Trying to learn an instrument from scratch can be intimidating and painfully exhausting, especially if you’re worried about finding the right tutor and practicing daily. Whether it’s piano, guitar or violin, you might spend weeks just learning the first few notes, keys or cords, without ever being able to play an actual song.
Luckily for you, there’s a new guitar learning software in town, and it’ll let you play songs right from the get-go — no, seriously. We got our hands on Ubisoft’s Rocksmith+ and spent two weeks trying to learn how to play bass. Here’s how it turned out.
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What Is Rocksmith+?
A follow-up to Rocksmith 2014, Rocksmith+ is a guitar learning service, designed for both beginners and advanced players. The service costs $14.99/month and gives you access to a library full of songs, tutorials and helpful tips. Rocksmith+ also plans to add new lessons and songs periodically, allowing you to try out new tracks or learn new skills.
A Surprisingly Easy Setup, Suited for Beginners
Right now, Rocksmith + is only available for PC users (check system requirements here), so make sure you’ve got your desktop or Microsoft laptop ready to go before you start. The service is compatible with all sorts of guitars — including acoustic and electric guitars — so you can pick what suits you. Finally, you’ll need to either download the Rocksmith+ Connect app on your smartphone or buy a Real Tone cable to connect your new guitar to Rocksmith+. We suggest using the cable for more accurate note depiction and minimal delays.
Once you launch the app, you’ll be led through a quick setup. This will include choosing your instrument, tuning it, and checking to see if Rocksmith+ can ‘hear’ your guitar — whether through the app or cable. From there, you’ll be asked to choose your favorite songs from 16 genres, including pop, hip/hop, electronic and jazz. Rocksmith+ curates these chosen songs at the top of your homepage, allowing you to jump into them whenever. That’s it!
The whole setup took me about 15 minutes, although if you’re more advanced, it might be even quicker for you. Through every step of the tutorial Rocksmith+ also offers quick one-minute videos — we suggest not skipping over these if you’re a beginner.
The Interface Is Slightly Overwhelming but Packed With Helpful Features
Once you’re done setting up, you’ll be taken to the Rocksmith+ homepage. On the homepage, you’ll see you’re list of favorite songs. You’ll also see your skill profile, which shows your accuracy across a myriad of techniques, including sustains, hammer-ons, and bends. Terms don’t sound familiar to you? Don’t worry, just tap on each technique in your skills profile to learn more about it.
The homepage also has quick links to tutorials, including how to correctly hold your guitar and learning about the basics of strumming. If you’re new to Rocksmith there’s also a nifty “Get to Know Rocksmith+” section that walks you through what the stats mean at the end of each song and how to generally use and understand Rocksmith+.
There’s even a health and wellness session with a few videos on taking care of your posture and fingertips as you play. Finally, Rocksmith+ Inbox packs short videos on fan-asked questions posted to Rocksmith+’s social media channels.
Yes, that’s a lot of info, but Rocksmith+ features even more tabs up top. You can toggle to the ‘Learn’ tab for lessons and exercises for your guitar. This includes basics like learning how to play open strings to more advanced lessons including how to play certain styles of music, including Texas Blues and Indie Folk. There aren’t that many lessons in each section to choose from so we highly suggest trying a few out before you attempt a more advanced song difficulty level.
Interested in what music Rocksmith+ has? Just check out the ‘Play’ tab for more. The ‘Play’ tab includes popular songs in your area as well as other fun playlists like “Bass Legends” or “Pick Up and Play” (beginner-friendly songs). The library is still being flushed out with Rocksmith+ adding new songs over time, so if you don’t see your favorites on there don’t fret, the service will probably add them in a couple of months.
Playing Songs From the Get-Go Was my Favorite Part
So what is it actually playing on Rocksmith+ like? Well, the lessons are pretty straightforward. I tried the beginner’s basic lessons which all started with a quick tutorial video, an opportunity for me to tune my guitar (you can skip this if you need to), and then a practice session where I could toggle how fast the song was playing and if I wanted to go ‘note by note’ — this essentially means the song will pause till you hit the right string.
You can also jump straight into songs. Whether you’re playing More Than This by One Direction or Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash, you’ll be able to pick your difficult target and review the chord chart beforehand. We suggest turning on adaptive difficulty in settings so Rocksmith+ can automatically adjust song difficulty levels depending on your learning pace.
Our Verdict: Rocksmith+ Makes Guitar Learning Seem Exciting and Easy
If you’ve ever struggled to learn to play the guitar or were worried you weren’t learning fast enough with your tutor, Rocksmith+ is a great tool for you.
It goes at your own pace, allowing you to choose the lessons and songs you want to learn. It’s especially great for beginners, thanks to its multiple tutorials and adaptive difficulty slider. At the same time, it’s also a fun tool for advanced players who just want to show off their skills or are trying to learn a new song.
While it may seem that Rocksmith+ does not have *every* song under the sun, the service does plan to add more music periodically. All in all, it’s an easy way to learn guitar, straight from the comfort of your couch.
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