Well, I completed my first week of the Rocksmith 60 Day Challenge – Sort of. I learned a music lesson the hard way this week, and that’s always check your strings. On day two of my challenge, I ended up popping the E string on my bass, and it was a day or two before I could go out to get another set and re-string it. I didn’t see this as really a bad thing, it’s useful to get experience with replacing strings.
It’s actually not that hard to replace the strings. A few Youtube tutorials, all you have to do is remove the old strings, measure, cut, bend, wrap, and tune. The only thing to keep an eye on is making sure each string is in the right place, and in the case of the strings that I bought, the ends are color-coded.
So what did I actually do in Rocksmith this week? As you’d expect, the basics. When you create a new profile, Rocksmith will ask you all the relevant information – guitar or bass, right-handed or left-handed, number of strings, and curiously, the style of tuning peg. My bass has its pegs arranged in a diagonal form, with the E string on the right being the shortest, and the strings getting progressively longer until you hit the G string on the left (mind that I’m left-handed, so it will be reversed for a majority of players). I’m not entirely sure why it asks that, but it did.
From there, you make sure that your instrument is in tune. It’s pretty self explanatory, instructing you to either tighten or loosen the strings. After that, you’re ready to start lessons. The lessons start off very basic, with instructional videos on where to place your thumb, which note each string plays, and the different parts of the instrument. You can do some basic exercises that get you comfortable with holding down the string and knowing which fret to hold.
I progressed nicely on the exercises with simple riffs, until I hit a nice roadblock when we got to slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. These are simple techniques to make different sounds. A hammer-on is when you play a note, take your finger off, then quickly “hammer” down your finger to a higher fret. A pull-off is more or less the opposite, playing a note then moving to a lower fret. Slides are also pretty straightforward, and they’re exactly what they sound like – you strike a note on one fret, then slide your finger to another. This is where I hit a fun roadblock – There’s a bug in the PC version for bass on this particular exercise. The game instructs you to hit the seventh fret and slide to the third fret…but never registers the slide. I did some Googling to make sure I wasn’t insane, and I found this thread on the Ubisoft Rocksmith forums…from October 9 of 2013. They still haven’t fixed this bug, and I do wonder if I’ll encounter any more bugs as I progress. Thankfully, Rocksmith doesn’t make you do the lessons in a linear fashion, you can skip around as you wish. But this would effectively be a game-breaking bug if you couldn’t, as you cannot pass the lesson without that exercise.
Overall, I’m enjoying it and I look forward to the next 54 or so days of the Challenge. I’ve noticed I can grip the strings a lot better now, and I’m gaining muscle memory as to where the third, fifth, and sevent frets are without even looking.