Rock band. The franchise that revived rhythm gaming and in the span of about 5 years saw its demise. Whether it was the fault of Guitar Hero's oversaturating of the market or EA's uncertainty as to how to handle a large-scale experience like Rock Band is up for debate though.

This guide isn't concerned with the past in terms of music games: It's concerned with the future. With Rock Band 4 releasing soon as of the time of the guide's original publication, I thought it'd be good to impart knowledge I've amassed through playing Rock Band since the launch of the very first game.

But First, a little context.

I started playing the very first Rock Band on the Playstation 2 no less, but it wasn't even my copy. I had the opportunity to play the game and wasn't sure what to expect in terms of accessibility. Guitar was tricky at first, but vocals was easy to pick up and play. I had a good amount of fun in the short time I had to play.

I got my own copy not long after that when I purchased a PS3 and remembering the time I'd had with the lower quality sound of the PS2 version, I was enthused at the prospect of playing with more advanced technology to back it up.

Now, close to 7 years after the original game, I own all the games on PS3 and am now migrating to the Xbox 360 in preparation for Rock Band 4's release on the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

The core gameplay


When playing guitar or bass in Rock Band, the technique is similar to Guitar Hero and other games of the genre. Play the notes shown on screen at the correct time by strumming and holding down the appropriate fret button.

How does this work for a person with no vision

It takes a lot of practice and memorisation. However, it is doable, even with songs on Expert bass. Most charts work on pitch as well so you can sometimes make educated guesses as to what the next note will be. It's also sometimes helpful to use a number system instead of colours - 1, being green, 2 being red, 3 being yellow etc. Chords in this system are normally said as 1 2, or 12 depending on preference.


Drums is a totally different beast as there's no strumming involved. However, hitting notes is a fair amount harder as lots of things can happen at once making note clusters harder to guess. I personally stay away from drums, though I have to buy the kits as that's the only way you can get the microphone and guitar together. If they did a 2 guitar and microphone bundle that wouldd be of far greater interest to me on a subjective level.


Now we come to the part I probably put the most hours into. Vocals is just as simple as matching the pitches of what you're singing. There's no need to even be singing the correct lyrics, which makes for some hilarious moments. You can also take songs an octave up or down depending on your own range and the game won't mind.

Other mechanics


The crowd will either love your performance, hate it, or be somewhere in the middle. If they hate it, they'll start booing you and you'll eventually fail. if they love it, they'll be clapping and sometimes singing (depending on whether the song has crowd vocals included or not). If they're somewhere in the middle, they won't do very much. Whether this'll change in Rock Band 4, we'll have to see. For those with vision you can actually see the crowd meter as well as the overdrive meter on screen, in addition to the note highway and star meter.


Coming to a section of the song that you know particularly well? Want to boost your favour with the crowd just by hitting what notes you can? Initiate overdrive. On guitar and bass, press select and on vocals just make a noise into the mic when there's no singing part. On drums, in the older games, you had to hit a green note at the end of a pre-determined section where you could hit as many notes as possible. If you didn't want to use overdrive, you just had to avoid hitting that gree note. This will probably change in Rock Band 4 with the advent of the dynamic drum fills as well, so we'll see what happens on launch.

Once overdrive is activated, you'll score higher and get the crowd's favour back quicker if you're losing it.


You can earn a maximum of 5 stars a song when playing as a full band or as a soloist. You will fill up your star meter and when it's full you'll get the next star. It depends on how well you're doing in terms of notes and crowd favour.

More Rock Band 4 related content coming soon

When the game comes out I intend to add sections on:


If you want to suggest anything that I should cover in this guide as it is updated, feel free to let me know.

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