Monday, January 13, 2014

Old and New Rocksmith Songs and Using Score Attack to Learn Them All

Monday, 13 January 2014

Been playing the Telecaster again this weekend. The Michael Kelly Valor seems very noisy lately. Might have been noisy all along but I’ve just started noticing it. Not sure if the pick-ups are bad or the body cavities would benefit from shielding or what, but I may have to trade that guitar in. It’s like I can’t even touch it without it making noise. Not feedback. Just string noise. It’s like the pick-ups are picking up the slightest vibration. Maybe that’s supposed to be a good thing, but I find it sort of annoying and distracting. I can’t imagine trying to record with that guitar doing that. Thanks to therapy for my dislocated elbow, I have a chunks of paraffin that I can melt down and pot the pick-ups with, so I might try that solution.

Despite the fact that I’ve got a whole bunch of new RS14 songs to play with, I’ve been mostly playing with songs from Old RockSmith (ORS - including DLC songs that I bought back then). Specifically, I’ve been playing Smooth (Santana) and the old DLC Christmas songs (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, and We 3 Kings) quite a lot lately. Yes, I know Christmas is over but once again I failed to meet my goal of performing these songs live anywhere. So, I’ll continue working on them until next Christmas – which is just 346 days away.

I’ve also been playing Score Attack a LOT. Still not quite the same as the old RS events, but I’ve got to say that in terms of motivation Score Attack keeps me playing longer than events ever did. I’m one of those people that will “just one more time” myself to death just to get into the top xx on the Leaderboard.

I’m still super pissed off that my stupid wireless router kept me from posting a #3 leaderboard score for Smooth. But, I’ve made up for that. Last night I was digging around for something different to play (i.e. not the Christmas DLC from 2011) and I decided to pull up Surf Hell since I haven’t played that in ages. Ran through it a couple of times in LAS mode and by golly it actually did come back to me fairly quickly. Of course, it should be burned into my brain and fingers forever – that was one of the first songs I really hammered on, and Mastered/memorized, in ORS. Interestingly, in RS14 the lead arrangement for Surf Hell is slightly different than the “combo” arrangement I learned in ORS. Instead of the double-stops under the chorus there are just 1/8 notes played on the E string (3d fret). And, the chords are gone. So, a bit easier actually than what I had learned before. Still, I started with Easy mode in Score Attack and prepared to work my way up from there. My third attempt was a platinum (100% accuracy) run. My fourth attempt got me to #1 on the Leaderboard. It’s the little victories that keep us going, right?
That one inspired me quite a bit. Even though it was after 12:30, I decided to have a go at God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on Score Attack, Master level. Eh. Not at the top of the heap, but not too far down the list. I pulled off a 762,822 with 99.17% accuracy. From memory. Good for 56th out of 197 players. I finally knocked off around 1:20 AM. 

Score Attack has become part of my regular song-learnin’ process now. Occasionally RS14’s learning tasks will include playing Score Attack, but even when it doesn’t come up in the recommended learning activities, I’ll generally play through something in LAS mode a few times to get familiar with it, maybe hit Riff Repeater to pull a difficult phrase up to par, and then play the song in Score Attack just to see where I stack up. Helps keep things interesting.

That’s how I started with You Really Got Me. I played it six times in LAS. At that point, I seemed to hit a wall in LAS, so I switched to Score Attack and played the Easy level about 5-6 times. I also recently tried Castle Chordead for the first time. Kind of fun, but I don’t have a lot of trouble with chords so I’m not sure how often I’ll be playing this one. It’s a good game, though. I mean, kind of goofy in a fun, retro way, but basically an entertaining way to work on chord transitions since you have to identify, form, and play each chord pretty damn fast to stay alive.

The other night I unlocked the Level 5 Venue. I still can’t tell any difference when I’m playing. The gazillion skins I’ve unlocked aren’t exactly doing much for me, either. Sort of like the eye-candy guitars in ORS. I’m unlikely to go into Tone Designer to change the skins on my speaker cabinet from black to red. I’m sure some of you all love it, and that’s cool. Just not my thing. In fact, I’m still not into the whole Tone Designer thing very much. However, I do plan to set up a very clean tone that I’ll have as a default setting between songs so that if I’m noodling around or accidentally hit the strings between songs I’m not always hearing the really loud, high-gain tone that seems to be my current default.

Kind of odd thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve got a whole new batch of songs to play now and I just haven’t gotten too excited about many of the new RS14 songs. There was Walk This Way, but we all know how that went. . . I haven’t even tried playing that song in weeks. Since then, I’ve hardly played anything from RS14. There are some songs that I had been looking forward to playing, but it turned out that many of them require bizarre non-standard tunings which I’m just not real interested in messing with. Laziness, I know. Really doesn’t take that much to retune down half a step to E-flat, but it’s a pain unless you plan to play a whole set of songs tuned to E-flat. While Round and Round is an awesome, old-school hair metal song that I’ve always liked - and is on my Mission list right now - I just won’t play it. I mean, yeah, eventually I will pick one guitar (probably either my old Frankenstrat or my new but barely touched Epi LP Special) to re-tune to E-flat and leave it there specifically to play that one song. But, I’m just not going to choose a song in the middle of a playing session or multi-player session that I’ve got to retune all six strings to play. Drop-D is one thing. E-flat is just more than I’m willing to deal with as a rule. Which leaves out at least a few of the songs I really like from RS14’s song list.


  1. What annoys me the most with the new Rocksmith is the alternate A tunings... This is even worst than E-flat as often you tune for that specific song...
    It wouldn't have been so hard to pitch-shift the songs a bit in order to tune it with A#440. I think this is a really stupid design decision.
    I know I know, there is the "artist vision" and the "integrity" of the song... But I don't really care of that.

    And I agree, skins are useless. The only one thing I changed are the fret inlays, as there is one I unlocked and like a lot : numbers :). It makes it even more easy to know where you are on the neck.

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  2. An even worse thing about alternate tunings is when you're trying to jam along with something on the radio or from an MP3 or CD! By the time I've figured out that the song is in some bizarr-o tuning, it's too late!

    1. I have a Line 6 Variax so I can change to any "common" (standard tunings from E to B and all drops between) tuning in a few seconds, exactly what I need for Rocksmith, except those not A#440 songs :)

    2. kg: Do those things mechanically re-tune themselves or do they just "process" the notes digitally between the pick-ups and the output jack? I can usually hear my strings, so I'd think it might be very difficult to hear that pitch and an alternate, modified pitch coming from my amp!

      In fact, I often have this issue in RS. Sometimes the pitch of my actual strings doesn't match the pitch that RS has interpreted or played back and it's painful to hear! I end up stopping and going to the Tuner to try to get things lined up again.