What is Rocksmith? In simplest terms, it's Guitar Hero/Rockband, but for real guitars.
Many years ago, part of a typical Saturday night would be spent in a karaoke/drum session with my wife and stepchildren on the various incarnations of Rock Band. I would always wish for something which would allow me to plug my bass in and get back on track with my playing again.
In 2012, I learned of an expansion to the Rocksmith game to allow real musicians to join in the fun. A copy of the software was duly bought, my Jazz bass dusted off and off I went.
The disappointment at how bad I was – I’d not played seriously for about six years – was immense. I was expecting to be able to play Red Barchetta by Rush note-for-note, but my attempts were laughable. Months of practice passed and Rocksmith 2014 arrived. I was improving rapidly and starting to get onto the Top Ten Leaderboards on Score Attack.
I subsequently discovered that two of my work colleagues were into Rocksmith too. Sadly they both played the wrong kind of guitar, but nevertheless, Stuart Rowbotham introduced me to CustomsForge. This was like manna from Heaven, as the site had hundreds of songs which weren’t available legitimately for Rocksmith, and many which I’d been pining for. The only problem was that I was running it off a PS3 and consoles needed to be jailbroken before they'd run this content. Stuart's suggestion was to throw all my eggs in the PC basket, and it's a decision I am still very happy to have taken. No more waiting for Sony to get the weekly DLC online and the game is generally much more flexible on a PC than on a console.
After some months of downloading the custom content from The Forge, I decided to have a go at writing my own bass custom. "Big Fat Mama" by Status Quo was my first attempt, which I hand cranked in Editor on Fire. It didn't turn out too badly, but after that I realised that the Guitar Pro - Go PlayAlong - RS Toolkit route made life easier in creating and editing customs.
Next on the list were the majority of The Police songs and before I knew it, after a couple of years I'd produced over 900 customs. My early work was based on tabs from Ultimate Guitar but as they're generally a bit hit and miss quality-wise, I create all my customs from scratch nowadays. See my guide for how I produce them.
So does Rocksmith help someone on their path to Rock stardom? Well, I'd say that it's definitely an excellent learning tool. When I'm at rehearsals or gigging, I often miss the security of the Rocksmith Note Highway, but like anything, the more someone practices, the better they get.
Useful Rocksmith links: