Monday, September 10, 2012

3 Weeks of Rocksmith Bass Playin' and A New Hollow Body 6-String

After just 3 weeks, I'm sitting at Level 8 on my bass and loving it. The bass expansion is awesome and well worth the $30. It downloaded fine (took a while with my slow ISP) and has worked flawlessly on my XBox 360.

I have approached my bass journey a little differently than I approached the guitar journey. On guitar I never played events until I had all the songs up to 70k or more. On bass, I've played events as soon as I qualify the songs, which usually means after one play through. Much less pressure. Much more fun. I have already had at least two songs pop up with first-time qualifying scores of 90k, and at least one song came up fully leveled the very first time, so things will probably slow down for me soon and I'll have to work at qualifying songs a little harder after the next few events.

Bass CAN be a lot easier than guitar. Last night I mastered a song the very first time I played it on bass. My son has done the same thing on a different song. Bass can also be a lot HARDER. Higher Ground, for example, takes some serious bass chops that even the best guitarist is unlikely to have without working at it.

First really surprising thing I noticed about the bass expansion is that you can unlock the Secret Squirrel Club songs pretty easily. And, once you unlock them on bass, they're unlocked for guitar, too! In eight months of Rocksmith playing (pretty intense, serious Rocksmith playing and 14 events) I only managed to unlock one SSC song (Space Ostrich). Playing 14 events in less than three weeks on bass, I've unlocked all the remaining SSC songs except The Star Spangled Banner.

Even though I had diamonds for finger tips from playing guitar, the switch to bass raised some huge new blisters. HUGE. I guess I fret the bass a little differently than the guitar. But, the last of the dead skin is peeling off as I type this and my fingerprints will be well-disguised now.

In short, the bass expansion rocks. If you have Rocksmith and even the slightest inclination to check out the bass world, you need to get the bass expansion. You don't even need to buy a bass guitar to play it - Rocksmith will let you emulate a bass using the top four strings on your regular guitar. A whole new release of Rocksmith which includes the bass expansion is due out next month, but at $30 for the expansion, you may be able to score the original Rocksmith software and add the bass expansion on for less than what the new release is likely to go for.

Guitar-wise, I put a beautiful used Ibanez ArtCore hollow-body on lay-away last weekend. Stopped at the local GC to poke around during the Labor Day sale and it was just hanging there. About $250 with a hardshell case made it a hard deal to pass up. Really nice action and a smooth-as-silk neck with perfectly trimmed frets and edging all the way around. I might have put it down but a guy from the band I sit in with was there and said that he thinks the Ibanez is every bit as good as the Gibson ES-330. I said, "Yeah, but this one doesn't have a Bigsby on it. . . " He said, "Do you really USE a tremelo?" Well, no, I don't. Barracuda is about the only song I ever use a whammy bar on and I wouldn't use the hollow-body to play Barracuda, so I put the Ibanez on lay-away. This gives me a little time to think about it but doesn't allow for the possibility that someone else will buy it while I think. Plus, you know, it gives me two more paychecks in the meantime. I plan to pick it up the first of October. Photos will be posted.

Instruments-in-general-wise, Yesterday I bought an upright piano. Been wanting one for ages. Actually bought one for $10 a year or so ago but had no way to move it. Still not quite sure how I'll move this one, but I'll figure something out.


  1. Good to hear you are still playing. I am going crazy waiting for the PC release.

    If you had it to do over again, would you do the guitar songs the same way you did bass?

    I had to get a Piano for my daughter. you need 4 regular sized guys, a 2x10 (2x12-whatever), a dolly, and some straps. Strap the Piano on the 2x10, set the 2x10 on the dolly. When you need to go up stairs, you can work the 2x10 up and steps much easier than just the Piano bottom (the 2x10 acts as a lever). Make sure your stairway corner is wide enough for the Piano and 2x10. 4 guys(avg weight 160#), a few extra spotters for doors and stuff and about 15 minutes.

    Good luck

    1. Tim! Good to hear from you! Yep - I'm still playing. Just haven't kept up on the blog like I should. Got a little lazy over the summer.

      I don't know whether I'd approach guitar differently or not. Interesting question. Probably not because I really feel like I learned the songs instead of just zipping through them like parts of a video game. But, getting everything to 70k was definitely stressful and tiresome at times. My bass qualifying scores have skyrocketed to 90k so I'm really wondering whether blazing through the songs on guitar would have been any different. I might have ended up having to get everything up to 70k anyway. . . Hard to guess. I don't regret my approach to guitar, but I don't regret my much more relaxed approach to bass, either.

      Thanks for the piano moving tips! Fortunately, I have no stairs to deal with - just one very short step up from the garage to the house. But, I do have a ridiculously steep driveway which makes it difficult to find a vehicle that will work. A HMMWV would be ideal. Or an Army FMTV truck with a material handling crane on the back. . . But, I'll settle for a utility trailer, a 2x10, and a couple of dollies. Good ideas.

    2. My Dad loaded up the Piano in the covered utility trailer - he covered it in blankets and then ratchet strapped a 2x6 to the top/back. I don't have a picture, but it was basically a 2x4 triangle on each side screwed to a 2x6 and the floor. Drove 120 miles without trouble. He then backed it up within inches of our steps. The dolly would have sucked on my stone driveway.

      Be careful on the driveway - it is easy to get into pulleys and stuff, but you can get into a world of hurt (or a world of out of control Pianos on dollies) if a single point of failure fails and there isn't enough human power to stop it from rolling away. I have had a few scary moments with cars, tow straps, hills and snow. be careful.

      One of my thoughts about an unstructured approach is that i might skip songs that i don't enjoy but then miss out on techniques that i need. If you play solely for high scores, that probably isn't the best way to quickly get your skills up to speed. For example, i can already play (via Guitar-Pro 6) breakin the law. Anything beyond one or two plays probably isn't going to make me a better player, but when i want to get a decent score, i would think that would be a go to song. I dunno, i guess i will have to wait till it FINALLY comes out on PC. 18 month is too long to wait for a game.

      How much better is playing bass on a bass vs playing it on a 6 string?