Everyone wants to learn how to play guitar at some point or another. I definitely have as I’ve taken lesson before and whenever people aren’t around, I will noodle away on the nice little classical guitar I’ve had for years. Now every person’s way of learning a musical instrument is different but overall, your best bet is to get your self a good teacher and take lessons.
However, if you’re someone like myself who has a really weird and ever changing schedule, lessons might not work for you. Sorting out times and days when you can go, having to skip weeks, etc, etc. Lessons, while incredibly helpful, can sometimes end up being a bit of a pain. But if you still want to learn, what are you options? YouTube? Not for me thanks. Trying to learn from books hasn’t really worked for me either, for my personal learning style, I needed something more interactive. When Ubisoft Canada offered a chance to review Rocksmith 2014, I jumped at the chance.
Rocksmith 2014 is a guitar (and bass) teaching program developed for video game consoles like Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as Mac and PC computer platforms. It comes in two forms. One is a basic set that includes the program disc and Real Tone adapter cable (so you can plug your guitar into the system, note, you will need to be able to plug your guitar into the system to use it). The other includes an actual electric guitar, an Epiphone Jr. model. Rocksmith 2014 claims to be able to be able to teach you guitar if you use it an hour a day for sixty days.
So… can it?
After having it for a review period of around 30 days, I can honestly say there’s a solid chance that their claim is accurate.
The first thing you’ve got to do is take out the notion that Rocksmith is a game. It’s not, it’s a guitar teaching system. To compare it to a game like Guitar Hero is not really a good base. While Rocksmith does share some aesthetics with Guitar Hero and Rock Band (the use of colored bars for notes for instance), Rocksmith isn’t miming guitar, it’s teaching you how to play it using familiar ideas and an incredible variety of techniques to get you up and playing. There are straight a head lessons, mini games to go along with lessons (like strumming a note in time to keep an animate figure up in the air) and popular songs to keep you motivated.
It’s in the songs that I think Rocksmith has found a real key element.
Let’s face it, when you buy your first guitar, the last thing you want to learn is Greensleeves or some other ancient song you’ve never heard of. You want to play something by The Ramones or Rush. Rocksmith has taken the lessons and uses the songs to implement them. So for instance, when learn how to play basic notes, after you do the initial lesson, you can choose a song and then play at the lessons difficulty to the song. So you can play along with Rush for instance but only one note, in time. Eventually you work your way up to more notes and chords and soon you’re playing along with the music.
But beyond that you can also play with others (depending on your online services), practise through various methods and just even have a crack at playing the song on their lonesome with little instruction. For those who dig gear and creating their own sounds, that’s available too, as there are a mass amount of pedals and effects and amps and pre-amps ready to be used at your finger tips. Think you’ve got a better sound for a Ramones song? You can go into set up and change the sound of your guitar to the sound you want. Or you can just play it like Johnny did, it’s up to you. The guitar sounds like an actual guitar through an amp, adding to the overall experience.
My experience with Rocksmith 2014 was an incredibly positive one. While I don’t think it is better than an actual, good, human instructor, for someone like myself, it’s the next best thing and I was probably using it in the worst set up possible. Rocksmith recommends that you hook up the audio from your platform (in my case, an Xbox 360) to a separate unit like a home theater system as opposed running both audio and video through the tv. In my current set up, I don’t have that option but I didn’t find any of the lag that they warn you against. In fact the only issue I had with the set up was it took me forever to tune the guitar but I think that had less to do with the program and more to do with the guitar sitting in the back of a cold FedEx truck all day before it got delivered to me. The guitar itself, a solid junior model. If you have big meaty hands like mine, you may want to stick with just the game / cable edition of Rocksmith and purchase an adult model guitar for yourself.
In Rocksmith 2014, Ubisoft has done what Guitar Hero could not. Teach you how to play guitar. This will not be for everyone. Some people will need a more hands on approach to lessons and you can never beat the lessons of someone sitting right beside you who can teach you alternative methods for strumming, posture or pointing out that your holding the guitar upside down but put it this way, I’m convinced enough to continue using it after my review period is up. I might not go for Ubisoft’s sixty day challenge but I really like the idea of learning how to play guitar within the next calendar year.
If this sounds like it is up your alley, you can find Rocksmith 2014 available at a majority of electronic and video game retailers.