Okay, so, aside from being on my fourth post and having to jump past the next topic until I have talked to a solicitor about intellectual property rights, which is becoming a growing concern because I have the desire to just shout my ideas out to the world with wanton disregard, I am also starting to run out of vanity images so I’m glad I’ve done a photoshoot or two recently or else I’m going to have to use the same images over and over – somehow I don’t have that many.
So, I see that I’ve set a dangerous precedent by making the last two posts just over 10,000 words each… but this is because I have the desire to really arm you fully to the teeth on all that I know. I often read things and want more information or wish they didn’t treat me like I can only digest five hundred words at any one time. I also don’t agree with the ‘keep them coming back for more by dishing out only little bits of info at once’ standard so I’m standing up for the all out approach – you don’t have to read it all at once and these pages will stay here for you until the Internet collapses or society breeds a new race of super chimps crossed with honey badgers and they go all Mojo Jojo on us. If anything my attention to detail just showcases my obsessive behaviour and my mania but also shows how much I have to offer. By making you aware of all that goes into being Grayson King I’m shining a light on how I think and behave and why that works for me like it does. Don’t worry though because this post will probably be four times shorter than my previous two (until I’ve edited it for the 100th time over the next month and a half or discovered new technology or something that I feel you MUST know about):
Introduction – Music and Creativity The Importance of Capturing & Storing Creative Moments (Dropbox & Evernote) Organisation of Ideas (Evernote) Enhancing Creative Ouput & Finding Inspiration
- My Big Musical Experiment/The Grayson King Method (EDIT – Postponed Until I Get Legal Advice)
- The New Age of Technology for Learning & Teaching Guitar – Fretlight Guitars, Guitar Pro, MIDI Pickups + Rocksmith
- Finding the Epic In Everything (Also Good as a Motivational Tool)
- A Break Down of A Variety of My Songs and the Different Styles I’ve Created
- My Personal Creative Processes
- A Little About Myself, My Personal Life and Struggles
- How I Cope With My Condition & Strategies That Make It Easier To Deal With
- What Pursuing Creativity Has Given Me
- My Favourite Musicians/Artists and How They Inspire Me
- My Perfect World Life Goals
- Taking Advantage of the Opportunities the Internet Provides
- Interviews with Musical Types
- Things You Need to Know About Performing in Edinburgh
I am surprised at how many of the musical people I meet have never heard of Optek and their frankly amazing Fretlight Guitars – I live in Edinburgh (a very international friendly city) and I’ve lived in a hostel for close to two years up until recently and regardless of where people are from virtually nobody seems to be aware of them. I’m practically a Fretlight Evangelist at this stage. But their lack of notoriety in the UK (and the rest of the world) may have something to do with the fact that they are primarily a United States based company and that I have had to have them shipped across, which does incur import charges. Though I’m certain you can get them on this side of the ocean using eBay or whatever. More people will be aware of the fun guitar teaching game called Rocksmith though I feel, which is the next step after Guitar Hero, but with a real guitar! Then there’s all that the Fretlight team has to offer (plus some little hidden gems I’m aware of that are hard to find), then Guitar Pro working with Fretlight and MIDI pickups to consider… first though, Fretlight:
Firstly I will outright tell you that I am not affiliated with Optek or Fretlight in any way beyond being a very impressed and satisfied customer. Though I will associate myself with them in the future when I decide to become a Fretlight Certified Teacher (which comes with massive discounts on things – see below). But due to my experiment and my method of learning I cannot do this just yet. Already they have strong support from Orianthi Panagaris and Chris Isaak. Now, I’m a little out of date with celebrities but I sure as hell know who Chris Isaak is! Anyway, on to the stuff that matters… what can a Fretlight do and what the hell is it beyond a kick ass guitar?
This video saves me explaining everything about it:
So, they have done research and they say you can learn a piece of music ten times faster than without a Fretlight. TEN TIMES FASTER! But the thing is the guitar isn’t a toy – it’s a great guitar (and due to the textured plastic polymer fretboard has higher sustain than possible with wood – probably only useful to riff masters but it’s good to know). They also have a bass guitar model now too! And, they also do lefties of all their models, which cost the exact same as the right-handed models though they do stock less of them. I have one of their Pro series electric guitar, which is a gorgeous blue, and an electro-acoustic model left-handed Fretlight guitar which is a slick black. I also recently bought a very rare (especially since they no longer make them) electric left-handed Fretlight that comes with a MIDI pickup built into it from their eBay backlot page!! I already have a MIDI pickup on the blue Pro electric but, and without going into detail, I felt like I needed a left-handed Fretlight guitar for teaching purposes and so I would have a proper electric left-handed to go with my electro-acoustic. For the same reason I shall have to buy a right-handed electro-acoustic model and a bass. Eventually I imagine they might sell classical guitars too…
If you buy from the backlot yo can get massive savings, but, these guitars don’t come with the Fretlight footswitch, which is really bloody useful for making your Fretlight experience much smoother as you assign certain functions to the footswitch that allow you to interact with your software without taking your hands off the guitar. They only cost $24.99 but once you’ve added delivery and import tax it’ll cost you more like $49.45, which is about £30 if you’re in the UK. If you’re buying from the main store at Fretlight they offer you the option to add items such as the Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Ready software (which is not just highly recommended it is utterly essential – see below), the footswitch, an amp, a strap, extended warranty, etc… it’s the same price to buy a footswitch from their eBay backlot page as it is from their main shop (I checked, since sometimes you can save a few quid here and there) but go ahead and get one.
Ultimately I intend to open up a music teaching ‘school’ using a combination of all that I talk about on this page and in this blog, including Fretlights, Rocksmith, my general creative method & philosophy and The Grayson King Method. I’ll let the students rent a Fretlight from me at low cost so as to help them avoid that huge initial cash burden that can be an issue for new guitar players who either give up shortly after starting, decide they’d rather play drums, or any other factor leaves them losing cash by selling their relatively new guitar as ‘second hand’. If you are planning on buying a guitar and starting to learn (or for someone you know to start learning with) I’d always recommend putting the extra cash into your investment and not buying a ‘cheap’ guitar as they almost always sound bad and this can make it difficult to keep your motivation up since it would require a degree of skill to make a cheap guitar sound even passably okay. You don’t need to break the bank but if your child is playing a guitar that cost less than £100 new it runs the risk of wasting your money, frustrating the student and making an awful sound that you’ll have to listen to. Even worse are £50 classical guitars… It is well worth mentioning that it will cost you the same amount of money to buy a guitar without the Fretlight system as with it. Which really does reduce your options down to Fretlight or Fretlight (if you’re being sensible that is or unless you’ve got a guitar from a mate at low cost). The thing is that if you’re learning you want to have an increase in skill as soon as possible, many a great guitarist never was simply from the frustration of making their new guitar sound good, which is difficult when you’ve just started. I’m learning left-handed now and it has reminded me of just how frustrated I used to get in the early days but I’m advancing a thousand times faster this time around especially as I’m actually using my Fretlight and its software and I’m playing Rocksmith.
Oh, you can also customise the set up of your guitar before you buy it and they’ll send it to you with the perfect action or whatever. It’s a shame they don’t do them to suit your typical Metal guitar design – Flying V or whatever you’re into – though people have been known to swap the body out for one of a preferred design (I personally think they should do a ‘Fretlightalise My Guitar’ thing but I doubt they’ll ever do it). So, in light of all these options, there is a very important choice ahead of you – will you buy a brand spanking new Fretlight? Or will you save quite a lot of money and consider getting a B-Stock Fretlight (models they no longer sell in the main shop), a Factory Rejected Blemish Fretlight (that is guaranteed to work perfectly in every way but the finish might be slightly discoloured in the smallest spot ever, which I’ve never found on mine) or Shop Floor Demo Guitar that has been used… you guessed it… to give demos in shops? I’d say more about these backlot prices but it just depends and the stock changes too much – saw one for $189 the other day! I saved a pretty penny on both mine…
Also, I have had a fantastic experience with their customer services team, which is always nice to know.
Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Ready Version:
I am not going to waste much time explaining what Guitar Pro is when you can get a much more concise and accurate explanation from the video above and here on the Fretlight website or here on the Guitar Pro website. You can get so many Guitar Pro tabs online for free – I’ve seen them gathered in one archive online with like 60,000 tabs or something (he says trying to avoid the word ‘torrent’ for some reason). A Guitar Pro tab is a file that works with Guitar Pro software and they can contain many parts of a song – the saxophone line, the bass line, the drums, the piano, the several guitar parts, etc (you’d be surprised how many instruments it supports), that are represented using numbers that tell you which fret and which string to use and when played within Guitar Pro the song is rebuilt in a way that is reminiscent of the old polyphonic ringtones (MIDI) but taken to another level – this is a pretty decent thing because you can take a song apart if the author has been particularly accurate and complete in their approach – which offers you the easiest option to see what a song roughly sounds like without the bass line or to learn about song construction and composition through deconstruction – or you could add your own bass line or just mess around by changing a note here and there and seeing the cascading effect it has on the rest of the song. Or construct a song from scratch without having to worry about a steep learning curve or the time it takes to correctly balance a mix or learn sound engineering and audio design – you don’t need to even be able to play an instrument any more to be a great songwriter (see the Ableton Push and the Kaoss Pad section) but you also don’t even have to have your guitar with you to write a song or even be physically at the level required to play the riff you can imagine or write this way. Each file depends on the person who made it though and that’s normally not an official release – but I’ll do that if I’m ever successful, hell, I’ll do it now anyway since I feel some of my songs are well worth learning – in fact if you check my page here you’ll see that I’ve supplied some of my original songs using Guitar Pro (there are two versions – one is a readable one written by me using their software by hand and the other is made using the MIDI pickup and automated tab mode – which does mean that you need a Fretlight to learn it as it’s often unreadable due to how it achieves this miraculous thing – as I explain below). But I’ve found Guitar Pro files incredible since you can just select which song and which part of the song you want to learn and it will light up on your Fretlight, then you can slow it down by lowering the tempo, loop a section, and so on to help you learn it. You’ll be seeing it in perfect time as the lights are computer created so if the light moves before your finger gets there you know you need to practice that section more. Something like 90+% of people are visual learners above all else. You can slowly increase the speed of the riff or whatever until you’re back up to 100% speed and you’ll be amazed at how much quicker it was to learn this way – Hendrix made easy. The great thing about Guitar Pro – and included in the Fretlight Ready version of course – is the option to have it automatically tab your music (as mentioned a moment ago) – but you need to have a MIDI pickup on your guitar to do this or be using a keyboard or whatever. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know how crazy I am concerning keeping a digital and secure copy of my works. But just imagine that epic riff you’ve come up with being easily saved as a file and then a few years later when you’ve forgotten it you could just open that file and have it light up on your fretboard exactly how you played it. Imagine that in a band situation where you want to share that new rhythm with your lead guitarist (Guitar Pro files are tiny) or a teaching environment. I will repeat this though – that tab won’t be pretty, it breaks each note into like 32 parts or more so it doesn’t miss even the smallest nuance of the tab. Guitar Pro also offer a teaching option but I don’t know much about it – it’s here, anyway. But honestly the free Fretlight Studio software that comes with your guitar (or can just be downloaded for free) is incredible in many many ways, anyway, see below:
As you can see in this screenshot I took of the free software the Chords & Scales option is quite expansive, covering a massive variety of chord forms and then chord tones across the entire fretboard, it also does the same for scales and so on… on that note have you ever seen a Guitar Wheel and how they get a whole textbook of information on one simple double-sided circular ‘page’? They are epic:
… and the information in the Fretlight Studio program is also epic, but admittedly this information could be better presented like in the Guitar Wheel – but it’s the combination with the Fretlight that matters!
The splash screen that appears when you open the Fretlight Studio software offers you three options, ‘Create a Solo’, which opens the Improvisor software as in the video below, ‘Chords & Scales’ which opens the main information resource package as shown above and ‘Purchase More’ which allows you to buy specially made Fretlight videos and song packs for the Improvisor and so on. These special videos are a lot like your typical DVD teaching videos except that when they do something or show you something it lights up on the Fretlight. And the Improvisor song packs are comparable to Guitar Pro files though presented differently and with a higher sound quality – I think a well made Guitar Pro file is actually better in my opinion. Yet I haven’t found myself buying any of these, but then I have to wait to utilise the Fretlight for the sake of my experiment and I’m a stingey git. Besides, I honestly don’t feel like there’s much point in the song packs for me when you can use the Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Ready software. The Improvisor software is pretty cool though for creating an environment for you to learn how to improvise solos and whatnot – a lot like in Rocksmith but it doesn’t have the AI band members (see below).
Improvisor (part of the same package):
Fretlight Certification & GT Control Software:
(Actually, I only just watched this and I’m like – holy shit that’s cool… still not sure it’s fair for the price to be so high for the stand alone software… nope… definitely not)
A teaching option from the Fretlight people is called the Fretlight GT Control software (which is a crazy $399.99 to download!) which does everything it says in the video above but is also associated with the Fretlight Teacher Certification I mentioned above. When I e-mailed them to complain about the price of the GT Control they said the following:
‘When you complete the requirements to become Fretlight Certified you will receive the following:
- Either a Fretlight FG-400 series guitar OR a Fretlight FG-507 Acoustic guitar ($300-400 value)
- GT Control Software ($399.99 value)
- Fretlight Dual Footswitch ($24.99 value)
- Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Ready Software (Download $109.99 value)
- 2x Fretlight Certified Teacher Logo T-Shirts ($29.99 value)
Total package value approx. $960
Fretlight Certification cost: $399.99
Please note – shipping and international freight is not included.
Teachers receive a $550 discount with this deal.’, Fretlight Support Team
Which is actually pretty epic of them. But somehow their two webpages (Teachers and Certification) fail to mention this at all, which I have pointed out to them in my reply so hopefully they’ll make that be up front and centre and in bold soon.
But years before they had all this I had already made the connection between a MIDI pickup, Guitar Pro‘s auto-tab feature from a MIDI pickup and the possibilities this could provide for teachers when combined with the Fretlight guitar but also for keeping a perfect copy of that epic riff you just came up with without having to write it all down (which they forget to mention and is ESSENTIAL to know) or explain to yourself in dictation what you just did (which is my go to method for rhythm guitar at the moment), which is something they haven’t capitalised on yet either – it’s there but they should be making you aware of it! I even messaged the company years back when I got my first Fretlight telling them there was no point in them wasting effort on their own Guitar Pro alternative called Guitarz (which did have some cool features actually) because Guitar Pro is the mac daddy of digital tablature and is going to remain it. I’m going to be honest, I doubt I’ll ever buy the GT Control on its own or that anyone would until they take some serious moolah off that insane price – even having that price as a standard is insulting and I consider it a cheap marketing trick for their certification program. I guess the only option is certification but considering the deal it’s an awesome option isn’t it? But I won’t buy it on its own when I can just play the riff on my electric with the MIDI pickup on it, save it in Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Version, then hit play and the students Fretlight will light up exactly what I want them to practice. Combined with creating my own Guitar Pro tutorial files if I decide the student needs that or there isn’t already an elegant solution – like the actual tutorial Fretlight Studio software that happens to come free with it which is EPIC (minus all the ‘lesson packs’ they charge you for and stuff – which I’ll consider along with GT Control when and if this ‘music school’ of mine ever exists and I’m doing well financially). The Improvisor software has a similar MIDI song reconstruction sound to it and has backing tracks you can play along to whilst it highlights the scale/riff/chords on your Fretlight.
Frankly I’m disappointed in the ridiculous price of this GT Control software though. You can’t claim you want to help people learn with a price tag that high – two and a half back lot Fretlights, that’s what they’re charging. I was annoyed enough to mention it on that YouTube video in the comments. Maybe if you agree with me on there they’ll reconsider how completely over-the-top that is? I mean, imagine you’re just starting out you could easily share a riff with a friend using this – they’ve over-specialised it and made it only for teachers and not considered the options it could open up in a jamming environment.
The Roland G-3 MIDI Pickup I got with my Roland GR-55 MIDI synth board is epic, I think, but they have the Fishman Triple Play in the video above which I’ll look into for myself something similar in the future, I like the Bluetooth aspect over the GK-3 but I bet the sound quality is better for the GK-3, you always lose quality when going wireless and Bluetooth hasn’t gotten over that yet. I think.
Some small extras to be aware of that are like impossible to know about because they are hidden:
The Fretboard Simulator and Light Show Bundle
Make a light show using the lights in the Fretlight! Shame you’ve only got red at this point…
The original software they made before they moved towards Guitar Pro. It has the added bonus of being free and also reads ASCII tabs. Worth checking out.
This software was discontinued and I’m not sure exactly what it does. I think it is very similar to the Improvisor software, or was swallowed by it.
I think that’s about it for Fretlight and the combination of Guitar Pro and MIDI for this post. Oh, and those download links were found here!
As is my want in this post I am going to let YouTube save my breath and illuminate you. Seriously, of all the videos this is one that has had my brain go into meltdown with possibilities – but that’s because it is new to me and I’ve had years of time to process the other stuff.
Yeah, so THAT exists. Can you even believe it? It works with any typically electricalised guitar too. It has fucking intuitive AI band members for god’s sake! But you know what I thought upon seeing that? Imagine connecting that with a Fretlight and the possibilities a MIDI instrument connected to that offers! You could call your band mate up and he could turn on his PS3 and you could jam out that new idea, or if you’re strapped for time you could still practice with your mates over a game! Or a teacher could teach you something in a GT Control type multiplayer over video chat and then jam out a song and get band playing experience! These days you wouldn’t even need to be on the same console or format either if they were sensible with the coding (it does come for PC by the way – once again trying to avoid the word ‘torrent’ for the option to try before you buy). You could have that Korean guy you’ve met on your travels or something but never been able to play with jamming using an electric violin in his bedroom across the world, whilst that Brazilian keyboardist you met in a music forum or something joins the gaming party and have the whole thing recorded as standard and uploaded to YouTube. If it is MIDI enabled and has mixing options, vocal processors, and all that lovely stuff you’re into the realm of my imagination – but I’m guessing latency/synch issues due to bandwidth limitations exist so that’s why it is only a local multiplayer for now. I already sent a massive email to Fretlight and told them to associate themselves with this as soon as possible, just like I did when I saw the possibility of them combining forces with Guitar Pro (which they eventually did – not saying it was my hundred emails a week that did it but they can’t have hurt lol). Although I do admit that if I were them I would have made it an addon or plugin of some kind so that people could easily make any Guitar Pro be Fretlight enabled (they contacted me and mentioned that they’ll be making an SDK package available so anyone could make their software Fretlight enabled!!! Maybe someone will adapt it to work with Rocksmith or create their own Rocksmith clone?). I don’t know, I just get frustrated with a great idea not being taken to the most logical and ‘perfect’ place that I would push it towards. I’m not a version 1 type guy – I just want the iPhone 50 already and all mobile calls to be over the Internet like messages have almost done now. Hell, I don’t want to have to make a call if I can possibly brain-to-Internet-to-brain the thing I want to communicate amongst other things incongruent to making this post shorter than the others.
So, I bought both Rocksmith games for the PS3 and I’ve got two RealTone Cables (so I can play multiplayer if I want to) and I’ve been playing it a lot the last few days. What I did was to buy the first game for the PS3 that came with a cable (since it was only like £1 more than buying the cable on its own), then I bought a cable on its own (about £20) and then I bought the Rocksmith 2014 game for the PS3 on its own since buying that game with the cable you end up paying like £10 more altogether (on Amazon UK anyway).
I have a few things to say about the first game (my copy of Rocksmith 2014 hasn’t arrived yet). For one, I had to create a new user on my PS3 for playing the game left-handed with as I play ambidextrous (see The Grayson King Method once I release that blog post) and wanted my main user to be playing the game right-handed and I kind of wish they’d taken into account that someone might want to do both and track each individually – since I’m a beginner left-handed but I’ve played guitar for 6 years right-handed the difficulty would shoot up to an impossible level if I wanted to swap between the two. I noticed that if you choose to start a bass career in-game and choose that to be right-handed when your main guitar career is left-handed that it swaps your main guitar career to right-handed even if you go into the options and choose left-handed orientation again. I think a reboot and/or finishing the venue you’re at fixes this. It has crashed a bit on me, but that happens mostly when you’ve come to the techniques menu from the career menu and you keep choosing to replay and not saving the game – which requires you going to another menu. What I do now is to only access the techniques menu from the main menu and once I’ve got past the next level (so once I’ve achieved bronze, or gone from bronze to silver) I then go back to the main techniques menu and it saves it. So, don’t keep replaying until you reach gold, save after each level is passed or it might just infinitely hang on the loading screen with the microphone in the corner with the Rocksmith R on it.
Another thing you’re really going to want to consider is buying a dance mat for controlling the menus with your feet – which I’m surprised they didn’t think of themselves and create a kind of stompbox similar to the Fretlight Footswitch. I managed to find a Dance Dance Revolution one for the PS3 (without the game) for like £3.50 including delivery on eBay somehow, and since it is USB it’ll work for the PC (or has a workaround/driver that allows it to work with PC) but it wasn’t exactly a quick find as on Amazon a similar one costs like £20 and on the site I linked to a second ago they cost like $80 for the non-slip ones (think mine was the plasticy cheap one and I’ll update this page with my experience once it arrives – if it doesn’t feel right or work right I won’t mind since it cost next to nothing – you could always buy one from CeX or similar and try it out and take it back if it doesn’t work to your satisfaction – or even do that and then buy one on eBay for much less once you know you it works right enough – either way, any dance mat has to be better than trying to use the controller with your feet, which will make it smelly and possibly damage the analog sticks since feet are less nimble than hands). Apparently when using the riff repeater (which allows you to learn sections of songs in loop mode and so on) having the dance mat turned upside down (since they are quite large if you sit when playing like I do you’ll understand why turning it around makes sense) will make life a lot easier. From what I read of recommendations for this idea I found using Google the same is true for Rocksmith 2014 as well. Buy a dance mat, but you probably don’t need the metal wireless one that costs over £100. It’s just that the first Rocksmith game, which I’m playing now, does tend to get locked down with menus a lot and it’s a shame you can’t play a certain note to continue or play the guitar to control the menu. I’ve been using my feet to press X a lot and knock the analog left and right with my big toe and it is annoying.
Also the techniques mode is annoying to me as it doesn’t allow you to quickly redo the song, which leaves you pressing start then restarting a lot to save time when you get near the end of the song. Just have a look at the score required to get to the next level and restart if you know you won’t make it. I’m pretty sure this has the cost of not adding the Rocksmith points you would have gotten from letting the song finish to your total points though… which is annoying to be honest since those points unlock new things. You decide which you prefer, but it is a lot of time to spend in menus just to gain a few points when the whole point is to master a new technique which will ultimately make your scores much much higher which will grant you significantly more points. Another thing I have noticed and might suggest is to avoid the temptation to repeat the techniques it suggests all to gold level through repetition right at the start as this increases the song difficulty drastically. Either that or the first game isn’t as well balanced as it could be for a nice learning curve during the career mode. One other thing, if you’re using a Fretlight with Rocksmith the increased sustain from the plastic polymer fretboard caused me issues in the sliding technique mode and I had to abruptly end the note when the slide had ended on-screen to get my points correctly – but in the actual game mode it tends to always give you an ‘epic sustain’ bonus, which is nice. =P
Rocksmith will force you to look away from your fretboard and that’s a bloody good thing because the Fretlight’s whole method ingrains the bad habit of looking at your guitar neck whilst playing into you and that’s a serious disadvantage, especially for stage presence (doubly so if you’re as blind as I am and can’t see your fretboard without glasses). It’s virtually the only downside of using the Fretlight though. Due to the way I taught myself right-handed I hadn’t realised how badly I would play if I wasn’t looking, so that opened my eyes somewhat (even though some of my songs are close to impossible to play otherwise – just too much going on).
I feel perfectly fine torrenting and cracking the PC version of the game now that I’ve bought both the games for PS3 and it comes with the option to download a bunch (like, 800+) of custom songs created by a website/forum dedicated to that. Here’s the link to the custom song maker software that makes custom songs that work for all versions of Rocksmith 2014, PS3 included – but I think you need to use that program to convert the Rocksmith file to be PS3 compatible and you have to have a custom firmware on your PS3 and I don’t at the moment – see here and this YouTube video for making and putting custom Rocksmith 2014 songs on your PS3 and you’ll have to Google to learn how to hack your PS3 since it depends on what model you have and stuff). I found these on thepiratebay but you’ll need to combine this torrent with this one to get all the goodies for your PC.
But remember, even though I have a few concerns this is with the old game and I’m more than happy. I’m certain that the newer game Rocksmith 2014 beats it hands down! Even if you do still need a dance mat. (=.=; )
This game (which is available for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PS3) also has a 2 player multiplayer option, though you need one extra of their Truetone Cables for it to work. Buying the first game also makes Rocksmith 2014 install all the old songs but with new updated gameplay interactions.
Afterthoughts on the future of Fretlight:
They released a five-fretted version of the Fretlight because ‘beginners only initially need those first five frets’. Don’t buy into that – it is ridiculous for them to offer this in my opinion. If you’re learning 10x faster I promise you that you’ll wish you just bought a full one. It will quickly become obsolete and you’ll wish you didn’t waste your money.
Instead of this I wish they would concentrate on taking their existing design to the next level. But what is the next level? A built-in MIDI pickup as standard for one (which they actually did do and I was lucky enough to get the very last one as it was a limited run series, but perhaps they’ll bring it back some day). But that’s not as important as making the Fretlight more intuitive to your interaction with it. It’s the master of being intuitive for you but not by you. How do they achieve that? Simple – a touch sensitive fretboard that provides the software with feedback on your playing, keeps a record of your ‘mistakes’ and then tracks your progress and intuitively, and possibly automatically in a certain mode, offers you the option to concentrate on that piece you’re having difficulty with – probably using their proprietary footswitch – which needs a volume pedal for digital wah or whatever. If the fretboard is pressure sensitive it could even possibly tell if your technique is ‘bad’. Eventually of course your webcam could analyse everything you do including playing posture – especially with this new generation of gaming consoles and the now standard webcams/interactive expression cameras. Fretlight needs to put their product in as many homes and be as accessible as possible – that’s what Rocksmith offers them – genuinely fun, compelling, intuitive learning – like how Koe will teach you Japanese whilst you play an RPG (an awesome project that is a great idea for non-calligraphy based languages – but I found this because I’d already had a similar idea called Words of Power and frankly I was glad someone else will actually make headway on it as I don’t have enough time to do everything all at once in my life – oh, you should also check out the LaMP media player if you want to learn another language by watching films and stuff as it allows you to load two subtitles at once!). You know it wouldn’t hurt to have some kind of vibration in the fretboard for keeping time or to let you know that you’ve made a mistake on that last lick along with the LEDs changing colour to represent a bad note or pulse to indicate timing and rhythm – it could go from bright to dull to bright, or it could change through orange to red to orange to indicate the heartbeat of the song. I would also like a travel friendly version of the Fretlight (see this article) where the neck board detaches from the body and maybe the solution to connecting the LED fretboard is a simple USB connection at the end of the neck into a USB port built into the wood of the guitar body followed by a simple locking mechanism for the neck to be stable. Or an actual travel guitar (like Traveler Guitars do or Journey Instruments with their carbon fibre guitar). You can also check this article out.
Kaoss Pads and Ableton Push:
I’ve decided to add a short section introducing these two things just because they are awesome and takes a step away from purely guitar based technologies. If you can tap your finger in a beat it can be made into a song!
I wanted this post to concentrate on learning tools but I’m adding this last section now whilst I remember to and maybe I’ll move them once I come across a blog post topic they’d be better suited in. The Ableton Push costs less than my guitar did. It has the advantage of being natively supported by the high quality Ableton sound engineering software Ableton Live. Honestly, I think the Ableton Push beats the Kaoss Pad hands down and it’s on my list of things to buy next. I may even sell one or two of my guitars. But I’m not going to describe these two things here in any detail. I just wanted you to be aware of them. Besides, it leads me onto the Kitara nicely!
The video isn’t nearly epic enough to describe what can be done with this instrument – it’s a computer for MIDI built into the shape of a guitar.
It’s almost criminal that with all the gadgets, guitars (I have ten) and other awesome stuff I own that the music scene in Edinburgh hasn’t seen more than my one favourite guitar… one thing I’ve been hiding is the Kitara. Which is a MIDI instrument and computer shaped to look like a guitar that has no strings but instead has buttons. Wrote a great disco riff on that thing actually. But I admit to having not utilised it much yet – once I start sound engineering, which requires me to stop being so eager to help people long enough to afford a new computer, I’ll find this bad boy infinitely more useful and then the music scene can be impressed with it and my Roland GR-55 – which nobody seems to own or make use of on stage at this point. In many respects I admit to having too many options and of trying to go in a hundred directions at once and it can be detrimental to a stable and focused increase in one specific skill but then I’m not all that interested in specific skills – I’m interested in new and exciting ways to express myself and further enhance my creative options. A steady and stable increase sounds boring to me. Snoozeville. If it ain’t epic it doesn’t catch my attention or enflare my appetite. Which is a motivational method of mine – finding the epic in an attempt to trick myself into doing something essential but boring to me, like practising scales. I do wish the fretboard was touch sensitive like an iPhone rather than with buttons but that’ll happen eventually.
You may think that with all this talk on technology that I’ve left no space for learning by doing or using the ‘traditional’ method. Poppycock! Boulderdash I say. Hell, I learned everything I know on guitar entirely by trial and error and experimentation using only my creativity and instinct as a guide – no YouTube, no chord diagrams, nothing external to myself. I still haven’t learned music theory in even a rudimentary way and I think I’m a significantly better songwriter for it at this stage – plus it gives me something to aim for and you cannot experiment on the level that I have if you have had the ‘rules’ hammered into you – yet I can learn all this at any time I desire and at an alarmingly faster rate than your traditional method allows – and believe me the traditional method is not the best in any way – you are smarter and faster than the traditional method can ever hope to take advantage of even if you think you’ve no musical talent at all. And yet it’s all about choices and finding a way that fits your personality and your constitution (but these options I’ve discussed here also happen to be more efficient AND cost much less than hiring a teacher to come around your house, just saying – actually this all depends on what you want to achieve – if you want to be a classical musician and opera singer you’re probably going to need tutoring). But when I do start learning I’m not going to struggle – I’ll step into the realm of ultra fast, amazingly intuitive and highly intelligent learning. That’s what this all is, learning minus the frustration I’ve suffered my whole life of only going as fast as the slowest person in the classroom offers. Oh, and with Rocksmith it’s also actually fun. Killer.
Random thing that just popped into my head – from now on I’m going to call it yuffling when someone tries to speak whilst yawning and also refer to any speaking scenario interrupted by a bodily function as ‘chunking’… the amount of times I’ve been chunked by a sneeze when I’m trying to explain something is incredible.
I will stop here for now before I melt your brain along with my own. Hopefully I have made you aware of the options available to you not just as a learning guitarist (which is every guitarist on the planet) but also a possible teacher. Please do every guitarist and musician you know the favour of letting them know about these things and consider attacking Fretlight and Ubisoft (for Rocksmith) and Guitar Pro with emails that ask for the features discussed here. At the least by making more people aware you’re helping make the items cheaper, better, more available and ultimately taking the musical experience one step more in the right direction.
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