Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Killer Guitar Solos & "Do You Remember" Mastered

Many of the songs I've played so far are leveled up to 100% in all phrases except the solos. So, I've been doing a LOT of Riff Repeater work on just solos. Good name for that feature, by the way, since I usually end up repeating stuff at least 30 times!

In fact, on the harder stuff, I end up repeating the phrase 30 times in Leveler, then 30 more times in Free Speed to figure out what I'm doing wrong, and then another 30 times in Leveler again. I only use Accelerator on stuff that I pretty much know but just can't play up to speed. Speed is the last thing I work on.

Warming up with Technique Challenges
To warm up for the night, I decided to revisit the technique challenges. I had gold medals in all of the challenges except for Slides, Bends, Barre Chords, Palm Mutes, and Tremelos. I've got silver in all of those. Last night I knocked out golds in Slides, Bends, and Barre Chords without much trouble. The technique challenges aren't hard, but they're well worth working on. Once I get gold in all 12, I'll go back and shoot for max scores. Max score must be more than 100,000 because I got 125,298 on Bends last night. I don't like the way you have to bend strings all the way to the edge of the frets to get points in RS. I understand why the programmers probably did that, but I don't like it.

Just for fun, I played a few rounds of Ducks, too. Somebody help me out on this. What is the purpose of Ducks? Is it supposed to be a shifting exercise, or what? I mean, it's pretty easy to just watch the screen and slide up and down the neck using your first finger all the time. I can get pretty good scores doing that. But, it seems like Ducks would be much more productive (no pun intended, in case you heard one) if you used all four fingers and tried to shift from position to position. That's what I try to do with it. Which is why my scores suck.

New Video Content?
While I was scrolling around the game and technique parts of RS I noticed that there seems to be a ton of new video content from Ernie Ball. Looks like some good stuff. More later. Anybody know about this?

Riff Repeating Solos and a Mysterious XBox Unlock
Last night the focus was on solos from Are You Gonna Go My Way, Breed, and Do You Remember. After listening to Kravitz's solo I pretty much just told my wife, "There's no way I'm ever going to be able to play that!" This one will definitely be a test of how well Rocksmith works as a teaching tool. (Not a teacher. A teaching tool. Big difference.) But, I did make progress. Not much, but some. I went from 55% to 61% at full speed. Still a long way to go. I don't how how many times I played through this, but I was starting to get very frustrated. That's usually a good sign that I need to move on to something else for a while. So I did.

I'm almost starting to agree with those of you who say that RS needs a way to just slow down the song. But, I don't totally agree with that idea. I still find Free Speed mode in the Riff Repeater to be a good way to slog through parts that I can't figure out at full speed. In fact, I sometimes wish Riff Repeater would break some of the phrases down into even smaller bites. Trying to wrestle my way through a whole song - even at a reduced tempo - is way more than I'm prepared to deal with. Being able to slow the song down would definitely help with transitions between phrases, though.

After beating myself up trying to play like Lenny Kravitz, I moved on to the deceptively easy solo from Do You Remember. This is my kind of solo! There are maybe a dozen notes in the whole thing. It's really more of what we drummers call a "break," rather than a solo. The hardest part about it is the bends. Not that bends are hard to play. It's just getting RS to recognize that you're playing one. Anyway, I took this solo from 45% to 100% in less than 30 lives on Leveler. I Leveled Up 3 times in a row starting out. That was encouraging.

Once I got the solo maxed, I played through the song to go for the Master Mode unlock. The first play through didn't go well. Not sure what the deal was but I got 81,865 (72/18)! Terrible. Especially considering I got 86,357 the third time I ever played this song. But, that was nearly a month ago. I tried it again and got 126,460 (88/50), which unlocked my third Master Mode song. That's enough for a small event. Two more and I'll have enough for a cocktail. . .

Breed was a song from Event 5 which I just played a couple of weeks ago, but I had already forgotten how this song went. Last night seemed like a good time to refresh my memory. There's not much to it - pretty much the riff and the solo. I was able to level up the riff to 100% pretty easily. It's very fast and what you play at 100% is quite a bit different than what you start out playing (maybe a bit too different. . . ), but overall it's pretty easy. The solo would be dead easy except that it's a bunch of tremelos. Not my strong suit. I gave it a good effort before I played the song through and it paid off. I improved from low 70s to 100,217 (95/122).

I also unlocked an XBox Live achievement: "All Rounder"??? Anybody have a clue what that's all about?

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Pre-Verse
My successes motivated me to keep working a bit longer. I pulled up God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Until last night I had never done any Riff Repeater work on this one. Other than maybe the intro, I don't have anything maxed out. So, I just started at the pre-verse, which was sitting at 66%. I probably spent a solid hour getting it to 100%. Well worth it on this one because the pre-verse pretty well establishes the motif for the whole song. If you know the pre-verse, you're in pretty good shape for the rest. When I played through the song I bumped my score from 63,805 to 66,192 (84/25).

Jam Time
I like to wrap up my practice sessions - drums or guitar - by playing something I at least halfway know already. As usual, Surf Hell. I've got everything maxed on this one (which I should by now), but I couldn't break that 100,000 mark. Finally packed it in around 12:30.

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