There’s no denying that Guitar Hero and Rock Band were extremely popular videos games. But one question always seemed to arise during those marathon gaming sessions: Why spend countless hours learning how to play a fake guitar when you could spend that time learning to play an actual guitar?
The answer was obvious. Learning to play video game guitar is less tedious, less demanding and rewarded with immediate feedback and instant gratification. Basically, it is easier and thus more fun. You just fire up the game, and within minutes, you’re playing songs you’ve heard on the radio. With actual guitar playing, it could take months to get to that point.
SEE ALSO: How an Electric Guitar Actually Works
Software developers have been trying to reconcile this conundrum for years, and their work is beginning to bear fruit. Several new products have launched recently that attempt to gamify guitar lessons by providing immediate feedback, gradually increasing levels of difficulty and constructing a manageable learning curve.
So dust off that old guitar that’s been sitting in your closet for years, because here’s a list of seven games and apps that will help you learn to play.
1. Rock Prodigy
Rock ProdigyThis $20 mobile app for iPhone and iPad is one of the earliest attempts to gamify guitar playing. It first launched in December 2010. The app senses pitch to determine if you’re playing the right note.
Rock Prodigy features more than 150 lessons for players of various skill levels. It automatically tracks your results and progress. There is also a library of nearly 100 songs (possibly the best song library since The Beatles: Rock Band); and for each song, a global leaderboard lists the 10 best scores of all time.
GuitarBots works similarly to RockProdigy. It gives immediate feedback, scaled lessons and the opportunity to play songs. Rather than operating as a mobile app, however, GuitarBots works through your web browser. If your computer has a built-in microphone, you’re good to go.
You can try GuitarBots free for five minutes each day, but you’ll have to pony up $9.99 each month for unlimited access. It’s a relatively low price if you think about how expensive private music lessons can be.
Though GuitarBots is a recent release, its developer, Ovelin, has been in the guitar gamification business since 2011 when it released Wildchords. While Wildchords was meant strictly for beginners, GuitarBots offers challenges for players of all levels. Check out the video below to see the app in action.
In late 2011, Rocksmith brought gamified guitar learning back to the gaming console. Ubisoft originally released the game for XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. A Windows version launched in October 2012. The game comes with a cable that allows you to connect an electric guitar, since consoles don’t have built-in microphones.
The game itself features mini-game challenges and songs to play. It self-adapts to how you are playing, giving you an appropriate level of difficulty. A cool feature of Rocksmith is that you can also use it to learn bass.
4. BandFuse: Rock Legends
BandFuse is another console video game expected to launch for XBox 360 and PS3 in the coming months. According to the game’s website, it will initially include a Guitar Hero-esq career mode, featuring a list of pop rock hits from throughout the years.
The site makes no mention of lessons or instructional games. It seems like BandFuse will follow the Guitar Hero and Rock Band molds, focusing mainly on song-play. It will also include a multiplayer mode in which up to four players can make original music in real time.
In June 2012, gTar concluded a successful KickStarter campaign, more than tripling its $100,000 goal. It is a uniquely designed product — a guitar body literally powered by an iPhone.
Lights illuminate on the gTar’s fretboard, telling you which notes you should be playing. The iPhone’s speaker works as an amplifier. Like the others, it has something to offer for players of all levels.
SEE ALSO: iPhone-Powered gTar Teaches You How to Play the Guitar [VIDEO]
Incident, the company that developed gTar, is currently taking preorders for $399. The product is expected to ship within the next few months.
YouTab does not fit the gamified theme of the previous list entries, but it is still a fun way to pick up a few new guitar tricks. Once you’ve already learned to play a bit, YouTab is a next-level tablature web app that will help you increase your repertoire of songs.
For those who don’t know, a guitar tablature is kind of like sheet music for dummies. You don’t need to know how to read music to understand a tablature.
YouTab combines videos (but mostly just the audio track) with a moving tab for a better learning experience. It helps you determine exactly when to change from one chord to another, and which frets you should be holding on each of the strings at all times.
SoundSlice is a lot like YouTab; in fact, the concept is nearly identical. Both offer ways to combine YouTube videos with tablature. The main difference is the user interface.
YouTab currently has more songs available, and it’s easier to navigate. Soundslice has a very smooth way to annotate songs, which makes it better for those who record instructional videos. It allows for multiple parts, so one song could feature a tablature for both the rhythm and lead tracks.