Do You Need A Real Guitar For Rocksmith? (Best Guitar For Rocksmith)

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Rocksmith is a popular guitar learning software, as it is arranged to look like a game. Rocksmith is played similarly to Guitar Hero but focuses more on learning than the game. However, many are unsure if they need a real guitar for Rocksmith. Do you need a real guitar for Rocksmith?

You need a real guitar to play Rocksmith. This is because you cannot use a Guitar Hero or Rock Band controller to play it. The guitar can be either acoustic, electric, or bass and best be in six strings. The guitar should also have an amplifier jack so that you can plug in Rocksmith’s Real Tone Cable to your console.

This article explores Rocksmith, and if you need a real guitar to play Rocksmith. We also explore the best guitars you can use to play Rocksmith, and if there are alternatives to Rocksmith.

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Do You Need A Real Guitar For Rocksmith? (Best Guitar For Rocksmith)


What Is Rocksmith?

Rocksmith is a series of electronic music games published by Ubisoft. Ubisoft first launched in 2012 and has up to 5 million users. The newest version, Rocksmith+, was released as recently as 6 September 2022. Rocksmith focuses more on education than entertainment.

Rocksmith refers to a series of electronic music games published by Ubisoft. You may see it as another version of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but with a much higher realism. 

This is because you play Rocksmith with a real guitar. This makes Rocksmith much more real and different from other popular electronic music games, such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band. 

These games require you to use their proprietary guitar controller to play their games.

You plug in Rocksmith’s unique Real Tone Cable to your guitar and your console to play the Rocksmith. The cable then translates signals from your electric guitar to your console to be read by the game.

As a result, Rocksmith presents the real challenge of playing the guitar, which may mean Rocksmith is not for everyone. You have to control six strings, over 20+ frets, and also master specific guitar plays, such as slides, hammer-ons, and more. 

This is much more different than Guitar Hero or Rock Band controllers, which are much simpler. Instead of six strings on 20+ frets, these controllers dumbed it down to 5 buttons over five frets with no strings. 

However, Rocksmith does know that the gameplay difficulty needs to be managed to prevent players from dropping out. As a result, the gameplay can be very accommodating to players. 

As you play Rocksmith, you may notice the gameplay difficulty may automatically adjust in real time as you play. For example, if you miss multiple prompts in succession, you may notice the subsequent prompts will be simpler to help you catch up.

If you miss a large number of notes in succession, the game will usually pause automatically. This allows you to mentally catch up with the play and reposition your hands. Strum your guitar and the game continues.

Rocksmith first came into the market in 2012 as a response to a more genuine guitar gaming experience and has seen updates and new releases, such as Rocksmith 2014. 

The newest version, Rocksmith+, was released as recently as 6 September 2022. As a result, Rocksmith remains one of the ‘still alive’ guitar-based games after Guitar Hero’s demise and Rock Band’s inactivity.

READ MORE: Will Rock Band Ever Return? 

How Different Is Rocksmith From Guitar Hero or Rock Band?

Rocksmith is different from Rock Band or Guitar Hero in several ways. You play a real guitar with Rocksmith and not simplified guitar controllers. Rocksmith also allows you to develop your actual guitar-playing skills. Rocksmith is also regularly updated with new releases.

AreasGuitar HeroRock BandRocksmith
RealismSimplified, less real experienceSimplified, less real experienceMost real, as played on an actual guitar
Active StatusNo longer activeRegularly updated, the last release was in 2014Regularly updated, Latest release in 2022
Transferable Skills To Actual GuitarLowLowHigh

Rocksmith, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band share many similarities, such as being an electronic music video game based on guitars. You may also notice a stronger focus on rock and roll-type music.

However, the similarities end there. These games have many differences, such as realism, educational value, and activity status.


When you play Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you use their proprietary guitar-shaped controller in Guitar Hero. These controllers are a simplified version of a real guitar, with five buttons representing a fret and a hand lever representing the strumming action. 

However, in Rocksmith, you play with an actual electric guitar or bass guitar. This means the realism is very close to actual guitar playing. You can connect any guitar of your choice, as long as they have six strings and an audio output jack. 

Active Status

Guitar Hero is officially dead in the water. It is officially no longer updated. The ownership has passed into the hands of many developers after the last version came out in 2015. No developers intend to develop a new version of Guitar Hero.

Rock Band is active but has not seen a new release since 2014. There are still regular updates to the game, but only to keep the 2014 edition alive and compatible with new consoles. Plans to develop Rock Band 5 are underway, with no release date announced.

Rocksmith was first released in 2012 and is still under Ubisoft. Ubisoft has also continued to invest in the game’s development, with Rocksmith+ released as recently as September 2022. This means Rocksmith is the more active game of the three.

Transferable Skills

You may be good at it if you put in the time to play and master Guitar Hero or Rock Band. However, not many skills you mastered could be transferred to the real guitar. The reason is simple, the controller is a simplified version of a real guitar. 

With Rocksmith, you can pick up more transferable skills. This is because you play Rocksmith on an actual guitar. You learn fingering, strumming, and play skills directly on an actual guitar, meaning you can one day play a real guitar on its own.

Do You Need Real Guitars to play Rocksmith?

You will need a real guitar to play Rocksmith. This is because the game requires it to receive input. You will need a regular six-string guitar tuned well. The guitar also needs an audio jack, as you need to connect Rocksmith’s Real Tone Cable to it. You plug the cable into the guitar and also the console.

The main aim of Rocksmith is to allow you to play and develop your guitar skills in a more fun, gamified manner. 

Rocksmith’s input also works differently, using a unique cable to detect the strings and fret you are playing to see if you are hitting the right notes. This is much more advanced than the guitar controllers on Guitar Hero or Rock Band that only has 5 keys, a strummer, and a wah pedal.

This means you will need an actual guitar to play Rocksmith. However, not all six actual guitars can work well with Rocksmith. 

The best guitar for Rocksmith games should be the regular six-string guitar. It can be either electric or acoustic guitar. The guitar should also be well-tuned, with a tuner. 

Your guitar also needs to have an audio jack because you need to have a way to connect your guitar to your gaming console. Rocksmith comes with a proprietary audio cable called Real Tone Cable. You plug one end into your guitar’s audio jack and the other into your console.

If your guitar does not have an audio jack, you can use methods such as a USB microphone. Still, the input quality may deteriorate and affect your gameplay.

Can You Use Bass Electric Guitar For Rocksmith And Is As Good?

You can use a bass guitar to play Rocksmith. You can adjust for this in the gameplay menu. The adjustment process may differ depending on the version of Rocksmith you are playing. You will play bass lines instead of acoustic or electric guitar lines with a bass guitar. 

Not all guitar players are interested in playing acoustic or shredding electric guitars. Some players love a bass guitar’s deep, groovy sound and want to master that instead.

Fortunately, this is possible on Rocksmith. Rocksmith does not only allow you to play it using a real acoustic or electric guitar, but you can use a bass guitar as well.

You simply connect your bass guitar to your console using the Real Tone Cable, then go to the menu and change the instruments to mass guitar. The setting inside Rocksmith is to have a 6-strings guitar as default since that is the more popular guitar.

You must change the settings, as a bass guitar is built very differently than a regular acoustic or electric guitar. A bass guitar has only four strings and may have many more frets than regular guitars. 

If you do not change the instrument settings, Rocksmith may not be able to recognize what you play and match your playing to the prompts on the screen. Your gameplay may be affected.

For Rocksmith+ users, you change your instrument to the bass guitar by performing these steps:

  1. Go to the Settings Menu
  2. Once in, select My Instruments
  3. Select Bass Guitar

What Are The Best Guitar For Rocksmith?

Some of the best guitars you can use for Rocksmith include Epiphone Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, Ibanez Mikro, Ashthorpe Thinline, and Squier By Fender Mini-precision Bass. These guitars are suitable for beginners, who may have little budget to start. The list may work with ultra-committed players as well.

Best Guitars For RocksmithTypePrice
Ibanez MikroElectric$Check Pricing
Epiphone Les Paul-100Electric$$Check Pricing
Fender StratocasterElectric$$$Check Pricing
Ashthorpe ThinlineAcoustic$Check Pricing
Squire By Fender Mini-Precision BassBass$Check Pricing

Players who got started with Rocksmith tend to be beginners, who want a way to learn to play actual guitars, and one day shred and groove it like their heroes. 

As such, most of the best guitars for Rocksmith we recommend here will be based on beginners, who may not want to invest too much money to start. 

However, we also understand that some beginners are ultra-committed. These players want to start learning with Rocksmith with the guitar of their dreams, so we also included some of the ‘grail’ guitars players may want to use. 

Ibanez Mikro

This electric guitar is a balance between quality and performance. Ibanez Mikro manages the basics very well and keeps a neutral character to its sounds. It works well with metal, rock, blues, and many types of music. 

This suits most beginner guitarists, as they are unsure what they want. Once they have picked up their guitar skills and know the sound, shape, and quality they are looking for, they can buy a more premium guitar.

Epiphone Les Paul

Suppose you are a fan of Slash. In that case, you probably view a Gibson Les Paul as your grail guitar. However, a Gibson Les Paul is not cheap and may not be within a beginner’s budget. 

How about its more affordable cousin, the Epiphone Les Paul instead? You get almost the same experience playing with this model at a much lower price. You even get a chance to try out this guitar, and should it not fit your style or preference, at least it doesn’t burn too big a hole in your pocket. 

Fender Stratocaster

Suppose you are the type of person that is ultra-committed. If you start something, you will go all the way and make it work. If you take that mentality to Rocksmith, you will likely use the best guitar, and finish up all the game stages. 

Start with a Fender Stratocaster, then. This guitar may be expensive, but it is probably the gold standard for electric guitars. Fender Stratocasters are also played by many famous guitarists, such as Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, and Eric Clapton.

Ashthorpe Thinline

When it comes to acoustic guitar, the range of sounds, quality, and character becomes even wider. This is why we think if you start learning acoustic guitar with Rocksmith, you start with a regular guitar without too much refinement and character.

Ashthorpe Thinline fits into this. It is a smaller acoustic guitar and made thinner. This makes the guitar more comfortable in your lap as you work your way through the game. You do not need to worry too much about its acoustic sounds since you are playing it with the game, not with an audience.

It is also affordable and does not have too much character. This makes it a great guitar for newbies. As you develop a preference for a certain style or sound, you can always invest in better guitars, such as a Martin D-18 or D-28.

Squire By Fender Mini-Precision Bass

If you embark on a bass guitar journey, we advise you to take the same approach. Start with a bass guitar with the basics covered, without too much character, and is very premium in quality.

The Squire by Fender Mini-Precision Bass fits the bill. This bass guitar gets the job done with Rocksmith very well and may even work if you try to jam with your friends. The best thing is its price, it is affordable. 

As you develop your skills and start wanting your bass guitar, you can always upgrade it later. If you think bass guitar is not for you, you can always sell it. You would not lose too much money since they are not that expensive to start with.

The Guitar Tone and Guitar Quality Matter on the Guitar Brand?

The guitar tone and quality are major factors to consider when purchasing a guitar, especially for those who are serious about learning and playing music. For Rocksmith players, the right guitar brand can make all the difference in creating the perfect sound. A high-quality guitar can provide smooth playing, clear sound, and long-lasting durability. On the other hand, a poorly made guitar can lead to frustration and may even hinder progress for those learning to play. By investing in a quality guitar brand, Rocksmith players will not only achieve a better sound but also gain the confidence needed to rock out like a pro.

Are There Alternatives To Rocksmith?

Popular alternatives to Rocksmith include platforms such as Yousician, Jamplay, or Guitar Tricks. These platforms may differ in the learning process, gamification, and price. 

There are many other guitar learning platforms in the market, and they can vary in complexity, equipment required, and pricing. These platforms may also focus on either the educational or gamification aspect more. 


Yousician is an educational music service available as a software/app subscription. It may be the closest to Rocksmith in terms of gameplay and functionality. 

The best thing about Yousician is you can use it to learn more than just guitars. You can also use it to learn piano (keyboard), ukulele, bass, and vocals. Yousician uses its own audio signal processing technology to guide you as you learn to play. This means you will need a special audio cable as well.

You usually play by either following a piece of sheet music or tablature. The tablature notation functions similarly to the ones you see in games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Yousician listens and gives you feedback on your play as you play along. 


Jamplay has been an online source to help guitar players learn and improve their guitar skills. It may lack the level of interactivity and gamification as Rocksmith. However, it focuses more on the educational aspect and has incredible depth.

Jamplay may suit intermediate and higher-skilled players, as the depth of the content may suit them. Experienced players may also need less gamification since they are usually motivated enough.

Rather than getting bored learning and playing scales, many experienced players may want to learn certain playing patterns for musical styles such as blues or Jazz. Content like this is what Jamplay excels in.

Guitar Tricks

Guitar Tricks was founded as a site to learn guitar as early as 1998, long before YouTube in 2004. As a result, Guitar Tricks may also be more focused on the educational aspect. They may carry a more traditional learning style.  

The best thing about Guitar Tricks is the time they have been around. This means the courses and progressions have been finetuned and improved considerably. You can also get started and immediately adjust your difficulty level. 

Guitar Tricks may not be as interactive or gamified, compared to Rocksmith. Still, it is a viable platform to consider when learning guitars.

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