as a musician outside the context of playing Rocksmith.
Although there’s guidance on scales and chords, there’s little guidance on how to use them in your own way. Being able to correctly understand phrasing and how to craft songs is what sets you apart as an individual musician.
What Are Rocksmith’s Disadvantages For Students?
Despite Rocksmith’s strengths, there are a number of disadvantages that guitarists may face when relying on the game to learn. These issues are a bit different from the aforementioned issues regarding what Rocksmith doesn’t teach.
Some people have expressed that they’ve been unable to retain the songs they’ve learned within Rocksmith. If you’re unable to play the songs without the game, have you really learned how to play the song?
With this issue, relying on Rocksmith to teach you can make the game become a crutch. Without it, you may face serious difficulties translating what you’ve learned in-game into real-life scenarios. This is an obvious problem if you wish to take your guitar studies seriously and have professional aspirations.
Another issue that people have faced is that learning through Rocksmith has made it difficult to learn without it. Rocksmith utilizes a unique method for teaching their song list. Unfortunately, this type of interface does not exist outside the realm of Rocksmith.
Should you wish to learn a song on the guitar outside of Rocksmith, you’re likely to face a bit of difficulty. The reason is that the teaching method is not the same.
What Is Better Than Rocksmith?
Again, taking lessons is going to be far better than relying solely on Rocksmith to teach you the guitar. Rocksmith has found a way to hack into the learning process and make it more enjoyable. However, there are no shortcuts to becoming an excellent guitarist; you have to put in the dedicated work.
By taking lessons, you will learn guitar concepts in greater detail than what you could learn from a video game. By dedicating the same amount of practice time that you would with Rocksmith, your skill will quickly increase.
If you’re interested in an all-encompassing approach to learning guitar, Guitar Tricks is going to be a great fit. Guitar Tricks features thousands of in-depth and detailed video lessons taught by many different instructors. These lessons will teach you skills that you will have no problems utilizing outside the context of a video game.
For those of you who appreciate Rocksmith’s song-based approach, Guitar Tricks can teach you songs. In fact, they have one of the largest databases of licensed song video lessons available on the internet. These lessons will teach you the song and help you understand the underlying concepts of how each song is built.
Taking lessons will help you become a self-dependent musician who can apply skills in the real world. This is all too important for anyone who has aspirations to become a working musician.
A guided instructor will be able to give you personalized advice and feedback that can greatly improve your playing. Guitar Tricks does offer the option to book 1-on-1 lessons with a number of different instructors. Each instructor has their own specializations, allowing you to learn the styles that interest you.
What Is Rocksmith Good For?
Overall, Rocksmith can be an enjoyable way to pass the time and challenge yourself. However, I personally wouldn’t recommend relying on it as a sole resource to learn the guitar.
With that being said, Rocksmith can be a great tool to supplement your guitar studies. The game will motivate you to pick up your guitar and play. Any time spent on your instrument is likely going to be better than not touching it at all.
Is Rocksmith Good For Learning Guitar? Final Thoughts
Rocksmith is a very unique thing for guitarists and is something that we can thank technology for making possible. Conceptually, Rocksmith is an excellent idea, but it lacks practicality when it comes to translating it to real-world applications.
While better learning options are available, it will be very interesting to see how Rocksmith continues to develop over time. The game is worth considering if you’re looking to supplement your guitar studies and need a change of pace.
Last Updated on February 2, 2022.
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