Starting Pro Guitar

Mar 12 2011

I was planning to hold off on Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar until I was done with my Pro Keys playthrough. But then the guitar arrived, so of course I had to take it out of the box, tune it up, and do the ceremonial picking out of Alice’s Restaurant. And then the MIDI adapter arrived, and I read a few reports from people saying how much their left hand hurts when they’re starting out on Pro Guitar; that suggests that, when I do dive into it, I won’t be able to spend hours at a stretch on it. And, conveniently, it’s your left hand that hurts, while when playing Pro Keys, I only use my right hand. So I can work on them both at once! (Well, not literally both at once. But both in the same afternoon.)

Some background: I have played guitar a bit in the past. Specifically, I spent the summer after my sophomore year at college at a math research program, and I brought along a guitar. I learned a few chords, and two or three songs (the only one of which that has stuck being the aforementioned Alice’s Restaurant), but I didn’t get at all good at the instrument, and I haven’t picked it up much in the intervening two decades. There are even basic mechanics that I didn’t learn back then: e.g. I used my fingers instead of a pick, and I was really awful at barre chords. So, while I’m not coming at this completely from scratch, I’m coming at it from a quite different position than I was with Pro Keys. (And I’m fairly sure that Pro Guitar is quite a bit more realistic than Pro Keys, too, so it will be harder in that way as well!)

Anyways, I fired it up late this morning. (And I was pleased that the game noticed that I’d plugged in a real guitar for the first time, and offered to send me over to the appropriate tutorial!) I went through the first lesson, and started the second one; my hand started to hurt pretty badly when I was doing the part that involved sliding up and down the neck while holding down a string, though, so I stopped. (I might want to adjust the neck of the guitar so I don’t have to press down quite as far.) As the game suggested, I also played The Hardest Button to Button on Easy—thinking back, this may actually literally be the first time I’ve ever played something in Rock Band on Easy (I know I did some of the songs on Easy way back on the original Guitar Hero, but since then I think I’ve always started on Medium even when learning a new instrument), but yeah, that’s the right difficulty level for me right now.

I went through all the Warmup songs on Easy. Mostly went pretty well, I even managed to hit 100% on one of them on my first try, but it’s also clearly just the start of a long learning curve. It will be a while before I can even reliably play an arbitrary string without looking down at my right hand—that’s one way in which playing with a pick feels really different to me from playing with my fingers. And my left hand has quite a bit more room to get lost in! (Actually, my left hand was doing better than I feared it would, given the range of frets that you have to hit. But it’s still doing quite badly.) The whole experience has given me renewed appreciation for all those piano and harpsichord lessons I took: I can’t really imagine what it would be like to try Pro Keys on Hard or Expert without your hand just knowing what a 1-3-5 chord or a 1-4-6 chord feels like.

Just a start, and I hope I’ll have more time this weekend to work on it. Also, one pleasant side effect of starting a new instrument in the game: there are a lot of really easy goals to pass, giving a nice boost to your fan count!

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One response so far

  1. […] level than previous difficulty settings. Looking back, I started playing pro guitar around March 12th; I started medium on April 3rd, so easy took three weeks to complete. I started hard on June 19th, […]