Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Working the Riff Repeater

I'm wrapping up my second month with Rocksmith and here's where things stand:

National Support Act with a score of about 3,800,000 points. 5 events, 26 songs played (including one of the Christmas downloads).

I guess that means I'm about halfway through the "game," except that they've added a bunch of DLC over the past months. Not sure what happens when I played all of the songs and reach Rocksmith status. I guess at that point I can start working on all the new DLC! But, I'm changing my approach and slowing things way down to put that day off for a long while. Not that I was moving all that fast. So far I've only unlocked one song at Master Level.

Instead of whizzing through everything and playing events as soon as I qualify all the songs on the setlists, I'm not playing any event until I have at least 70,000 on every song in that setlist. This includes going back and bringing some previously played songs, including encores, up to that standard.

Doing this has already paid off. On a lot of songs, I just couldn't seem to improve or level up. That's because I was just playing through them from start to finish. I got to a certain point and then just couldn't get any better. Some songs I don't even like, so it doesn't really matter to me if I can play them or not. But, on songs I like I really want to be able to play them right and from memory. So, I started going to the Riff Repeater. This has been really helpful. And really frustrating.

Turns out I've been playing some things wrong - which would explain why I couldn't level up in some songs! And, some sections are just freaking hard for me to play. So, I've had to work my a55 off to get those right. Instead of, you know, just slopping through certain sections like I've been doing.

My strategy is this: Pick a song that I want to improve. I usually pick the one that I've got the lowest current score on. Go to the Riff Repeater. Scroll through all the sections of that song and note which sections are weak. As each section scrolls into view, a progress bar to the left shows how close you are to mastering that one part of the song (or how far away). I pick the weakest section and start working it.

RS presents the three Riff Repeater components in this order: Freespeed, Leveler, and Accelerator. I don't use them in that order. I go Leveler, Accelerator, Freespeed. At least that's my current strategy.

Going to the Leveler first lets me play through a section like I've been playing it without having to play the whole song. Leveler tells me how close or how bad I am. I guess that's based on how well or how badly I play that section when I play the whole song. For most sections of most songs, I start out around 78% to 85%. That means I'm playing up to 85% of the notes in the actual song and just have a little more to work on in that section. RS gives you 30 lives to Max out each section at 100%. Sometimes I actually level up one or two notches on my first 30 tries. Sometimes I don't level up at all. A couple of times I've actually levelled up twice in a row! Rare.

Seems like each time you level up, you get about 7% more on your next try. In other words, if I get all the way through the 78% level, the Leveler bumps me up to 85%, then 92%, 95%, and then 100%. But, sometimes when I Level Up it seems like I'm only playing one or two more notes than I was playing at the lower level.

Once I've done 30 iterations of the riff in Leveler, if I don't Max it I go to the Accelerator. I play through the first time realllll slow. That way the Riff Repeater lets me build up my accuracy before it speeds things up. Accuracy first. Then speed. That works for just about everything in life that you'll ever learn. Like walking before you run. No point speeding up if you're playing it wrong. Anyway. Once I've got my starting speed set, I work my current level up to 100% speed.

If I can't get to 100% speed in Accelerator after 30 tries, I go to Freespeed. I don't like Freespeed very much, but I think it works really well. Usually when I have trouble it's because I'm not playing at the right tempo or I'm playing the wrong rhythm. Takes a while to get used to Freespeed because it forces you to play everything right instead of how you've been playing it. That can be very frustrating. But, it helps. You can play one note at a time until you learn the riff. So, the key is to be patient with yourself and work through it note by note. Don't get in a hurry.

Once I get up to 100% speed on Accelerator, I go back to Leveler and work the section again. Usually I can Max out the section within 30 more tries. Or at least Level Up. Which gives me something new to work on and I may end up going back through Accelerator or even Freespeed again with the added notes.

I just keep repeating this cycle until I Max out the levels at 100% speed. To keep it from getting really, really painful and boring I usually play through the whole song between cycles. It's fun to see how much I've improved after working certain sections over and over until I get them right. Last night I worked a section of Outshined and then went back and played through the song. I added over 25,000 points to my score on that song. Big difference.


  1. Hi J., just discovered your blog from a Google alert where you commented on a site, I thought about setting up a blog when I started with Rocksmith, but between all the rest I do and playing Rocksmith there is simply no time left, I think you must know the feeling.
    I am at the same level as you more or less, difference is I am qualifying songs and then moving on, some songs I have gone back to and upped my scores, but some are hard to qualify so I am happy when I finally do, strugeling to pass "Boys don't cry" need to qualify that one at 90K, got to 87K a couple of times, will get there eventually :-)
    Keep up the blog, I will be following !

  2. Btw, the yellow/brownish font is very hard to read !

    1. Flip - thanks for the feedback. I've darkened the fonts a little, hoping that'll make it a bit easier to read. I literally missed the day in jr. hi art class when they covered the color wheel, so I really have a hard time picking colors!

      Definitely know what you mean about having no time. RS has really sucked me into working on my guitar playing. I've been playing at least 2 hours per night. One night I played from 8 pm until 4 the next morning! (You'd think I'd be pretty good by now. . . )

      Fortunately, I get some time to write during the day so I'll try to keep this blog going.