Can You Use Guitar Hero Guitar For Rock Band?

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Nothing beats the Guitar Hero and Rock Band when it comes to electronic music games for guitar. It may have been some time after the fad had passed, but people still play them today. 

One issue between these two games is that they have proprietary controllers, meaning to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you may want to pick up their guitar-shaped controllers. However, is there any chance they are interchangeable? Can you use Guitar Hero for Rock Band? 

Generally, you can use Guitar Hero guitar to play Rock Band. However, compatibility may depend on the version of the games and the gaming platform. Always test to confirm before assuming compatibility between controllers and the games.

Can You Use Guitar Hero Guitar For Rock Band?


This post explores whether you can use Guitar Hero guitar to play Rock Band. We will look into the compatibility of the games’ version and the gaming platform. 

We also explore additional questions about compatibility, such as if you can use a regular guitar to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

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What Is Guitar Hero Guitar?

Guitar Hero guitar controllers are made to simulate the guitar-playing experience but are greatly simplified. It has 5 buttons on the fret and a single strummer. Many versions exist, and new ones can still be bought.

Guitar Hero is an electronic music game where you try to match your input to the prompt on the screen. The screen prompts are based on popular music tunes, usually from music bands.

You enter your input into the game played using a special controller. The controller is shaped like a guitar but simplified in its controls. Instead of straining multiple strings like a guitar, you have a lever-style single strummer to push down or pull up. 

On the neck, you also get a simplified control. Instead of over two dozen frets to play with in an actual guitar, you have five buttons on the fretboard. These buttons are color-coded to make matching the button to the screen prompts easy.

The controller also has additional controls, such as a whammy bar. There are also custom buttons for you to navigate the game with. 

Guitar Hero has released many guitar controllers over the years. There are regular guitar sets and models made after popular guitar models, such as the Gibson SG or X-Plorer.

Some versions of Guitar Hero also come with unique edition guitars, such as the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

These controllers remain available for sale despite Guitar Hero not being developed for many years. You can search for your controllers online, on places such as Amazon.

What Is Rock Band Guitar?

Rock Band guitars are similar to Guitar Hero guitars, except they have additional tapping buttons at the bottom of the neck. Rock Band guitar controllers may be more complicated than Guitar Hero, and you can still buy new controllers online.

Rock Band is an electronic music game similar to Guitar Hero. However, Rock Band focuses more on the social experience of the game. This means Rock Band usually involves more players and more instruments. 

Aside from guitar, you can also play the game as a drummer, bassist, and keyboard player. There are also vocals, with up to three singers who can sing simultaneously. 

Rock Band’s guitar controller works on a similar structure as Guitar Hero. There are lever-style strum bars and color-coded buttons on the fret to simulate the guitar-playing experience. 

There are also a whammy bar and navigation buttons. Rock Band’s guitar controllers can be connected to your gaming platform via cables or wireless.

Rock Band’s guitar controllers, however, have additional controls. There are several buttons underneath the fret for tapping.

Beginning with Rock Band 3, Pro-style controllers were introduced. These pro-style controllers were made to be very similar to an actual guitar. These controllers have 6 strings and 17 frets. As a result, playing this controller would be similar to playing the real guitar.

Like Guitar Hero’s controllers, you can still pick up new or used controllers from the market, such as on Amazon. 

Guitar Hero Guitar vs. Rock Band Guitar

Guitar Hero and Rock Band guitars are similar in many ways, with some differences. These include the aesthetics, controls, strumming, and special editions. 

On the surface, the guitar controllers for both Guitar Hero and Rock Band may look about the same. If you are not a regular player of these games, you may be unable to tell which controllers are for which. 

However, to trained eyes, these guitars are different in some ways, for example, in these areas:


Guitar Hero: Guitar Hero guitar controllers are designed often as a simulator of the guitar playing experience. The guitars may also have unique designs not found on other real guitars. Guitar Hero guitars tend to look more toy-like compared to Rock Band controllers.

Rock Band: Rock Band guitar controllers are designed to look as similar to an actual guitar as possible. This means the guitars take up the look of popular guitar models, such as Fender Stratocasters, Gretsch Duo Jet, or Fender Mustang. 

Button Layouts

Guitar Hero: Guitar Hero controller guitars are designed to simulate and simplify the guitar-playing experience. Instead of six strings, you operate a single strum bar. 

You only play on 5 buttons on the fretboard instead of the full 20+ frets on an actual guitar. There is also a whammy bar and custom buttons to navigate the game. 

Rock Band: Rock Band guitar controllers largely follow Guitar Hero’s format, with some changes. Rock Band has additional buttons under the neck, which are used to simulate tapping. 

Rock Band guitars also may have more than 5 neck buttons and may not be arranged in a single line. You may find some Rock Band guitars more complicated and challenging to play with than regular Guitar Hero guitar controllers.


Guitar Hero: Guitar Hero’s controllers usually have a single lever-style strum bar. You can either push it down or pull it up to simulate strumming. This simplifies the gaming, making it easier to play Guitar Hero.

Rock Band: Rock Band’s simpler guitar controllers have the same strumming mechanism as Guitar Hero’s controllers. However, its more advanced Pro-style guitar controllers have six strings, requiring you to strum it like a regular guitar. 

Special Editions

Guitar Hero: Guitar Hero does release special edition guitars, but usually following the release of a new game edition. The controls stay the same regardless of the version and styling of the guitar controller. 

For example, Guitar Hero released the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock in 2010. It also released a special edition, ax-shaped guitar. The guitar is playable with many versions of Guitar Hero.

Rock Band: Rock Band also releases special edition guitars, but in a different way. Rock Band’s special edition guitars may be built to look similar to real guitar models. These include the Gretsch Duo Jet, Höfner bass guitar, and Fender Mustang.

Can You Use Guitar Hero Guitar For Rock Band?

When you look at the compatibility between the guitar controllers from Guitar Hero and Rock Band, there are more than meets the eye. Aside from the connections, you also need to consider two more things – the version and gaming platform you are using. 

This means explaining that if you can use Guitar Hero guitar controllers for Rock Band, it will not be a straightforward explanation. 

We will look at compatibility based on first gaming platforms and then types of Guitar Hero controllers. Only then can we bring in the version of the Rock Band game.

Xbox 360

Rock BandRock Band 2Rock Band 3
Guitar Hero Gibson Les Paul GuitarOKOKOK
Guitar Hero Gibson X-Plorer GuitarOKOKOK
Guitar Hero Warriors Of Rock GuitarOKOKOK
Guitar Hero World Tour GuitarOKOKOK

Xbox 360 may be an old gaming platform now. Still, when Guitar Hero and Rock Band were popular, it was a very common gaming platform, perhaps as popular as the PlayStation.

As you can see from the comparison chart, you can plug in a Guitar Hero guitar controller and play Rock Band in most cases. This is the same case if you play Rock Band 1 or the second version. 

This is likely a way for Rock Band to survive as a game – it was released later than Guitar Hero, and allowing compatibility helps sales. Players do not have to purchase another guitar controller; they use the Guitar Hero controller instead. 

The strategy clearly worked, and Rock Band became probably the second most popular electronic music game after Guitar Hero.

PlayStation 2

Rock BandRock Band 2
Guitar Hero Gibson SG GuitarOKOK
Guitar Hero Gibson X-Plorer GuitarOKOK
Guitar Hero World Tour GuitarOKOK
Guitar Hero Kramer Baretta SpecialOKOK

Playstation 2 is probably a slightly even older platform than Xbox 360. However, it has been a popular platform for Rock Band since the earlier editions of the game came out before PlayStation 3. 

In this case, Rock Band retained the game’s compatibility with Guitar Hero’s guitar controllers. However, notice that there are fewer guitar controller models on the list. This is because there are not many guitar controllers made to be compatible with PlayStation 2. 

At the time, the platform was about to be phased out, and perhaps Guitar Hero just did not see much sense in creating many controller models for it.

PlayStation 3

Rock BandRock Band 2Rock Band 3
Guitar Hero Gibson SG GuitarOKOKOK
Guitar Hero Gibson Les Paul GuitarNot OKNot OKNot OK
Guitar Hero Warriors Of Rock GuitarOKOKOK
Guitar Hero World Tour GuitarOKOKOK

Playstation 3 was introduced in 2006 to replace the aging Playstation 2. One issue with the new gaming console is that some older games meant for PlayStation 2 can no longer be played on the new platform. 

However, all versions of Rock Band, up to 2006, remain playable on PlayStation 3. This also means the controllers from Guitar Hero remain playable on Rock Band. 

With the controllers, however, not all Guitar Hero controllers will work on Rock Band on PlayStation 3. 

The key, however, is to check the connectivity of the guitars. Some guitars are only made for a specific platform, meaning they have a unique connecting dongle. This means there may be some controllers that you cannot plug in directly to your gaming console. 

In this situation, you may need to consider getting a wireless connector. It may help to connect your guitar controller to your gaming console.


Rock BandRock Band 2Rock Band 3
Guitar Hero Gibson Les Paul GuitarNot OKNot OKNot OK
Guitar Hero Warriors Of Rock GuitarNot OKNot OKNot OK
Guitar Hero World Tour GuitarNot OKNot OKNot OK

On the surface, it seems that the Wii may have less compatibility, with it being a rather different platform than the Playstation or Xboxes. 

Unfortunately, the assumption is true. There is little compatibility between the Guitar Hero guitars with Rock Band on Wii. In general, you cannot use Guitar Hero guitars to play Rock Band on Wii.

It may be hard to explain this, but perhaps Wii tries to help both Guitar Hero and Rock Band by encouraging Wii players to purchase separate controllers for both games. But this is, of course, speculative.

Will Using Guitar Hero Guitar To Play Rock Band Affect Gameplay?

There have been reports that using Guitar Hero controllers to play Rock Band causes performance issues, such as lag and delays in signals. This could happen since the controllers and games are not exactly built for each other.

As much as people rejoice that you can play Rock Band using some Guitar Hero controllers, there may be additional questions, too. One of them is, will the performance be the same? 

Generally, many reported not having issues when playing Rock Band using Guitar Hero controllers. However, some players believe that there are issues, such as lagging and delays in signals. 

This could be expected since you are using controllers and games that are not officially compatible. If you do not want any issues with performance, always use actual Rock Band guitar controllers to play Rock Band.

Can You Use Rock Band’s Guitar To Play Guitar Hero?

In most cases, Rock Band’s guitar is incompatible with Guitar Hero. This may be because Guitar Hero wants to protect its sales and force Guitar Hero players to purchase Guitar Hero-specific controllers.

We can see that in many cases, you can use a Guitar Hero controller to play Rock Band. It makes sense for Rock Band to allow this from a commercial and growth standpoint. 

As a latecomer into the game, this helps Guitar Hero players pick up Rock Band and play the game. They already have a Guitar Hero guitar at home, so they do not need to buy another one just to play Rock Band. 

However, this is not the same with Guitar Hero. Many players started playing Guitar Hero first, meaning they would have purchased the controller. 

Allowing their game to be playable with Rock Band’s controller would push down sales of their guitar controller, affecting their bottom line. 

As a result, you may have a lot of issues trying to get your Rock Band controller to work with Guitar Hero. Just buy a Guitar Hero controller instead.

Can You Use a Regular Guitar For a Guitar Rock Band?

Generally, you cannot use a regular guitar to play Rock Band. However, there have been cases of people modifying a guitar to play Guitar Hero. This means the same modification could be done to play Rock Band with an actual guitar.

Some people would go to great lengths to save money and play Guitar Hero without purchasing the overpriced controllers.

For example, Alan Chatham managed to convert a regular guitar to play Guitar Hero. However, the conversion process is not for the faint-hearted. It requires some serious guitar tinkering and some electric and electronic work knowledge. 

The modification pairs and maps certain cords or string positions to a button on the actual Guitar Hero controller. This is achieved using g wiring, a circuit board, and a conductive pick. Once completed, you can play Guitar Hero by using a real guitar: 

If this can be done for Guitar Hero, you can likely do the same with Rock Band. The key is to experiment and see if it works. 

However, the amount of modification may not be for the faint-hearted. In this situation, it may be better to just purchase the controllers from places such as Amazon

These controllers are not too expensive anyway these days since the games are no longer as popular as they once were. There are also third-party makers too these days, allowing you to save even more money.

Are There Music Games That Use Real Guitar?

Guitar music platforms such as Rocksmith or Yousician use real guitars, not simplified controllers like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. However, these platforms focus more on education and can help you pick up guitar-playing skills.

As much as Rock Band and Guitar Hero are fun, they remain fun only. Aside from providing entertainment and simulating a guitar-playing experience, that is all it can do. It probably cannot teach you how to play a real guitar well.

This is because these games use simplified, dumbed-down guitar controllers to play them. This means you cannot really pick up proper, real guitar skills. If you intend to learn guitar by playing games, you need one that uses a real guitar. 

If this is what you are looking for, check out platforms such as Rocksmith or Yousician. These platforms teach you real guitar-playing skills, while keeping it fun with gamification. 

The playing interface is similar to Rock Band or Guitar Hero, but you interact with it using a real guitar. However, playing becomes more difficult and may require you to train more to get used to the games. 

However, if you can do that, you will likely pick up skills to play guitar. Play Rocksmith or Yousician long enough. You may actually be able to play a real guitar and one day transition to playing it regularly.

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