Learn to play the guitar with Rocksmith … really

When you think of “learn to play the guitar” games, you think of games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero which came with gimmicky little plastic guitars. Rocksmith is a world ahead of those games.

The best feature is that Rocksmith lets you use a real guitar. Whether it’s the one you play regularly or one that you dig up from the attic, all you need is an electric or base guitar with a standard quarter-inch jack. Rocksmith is available purchased for the PC, Xbox 360, or PS3. All versions come with a unique quarter-inch to USB 11-inch long cable. This specially-made cable turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital allowing it to be played directly on the PC or game console. No need for an amplifier or additional cables.

I tried the Xbox version for a short period, but tested the PC version also. Depending on your physical setup, it can be a bit more difficult to handle the PC and the guitar at the same time. The game console versions are better with their remotes and to be honest, it’s just more fun to see everything on a large screen TV.

Rocksmith game play is easy, but not necessarily intuitive. If you have never used a game like this or played a guitar, it may be a little intimidating and difficult to get into, but once you do, you will be quickly on your way.

One of the neatest things about this game is that it senses your skill level. If you are a stark beginner it automatically gives you sequences that you can handle. If you are an advanced player, it lets you jump in at your level. As you play, the game monitors your progress and dynamically increases or decreases the challenges.

In the on-screen display, each guitar string is associated with a different color, and the numbered on-screen fretboard indicates the corresponding location you’re supposed to play on the guitar. Icons and numbers come flying toward you indicating what you are to play.

The bottom line is that learning to play the guitar is tough, especially if you are a total newbie. You will put in some time and effort, but Rocksmith gives you the learning tools you need. You quickly get to play real songs. The software comes with 50 songs in a wide variety of genres. Many songs have multiple arrangements. For each song there are exercises that help you practice the techniques being used in that song.

There is also a Guitarcade area where you can use mini-games to practice skills like scales, bends, and harmonics. I must admit that shooting ducks is a very entertaining way to learn scales and I had a lot of fun killing zombies and learning chords at the same time.

Although it is a game, most people won’t play Rocksmith just for fun. Rocksmith, however, will let everyone have some fun while they learn to play the guitar or work on improving their guitar skills.

Manufacturer: UbiSoft Rocksmith
Retail Price: $59.99

Sandy Berger
Sandy Burger, based in Pinehurst, N.C., is a veteran tech journalist and regular contributor to Tech Page One. As senior editor at aNewDomain.net, Sandy covers tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected]
Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Tags: Downtime,Tech Culture