Have you ever sat and listened to the bass riff in MGMT’s Electric Feel? I don’t think I ever realised, really, how integral to the song that little refrain is; the entire track is based around it! Ignore those hateful lyrics (hey, they’re a joke band, it’s fine), drink in those festival vibes, and let that bass sink into you… you feel it? Electric Feel is all about bass, I think. Why have I never learned to play that riff before? Well, I guess I’d never had someone show me how.

Not until I was browsing the catalogues available at launch on Rocksmith+ and saw it there, nestled amongst things like Snarky Puppy’s excellent jam-rock meanderer, ‘Shofukan’, and The Eurhythmics’ seminal ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. I was alive in the 00s, I’ve definitely been in some shit Midlands club singing along to Electric Feel – why not plug in my bass, and give it a go.

Turns out, that riff is one of the most fun-to-play things I’ve committed to since picking up my bass guitar at the start of the year. I’ve only been playing the bass for nine months now, and whilst there are some transferable skills from my 17 years of guitar playing, there’s also a lot of new stuff to digest. Rocksmith+ not only gives me a fun new song to play – all mapped out, delicious, and easy-to-read with a genuinely intuitive UI – but it also identifies areas I might be struggling with and ushes me towards improving.


“Your weedy little guitar-player fingers aren’t sturdy enough for the bass hammer-ons and pull-offs,” it tells me (I’m paraphrasing). “Hit the lessons and learn how to do it properly”. I do. Practice for a bit, warm up my fingers. Then I come back, emboldened, and try. Rocksmith+ sees that I’m nailing all the notes, and dynamically alters my note chart to match. Without knowing it, I’m now playing along to Electric Feel, note for note. Rocksmith+ has helped me learn the entirety of a song, and course-corrected me en-route, all in about 25 minutes.

I am a fully self-taught musician; I picked up a guitar after accidentally ordering a Coheed & Cambria tab book when I was 13 years old, and I have never looked back. I cannot read music, but I can read tab and play to ear. I always considered myself an ‘amateur’ (don’t tell my ex-bandmates) until a little piece of software dropped in my lap some 11 years ago and changed my life, and – yes – even my music taste. Back then, Rocksmith was more rudimentary: you had to use a RealTone cable plugged into either your PC or console, and there were some issues with lag that were a real headache for anyone trying to nail their timing. These issues are gone, now, and you can even use an app to ‘listen’ to you play instead of shelling out for more hardware. The barriers to entry are lower, but the price to play is higher. I think it’s a fair trade-off.

But still, even this rudimentary version of this tool introduced me to playing Arctic Monkeys tracks (not just listening to them) and expanded the way I played – putting down the power chords and learning how to make my fingers do barre chords.


Overnight, my playing improved tenfold; I could now actually jam with my mates – not just chug along to songs I’d been listening to ad infinitum since I heard them on Kerrang! I learned some theory – thanks to the deep, knowledgeable roster of lessons available via the service – and I improved my fingering (steady now).

11 years later, the same year I’m hardening up my finger pads and trying to do my best Flea impression as I learn bass, Ubisoft has recaptured that bottled lightning. For the monthly price of $14.99 / £12.99 (or $99.99 / £84.99 per year), Rocksmith+ can elevate your playing to the next level – and you need to put barely no effort in. Yes, I’m coming at this with some experience, and yes, I’m coming at this on the back of teaching myself a lot about how to play – but for anyone wanting to find structure for their practice, or wanting to embrace the Guitar Hero-style grids in learning new songs, there really isn’t anything better.

I’ve been around the Youtube ‘teach yourself how to play’ videos, I’ve read endless articles on which scales you should practice if you want to be quicker on the neck – or really learn how to slap da bass – but something about having the real-time feedback of a little prompt telling me when I nail a note scratches my brain in the most serotonin-pleasing way. Knowing exactly where I miss, and which licks I need to practice in order to get that 100% rating… that’s the ADHD catnip, baby. That’s what’s going to help me improve. That’s why you pay that not-inexpensive subscription.


For people who don’t have the cash to spend on lessons (let’s be real; a year sub to Rocksmith+ will get you merely a few weeks of lessons from anyone worth their salt) or who can’t commit to regular scheduling thanks to work, life, or both, Rocksmith+ is a game-changer. I’ve been plugging away at ‘Where is My Mind’ on my lunch breaks. I’ve been perfecting that killer outro to ‘Shofukan’ before I go to bed. I try to do an hour a day – as all musicians tell you you should – and I’m noticeably better already.

So, if you’ve got a guitar sat in the corner that barely gets to breathe as George and his lover gently weep, Rocksmith+ is for you. It’s so much more than a game, or ‘Guitar Hero with actual guitars’ – it’s an essential part of a balanced music-lover’s diet. And I really cannot recommend it more.


Rocksmith+ is out on PC now. It’s £12.99 for a one-month subscription, £34.99 for a three-month subscription, and £84.99 for a yearly subscription.





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