Is Rocksmith good for learning guitar? Taking Rocksmith lessons is not the same as learning to play a real instrument. The game claims you’ll learn to play the guitar in about 60 days with daily practice. While Rocksmith can help, this should not be a substitute for the good, old-fashioned, tried-and-tested method of instruction.
We’re living in a time when almost anything can be learned through the internet or apps.
This is one of the perks of technology—it makes acquiring new skills so easy and convenient. Even free at times!
Take learning to play musical instruments, for example. You won’t necessarily have to know how to read music or play by ear (or oido) to be able to play a whole song on the piano. There is a program called Synthesia that allows you to play the piano by following the falling notes on specific piano keys.
You just have to have a good sense of timing to know when to hit the keys and release them. A little flair will also make you look like a natural.
Similarly, you can learn how to play a song on guitar—even if you are a complete beginner—with the help of a program called Rocksmith.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 16 million people in the United States turned to their guitars to keep themselves entertained during lockdown. Of these, a whopping 72% are guitar newbies.
Imagine how many of them relied on apps like Rocksmith to learn how to play guitar.
With all the merits of computer software aside, is Rocksmith a good way to learn and master the guitar?
If you’ve ever played Guitar Hero before, then it will be easier for you to wrap your head around the concept of Rocksmith.
It’s a guitar-tab-meets-Guitar-Hero sort of game: connect your guitar to the game console, launch the game, select the song, and get into action!
Rocksmith is compatible with almost every major platform, including the PlayStation, Xbox 360, and PC/Mac. The required cable (Rocksmith Real Tone Cable) is already included in the set when you purchase a physical copy of the game. You can also buy third party cables if you want to save a few bucks; they do work, but of course, nothing beats the original Rocksmith Real Tone cable. If you want the best experience, we suggest you get the real deal.
Digital copies, meanwhile, had been delisted since October 17 last year. Anyone can still play and download all songs that they own; however, the downloadable content that had been withdrawn from the platform’s storefront is no longer available for purchase.
Here’s a video of Rocksmith in action:
Rocksmith is a cool way of learning to play songs on guitar. It is the Synthesia of piano: it allows you to play along with the selected song with your guitar by following the fretting and strumming direction on the screen.
You can use any guitar you already own to enjoy Rocksmith, be it electric or acoustic. Electric guitars seem to work best with Rocksmith, as it is more responsive and easier to hook up into the system. Since acoustic guitars are less receptive, a USB microphone will help amp up the instrument’s accessibility in the game.
The game keeps track of your progress and gives you a score based on the percentage of notes you accurately hit at the end of each song. The more you practice, the more your scores improve, thus making you a better guitar player over time.
Rocksmith is certainly a fun and engaging learning tool; however, it cannot replace actual learning outside of the “game” sphere it was principally created for. We will talk more about it in the next section…
Rocksmith: Yay or Nay?
Rocksmith promises its user guitar mastery in as little as 60 days; we say take this claim with a pinch of salt.
In reality, this level of proficiency is only attainable after a few years of dedicated practice (remember the 10,000 hour rule?). Rocksmith is fun, that’s for sure, but it’s not really the ideal way to learn how to play guitar. Just because you’re using a guitar to play this game doesn’t translate to actual learning.
For one, users tend to focus more on the gaming aspect. This means that your focus is more on hitting the right notes as they pop in their place on the strings. You might find you can no longer play the song as well as you did when the game is on unless, of course, you have really good memorization skills.
Second, it doesn’t teach you the fundamentals of music creation. It doesn’t show you how to apply music theory to develop a feel of rhythm, tone, voice, and style.
Third, it inhibits growth and can get in the way of true appreciation of the art.
Rocksmith is great for learning to play songs on guitar, it can monitor your progress in terms of how well you can play along with the programmed tracks, but that’s just about it.
Rocksmith cannot help you develop real techniques and how to execute them properly. It is not designed as a teaching tool, but more as motivation for users to pick up their guitar and play.
What to Love About Rocksmith
Let’s get one thing clear: we’re not dissing the game here. Rocksmith has its share of positive qualities, too.
One thing that truly stands out about it is the way it inspires even novice guitar players to perform. The game is totally enjoyable and entertaining. It might even make you feel like a rock star and forget that you are just playing the game!
The game helps you develop finger dexterity as you work different chord shapes and techniques. When you play consistently, you are also training your fingers to endure the pain and the blistering associated with playing frequently and for extended periods.
The Guitarcade minigames allow you a peek into common techniques: string skipping, sweep picking, bends, vibrato, slides, and more. The structuring is still anchored on games, though; there is still no substitute to actual exercise routines. But this is a good start, nonetheless.
Rocksmith makes learning guitar less intimidating and more fun, especially for beginners.
And if you already know how to play the guitar and just want to jam, Rocksmith is perfect.
Final Thoughts: Treat it as a Tool
Music is a multi-sensory experience: you don’t just hear it; you feel it and even taste and see it. It can be simple and complex; to truly understand it, you must be willing to venture outside the comfort zone—the reward is utterly fulfilling.
While Rocksmith shows you the essential mechanics of the instrument, the only way to truly understand the finer points of guitar playing is by actually putting in hours of traditional methods of guitar practice.
With all its limitations, consider Rocksmith a tool, not a sole source of instruction.