I am an extreme beginner to the guitar and music and just picked up Rocksmith and an electric guitar. Some reviews of the Rocksmith game suggest its a good learning aid for those who know a certain amount of basic skills.

What should I do in addition to playing Rocksmith to learn to play (I'm serious about learning, not the game)?

  • Get a book; that should fill in the gaps.
    – slim
    Jan 8 '13 at 14:18
  • rocksmith is a good learning tool to learn chords and songs/ riffs but it isn't a great learning tool in single note mode the song/s don't sound right for those learning the guitar/ bass it will teach you some skills but it won't be a big help as a intermediate skill guitarist I have not really seen any improvement over the months I've been playing rocksmith just learned some new riffs and found some new songs I like
    – user7254
    Oct 11 '13 at 2:40

I was in the exact same position a year ago when Rocksmith first came out. I had previously tried to pickup guitar, a few lessons, but nothing stuck - all the normal excuses: boring, fingers hurt, not enough time, etc.

With Rocksmith it enabled me to spend the 2-3 hours a day actually on the guitar. Playing entire real songs (even if just a note or two out of a solo) with skill challenges, point scores, and all the other gamification of practicing. It was no longer practicing to learn X or Y but having fun trying to break the 70,000 score to unlock the next item or get the gold medal in bending.

The parts that Rocksmith lacks are:

  • Fretting Explanations;
  • Theory; and
  • Rhythm.

Fretting Explanations

[Updated: Rocksmith 2014 now has much better fretting explanations and even a mini "arpageio" charts on the first note to show the suggested fretting to easily play picked notes. Keeping this section, but it only applies to Rocksmith 1.]

What I mean by this is some finger placements are not all that intuitive, while this could be a personal choice for single notes I found I was constantly going online to find a video/teacher to explain chords (in-game navigation menu is terrible and confusing).

Further, looking up how the actual artist performs live or another person showing how it's done also helped - you see the musician holding a Bm barre chord and picking notes instead of trying to finger and move fingers vertically around.


[Updated: Rocksmith 2014 now has a "session" or jam mode with AI instruments for dynamic backing tracks. It also shows the key a song is in and the mode (with options to change). While a little light on the explanation it is there and extremely fun to simply jam out with a band.]

Rocksmith has zero theory. Being able to name notes, progressions, modes, keys, and all the technical parts are a big part of understanding guitar and Rocksmith just does not deliver. I didn't think was a big deal at first, but now starting it a year late I get a lot of "Ohhh that's why..." moments which would have led to a lot less frustration early on.

This is also a requirement if you want to move beyond cover songs that you have tabs for. Jamming/improv, composing, being able to follow along with another person, and so on.


[Updated: Rocksmith 2014 now has "accent" notes/chords where you strike that note with more force, similar to saying "ONE two three FOUR ONE two three FOUR" where the capitalized beats are louder. It doesn't help with up/down strumming, but it is something.]

I personally had a very hard time with learning rhythm songs, as in most beginner songs - I had to spend many many hours outside of Rocksmith learning all the common what I call "down up" strumming patterns. I knew what I was doing in game was not sounding right and Rocksmith gives no indicator if it is an up or down strum.

Another factor is counting time/measures. When I started I was relying on the visual markers and not the beat or tempo, this is especially hard at the very very beginning in that you don't play all the notes and it would sometimes throw off my timing that I didn't realize I had. When learning from a teacher/video for "strum" songs they would often break it down into counting: "1 and 2 and, 1 and 2, and" for the different timings like 4/4 or 6/8. At first I had to actually say it out loud to force my hand, then moved on to tapping my foot - I would have not got that using purely Rocksmith.

As Julien N mentions, all the above can be solved with a teacher. Since I'm just in it for fun as a side hobby for campfires or rainy days I don't mind struggling along for 3-5 years using just books/youtube/dvds but a teacher would be able to fix the incorrect posture/finger placement, give a clear course on theory and help identify and learn strumming along with all the other benefits of having live feedback.


I have several years of guitar background and I played that game extensively. Today I'm convinced that this is a really fun game (even for absolute beginners, I tested it on friends) but it is NOT a good tool to learn to play guitar seriously.

It lacks one of the most important feature of music : rhythm information. So I'm sure that any absolute beginner that would learn only with this game will have issues with the rhythm notions. Moreover, the learning tools (slowing the song, simplification of the tabs...) are not really well done and won't really help a new player, and might even frustrate him.
The lessons videos are quite good though.

But a real beginner might have another opinion on that one.

So, this game is fun and might be a good addition to a more "standard" way of learning. My best advice would be to work on the songs with a real teacher, maybe using the game as a support tool.
If you don't want to learn with a teacher, at least get good tabs (with rhythm, not text tabs) of the songs and a good tab editing tool (Tux Guitar if you want free & open source, Guitar Pro if you have some money to spend), because they'll be much more useful than the game, but less fun :).

Based on my personal experience, I think that learning with a teacher is the most efficient way to learn (at least at the beginning). A few basic lessons would save you a lot of time.

  • Can you elaborate slight on what you mean by "rhythm information"? Something more specific than beat/tempo?
    – user28
    Dec 10 '12 at 19:39
  • @MatthewRead Easy : there is no rhythm information, except the space between the notes. It's up to you to listen and estimate the note's duration.
    – Julien N
    Dec 11 '12 at 10:47
  • @ekaj Yes this is a good tool for beginner (and not only !), I'm just worried about some things missing in this game that might be important to become a good player, or people getting bad habits (the latency might also be an issue as it can have an impact on the timing precision).
    – Julien N
    Dec 11 '12 at 10:53

RS sure is a good tool. You could try a teacher but most of them are a waste of money and will most likely annoy/bore you because they are omnipotent... But hey there is some good ones too. Use videos for theory and RS is good practice. The game is well made for all level players, fun and challenging. A teach might just get you down and make you stop playing...

  • I think you had bad teachers or you are the one who thinks they are omnipotent. Try listening to a teacher and maybe you will learn something.
    – r lo
    Oct 29 '13 at 16:32
  • 1
    Very few teachers are omnipotent (that word usually only applies to gods).
    – rlms
    Oct 15 '14 at 14:40

I agree with ppl above stating to have real instructor as a primary source and then having rocksmith as back up. However for ppl who have a lack of time or finding instructor fee too pricey, another option is to buy Bandfuse, another video game. Bandfuse is same thing as Rocksmith EXCEPT it uses tablature. Tablature is the standard format for reading musical pieces. If you are able to learn this, then you can also download any musical sheets in the internet and play them. Rocksmith style only allow the player to use Rocksmith to able to play the guitar. By reading tablature format (aka theory) you are able to expand upon your guitar skills.

So my option, use Bandfuse as a primary source and then having Rocksmith as a backup.

  • 1
    Rocksmith uses a form of tablature, so I'm not sure what you are getting at here. This does sound a bit like spam, mike.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jan 13 '14 at 11:46
  • 1
    Welcome to Music.StackExchange, mike! The StackExchange sites are more formal and professional than most forums, so there's an expectation that questions and answers are particularly well-written. It does take most new users a while to get used to it. I look forward to you posting more!
    – Kevin
    Jan 13 '14 at 14:07

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