Are Guitar Hero Guitars Universal? Troubleshooting and Issue Solutions

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Guitar Hero is a favorite among serious gamers and casual enthusiasts alike. The guitar controllers make us all feel like rock stars when we connect to our console and jam to our favorite songs. If you want to jam out with your friends, but they have different consoles, you may be wondering whether the Guitar Hero guitar is universal.

The guitar controller for Guitar Hero Live is universal. However, the wireless USB receivers are not compatible with every console and are designed to only work with one console. So if you’re using a PS3, you will have to buy the specific dongle for it.

Read on as we tell you how you can differentiate between the different dongles for your console, what to do with your old guitars, and even tell you how you can master special Guitar Hero tricks. Let’s strum off this article!

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Are Guitar Hero Guitars Universal? Troubleshooting and Issue Solutions

Compatibility of Your Guitar Hero Guitar

Originally, the guitar hero guitar had a 5-button configuration. However, after the release of Guitar Hero Live, the controller was re-configured to have 6 buttons. 

Like the game, the original Guitar Hero controller was released only for PlayStation 2 and was not compatible with other platforms. For Guitar Hero II, the company released 2 versions of the guitar, one for Playstation and one for Xbox. The guitars had different features and designs and could not be used universally across platforms.

For Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero 5, and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, the company redesigned the guitar to be the same across all platforms. However, despite looking the same, each guitar was still purpose-made for the specific console and could not be used interchangeably.

In 2015, Activision released Guitar Hero Live. This new game features the new 6-button controller and plays the same across all platforms. The senior designer behind the new guitar, Nick Coppard, explained the idea behind the controller: “We want everyone to get the same experience, regardless of the platform they’re playing on,” 

The Guitar Hero Live controller features a wireless dongle that needs to be connected to the console you’re playing on. The dongles are made specifically for each console and can not be transferred. Each dongle is color-coded for the platform.

The table below shows the color of the receiver and the platform it is meant for.

GrayPlayStation 3 or WiiU
BluePlayStation 4
GreenXbox 360
BlackXbox One


What to Do With Your Old Guitar Hero Guitars?

If you’ve purchased the Guitar Hero Live and the new controller, you might consider the old guitar hero controllers to be a waste.

But don’t throw them away just yet! 

Your old Guitar Hero controllers may not work with Guitar Hero Live, but they can still be used with the Rock Band video game series. Like Guitar Hero, Rock Band also features a guitar-centric experience where users can play their controller like they would an actual guitar.

The good news is that your old Guitar Hero guitars work for just about any Rock Band video game and can be used instead of their controllers. The only requirement is that you have the console-specific guitar.

How to Master Special Tricks in Guitar Hero Live?

Being the best at Guitar Hero means that you have to master some special skills that they don’t teach you in the game. Learn these moves and watch the crowd go wild as you shred.


This skill is one of the most valuable skills any shredder can possess. By mastering this technique, you will be able to play multiple notes without having to play each individual one.

To play a hammer on, simply strum the beginning note and then ‘hammer’ your finger onto the hammer-on note when it crosses your strum bar.


Pull-offs can be considered the reverse of hammer-ons. However, they are only possible when you move from the guitar’s body towards the neck.

To play a pull-off, you need to play the beginning note and then take your finger off the fretboard when the pull-off note crosses the strum bar.

Playing Down The Neck

This trick is similar to actual guitar playing and can drastically improve your game.

To ‘play down the neck,’ you must hold the keys furthest from the guitar’s body (the keys down the neck). You can then play frets closer to the guitar’s body. If you play down the neck, the guitar will only pick up on the notes on the body of the guitar and not the others (unless you are playing chords)

Troubleshooting the Guitar Hero Live Controller Issues

If you’ve ever experienced issues with your Guitar Hero Live Controller, then you know it can be incredibly frustrating. Perhaps you are having trouble connecting it to your game console, or you may be experiencing latency issues or a misfiring whammy bar. Whatever the problem, it can be enough to throw you off your game and ruin your experience.

  1. Syncing issues: If you’re having trouble syncing your Guitar Hero Live Controller to your game console, there are a few things you can try. First, make sure that your console and controller are both turned on and in range of each other. If that doesn’t work, try resetting the connection by unplugging the USB receiver from the console and plugging it back in. You may also want to try resetting the controller itself; to do this, hold down the button on the USB receiver for three seconds, then hold down the button on the controller until the lights on both devices start flashing rapidly.
  2. Latency issues: If you’re experiencing latency issues with your Guitar Hero Live Controller, there are a few things you can do to reduce the delay between pressing a button on the controller and seeing it register on the screen. First, make sure that your TV is set to “game” mode; this will reduce input lag. You may also want to try moving closer to the console to reduce the distance between the controller and the receiver. Finally, try adjusting the calibration settings in the game itself to fine-tune the delay.
  3. Whammy bar issues: If your whammy bar is misfiring or not working at all, there could be a few different causes. First, check to make sure that the bar is properly connected to the controller and not loose. You may also want to try cleaning the bar with a soft cloth to remove any debris that could be interfering with the sensors. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the bar altogether.
  4. Button sticking: If you’re having trouble with buttons sticking on your Guitar Hero Live Controller, it’s likely due to wear and tear on the device. You may want to try cleaning the buttons with a soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol to remove any buildup that could be causing the sticking. If cleaning doesn’t help, you may need to replace the controller.
  5. Firmware updates: Finally, it’s always a good idea to check for firmware updates for your Guitar Hero Live Controller. These updates can help fix bugs and improve performance, so make sure you’re running the latest version.


Q: Where Can I Find the Serial Number for My Guitar Controller?

The serial number for your guitar hero guitar can be found inside the battery compartment located at the back of your controller. It will be written directly below the batteries. The serial number consists of 19 characters (both letters and numbers) and begins with “S/N”

Q: Will My Older Guitar Hero Controller Work With Guitar Hero Live?

No. Controllers for older models of Guitar Hero will not work for Guitar Hero Live. The new guitar features a 6 button configuration compatible with the game. Older versions of the guitars only have 5 buttons and will not be compatible with Guitar Hero Live.

Q: Can I Use My Guitar Hero Live Controller on Previous Editions of Guitar Hero?

You shouldn’t use the Guitar Hero Live controller for the previous editions of Guitar Hero. The new controller features a 6-button configuration, whereas the game was made for guitars with 5 button configuration. Due to this, the older game may not be able to interpret the inputs correctly.

Final Thoughts

Although older versions of the Guitar Hero controllers are not universal, the guitar for Guitar Hero Live can be used across any platform. Just make sure you have the right dongle and get your rock on!


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