Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rocksmith Bass - You Don't Need a Bass to Get Started

A loyal reader reminded me that I have never really talked about some of the most basic aspects of the Rocksmith Bass Expansion. For example, that it's really a whole, separate game and you don't need a real bass to play it.
My son and I had been talking about learning bass even before Rocksmith mentioned a possible bass expansion. So, as soon as it sounded like Ubi/RS was serious about releasing the bass expansion, we started looking at basses to buy. We found an old Yamaha for $99 one weekend at the local GC. I took an instant liking to this particular bass and bought it on the spot. I think about a week later we found a very nice used Fender Rumble bass amp for a good price. My son twiddled around on the bass a little but we really didn't do much with the bass until the expansion release in August (2012).
So, we had a bass guitar before the Rocksmith bass expansion was ever released. As soon as we downloaded the expansion we started playing bass. But, you don't need a bass to play the bass half of the game.
I say "bass half" because the bass and guitar parts of Rocksmith are really like two separate games. When you first start Rocksmith, the first thing you'll see (after all the intro screens and Brian playing the RS song) is a screen where you click on either Guitar or Bass. Once you click on Bass, you go to the bass side of RS. Doesn't matter if you play on a real bass or use your guitar as a simulated bass - your score is kept on the bass side. (RS doesn't keep simulated bass scores separate from real bass scores, either.)
So, you could try playing bass using your regular guitar as a "simulated bass," see if it's something you're interested in, buy a bass, and just carry on from there. When you start playing a real bass, all the RSPs you earned on simulated bass will count and your journey will just continue from there. No change as far as your score or progress is concerned.
NOTE: You have to tell Rocksmith whether you're playing a real bass or using your guitar as a bass. If you use a real bass and Rocksmith thinks you're still using a regular guitar as a simulated bass, you get some really weird sounds!
I have tried playing simulated bass on my guitar and I didn't like it much. It's just not the same. I doubt you could really pluck the strings like you would on a real bass, so you'll probably have to use a pick. But, the simulated bass option will at least let you see what bass parts are like.
Generally speaking, bass parts are almost always much easier to play.  Playing bass probably won't help your guitar playing much in terms of speed. Musically, however, I think any instrument you learn to play is helpful to every other instrument you play. Playing bass has definitely helped a bit with my left-hand finger reach and strength. I've noticed when I go from playing bass back to playing guitar the guitar feels physically easier.

I love playing bass and might try to find some gigs playing bass IRL. It would be a very natural middle ground for me between drums and guitar. Bass is really under-rated in terms of "coolness." Really listen some time to your favorite rock songs and you'll almost always discover that the bass is what really drives things. Without the bass, songs would really lose that heart-pounding feel that makes good rock really rock. Plus, not having to move drums would be a huge plus for me!


  1. I don't think a Bass is in my immediate future, even for less than 100 bones. I have my 'list of guitar gear to buy whenever i have spare cash' and it is a really long list ;-) I think a Bass is just too far down at the moment. I may knock around the bass tracks just to see, tho. If my OCD kicks in after i start, tho, then that is another 50 odd arrangements to learn!

    One interesting thing i read way back in the day was the difference between the Hendrix sound with The Experience and with The Band a Gypsies. Buddy Guy was a better Bass player than Noel Redding, so Gypies has more interesting, more dynamic Bass parts. But, b.c they were 3 piece bands, that meant that the Gypies drummer had to be reserved to 'hold it together'. The Experience, on the other hand, had the bass hold things together so they had more dynamic drum parts. It doesn't surprise me that if you picked out 50 tracks with multiple interesting guitar parts that you would get some lame bass parts.


  2. Oh, and regarding "bass coolness"



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