Is Rocksmith good for learning guitar? That's a difficult question to answer because Rocksmith isn't necessarily designed to teach you as much as it's meant to give you an opportunity to play and apply what you've already learned. It's a video game and it's fun, but that doesn't make it an ideal learning tool.
Our question is simply this: Does it work in the sense that it teaches you guitar? In other words: Can you learn concepts from it?
For the most part, I would say no.
I've been teaching guitar for over 10 years and playing for well over 20. Based on my own experience, this is why I'd argue against using Rocksmith as your primary method of learning guitar.
Part of the Solution But Not the Full Answer
Games and systems like Rocksmith can be part of the solution if you're looking for a fun way to supplement some other guitar lesson resource. Because, to learn guitar, we would argue that you need to actually take lessons, either from a teacher in person or from an online guitar course, like one of the following:
As a supplemental tool to something like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, Rocksmith can have some good value. This is the same thing we said about Yousician. Programs that are structured in a video game format can be a useful form of application and practice, but on their own they can't really teach you like an actual course or formal guitar lesson.
Neither Rocksmith nor Yousician have any kind of active or spoken instruction. Instead, it's what I'd call "passive instruction" where you learn patterns but you don't really learn the why behind those patterns.
It's somewhat similar to the Rosetta Stone method of teaching language.
But in music, it leaves a critical hole in a program's ability to teach.
You learn patterns but you don't really learn the why behind those patterns.
There's no explanation of theory or concepts, but only a demonstration of those concepts through a video game interface. I would argue that this type of passive instruction doesn't teach you guitar, but instead helps to apply what you might have (hopefully) already learned somewhere else.
Again, this takes us back to my argument that tools like Rocksmith, Yousician, and Learn to Play by Walmart, are all supplemental and not primary means of learning guitar.
Use Rocksmith as Supplemental
As a teacher and someone who has studied the guitar for multiple decades, I would argue against using Rocksmith to learn guitar. Specifically, where Rocksmith is your only learning source and only means of instruction.
In and of itself, it's not a full teaching tool.
Yet, Rocksmith, and similar tools, can be excellent ways to practice, motivate, and engage with the instrument in a way that you otherwise wouldn't be able to.
It has a significant amount of value in that context and can make you better at what you've already learned.
My recommendation would be to check out a program like Guitar Tricks, learn your meaty concepts from there, then practice some songs and have some fun on Rocksmith.
Your Questions and Experience
Have you used Rocksmith?
Is Rocksmith good for learning guitar in your experience?
If you have a story to share or a question to ask, leave it in the comments section below and we'll chat.
Stevie Joe Hodge says
I’m sorry Bobby but I agree with Jeremiah because I have been playing guitar for about thirty years now and all I was taught by my friend was a few chords because I was inspired by Metallica to learn and my friend showed me what he called power chords and that was all I needed and then I bought tablature and pretty much taught myself and a lot of it by ear. I purchased Rocksmith when it was released on PS4 and after I figured out how to get rid of the lag it was a wonderful tool for me to increase my ability. It is tedious at times but still I had been wanting to learn a bit of Boston since I started playing guitar and now because of Rocksmith I have. I can see though that if someone expected to learn guitar with no prior practice or a little bit of experience it can be extremely difficult. Unless it is within their heart to learn. I have tried to teach people, friends, and relatives how to play and I can tell right away if it’s in them or not and I will let them know right away. Anyway that’s all I have to voice in my opinion for Rocksmith. Sorry I kind of went into other stories but I had to to get my point across. As a guitarist for thirty years I give Rocksmith a thumb up for sharpening up a vets ability and a half a thumb up as a teaching tool for freshly new guitar novices. Half a thumb up? Okay don’t judge me. LOL!
Stevie – this is a great perspective to have on Rocksmith, and I appreciate you sharing. All the best!
James McConnon says
I’ve used both, and I’d broadly agree. But I do think Rocksmith is really good for improving your accuracy and timing, as you get scored on it. Guitar Tricks is better for learning different styles and theory.
Wish they’d had either resource when I started learning many, many, years ago, both have really helped improve my playing.
Bobby Kittleberger says
Good call, James. I don’t disagree.
Jeremiah Rand says
No offense to a guitar teacher, but I have learned a lot from Rocksmith 2014. If you don’t just rely on the game and choose to use your mind to learn from other sources it is actually a great tool. It really just depends on how you use it. To play or to learn. It has plenty of teaching games and actual lessons on it. Sorry, I just think this is more a guitar teacher going its costing me business, because seriously why would i ever pay to learn from someone monthly when i could just buy this game and go from there no extra charge every month unless I want to buy extra songs. Ultimately that is my choice though and not something I have to do to learn the guitar. This is my opinion. I have seen plenty of people learn from it whether it be on YouTube or in person. Your opinion is that it does not help.
Bobby Kittleberger says
I don’t teach anymore so it’s not really costing me business.
I also didn’t use any Rocksmith affiliate links here.
You do have a good point though that it can depend on how you use the game. That makes sense. I also agree that the pricing “model” for something like Rocksmith is far better than paying monthly for a teacher.