ClarificationFirst, I want to address a comment I made in an earlier post regarding guitar players and scales, to wit: that most guitar players I know don't learn or practice scales.
That was not a dig! And, it wasn't intended to apply to ALL guitar players. Just most of us.
First of all, keep in mind that this is primarily a Rocksmith blog - not really a regular guitar-player's blog. Mainly because I don't consider myself a guitarist, I would be wholly unqualified to write a blog about guitar playing. I'm just a hack who enjoys playing. Frankly, I doubt that many people who read this blog are guitar performance majors at Juliard. (If you are, please let me know!)
I don't know many (OK - I don't personally know ANY) formally trained guitarists. The vast majority of people I know who play guitar are people who just went out and bought a guitar to mess around on. Some have gotten really, really good. Most have never taken a single guitar lesson. They might be familiar with the concept of scales or musical keys, but only if they were in band or took piano lessons as kids. I do know a handful of really, really excellent guitar players, but even they play mostly by ear - they don't actually know or practice scales.
So, when I say that guitar players tend to ignore scales, I'm not picking on guitar players. In fact, I'd tend to say that most drummers out there probably don't know and never work on their rudiments, either. They're essential to getting really, really good - but you can play a song without knowing them. Just like you can go out today, buy a pretty decent guitar for not a lot of money, download some tabs or chord charts from the Internet, and play something recognizable as a song without ever knowing what a "scale" is. That probably accounts for the popularity of the guitar as a musical instrument - it's playable without any formal training.
Of course serious guitar players learn their scales. And, I know there are some damn serious guitar players who also play Rocksmith. I'd guess, though, that the majority of Rocksmith players and readers of this blog tend to be the "I bought this guitar and would like to learn to play some songs, but I'm not really interested in formal lessons" kind of guitar players.
Maybe I underestimated you guys/gals. Maybe you all know your scales and practice them regularly. Do you? Really. I want to know. Because maybe this is where I've fallen short all these years. Maybe this is what has kept me from progressing. I suspect that most of us who own guitars and aspire to play them don't actually learn or practice scales like we should. We practice songs, not scales. That's all I was saying.
On that note, maybe the real value of Session Mode for some of us isn't learning to improvise but simply learning scales in a much less boring way. As kg points out (and I agree), the Scale Runner Guitarcade games tend to force you to rush. You crash and burn before you've really worked on the scale. In Session Mode, you can take your time. Plus, by Zooming Out, you can see the entire scale pattern all at once. I find that very helpful.
On to Other Matters and MissionsI thought I was done with Tone Designer missions. Imagine my disappointment when I got another guitar pick next to the Tone Designer link on my Main menu. Unlike previous TD missions, this one has a twist which has made it impossible for me - so far - to complete the mission.
I'm supposed to "Use a Reverb Pedal." OK - by now I am painfully familiar with how to put a pedal - ANY pedal, pre-amp or loop - on Rocksmith. Done. And done. I saved the tone and assigned the tone to my Tone Stick. On the first 1,000 Tone Designer missions, that was enough. Now they want me to actually USE the pedal? Fine. Use it where? To do what?
I tried going to Session Mode and using the Tone Stick to activate my reverb pedal tone. Then I played a little bit. Nothing. I tried switching to my custom tone during a song in LAS mode. Still no joy. Plus, my tone didn't sound right on that song. Kind of pissing me off, to be honest. Especially given my already low opinion of Tone Designer missions.
Gave up on that mission and moved on to the next one: playing X-Kid by Green Day. Actually, the mission was to reach 75% accuracy while playing X-Kid, which I eventually did. Took a little work, but I think I could actually half-way muddle through it off-line now. Not that Green Day is known for its intricate guitar parts. In fact, the solo from X-Kid will probably end up on my Easy Rocksmith Solos page. Fine with me. I still love Green Day. If it's easy to play, so much the better.
How You Doin'?I decided to check out the 60-day Challenge via the Internet website using my laptop last night (instead of trying to access it through the UPlay in-game link). It's up and appears to be running. The site gives you a snapshot of all the geeky stuff I like to keep track of - how many missions completed, how many in-game achievements, etc. Progress on the 60-day Challenge is shown on a sort of speedometer-looking chart near the bottom. So far it looks like I'm about 7 days into it (if you don't count the 500+ days I've actually been playing RS since it came out in 2011). However, I seem to be having trouble staying connected to XBox Live recently (thanks for that "update," Microsoft) and I'm pretty sure I didn't get credit for at least a few hours of playing.
I wish there were a more objective way to measure my overall progress as a guitar player. The 60-day Challenge is cool and all, but there's no "final exam" or anything to really put a number on how much improvement is made over the 60 days. Since I started playing Rocksmith over 2 years ago, I've learned a bunch of songs and even "mastered" several - but I'd be very hard pressed to play a single one of them from memory right now. (Except maybe X-Kid. And possibly God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.) Still, I have definitely done things with my guitar that I never dreamed I'd be able to do. Part of that is Rocksmith. A LOT of it is just the amount of time I've spent playing - which is totally because of Rocksmith. If I had to sit around trying to hold a tab book open to the right page while listening to a CD and attempting to learn songs the old-fashioned way, I probably wouldn't have spent more than 12 hours playing my guitar in the past 2 years. In fact, I would probably have sold all of my guitars by now. I'm just not THAT into playing guitar, I guess. But, Rocksmith makes it fun - even for those of us who are kind of lazy and have no innate talent.
So, I journey on.