On Friday, December 13, 2013 I received my Epiphone Les Paul from Musician’s Friend. My knowledge of how to play a guitar literally started and ended with the fact the instrument makes noise when the strings are strummed. I’d always dreamed of playing the guitar but always assumed it’d be too hard to pick it up. Then I saw some testimonial videos of people who had played Rocksmith 2014 and me actually being able to play guitar started to look like a reality. After playing the instrument for a little over two months, it’s time to assess where I am as a guitarist.
The first week or so was rough. Even tuning the guitar proved to be quite a challenge in the early days. I worked my way through many of Rocksmith’s beginner tutorial videos. The tutorials were interactive where I’d watch a video then I’d have to play a piece of music using the technique demonstrated in the video. This was how I learned notes, chords, shifts, harmonics, slides, bends, tremolo, and many more playing methods.
From those humble beginnings, I moved forward to playing songs within the game. Each song starts out easy with many of the notes omitted from the track. As I improved on a song through both playing it and the amazing riff repeater feature, notes were added to the song. This intelligent difficulty system made it easy to track my improvement. After the first few weeks of playing, I didn’t crack 30% mastery on many of the songs.
Putting in a little bit of time each day, usually an hour or more, was essential to all of the progress I’ve made so far. It seemed that as the calluses on my fingers got thicker my skills with the axe got better and better. There are two songs that I can play entirely, “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones and “Next Girl” by The Black Keys, and several more that I can play a large chunk of. I can play these songs without even turning Rocksmith on. It feels good to just be able to jam them out on my own whenever I feel like playing. I can play almost any song in the game at a 50% mastery level. I’m going to continue to work on getting this number up.
Included within Rocksmith, there are several min games there to improve my technique. Initially, these games were difficult but as with playing songs, I improved at these games. In Gone Wailin’, a game used to improve one’s volume control, I’m in the top 0.1% of all players. In Ducks Redux, a game used to improve shifts, I’m in the top 1000. Lastly, in my favorite game, String Skip Saloon, I’m in the top 300. I’m proud of these rankings and I plan on improving them as my abilities continue to grow.
My current end goal of learning the guitar is pretty simple. I want to be able to play “Ball and a Biscuit” by The White Stripes. Once I can play this song, a YouTube video is linked below, I’ll consider myself as good as I want to be. There’s a lot of work to get from where I am to this. I’m weak on a lot of techniques like bends and tremolo. Learning how to learn guitar outside of Rocksmith is something else I need to get better at sooner or later. This rough central Illinois winter has proven to be the perfect time to pick up a new indoor hobby and I’m glad I started playing guitar.
Published on 3/1/2014 9:29:57 PM