Guitar Hero with strings - but that's just the beginning

You Rock Guitar is the second realistic controller for Guitar Hero-style games to have come to light in the past few months after Power Gig. There's just something off-putting about a plastic guitar if you play the real thing - not to mention the technical shortcomings if you try to use them for serious music creation.

The device is a fully-functional USB MIDI electronic guitar. That means you can plug it into your computer to control MIDI programs (turn it into a saxophone or Ferris Bueller-style heaving at the push of a button) or use it as a song notebook with its on-board MIDI song data storage. That sounds awesome enough, especially as it can be dismantled to stow away in a rucksack, but it's the gaming side that makes this special.

It works as a fully-functioning Guitar Hero/Rock Band controller. First you need to plug in a wireless 'Game Flex' insert (sold separately for £26.99). Then you simply play the strings to strum (yup, that's actual strumming) and use colour-coded frets to play the notes in the game. The feel will be more realistic and you'll look cooler too, not to mention pick up some more authentic and useful guitar skills in the process.

Above: That headstock can be removed if you want to mimic Bill & Ted

The unit has more tricks up its sleeve too. You can set it to 'You Rock' mode to play along to your iPod - always in tune with wrong notes replaced with a Guitar Hero-esque clunk sound. There are also 14 tuning presets and a virtual capo for those Wonderwall moments. The wammy bar can bend pitches up or down - not just down  like the Guitar Hero guitars - although we're yet to see whether the games will recognise this. There's also no tuning needed for the strings. The wonders of technology, eh?

Of course, it comes with a hefty price tag. The fact it works as a MIDI instrument, guitar tuition aid, songpad AND game controller means there's a lot of tech here, making the standalone unit come in at £199 RRP. If you want to use it as a game controller, you'll need the Game Flex cartridge for your chosen console on top of that.

Above: The console-specific wireless cartridge costs £26.99 alone

That said, the You Rock Guitar's versatility and usefulness for all three potential audiences (gamers, musos and guitar beginners) make this a very intriguing proposition. We'll see if we can get hold of one to see if it's as good as it looks. In the mean-time, check out the device's official site for more info.

19 May, 2010


  • rockdoc - October 14, 2010 5:06 p.m.

    Good review of a versatile product---No its not a wooden guitar Crumbwhatever but it is the best midi solution out there. And it allows beginers to have fun making music. I think any user of software or virtual synths would have a lot more fun with this than the more expensive and less accurate solutions like Roland. This thing has very low latency and a lot of flexibility....Rockdoc
  • slimjim441 - May 19, 2010 3:44 p.m.

    @crumbdunky I don't know man, this might be one step closer in teaching those 'playing-Guitar-Hero-is-better-than-the-real-thing' dumbasses in their place. Or it might be one step closer in a new way to teach people actually how to play guitar, putting the rest of us traditional folk to shame. Totally kidding, and you thought I was serious for a minute, didn't you? No rhythm-based button pushing (with strings or not) with absolutely no room for error much less 'free-style' will ever beat playing a real instrument. reCAPTCHA: to mullet
  • crumbdunky - May 19, 2010 11:29 a.m.

    As someone whop was always happy to use samples, found sound and basically anything to hand to make whatever "musical" noise I wanted for past work I have to say I'm surprised just how revolting this thing is to me. Maybe all these years of playing has finally turned me into a guitar snob! That, or the sight of the thing here is just too terrifying!

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