Paying someone to teach you to play guitar can cost quite a bit of money. That’s why many beginners are choosing to learn using Rocksmith. It’s a game similar to Guitar Hero, except instead of a controller-style guitar, you plug in a real electric guitar to your Xbox, PlayStation, or computer. Though you can use an acoustic, the best guitars for Rocksmith are electric models, due to the lower action, which is more suitable for beginners. Another benefit of using Rocksmith is that it not only teaches you to play along with the game, it gives you the skills needed to unplug from your console and play on your own.
When choosing the guitar you’ll be using with Rocksmith, there are a few features you should look to be sure it will be compatible with your skills and the game. The body shape and weight are important to ensure it will be comfortable and easy to hold. The number of frets shows the range of notes you can play. Pickups don’t just send the string vibrations to the amp, they alter the sound, so choose carefully. Warranty information covers you for unexpected guitar issues.
Top 4 Guitars For Rocksmith Review
To help you choose the right electric guitar for Rocksmith, we spend countless hours checking manufacturer information, product features, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we created a comparison table, complete with ratings and in-depth reviews, and added a buyer’s guide to help you pick the right instrument.
Ibanez RG421 – Editor’s Choice
- Body: meranti
- Scale length: 25.5”
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Frets: 24
- Pickups: Quantum (H) passive
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: jatoba fretboard, maple neck, jumbo frets, 5-way pickup selector
The Ibanez RG421 comes in three color options, including Blackberry Sunburst, Light Violin Sunburst, and Pearl Black Fade Metallic. It is lightweight, with a Meranti body and a Wizard III maple neck that is thin and flat for fast playing, but still sturdy and strong enough to last for years.
The Jatoba fretboard has 24 Jumbo frets with white dot inlays, giving you a rich mid range and a very crisp high-end articulation. It is also a gorgeous reddish brown color that matches any of the body colors perfectly.
There are Quantum ceramic pickups on the neck and the bridge, which include a 5-way switch to give you a wide range of coil combinations for a variety of sound options. There is also a fixed bridge, which requires no adjustments, though it does eliminate the ability to attach a tremolo bar.
The hardware is all colored Cosmo black, which looks great with whatever style you choose. The controls for the volume and the tone are separated so you won’t confuse their locations, but near enough that you can change the settings quickly while you play. The shape of the body allows you to reach the lower frets without straining, plus adds some rock-and-roll flair to anything you play. This stylish electric guitar is the perfect model for Rocksmith beginners or experts who no longer need the training.
- Decent price
- Great sound
- May have some minor fret buzz when playing hard
Epiphone PPEG-ENPLEBCH1-15 – Best Guitar For Rocksmith Pack
- Body: mahogany
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Weight: 9 lbs
- Frets: 22
- Pickups: Epiphone Ceramic 700T Zebra-coil humbucker
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: s-shaped maple neck, Built-in-Shadow E-Tuner included, Rocksmith cable included, Tune-o-matic bridge
If you’re just learning to play the guitar, it may be easier to get everything you need all at once instead of trying to figure out what you need separately. That’s why the Epiphone PPEG-ENPLEBCH1-15 guitar pack is so handy. It comes with the guitar and all the accessories you need to get started on Rocksmith or when playing on your own.
First, the guitar itself is the Pro-1 Les Paul Jr., which has the same profile as the legendary original. It has a mahogany body with a maple C-shaped neck that is comfortable to hold and easy to play.
Other features include the Epiphone Ceramic 700T Zebra-coil Humbucker pickup, a built-in Shadow E-tuner located on the bridge pickup mounting ring, and a classic Tune-o-matic bridge, all of which work together to give you an amazing sound.
The accessories that come with this incredible Epiphone beginner electric guitar pack include a strap, picks, a deluxe fitted gig bag, and a beginner’s guide to help get you started. It also comes with an Epiphone MightyPro Mini-Amplifier with built-in distortion, MP3 input, headphone output, and Master Volume and Tone controls, and the cable. Of course, you need to learn how to play first, which is why this pack also includes Rocksmith 2014 and the Real Tone cable for plugging in and starting your training.
- Multiple accessories
- Decent price
- Rocksmith free download and Real Tone cable included
- Only one pickup, limiting tone
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V – Best Beginner Guitar for Rocksmith
- Body: solid alder
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Weight: 10 lbs
- Frets: 22
- Pickups: 2 single-coil and Alnico V magnet humbucker
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: bolt-on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, vintage-style tremolo bridge with block saddles, 5-position pickup selector
Though it isn’t the most expensive guitar on the market, the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is still well-built and easy to play, especially for beginners just starting out with Rocksmith or other early learning sessions. It has a solid alder body, with a bolt-on neck made of maple, and a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets for a wide range of notes and cords. This neck is a bit thin, making it a great choice for those with smaller hands, but it may be a bit too small for larger hands.
This model has a vintage style, with some modern hardware thrown in for great sound, no matter what you like to play. The pickups include 2 single coils and an Alnico V Magnet humbucker pickup, all of which work with a 5-way switch with coil-splitting that allows you to set it to give you the right tone to fit the song and genre you’re playing, from crisp and clean to heavy distortion.
The bridge uses a classic tremolo with block saddles and a removable tremolo bar. There are also master tone and volume knobs, which are made of metal “Dome” material with rough sides for easy turning. The large pickguard is 3-ply white on most of the colors, though a few of them come with black pickguards for better color contrast.
- Nine color options
- 5-way pickup switch
- Stays in tune
- Neck may be too thin for some people
- Unusual threading on tremolo bar makes it hard to replace
Squier by Fender Affinity Series Telecaster – Budget Pick
- Body: alder
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Frets: 21
- Pickups: 2 single-coil
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: c-shaped maple neck, medium jumbo frets, vintage Fender bridge, maple fretboard
Guitars can be quite expensive, but you don’t need a high-end model for just starting out with Rocksmith. The Squier has a great low price that is perfect for beginners or those living on a budget. It comes in eight great colors, so you can pick your favorite to match your personal style.
The body has the classic Telecaster shape, made of solid alder with a polyurethane finish for a great shine. The neck is maple, with a satin urethane finish, so your hands will slide over it easily as you play. It also has a C-shape, which fits the hand nicely, no matter what the size. The fretboard is either maple or rosewood, with 21 medium jumbo frets and inlays of white or black, depending on the color of the wood used. On the headstock, there is a stylish gold-and black logo, adding a bit of class to this guitar.
There are classic single-coil Telecaster pickups on the neck and bridge, with a 3-way switch that lets you use each one separately or both together. The bridge itself is a top load, with 6 individual saddles, each of which can be adjusted separately from the others to achieve the proper intonation for each string. Other great features include the 3-ply pickguard, the chrome hardware, and the knurled flat-top control knobs.
- Budget-friendly price
- Quality materials
- Stays in tune
- Easy to play
- Tuners may be stiff
- Needs initial adjustments before playing
- Frets may stick out from the neck edges
If you are going to learn to play guitar, a teaching tool like Rocksmith is a cheaper option than paying for lessons, plus it gives you the skills you need to play on your own in no time. Of course, if you want to try out Rocksmith, you’ll need the right guitar for the job, so be sure to check out what each model has to offer before you make your selection.
Choose wisely – how to pick a guitar for Rocksmith
When it comes to choosing the best guitar for Rocksmith, there are a few factors you need to consider to ensure you have the right one to help you succeed with the game and learn basic guitar playing skills.
First, you need an electric guitar rather than an acoustic with a microphone. The latter won’t work as well, plus the mike will likely pick up ambient noise from the room. The electric guitar needs to sound good, too, whether you’re plugged into the game or playing on your own.
The guitar should be a bit more basic, so it is easy to play, especially for beginners. It also needs to be comfortable, so check out the size, shape, and weight, and make sure they all work well with your body, especially if you’re practicing for hours.
Though it won’t affect your playing, having a guitar that looks good will boost your confidence and make you more excited to play it. Beginners should also look for an inexpensive instrument. As you get better, you can upgrade to a more expensive model if you like, but a cheaper one is best for a starter guitar.
If you’re just learning to play the guitar, it’s best not to spend a thousand dollars before you even learn the first chords. Beginners should stick with low-end, basic models. This doesn’t mean an unreliable, cheaply made product either. You can find a decent beginner guitar that costs between $180 and $500. Once you’ve moved beyond the learning stage, you can upgrade to a better model.
Consider the following features of a guitar that will be perfect for Rocksmith
Those interested in finding the best guitar for Rocksmith should check out the following features, to ensure they have the right gear needed to start playing along with this game.
Size and weight
When you’re learning to play, whether using Rocksmith or not, you’re going to be spending hours practicing. If the guitar shape is uncomfortable to hold and play, you likely won’t want to pick it up. The same goes for the weight. A heavy guitar will weight you down, reducing the amount of time you can hold it, reducing your practice time. Be sure to check out these features before you buy the guitar, trying out a few at a music shop or testing out your friend’s guitars, then make your decision accordingly.
Consider the cable
You can’t just grab any old cable to use with the Rocksmith game. A specific cable has been designed exclusively for use with it, with a quarter-inch to USB design that changes the signal from analog to digital, which the hardware device, like the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, or Mac, will recognize. When you purchase Rocksmith, there is usually a cable included, but some versions don’t come with one, so you may need to buy one separately. You should also consider keeping a second cable on hand, in case the first one is damaged in some way. Having a spare will keep you practicing.
Pickups have a very specific function. They pick up the string’s vibrations, then transfer it to the amplifier, which then sends it to the speaker. There numerous types available, but four basic ones you’ll find on the most popular guitar brands.
Single coil pickups consist of one single coil of wire and include two magnets shaped like horseshoes. These create a bright sound that’s quite loud.
The P90 is also a single coil pickup, only with a wide coil for increased string surface area. This makes an even bigger sound, though not as bright.
Humbucker pickups, like the one on the Epiphone PPEG-ENPLEBCH1-15, use twin coils, which create a warmer, richer sound with more power, though this does reduce higher frequency sounds.
The last one is the active-passive pickups, which use a battery-powered circuit for a stronger, cleaner, more balanced tone over a wide range of frequencies.
If you have a guitar that uses more than one pickup type for different outputs, there will be a switch that allows you to use them separately or combine them, depending on the tone you want.
The bridge is located on the body of the guitar and supports the strings on that end, transmitting the vibrations to another part of the instrument. For electric guitars, there are two types of bridges to choose from.
A vibrato bridge, like the one on the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V, uses an arm extending from under the strings that acts as a lever, which is used to alter the tension and pitch.
Non-vibrato bridges give you an anchoring point, with no control on the tension and pitch. It does offer more tuning stability, plus gives you solid contact between the guitar body and the strings.
Guitar tone wood
When it comes to guitar woods, not all are created equal. Different woods work better for different areas.
For the bodies, mahogany is popular since it offers great resonance and sustain. Ash is also good, due to the bright tone, punchy midrange, and decent sustain. Alder is similar to ash, though cheaper to buy.
For the necks, maple is the most popular choice, due to its density, hardness, and light weight. Mahogany is also used occasionally, though more often on acoustic guitars than electric ones.
Maple is also a common choice on fretboards, though some brands prefer rosewood or ebony for their balanced sounds. These two also resist wear, even when you play regularly.
Fretboard and frets
The fretboard, also called a fingerboard, is located on the front of the neck. It is usually made of wood that is laminated. The strings pass over the board between the bridge and the nut.
The thin metal bars that run down the length of the neck are called frets. These pieces are note separators, which allow you to play each note and chord. Though most guitars have 22 frets, those designed for rock or metal usually have 24 frets for reaching higher notes. The number of frets for beginners just starting out with Rocksmith isn’t an issue, at least until you decide which music genre you favor.
On the fretboard, there are also white, black, or colored dots, which are the fret markers. The position of each marker helps you figure out which position you’re on.
Neck and scale length
The scale length of a guitar is measured most accurately from the nut to the 12th fret and then doubled. The length affects playability since longer lengths increase the amount of tension needed to keep the string at the right pitch. Shorter lengths use less tension for this, plus allow the strings to bend easier.
Guitar necks come in a few different sizes and shapes. Some are slim while others are wide, and which you choose depends on the size of your hand. Smaller hands work better on slimmer necks, while bigger hands need more space.
The shapes are C, V, and U shapes, each of which is a bit different. The C shape has the shallowest depth, which fits a variety of hand shapes and playing styles. The V shape is best for those who prefer to place their thumb over the fretboard edge, while the U is better for those who keep their thumb on the back of the neck.
A guitar’s warranty is important for the same reason as any other product. If it is defective in some way and needs repairs, you don’t want to have to pay for that. The warranty covers you for these unexpected issues, rather than you paying out of your own pocket. The longer the coverage time, the more time you have to test it out to find any issues.
To keep your electric guitar looking and working its best, try out the following tips:
- Remove the strings it comes with by unwinding the tuning peg, taking the string off, and pulling them out of the bridge.
- Re-string the guitar with new, high-quality strings. Start at the bridge, then put the tip through the tuning peg and turn.
- Take a damp washcloth and clean off any fingerprints, dust, or dirt. Keep the water out of the electronics.
- Apply wood polish using a soft washcloth or some newspaper.
- Tune your guitar using a digital tuner. If you don’t have one, tune the E (6th) string as best you can. Then press the fifth fret of that string and match next string to it. Work your way down the rest of the strings in the same way, except use the fourth fret on the third string to match the second string.
- Store your guitar in a case or on a stand at the proper humidity.
There are a few benefits of choosing Rocksmith over a tutor. Rocksmith offers you the fun of a game that teaches you at the same time. It also adjusts the difficulty as you play, depending on your skill, so it never pushes you too fast. It is also much cheaper, with one decent initial cost rather than a payment for every lesson.
When turning your guitar for Rocksmith, first be sure you’re turning the peg highlighted on the screen. Tighter strings create a higher pitch, which raises the tuner needle, while loosening the string creates lower pitches and the lowers the needle. Allow the note to ring out so the tuner gets an accurate reading. If it starts to fade too quickly, play the string again. Start with a looser string and work up to the right pitch. This prevents it from getting too tight and snapping.
No, you don’t need an amp. You use your TV and a compatible console or only your computer to use Rocksmith. The speakers on your TV or computer work as an amplifier.
If you’re going to take the plunge and learn to play guitar with Rocksmith, any of the guitars we’ve reviewed are a great choice, though a few may require a second look.
The stylish Ibanez RG421 is our top choice. It is lightweight, with a meranti body, maple neck, and 24 jumbo frets. It also comes with a fixed bridge and two Quantum ceramic pickups with a 5-way switch.
For everything you need to get started, the Epiphone PPEG-ENPLEBCH1-15 is a great option. The instrument itself is one of the best guitars for Rocksmith, with a humbucker pickup, Tune-o-matic bridge, and built-in Shadow E-tuner. It also comes with numerous extras, like a strap, pick, bag, amp, and cable, plus it includes Rocksmith 2014 and the cable needed for hookup.
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is well-built and easy to play, with a vintage design and modern hardware that includes 2 single coil pickups and a humbucker pickup, a 5-way switch, and the classic tremolo with a block saddle.