Friday, December 6, 2013

A New Rocksmith Player in the House and Carol of the Bells

New Kid Tries Out Rocksmith for the First Time

My daughter's friend from down the street dropped by last night. Known her for years but had no idea she had any interest in playing guitar. The subject came up - as it usually does when people visit our house. Hard to avoid the topic of guitars when guests can't get past the foyer without seeing at least a dozen of them. . . So, I was pretty surprised that she hadn't mentioned this interest in guitars before. Maybe she just took an interest recently. I took the opportunity to let another new player test-drive Rocksmith 2014.

I hooked her up with my daughter's guitar - the pink Washburn LG115 and turned her loose on multiplayer with my son playing bass. They started with Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy. Since this girl had never seen tablature, the Note Highway was a totally new concept for her. Even fret numbers and fret markers were unfamiliar territory for her. So, even though she's 16, she was as new to this as any little kid would be.

We had to drop my daughter off at softball, so I wasn't around to watch all of the action. The new girl started out a little slow, of course. Trying to figure out where the frets were on the guitar neck and getting used to the whole NH thing. But, within a very short time she had the concept and was at least playing through songs and hitting some notes at very easy levels of mastery. When we got back to the house she was still playing and seemed to be enjoying it. We'll see if she comes back for more.

Holiday Songs Revisited

Later in the evening I pulled out the Valor II and, inspired by my son's recent school band concert, worked on Carol of the Bells for a while. This was one of the 3 free DLC holiday songs that Ubisoft generously released for the original Rocksmith just a few months after its release in 2011.

I hope Ubisoft will re-release the holiday songs for Rocksmith 2014 so new players can enjoy them. What about it, Ubi? A little Christmas cheer for new players? I checked out The Shop and confirmed that the Christmas songs are no longer there. At this point, only players who downloaded these 3 songs from the original RS store and then transferred them to RS2014 can play them.

Before I really got down to it, I finally put a set of strap-lock buttons on the Valor so I can finally play that guitar using my nice padded leather guitar strap instead of the cheap nylon one that cuts into my shoulder. Only took me 6 months to get around to this little task. . . It's been so long I don't even remember when I bought that guitar! Pretty sad, huh? I like it, though. Nice guitar. It would be one of the 3 I'd keep if I had to pare down my collection. The Valor, the MIM Tele, and probably my Gretsch Electromatic. Not that you asked. But, in case you're interested, those are my favorites. I plan to sell the rest - the PRS Tremonti SE, Ibanez Artcore semi-hollow body, and the "Franken-strat" Yamaha strat copy with the generic replacement neck which was expertly set-up by Tommy Shepard. All for sale if you're interested.

Oh, and on the subject of stuff I like or recommend, I can't say enough good stuff about my Onori soft leather guitar strap. The outer layer is distressed leather and the padded part on the inside is like glove leather stuffed with a cloud. I've been slack about including photos but I promise to upload some, including one of this strap. I love it. Got it on sale from Musician's Friend last year.

Carol of the Bells came back pretty quickly. Or course, other than the solo phrases and the ending, it's a pretty easy song. So, I guess I didn't really accomplish that much last night. I previously mastered 3 of the 4 solo phrases - the first, third and fourth ones. Those were challenging. But the 2d solo phrase was impossible. I got one of the solo phrases back up to 100% last night and started on another one before I ran out of steam. This staying up until 2:30 in the morning playing Rocksmith just isn't working with full-time employment so I'm knocking off by midnight now.

After playing through it several times, I am absolutely certain that the RS development team has re-written the 2d solo phrase and somehow my DLC version of it was updated when I transferred everything from the Original RS. When I first learned this song over a year ago, I actually sat down and copied each note of the 2d solo phrase from the NH to tab paper - and I STILL couldn't play that phrase. It was an impossibly fast scale run starting low on the neck and screaming across all six strings. Now it's just a bunch of HOPO's (hammer-on's and pull-off's) on the bottom three strings. Still quite challenging but doable.

I wish they hadn't changed that phrase because now I can't tell if it's just that much easier now or if the new Riff Repeater is just that much better than the original. Without a doubt, the new RR is MUCH better than the original version. I just haven't been able to objectively show how much better yet.

The old RR was very good. When I first learned Carol of the Bells, I didn't dream of being able to play even the first solo phrase. RR is how I eventually got it. I believe the new RR might have actually enabled me to play the original version of the Carol of the Bells solo. My left hand is still a little stiff from the recent elbow surgery, so that's slowing me down in critical spots, but I've made serious progress. 

Navigation Notes

I also figured out how to navigate in and out of Riff Repeater last night. To exit RR you use the little "start" button to the right of the XBox home button on the controller. This takes you to the RR Pause Menu. From there you have three exit options: Resume Song, Restart Song, or Exit Song.

Resume Song takes you back to the play-through mode. The song picks up at the phrase you were working on in RR and continues to the end.

Restart Song exits RR and takes you back to the play-through mode starting the song at the very beginning (no matter what phrase you were working on in RR).

EXIT SONG is the one that exits RR and takes you back to the Learn a Song menu.  I personally would have called this one "Exit Riff Repeater," since that's what it actually does. But, that's just me.

There are other options in the RR Pause menu. I was just interested in how to get out of RR. Other options you can access here are Tuner, Chord Book, Technique Guide, and Mixer.

So far, the only way I know to get IN to Riff Repeater is by navigating through the Learn a Song menu, picking a song, and then actually starting the song. Once the song starts, you just hit the Back (B) button on the controller and you go to the RR. I sort of wish they had a way to jump into Riff Repeater directly from the Learn a Song menu. Not nitpicking. I just wish that was an option.


  1. At least on the PC version, there's 3 "tasks" listed under the song title when you select a song in LAS. Usually 1 of them is a RR task, so if you just select that, it puts you in RR at that point. IE: an example task is "Riff repeat this chorus" - select that, and it puts you in RR at the chorus. From there, you can use RR as normal - selecting phrases, setting speed, whatever... I guess that only helps if RR is an actual task, but thought I'd throw it out there...

    1. Very true. But, I have found (on the XBox platform, at least) that RR tasks don't appear in Learn-a-Song mode until you've hammered on the song at least a few times. Sometimes not until you've attempted to play through the song several times. When RR does appear as a task, it gets checked off as soon as you click on it the first time. No idea if clicking on the tasks after they've been checked off will take you back to the same activity again or not. . . I've never tried it. I will now, though! (Although currently I don't have any RR tasks listed on any song I'm working on, so I'll have to start a new song to check this out.)

  2. Very true - it's never in the first 3 tasks that I've seen (get a 5 note streak, get 1% mastery and play this arrangement always seem to be the 1st 3). And once you complete the task, you're right, it disappears - I don't even know how to try to re-do a "completed" task. There's gotta be a way to get into RR from LAS... If I find one, I'll pass it on. :-)

    1. The tasks do seem to recycle. Once you finish a set of 3, you get 3 new ones. Eventually, you start seeing the same ones again. I wonder if there's the same number of these tasks for every song and RS just randomly throws them up at you or if each song - or even each play-through - generates a customized selection of tasks.

      I don't really mind the tasks, but I don't find them very useful. Most of them I end up accomplishing simply by playing through the song. Then there are others which don't seem to belong at all - like Review Chords 101 when the song arrangement being played has no chords in it. I pretty much ignore the tasks.

      A possible way to access RR directly might be by using the Start Button. Not sure. I'll try it and see.

  3. I could find no way to access RR through the LAS menu. I tried. I give up. (I *did* learn how to screenshot in the process, for whatever that's worth). It *is* only one more keypress to start the song, and then start RR, so I guess that's they way they designed it.

    The tasks are somewhat generated by each play-through - for example, if you get 26% mastery on a play-through, a task might be "Get 27% mastery". Similarly, if you get an 81 note streak, it will offer "Get an 82 note streak" as a task. The idea being "try to improve on your best performance", but c'mon - 1 note or 1%? Stretch it a little.... But, regardless, I get it... I agree that they're not the most useful...

  4. Tell me more about this screen shotting thing. . . Are you talking about the PrtSc function?