Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Every Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter #7

I did my write-up this week before I received John's, and we have unintentionally overlapped this week.

Expedition member: me
Total playing time (through today): 17:00 (2:30 last week)

My wife, the first year that I really ploughed a ton of time into Guitar Hero II, bought me a guitar for Valentine's Day. It was an entirely fantastic-looking Ibanez Artcore, a phenomenal guitar to learn on, but I didn't want to learn guitar then--I wanted to play Guitar Hero.

So I put it into the closet, and there it sat for years. When the Squier was released, though, I pulled out the Ibanez, had it set up by a tech at Guitar Center, and I've played it several times through an amp.

If you leave the PRO MIDI adaptor connected to the 360, the adaptor box registeres as a Pro controller, even without the Squier attached. So I can go into Rock Band 3, choose songs, set it to no-fail mode, and play along with the Ibanez.

What I've discovered is that even without the feedback of where my fingers are on the fretboad, I actually play better on the Ibanez. It's much tougher to hold down strings when the Squier is in mute mode, because the plastic bar raises the strings. So the Ibanez is much easier to play, and it sounds so good through an amp that I'm having a great time.

I've also noticed that if I learn a song on the Ibanez (without feedback on finger placement), I can play it much better on the Squier than I can if I just keep playing it on the Squier. I have to look down at my hands more without onscreen feedback, which forces me to learn more of the notes by memory. So I highly recommend playing some without onscreen feedback, just to get used to paying more attention to your hands.

Plus, and this is also very important, you get practice in actually producing notes instead of just plucking strings. How you hold down the string makes a huge difference in the sound, but if you just play in game mode, you're not going to learn how and why it matters. Play with an amp, though, and you pick it up right away.

It's amazing, but Harmonix has managed to make it fun in Easy mode. I played "The Thrill Is Gone" and "In A Big Country", and they were both a complete blast--the notes they chose to have you play still give you the flavor of the song, and they even sound good through an amp.

Now, from trailbreaker John Harwood:
Is it over yet? Did I learn the guitar? No? &%@*.

Another week of not all that much play (Damn you, LOTRO!), but managed to get in 3.5 hours bringing me up to 41.25 to date. I'd have thought I'd be doing better by now with that much time under my belt, but owing to being in more of an instant gratification mode lately, I've largely been re-treading the same ground rather than pushing myself. Good news is that at least the re-treading is continuing to build up my fingers and wrist and even single-string bass play is getting me much better at picking an individual string than I ever used to be.

It's quite a bit of fun to go back and re-play some of the low-difficulty things that I only have like 3 stars on easy since I'm head and shoulders better than that these days, so at least some progress is being made. Found out this week that I need to do considerably more playing without the string mute on. Spent a couple of hours this week playing along with RB3 without the mute and at first it was pretty horrifying. It's a completely different matter to miss a note or a chord when it's muted and you just blow a multiplier. When I miss a chord without the mute and with my miniamp on, babies cry, and the cats leave the room, often at a dead run. But at least I've now played "The Hardest Button to Button" as it's truly meant to sound:
like complete crap. So the circle is complete. I need to make a recording of that and send it to you as motivational tool.

Bass without the mute isn't nearly as horrifying since I'm generally much more on the notes, and the only real annoyance is that I still have an intonation issue with the guitar and no matter how well I tune it, I can't get the entire neck in tune, so I'll be merrily strumming along and all of a sudden I think I've fat-fingered a fret, but no, I'm in the right place, it just sounds that off. Guess I should take this in to have someone do an actual setup on it, but I do kinda hate spending money on that, so pity we don't have an authorized Fender guitar repair center in Austin. Strange though that seems. We have a certified amp repair place and more guitar places than you can count, just not "authorized" so oh well.

The highlight of my un-muted play was my wife coming out of the office, and instead of asking me to "please for the love of God, stop playing"
as I expected, instead said "Oh, I recognized that one. Every Breath You Take" which is actually a bit of a feat considering that on hard I'm only playing half the notes and I was flubbing several of those. So that's about the high water mark at this point: Played without strings muted and a song was slightly intelligible. Check.

Site Meter