Friday, February 21, 2014

21 February 2014 - Review of Rocksmith 2014 Songs Part I

I’m all over the place lately. And, now that certain networks and/or browsers don’t seem to support Blogspot, it’s a little harder for me to make regular posts. But, I’m still playing RS almost every night for an hour or three. For the most part, my elbow injury hasn’t hurt my playing any (but since I’ve never been that good . . . that’s not saying much). Sometimes it’s a little difficult to play certain chords high on the neck. My wrist just doesn’t want to bend quite as much as it used to. 

A week or two ago I brought home the “new” used Schecter Elite S-1 and Peavey bass. The bass has a bad buzz which I’m sure can be easily adjusted out by raising the saddles, adjusting the neck, or possibly putting on a new nut. I’ll get to that soon enough. Should do it myself, I suppose. I took the little Carvin Vintage 16 back to GC. Hated to let it go, but I needed the money more than I needed another amp. Plus, as a great comedian once noted, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

Anyway, before I got the Schecter all tuned up, I decided to sort my song list by “Tuning” and then play through all the songs with non-standard tunings at least once each. So, I tuned the S-1 to D standard, played all the D-standard songs, worked my way up through the E-flats and E-flat/Drop-D-flats, and finally back to standard E tuning. That way I wasn’t tuning up and down; for each new tuning I just raised the pitch a little bit until I got back up to standard E (A-440) tuning.

This gave me a chance to see which new RS2014 songs I liked and which ones I’d never bother de-tuning my guitar to play again. No point boring you with my list of likes and dislikes because yours will almost surely be different. But, I will give you a brief summary of the odd-ball tuned songs from RS14. Here goes:
[insert song summaries for odd-tunings here]

Mountain River – Easy and fun jam. This is one of those rare songs that will make even a marginal beginner feel like a rock star. Easy to play but still sounds cool. Mostly on the top three strings with a reasonable solo.

E-flat, Drop D-flat
Heart-Shaped Box – Classic Nirvana. Somewhat challenging. Not that Nirvana’s stuff is all that hard, but because there are several variations on the riff it would be damn tricky for normal people to memorize this one and pass “master” level on Score Attack. I’m sure plenty of guitar-gods have already done it, but if I ever pull it off it’ll be pure luck. The riff itself isn’t that tough; it’s just trying to remember which variation on the riff goes where (if you played it live, you could mix them up or just play the same riff every time and nobody would notice). Not much of a solo, which helps. The chorus has a pronounced bend on the G-string which is a little hard to get; I found that bending down instead of up helped.

Once I got through all the odd-ball songs on the regular RS14 song list, I was in a “try everything once” mood and just continued playing everything on the new song list that I hadn’t played yet. This was partly motivated by the fact that there is an XBox Achievement for trying all the songs at least once. But, I’ve got to tell you – I like this approach. I just started at the top of the alphabetically sorted song list and started working my way down. There have been some pleasant surprises, songs that I’d never heard of by groups that I’ve never heard of, which I really like. These are the ones I’ll go back and work on mastering. Others I’ll probably never play again (I wish there were a way to delete some of them from my XBox . . .)
Except for the songs which I totally hated, I played just about everything 2 or 3 times just to level them up enough to get an honest feel for the song.

Blitzkrieg Bop
Dead easy. 4-chord basic rocker. Not even full-blown chords. Just double-stop power 5ths. Maxed out all phrases in 2 plays with a 98% overall. Almost anyone could probably play from memory in less than a dozen tries.

Taken for a Fool
Slow rock, 70s-style. This reminds me of Hall and Oates kind of stuff from when I was a kid. Not real flashy guitar stuff, but sort of nice, mellow fills and solo work.
All I Wanna Do

Peace of Mind (Boston)
Full disclosure: I love Boston and always have. I like Scholz’s guitar tones. I like his solos. I like the instrumentation and overall production. There’s pretty much nothing about Boston’s music that I don’t like. And, since this is classic Boston, naturally I love this song. And, it’s not impossibly hard to play. Not super easy but the lead part is a lot easier to play than I would have guessed. It’s reasonable but challenging. Important to note that much of the guitar work on this song is rhythm guitar. The signature intro, for example, is an acoustic chord strum. Lead also has quite a bit of chord strumming.

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