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Rocksmith 2014 Edition

learn guitar

Rocksmith is owned by Ubisoft who is a French multinational video game developer and publisher, headquartered in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. The company has a worldwide presence with 29 studios in 19 countries and has further subsidiaries in 26 countries. It is currently the third largest independent game publisher in the world, as well as in Europe and the United States. This is a big business enterprise but how does their guitar education software perform? In actuality is it something that can really help aspiring guitarists on their way? Is it better than Guitar Apprentice another contender in guitar music video education software and are either of these better options than the more conventional serious music software?

Ubisoft says that the game offers “the fastest way to learn guitar” and, while that claim is impossible to test, what’s clear is that with the right mix of talent, dexterity and dedication, Rocksmith 2014 will make a musician of you. Skills learned from this program could help an aspiring guitarist develop their playing ability onto the next stage.

The software expertly models numerous amps and effects pedals to recreate the specific guitar tones featured on six decades’ worth of tracks. If Rocksmith is not set up correctly it can suffer from a lot of lag which is the time taken between striking a note on the guitar and the output being played on screen and through your speakers. It is not sufficient to use the HDMI cable for both video and audio output but by splitting the audio signal through a separate amplifier reduces lag to an acceptable level. Ensuring minimal lag is of paramount importance. See this set-up guide Optimize Your Audio Setup

Rocksmith 2014 presents more than 50 tracks, which can be sorted after a decade or a category. Once a song is selected and you begin to play you are tasked with playing a small handful of notes, as you continue the software will introduce more notes adapting to the complexity of your skill level. Notes travel down a stave in the Guitar Hero style, but with six different coloured strings and a camera that whizzes up and down the on-screen depiction of a guitar neck, it can take a while before sight-reading becomes instantaneous. Once mastered, however, the notation reveals several benefits over standard guitar tablature: sustained notes are drawn with lines as long as the note must be held; vibrato is expressed with a wobbly mark while bends are shown as physical curves.

There is a full range of Marshall and Orange amplifiers, speakers and an assorted range of effects pedals can be used to create your own guitar sounds which can, in turn, be used elsewhere in the game. One of the useful features is ‘Session Mode’ which allows you to select a particular style of drummer, bassist and keyboard player, set a key and a musical style and play over the top of the virtual band’s backing. The band (who seem to be at their most comfortable with the 12-bar blues) will even follow your lead in terms of their energy and volume.

Rocksmith 2014 sits somewhere between instructional software and rhythm action game. Improvements have been made from the initial release with the Riff Repeater and the inclusion of Session Mode proving invaluable. Serious guitar players may be better served by more serious software such as Guitar Pro, Guitar Method and Guitar Coach but those looking for a softer, more approachable tutor will find great value in the game.

Ubisoft has done a great job balancing the game and educational elements to keep things interesting while also helping you learn.

Rocksmith website