The Rocksmith Experience Part 2: Don’t Sweat the Fret

I have had a few days now to explore Rocksmith further and continue down my road towards glory and fame. Boy is that road going to be bumpy! So follow me on part 2 of my humorous journey down the road of rock.

Last I left off I was starting to pick some notes, getting the guitar tuned and start some practice lessons. I haven’t had much time to put into the game and practicing but I spent what time I could picking up some theory online on how to better play. I find this rather invaluable because it’s good to get opinions from various sources and seeing what works best for you.

The general consensus however is that most of everywhere have the same basic approach to playing. Yay for uniformity! I did managed to do some dry practicing (without being in game + connected to sound system), It was late and night and I didn’t want to loose any momentum I had built from the previous day even though I couldn’t have tv time.

I noticed a few things.

1) I still suck. Yes I know it has been a day and I shouldn’t expect to be The Edge but the typical reaction of people when they first start something is that they want to be good from the get go. Well….not so much here.

2) Practice makes perfect. While I am getting better playing notes the fingers are still learning to follow. I know the notes to play but training my hand to get to where it needs to go and to play the note is a whole other story.

3) Pinky fingers are the work of the devil. I am convinced the pinky finger was placed on our hands to torture us. Like it or not you need to use it when playing. So not only do you have to curve the finger without touching any other cord but you have to tell it to press hard on the right cord. This is easier said then done.  Now I wondered if it was just me but apparently it’s a common beginner problem.

4) Getting the right note is not always easy. So they tell you to press on the cord and pick the note. Ok no problem but sometimes you get a buzz / vibration. This can be annoying because you’re at the right note now and….meh. Another beginner problem apparently. Every guitar is different and the amount of pressure you need to put on the cord can be different. Higher end guitars can be simpler while entry level (such as the one with Rocksmith is considered) can be more complicated. Not impossible but don’t be surprised. I also read it can be defective guitar construction and also the bridge is not the most amazing quality (back to our entry level guitar theme).  But let’s be honest. I am taking 98% of the blame right now on this one.

All that being said and done I managed to put a bit more game time in and now at the 95% for my first lesson. While I probably could have been further I decided to keep going over the basics to try and get things right to the way I want it to sound.

Overall while I find it can be easy to be discouraged at times because of things not sounding right I am still pretty happy with the progress however small being made. The game is always encouraging and I think it is extremely solid.

My only complaint thus far would be the tuner. Before every lesson / song you need to tune the guitar. While the concept of tuning is easy enough I find the software is extremely slow. Sometimes I will play the note, make my adjustment, play it again and while it registers as being tuned; it can go back to that note and say it isn’t tuned. I also encounter the issue of when I tune and it registers a correct tone that it can take up to 3+ minutes to register.

Probably my issue is more software related. I installed the game now on the xbox 360 to see if this will help lighten any load and makes things better. We will see and I will keep you posted. Stay tuned till the next part in the Rocksmith Experience series and follow me on the journey to glory.

The Rocksmith Experience Part 1: The Beginning

The Rocksmith Experience will be my journey as a newbie who has no prior experience playing a guitar as I learn from scratch. I have a slight background mind you in classical music having played a clarinet for five years (there were no saxophones left!!). So I have the principle of reading sheet music, tempo, etc but will it translate well…I have no idea but just giving you all a heads up before I dive into this adventure with you.

As a background, I have had my eye on Rocksmith from the earlier edition. It intrigued me greatly however I could never bring myself to purchase it. Was it good? Was it more for people who had experience? I had a lot of questions and sure sites reviewed it but there was still the skeptic in me as this was the first game / tool of it’s kind so thought maybe that it was a fad with no further support.

But now Rocksmith 2014 is out and finally I decided that I was going to give this a go. I read reviews from multiple sources making sure to read customer reviews in particular. Some seem really mixed but skewed towards the extremely positive. It made the decision a bit easier.

When buying Rocksmith and are a total newbie like myself then I highly recommend finding the bundle of the guitar / game / cable. The guitar is really nice is it’s styling and feels good. Having not played a guitar in my life I was surprised at the weight. It was heavier then I imagined but was not cumbersome.  The strap provided while not the most comfortable, does the job as any strap would. I will play around with the adjustment to get it just right and maybe it will improve things.

A big thing to note is that it is recommended you plug the audio of your console directly in your home theater itself rather then going through the tv then to the home theater. What can happen is that you will encounter lag between when you play and the the actual sound.  At any rate this is generally doable. I was happy that I got the 360 version as it was running from component anyways.

With all that I was ready to rock on. But keeping in mind all the reviews and just obvious assumption, this will be a long road to learn to play.  Rocksmith gets you started by getting you to tune your guitar. You have a meter and have to strum the guitar while making adjustments to equalize it all.  In my day 1 experience this was probably the most awkward as it wasn’t obvious for a newb like what what sense to turn the nobs to tighten. Devil’s advocate though in that maybe they wanted it to be exactly this way focusing you on dicking around and actually getting to know your guitar. Show no fear!!

Finally we are all tuned up and ready to go. From what I understood based on complaints was that the game is not exactly intuitive for a beginner but I bed to differ. It asks you what style of play you want to do. Lead, backup or bass. Then you tell the game you experience level. From there you are taken right to the menu. On the main menu you have plenty of options. Learn a Song, Lessons, Multiplayer, Session, Shop, etc. I figured that Lessons was a place to start and I was right. In order you get to learn how to play your guitar.

You can start by adjusting the strap, getting to know the fret board, holding the pick and then playing some basic notes. It’s all very cool and the game is very supportive of your efforts. If you have any trouble the game will repeat the cords to play but at a slower pace and as you improve, it will increase the tempo back to regular. It also throws out encouraging “excellent” and “awesome” phrases. But if you mess up as I did often, the game slowed down, alerted you of the fact it was slowing but not in a way that made you feel bad. It was encouraging.

So while I had initial trouble getting some notes and getting my fingers in the right places I was able through practice to get better to the point that I felt good of my little accomplishment for the day.

Having played for about an hour, I didn’t play any official song but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I am not there yet and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact I decided to peruse the menu and see what all the game had to offer and of surprise was the Guitarcade. Guitarcade is arcade style old school games that require you to use the guitar to accomplish goals. You have high scores, leader boards and actual fun game play to keep you going. I thought this was amazing as it was teaching you basics while providing you a simple game to play it.

Day 1 is over now and I have nothing but praises for this solid game / learning tool. Whoever said learning cannot be fun certainly wasn’t playing this game. I really cannot wait for my next play sessions.

Note: I didn’t think of this when I purchased this guitar / game bundle but think about maybe getting a guitar stand for your living room .The guitar is way to nice to leave lying around. This isn’t your plastic guitar hero guitar.