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Platform: Nintendo WiiChange
Price:$59.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on December 30, 2010
When I was contemplating buying this item I had two main questions on my mind:

1. Would upgrading from the basic five-button RB guitar to this Pro Guitar be worth the significant price tag?
2. If I owned this would I be able to learn how to play guitar from RB3?

Short Answers:
1. Yes
2. Mostly

Long Answers:
1. Like everyone else who ever played guitar/bass on Rock Bandbefore this came out, I have always played with the basic five-button strum bar controller. I most always had fun playing with this controller, occaisonally I would lose myself in the music, and feel like I was actually making the music with an instrument. However, the basic controller always has an arcade game vibe to it - and this would sometimes deminish the experience.

The new Pro Guitar controller definitely takes the Rock Band experience to a whole new level. MadCatz did an excellent job designing the guitar and Harmonix did an excellent job integtrating it seamlessly into gameplay. When you first pick it up, it looks pretty intimidating (which is not suprising, as you've probably just moved from 5 buttons to 6x17 = 102 buttons), but the RB3 Pro Guitar tutorials will get you up and running really quickly. The notation is simple enough - though it can be hard to figure as the notes and chords are coming towards you on the screen, and navigating the thing can be difficult - these things honestly take some getting used to - but if you are thinking about purchasing this item, you are probably up for the challenge. And the payoff is fantastic. Many songs are ridiculously fun on the Pro Guitar. Sometimes it can be really hard to put down because as you get better, the game only gets more fun and more intense, and it is not that hard to get better. What you ultimately get is something that takes time to get acclimated to, but gives you what has to be the most fun and rewarding experience in the rhythm game market.

The best thing Harmonix did with regard to the Pro Guitar is probably the "Learn a Song" mode. You can always jump right in to Quickplay mode, but if you want to get good at a song fast, Learn a Song is the way to go. This mode breaks down the song into the various riffs and progressions you need to know to play the song well. So you pick a difficulty, the game shows you the parts you need to know, you practice them (and the game will give you help if you are having trouble with a certain note/chord - you can also start out at a slower speed and work up to full speed, like in the older games), and then you are ready to shred the song in Quickplay or Career Mode.

The only downside I can think of is the barrier to entry. This thing takes practice - much more practice than the basic controller does. Rock Band is meant to be a party game, and this controller necessarily takes a little party out of the game. The cost of having a more serious peripheral, is... well, you have to be a little more serious about it. So more trips to practice mode; harder to just pick up and play. Friends will be intrigued by the new Rock Band item, but it won't be the hit of the party. The angle for this item is that people practice and get good at it on their own, which clashes with the party game philosophy and may be a turn-off for some.

2. I have never seriously picked up a real guitar, and to the length that you can trust someone who isn't really a guitarist, this will give a beginner the tools they need to play guitar. You learn several components of guitar playing: the terminology, fingering, strumming, notes, chords, arpeggios. And once you work up to it, expert mode is, according to Harmonix, "every note and every chord in a song" (Ref: [...] From what I gather there are a few rare exceptions, done so you could play all the songs on the game on this controller which is a bit smaller than an actual guitar, but I don't think that should discourage anyone.

The reason I say "Mostly" and not "Yes", is that you won't learn tuning - the guitar doesn't need to be tuned. The feel is still different; you are after all pushing buttons and not holding strings. You can't do everything on this that you can on a real guitar, bending strings is an example. So what you will end up with is many of the tools you need to play the real guitar, but you won't be a guitar virtuoso the second you put this controller down and switch to an actual stringed guitar.

Overall a fantastic experience, I definitely recommend it highly.
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on January 4, 2011
My wife and I love it. Simple as that. And it shipped Amazon-fast overnight! For the price difference, I wouldn't consider the step down to non-pro unless you're just ordering it for a kid who doesn't care (no kids here). But even then... I think the training portion of Rock Band 3 alone makes the extra $$$ worth spending on this pro version just in case they might take to learning a few chords and graduate to a real starter guitar (not at all inconceivable). My friend who plays a little was really impressed by its training value, and even took out his real guitar to play along with songs so I could see and hear the difference and appreciate what I was learning while playing a game.

Pros: You can actually learn to play guitar. Really. Chords and all.
Cons: You can actually build-up calluses on your fingers if you press too hard and play too long.

Conclusion: If you really just want the 5-button game, then reconsider. If you want something you can take to the next level after playing classic RB, then go pro.

I only saw 2 reviews when we purchased, so I hope this helps...
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on December 20, 2010
I had this bad boy on pre-order since Aug 27th and it got delayed twice but it is now in my hands. Was it worth the wait? Yes!! I am a medium level Rock Band 3 and a Medium-Low level Guitar Hero Player. I wanted to step it up and this was the way to go. The cons... Does not appear to work with Guitar Hero games. The Frets are spaced father apart than my old Guitar. Because of this you have to re-learn how to play a bit. The pros. It feels good and plays well. Also the biggest plus is that I am now really learning the Electric guitar (in Pro Mode). Someday I will get a real guitar but for now this Axe fits the bill real fine.
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on January 2, 2011
I'm an accomplished guitar player, and one thing I noticed right away with this guitar is that I sometimes cannot tell which string I am fingering or which string I am picking because there is no string vibration to provide "navigational cues" and all the buttons and "strings" are the same width. Maybe they could make the strings and buttons different widths, like the strings on a real guitar.
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on January 27, 2011
The PRO guitar met all expectations.
It's easy to assemble and disassemble: the neck is composed of two parts which connects to the guitar body through a solid, good-looking connector.
The strings were not to tight and looks like it's not easy to snap them.
The neck buttons do an excelent work when it comes to simulate the strings: it takes a while to get used to it, but when you do, it feels and works great.
Practicing some riffs in a real electric guitar was no shock after 2 hours of continuous play, which surprised me.

-The frets could be a little higher, or the buttons a little lower.
-It's also a little too pricy, since my electric guitar's starter kit's price was very close to the price of this controller.

It ships with a guitar strap, stamped with "rockband" logo, two fender picks (one white, other black), wireless connector and batteries.
The wireless connector provides two USB ports.

I couldn't test the MIDI capabilities yet.

5 stars for fun, 4 overall just because the price.
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on February 16, 2011
I have to be honest, when I saw this thing in person and read how to use it, I was quite scared, as I don't know how to play a guitar, so don't know the frets, notes, strings, etc. However, starting at the easy level, with easy songs, you challenge yourself in new ways, and in fact am now inspired to really learn how to play a guitar. The range of skill this instrument can support from total novice to real pro-guitarist is truly impressive. This guitar really adds long term value and challenge to the game system that a simple 4 or 5 button guitar does not offer. I am sort-of cheap, so really choked on the price when pressing the order button (buying it for my daughter for Christmas), but I myself really love this guitar now, and am totally happy with the product, and would say it is worth every penny.
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on January 7, 2011
This guitar is a 5 star product. It is the cheapest midi guitar I know of and it does the job, particularly in game. I encourage all beginners to trash their multi-coloured fake guitars in true Rock 'N Roll fury and use this product as it is the stepping stone to a real guitar. The game is incredibly fun to play and it's a genuine learning tool. The only argument I would use against it is that there is a real fender squier controller guitar coming with fret sensing technology for the Rock Band 3 game, too, so that would be even closer to playing the real thing. If you are waiting that out, it isn't bad to to drop a measly $140 to practice now, though.

What the other reviewers have said about the device being difficult to really know where you are because the strings and buttons have no differing gauge is absolutely true. That being said, it isn't worth giving 3 stars to, though, because you're having initial trouble with the device. If anything, having this taken away from you allows you to develop positional sense that you had not required to before. So, if a beginner is reading the reviews and a seasoned shredder points out that he was unable to take over the world (and expert mode) instantly, because of this problem, yes it is true, no it is not worth 3 stars. It's just something you'll have to get used to. Let's not forget just how cheap this product is. On the plus side, it's not going to be HARDER to make a transition to real guitar, in this regard you will find it easier to play a normal guitar.

Now, from a practical sense, I'll talk about something that does concern me. I have seen the midi data this guitar provides (in strum mode - the game mode) and I assure you, if you strum the guitar, particularly with alternate picking, the nature of the string capturing produces some double notes, at times. What this means for the game, I'm not sure, because the game may be able to reject these notes, but just bare in mind, if you're doing your head in trying to get a particular point nailed and you're not sure why you're getting dodgy notes, you may be being betrayed by the guitar. The Yamaha EZ-EG, a very similar midi guitar has the exact same problem with basically the same string assembly. Incidentally, the EZ-EG does have different gauge buttons and it is much easier to play, so the reviewer is right, something is definitely missing.
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on February 1, 2011
Speaking as someone who already plays the guitar, this is a wonderful controller. It's very fun to be able to practise real skills while playing what amounts to group karaoke.

My main issue with the controller stems from the width of the neck. It is so narrow that I often find myself bumping into string keys I very much did not mean to press down. I am getting used to it, but even so. Violinists ought to be happy as clams!
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on March 25, 2012
This thing is a lot of fun. No it's not completely like playing a guitar, but it's not completely unlike playing either.

For guitar players:
The buttons are a little odd at first. They don't have the same feel as strings, but if you can comfortably fret a cord on a guitr you can most likely do the same here (with a bit of time your skills will transfer). It only took me less than an hour to get comfortable enough to get playing some of the simpler, power cord-based songs on this thing.

As a musician I was never interested in the RB or GH games until they started adding more realism to the game dynamic. I still can't bring myself to play with a 5 button controller, however the addition of reasonably realistic drums, microphone, keyboard, and now guitar continue to make the game more interesting and fun. I didn't have a lot of interest in purchasing the actual guitar controller because of the cost and quality as a guitar, but I was able to pick the plastic version up for cheap used so I couldn't turn it down.

One thing that held me back in the beginning was the way that chords are displayed as a wavy line. Unless you learn to play on RB3 the lines will probably move to quickly to be comprehensible. Make sure to enable chord numbering in the settings whenever you play.

There are a couple of things that are still holding me back from more advanced songs that I don't know after about two days of playing with the guitar. First, because the buttons are all the same width and texture I have noticed a reduction in the ability to tell which string and fret I am on compared to a real guitar. I am glancing down at the neck a lot more than normal (to make sure I'm in the right place). It's also a bit straing having tab fly towards you rapidly, but I think I'm quickly getting used to reading the in-game tab.

For what it is the guitar appears to be constructed fairly well. The buttons are comfortable, the strings are spaced out well, and the dimensions of the instrument are close enough to the real thing that it should not cause issue. As you may suspect, the guitar is quite light, but that does cause any issues. The buttons are also placed where you would normally find knobs, which keeps them out of the way. The fret spacing also similar to a real guitar, with fret spacing decreasing as you move up the neck. Another issue is that I find it is easy for the top strap peg to come loose, so I often tighten it between songs.

The strings feel a bit strange, or perhaps out of place. They feel like nylon guitar strings on an electric guitar. They feel a bit flimsy, but time will tell how well they hold up.

I'm also not sure how well a basist will get along. I don't think that slapping or popping them is a good idea. You will probably feel more like you are playing a guitar than a bass. If you are used to playing with a pick you may have fewer issues.

For non-guitarists and inexperienced musicians:
First and foremost I would also suggest that non-guitarists go into this with an open mind and considerable patience. As a non-keyboardist, this is the same advice as I gave for the Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard for Wii. If you've never touched a guitar (or other instrument for that matter), you will not be playing Crazy Train on Expert Pro mode to completion within the first few months (or possibly longer). What can you expect? You should probably expect to spend some time in the tutorials to figure out some guitar basics first. You should expect to play the easier songs on easy or medium while you work on your skills. However, if you go in with the correct attitude I think that the controller has a lot to offer you in terms of both gameplay and skills that will transfer to a real guitar. (I would also suggest that you turn on chord numberings to make your life easier.)

Again, if you want to learn to play guitar in the game, most of your skills will be transferable. The chords you fret and notes that you play will be the same as the real thing. I think that you would have some of the issues that I experienced moving to a real guitar. Since you will no longer be fretting descrete buttons you will probably lose the sense of which fret you are on. You will have to learn a bit more about music and tunings (which the game largely ignores). I also suspect that moving to a real guitar will be painful for the first couple of months. You will have to learn a number of simple and advanced tricks that the game doesn't teach you: bends, harmonics, vibrato, and selective muting with the right and left hands (just to name a few). Along with playing I've also taught, and it takes a bit of playing in order to build up calluses that will protect the tips of your fingers from the guitar strings.

I hope that these warnings don't scare anyone away. Your fingers will learn how to move around a guitar neck, and your fingers will become very fast. I would also wager that the game's enforcing of timing could be a wonderful asset for real playing. It is a lot more realistic than jamming on 5 buttons and IMHO it is a lot more fun. If you also have access to a real guitar to tinker with while you learn you may have the added benefit of learning real guitar skills while simultaneously having a pretty decent tutor in the game.

In summary, I love it. I look forward to mastering the guitar and controller enough to rock out on the more advanced songs. The DLC offerings are still a bit sparse, but I hope that RB will improve this with future digital and physical releases. I also look forward to supporting the RB series as they produce more advanced game dynamics and more realistic and varied instrument controllers. (RB: I'm looking at you. I want to be able to plug up one of the real guitars that I actually own.)
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on March 2, 2011
Got this and tried a song on expert right off the bat, ended up passing with a 60 XD This is a good and accurate tool to help you learn how to play the real thing. Rockband 3 has a special area just for learning how to play from basics, to chord turnarounds to full fledged rocker's solos. it's a good learning tool. I would definitely recommend it if you play rockband but want to learn real guitar
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