Using Rocksmith 2014 Remastered for practice

So I am steadily moving along, and towards the end of module 8 now. Although I can not say I have mastered anything in the fast workouts, the slow workout mode is about where I am at on my best days.

I still suck pretty bad, but it all takes time, I know it’s a slow process, so I am not worried about progressing overnight. I am using BassBuzz as my primary learning tool for proper technique and theory and so far been very happy with Josh and his teaching methods. Although if I was to criticize anything, it’s that I feel the course could go even slower. As a new musician I really am bad… I have to check what string i’m on, and always looking at the frets as non of the positioning is second nature to me yet.

So wanting to continue learning, I debated about finding a local tutor, but decided I should probably get a stronger basic foundation before pursuing that as a next step.

So, I recently picked up Rocksmith 2014 Remastered for the PC, to supplement my training and since I have not seen anyone else review it on these forums, I figured I would, for those interested or wondering about it.

This is the package I purchased https://tinyurl.com/y2m4t6sa for $39 and it comes with the necessary cable to plug into the PC. Not sure how it works on Consoles I will be only discussing my experience with it running on Windows 10.

It is a Steam based game, so if you do not have a Steam account you will need to make one, also it’s produced by Ubisoft, so you will need to create a Uplay account on there site as well. Both of these are free, you just need them to login/play or purchase DLC (downloadable content, like additional song packs)

The install was easy enough, and I was quickly up and running in the game. I have owned it for 2 weeks now, and have about 15 hours logged on to it, so around an hour a day or so. My fingers just aren’t strong enough to do more then that yet.

The package comes with around 50 songs, most of them pretty well know, some a little less popular. But it’s plenty to start with, although I did purchase a few additional downloads, spent about $10 on extra tracks I wanted, although this is not necessary, but there is a large list of additional songs you can download for a few bucks, I think close to 2000 total.

The game allows you to play a Bass (4 string) or Guitar, and you can set it up for Left or Right handedness. If you have a 5 or 6 string bass, I guess you just ignore the extra strings. You can set the display for the E string on the top, to represent how you hold an instrument in real-life, or the E string on the bottom (if your used to reading tabs that may be what you like to see)

The song Learning/Playing mode is much like guitar-hero, where you are on a “Highway” of the ever moving neck and notes, and you need to strum the notes as they come at you. Here is a visual of the “highway” and playing https://youtu.be/oUxpHIMpOvY?t=69

But besides this main mode of the game, there are some really cool mini games, that I spend most of my time in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_t2TcF2XQ4 is the Fretting game, where little ducks move around and you need to fret notes on a particular sting to “shoot” the ducks for points. After a few correct shots, you can hit the rainbow duck and it will pick a new string to start fretting notes on… But don’t miss too many shots, or the wall moves closer to you, kind of like how space invaders comes down on top of you… till eventually you get squished and game-over.

The other mini game I play a lot is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T7yiEn8-OE this is a string jumping exercise, not fretting just strumming the necessary string, while angry robot-cowboys come running at the bar, and the bar keeper shoots at them. But you need to move from string to string strumming the proper string to attack the particular cowboy-robot in the particular lane. It makes more sense if you watch the video. The mini game can get pretty crazy, because if you miss a shot the enemies start moving faster, and faster until you get overrun. There are a few random larger enemies that require two shots, so this tests your ability to quickly double strum a string as before moving to the next.

Bottom line, I have been utilizing these simple mini games, to help improve my string skipping and strumming skills as well as fretting abilities. The interesting things is how it’s a game, but your learning at the same time. So practice seems more fun, you get to battle for high scores, and earn a bunch of in game achievements/goals. Its pretty fun, and you can easily burn 30+ mins and not even realize it.

There are many more features to the game including other mini games for scales, slides etc, as well as a session mode where you can jam with computer controlled band mates. As well as the regular song learning and highway feature, which you can also play for Points, once your ready to test your skills.

The Highway portion of the game is dynamic and learns your ability and will reduce or expand the amount of notes for you, depending on how well you are hitting the current notes. So if you’re new like me, it’s not overwhelming and you can slowly level up and take on a full song.

One thing to keep in mind, this game will NOT teach you the same things Josh is teaching us, and I would not suggest using this as a learning tool, without someone like Josh giving you foundation knowledge and skills first. The game has some basic learning tutorials, but it’s not a substitute for a real musician coaching you, when it comes to proper finger placement on the frets, reading music, two finger strumming and finger roll etc.

But utilizing this game as a way practice, in additional to formal lessons like here on Bassbuzz, has upped my game. I don’t think I have really improved enough in two weeks yet, where I can see a difference, but I can feel my fingers getting stronger. I believe early in the Bass learning process, a lot of it is just muscle memory and finger conditioning, and any time you spend on your bass is going to add to that core training. For me playing a game seems easy, fun, competitive, and over all have been enjoying it. Any if it get’s me an extra hour a day using my bass, and continuing to progress my journey, then it’s worth the price.

If you’re not into video games, then this may not be your avenue, but for me it has been a good experience so far, and will continue to use it in addition to Bassbuzz. Heck as a new player I need all the training, and experience I can get, the game is fun, and I feel like it is helping me practice more then I would on my own.

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Rocksmith 2014 is very intriguing, @method72 . . . :slight_smile:

Don’t be too hard on yourself . . . it takes awhile!

In addition to Josh’s lessons, I also use YouTube videos to learn and play along with. Among them I occasionally see a Rocksmith video and it’s an interesting concept, certainly a bit easier to follow along than reading through tabs while you’re trying to play.

By using those Rocksmith videos, you can definitely improve your knowledge of the fretboard and work on playing without looking at it, because you’re watching the screen and can anticipate the next notes to play ahead of time, etc.

Thanks for your post, and I’ll check out those links! :+1:

All best, Joe

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Pretty interesting way to learn, and it looks like fun! I could see how the robot-cowboy game can make you always hit the right string, jump strings quickly, and double strum sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

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Very cool.
I was wondering about this idea ever since seeing guitar hero way back when. I was like “hey - you could actually make this a way to learn the instrument… instead of just learning how to get carpal tunnel syndrome…”

This all looks cool and fun.
As far as really learning things on the bass… from watching the videos - parts of this make sense to me, and seem kinda helpful? The first vid - the highway - seemed intense, and I couldn’t figure out how people did that. Too fast and furious.
Is there a tab or something visual to let you know what’s going on?

It all seemed fun and tangentially applicable to actually playing. Not sure how much any of it would help.

For the quickdraw game - vid 3 - that one seemed upside down. I didn’t like that the E string was on top. It seemed to train the brain and body to see the top string as the E, and that is messed up compared to the real world of playing. That’s my only real gripe.

Thanks for sharing this @method72 ! I’m so interested in how gaming becomes education and how it informs everything that people do. If you find other modes or things that are helpful, please keep this thread posted!

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The game give you the option to flip the strings, I use the E string on top setting, I assume if you selected the other view, it would be on the bottom. I never tried that, because this is the view i prefer, but it is an option you can change in game.

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-With the songs the way it is represented is string has a specific coloured line running horizontally across the screen, and each numbered fret has a line running vertically. Here’s an example:

It looks complicated at first but is surprisingly intuitive and good fun.

For me there is pros and cons:

Pros:
-A fantastic range of songs to start with (50 I believe) - most well known across a lot of genres, plus the option to purchase additional artist packs.
-It is intuitive to use, and you have the option to slow down sections to practice.
-Its fun, plus a nice way of easily playing with a backing track

Cons:
-There are occasionally bugs with the game (certain frets not being recognised , tuning issues etc) - these seem to come and go BUT you always have the option of just playing along “unplugged” as it were without the input.
-As a “learning” resource I don’t think it is quite as good as the normal method of using tab - to me when you use tab the process is slower but you remember more, whereas with Rocksmith you are more reliant on muscle memory.

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I just want to chime in that it doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. What’s most important is that your playing stays fun, engaging, and keeps moving forward. No one tool or method is going to work for everybody and any tool you can find that works for you is worth it.

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For a slightly different perspective, I began playing bass by playing an emulated bass in Rocksmith 2014 on PS4 using a guitar and only using the lowest pitch four strings. It was a fun way to get started, then when I finally bought a real bass I started on this course and learnt INDESCRIBABLY more than in the game.
That being said, I still use it regularly for a bit of fun and to learn some cool songs.
One bit of advice for anyone wanting to check it out: Don’t use the automatic difficulty adjustments! Start with 100% difficulty, but drop the speed down as much as you need. The idea of adding notes progressively sounds good, but if you want to learn your right and left hand fingering you will need to relearn each time new notes are added. Much better, in my opinion, to start with the full difficulty and learn it the right way straight up.
For the record, Hysteria at about 10% speed is almost doable…

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Ha! Haven’t tried Rocksmith, but in real life, Hysteria is my Moby Dick :slight_smile:

It’s actually not so bad, it’s just relentless. As comparison, after finishing Josh’s course I could play its repeating pattern at about half speed, and now (after about six months of practicing it on and off) I am up to about 80-90% speed. Wolstenholme is a machine.

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I use Rocksmith quite a lot. For me, it’s just for fun, and I can pretend I’m in famous bands while I’m playing the (mostly) correct basslines.

For an old guy like me, who could read music, and who has played music on various instruments for more than 50 years before learning to play bass, Rocksmith’s interface took a bit of getting used to. I didn’t play video games, so that made it take longer. The two things I wish I could do in it are being able to use standard notation instead of the “highway,” and I wish I could drop the recorded bass from the original track when I want to.

For me, it’s not a great learning tool, but more something for fun. And I agree with @oldthumper that it’s best used at 100% difficulty, because you can do just like in @JoshFossgreen 's lessons and slow stuff down until you have it under your fingers. The pitch stays the same, but you can slow whole songs or just sections of songs that you want to work on.

A very cool thing out there is the existence of a site where you can get thousands of free songs to download and install in the game. So that means you don’t have to buy individual songs or packs of songs from the vendor. Quality varies (like wrong notes, odd audio levels, etc.), but they’re free. The database is searchable, so you can look for songs by your favorite bands, etc. You’ll need to register a free account on the site, and there’s a user forum there too, with FAQs. (RTFM!!) These songs are known as Custom DownLoadable Content, or CDLCs. To use CDLCs you will need to buy one song, something from Smashing Pumpkins, or the CDLCs won’t work. That’ll run you a whole 99 cents, I think. Anyway, the site is CustomsForge.

One note: Rocksmith works fine on Macs, and I used to run it on a big iMac desktop. However, a lot of Mac users complain that it can be quirky. In my case, I would play three or four songs and it would freeze, and I would have to force-quit it, and sometimes even have to reboot the Mac. Rebooting Macs is not something we devotees are used to doing, y’see, and it really got to be annoying and it ruined the flow of a good “gig” or “concert.” Plus I had to keep the library of songs down or Rocksmith would throw a fit. Well, whatcha want for a hasty port from the original platform, which was PlayStation? So last year I broke down and got a PC just for Rocksmith and some other stuff. Now it’s happier, and now I have several hundred songs in the library with nary a complaint from the program.

One thing I have learned from playing it, though: there a a lot of cool songs you’ve wanted to play for a long time – until you actually play them. Like most ZZ Top, for instance. The bass parts are boorrrrrrrrrrrriiiinnnnnnnggg. (Chug City Welcomes You!) On the other hand, there are some CDLCs that I’ve put in a “some day” folder, like a 15-minute Jamerson Motown medley, and Sir Duke. Some day.

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100% agree on the choice of songs comment. I’ve found some songs that I wouldn’t go near otherwise that I love playing the bass part to. Lovefool by the cardigans, losing my religion by r.e.m. etc etc.

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So what is the controller lag and tracking like? That would be my main concern. It’s awesome that you can use a real guitar as the controller but if the lag or tracking is bad that seems frustrating to me.

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Lag on the PS4 pro is minimal to none using HDMI video and optical audio. You don’t want to be measuring yourself too heavily by the scores though, as notes will get missed from time to time and that can be frustrating if you’re treating it like a game to beat.

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But, it is still “upside down” and thus pretty confusing… Or, is this the layout for a “lefty”??

This is, by the way, one killer song to learn… and master :grimacing:

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It looks backward because it appears to be looking through the back of the neck, so E is on top, opposite of tablature.

That song looks hard. Well the fill looks hard anyway :slight_smile:

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It looks like the string position is an option that you can change. If I could be so bold, @method72 - I think that if you could get by with changing the orientation of the strings, it would apply better to TAB and notation. But if they’re different things, then they’re different.
However it works.

I love that so many people have checked into this.
As an avid RPGer myself (no video or computer games since college though - I found out that I could practice or game… and I needed practice. And still do, dammit.) I’ve always wanted to make a music RPG.
The ideas are all there!
Just waiting for a giant software company to give me heaps of money.

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I’ve never experienced lag, either on the Mac or PC. Sometimes the game might not “hear” a note, but that’s not a big deal.

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Yeah, there are songs that aren’t my cup of tea at all but I play them because the basslines are either cool, or are good for learning something from.

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Ah… the penny suddenly dropped :smile:

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100% agree. I find with notes missing with the reduced difficulty settings it can actually be harder to stay in rhythm. Better playing 100% difficulty and slow speed like you say.

I don’t think the automatic adjustment works brilliantly anyway (not nuanced enough) - it tends to ramp up the difficulty on a complicated section just because you’ve played a much simpler section well.

On Playstation and XBox there is an “acheivement” called “Try it You Might Like It” for having a go at all tracks. It’s aptly named as there were plenty of the more metal tracks I’d normally avoid that I ended up loving playing the bass parts too.

I use a PS4 Pro - lag isn’t an issue, but I do have occasional blips were certain notes aren’t recognised or it isn’t happy with how my bass is tuned. It’s not completely game-ruining as it comes and goes but annoying.

Yup, seems backwards but the E is closest to you on screen and closest to your head if you look down on at the fretboard so it works.

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