Tips and Tricks - Rock Band

GrrlGotGame and I are totally hooked on Rock Band, particularly the Band World Tour where we can play cooperatively (she's on vocals, and I play either lead or bass guitar).

As I hit the wall (since I'm not all that good a shredder, but feel that this shouldn't be an impediment to having fun with the game), I've been collecting tips that I'm passing along in the hopes that it will make the game a little easier for you to enjoy, too.

Alas, the Prima guide for this one is mostly useless: It's more concerned with what kind of rock pose you might adopt than how you hold your fingers on the guitar frets, though it appears to be an adequate reference for the songs that came with the game and whether they have good drum parts or big rock endings.

Here's what I've collected so far by talking to more accomplished friends, reading forums and blogs, and from firsthand experience:

General tips:
  • Make sure you calibrate if you have an HDTV or just find you that can't hit anything and don't think it's because you suck. There are some presets (which worked fine for me) or you can go manual for more precise tuning.
  • If you're planning to play the Band World Tour, have at least one player go through a solo tour to unlock a wide range of songs. Otherwise, your mystery sets will be limited to the same few songs until you progress enough to open up more.
  • Any songs you buy online go immediately into rotation, so by all means indulge if you see something you like. "Buddy Holly" by Weezer is great fun to play and a nice complement to "Say It Ain't So" (which is already in the game). They make a good pairing when you pick your own set.
Guitar tips:
  • PS3 owners, beware. The guitar from the Guitar Hero III won't work here, thanks to Activision's short-sightedness and greed. But if you have an Xbox 360, you can pick up Guitar Hero II or III to get a second axe for playing simultaneous lead and bass guitar in co-op modes.
  • Learning that you can (and should!) continue to hold down the lower notes when playing the higher notes (except for chords) makes Easy mode a snap to pick up and master with just three fingers on the frets. In fact, with a little practice you'll probably find it impossible to fail most songs in Rock Band - which, on the whole, is easier and thus more fun for amateurs than Guitar Hero.I find it very relaxing to play on Easy, so use it when you just want to unwind.
  • When playing Band World Tour (co-op), you will be limited to about 50,000 fans if anyone plays on Easy. If you are stuck and can't handle the Medium songs with lead guitar, try bass. These tend to be simpler (though not always!). Even if you still miss some notes, it may be enough to get the fans needed to earn a jet and unlock another continent for play. Some later venues have a skill level cap (Medium or better), but there's still quite a lot you can do on Easy as a Band while you practice on Medium in your solo career.
  • It's been suggested to me that you can play the higher skill levels with three fingers (instead of four) by shifting your hand up and down in three note increments. The secret seems to be remembering how you have your hand positioned - are you on green/red/yellow, red/yellow/blue or (if you go beyong medium) yellow/blue/orange. If you're comfortable playing with your pinky, you can use the same approach but shift your hand only once to play the five notes instead of twice. Experiment to see what works for you. I'm still struggling with this, but seem to have an easier time (on the whole) with the four-finger method.
  • If you want an easier time triggering overdrive, be sure the guitar strap is looped over your shoulder - not hanging straight from your neck like a necklace. Otherwise, you're going to have to work to shift it up and probably miss a note, which is a waste of overdrive.
  • Don't bother with the whammy bar except for glowing notes, where you'll get collect more energy by using it. Otherwise, it might trip you up for no real benefit - unless you really love how it sounds or you get bored.
Vocalist tips (from GrrlGotGame):
  • Don't stretch for notes you can't hit. The key is modulation. You can sing in a lower or higher key than your real-world counterpart as long as you modulate your voice to hit the on-screen guide. You don't even have to get the words right!
  • You'll need to improvise in the empty flowery sections to unleash overdrive (and possibly save a bandmate who's fallen!) but you can hum or simply say "yeah!" or "how's everyone doing tonight?" If it doesn't work, speak up - you may need to shout. But you don't have to sing like a diva, unless you want to.
  • Some songs have a percussion section, so get your mike ready. If you're left-handed, be sure to select lefty flip for microphone. You'd think that it shouldn't matter which palm you slap the microphone against, but GrrlGotGame reports she was turning her hand into hamburger trying to play the cowbell on "Don't Fear the Reaper" until she changed this setting.
Drum tips:
  • Pro tip: The kick drum is more comfortable to play if you keep your foot flat with the pedal depressed until you see a note coming. Then simply lift your foot and push it back down to hit it. That way your foot isn't straining above the pedal most of the time as you wait for a note to play. I've tried it and it seems to work quite well.
  • If you have to ignore some notes to get through a song, favor the red (snare) and kick drum (pedal). These are the crucial ones to keep the beat and, if you're playing co-op, their absence is more likely to throw off your bandmates than if you miss a cymbal.
  • If you don't want to trigger overdrive, do not hit the oddly shaped green note at the end of a fill section. It's sometimes better to wait until you have it fully charged to unleash it, or - if you're playing co-op - preserve it in case you need to resurrect a bandmate who is faltering.
  • Playing the Rock Band drums on Expert is apparently about the same as playing them in real life. So if you can do it, start a band already! For reasons that should be obvious if you ever hear me play, I won't be taking this path myself. But I will keep rocking out in the game since it is seriously fun!
That's all I have for now. Please feel free to contribute your own tips in comments, and check back in case I have more to add later...



Oh man I hear you on Enter Sandman. I can five star almost all those songs on medium however, Enter Sandman slays me. Failed at 95% once as well. Woo woo.

The other thing that gets me is the long stretches of notes on songs like Next to You and the Bowie song. I think I need to use the alt strum method on these stretches but cant get used to it.


Great post... I'm also addicted to this game. Still can't beat the chilli peppers song snow.


The three finger system will let you down on alot of songs of hard ALOT For instants when play enter sandman you will see alot of green in a row and one point in the song and then suddenly a blue with a orange hammer on note right next to it. There are also many songs in the bonus tour that require you to move your 4 fingers over and keep them there for most of the song. So get use to your index(pointer) finger being at red and try to teach yourself the reach over to green technique. Hard isnt that hard after awhile the orange button doesnt get used too much at first but the Flirting with Disaster song solo on hard is absoulty crazy so if you have trouble with hammer on and strum offs you need to practice this (that basically the whole solo and its really fast) Ive made it through every song on hard but that and i made it threw 24 songs on expert. JUST KEEP TRYING it took me at least 20 trys to make it threw enter sandman on hard


Rockband rocks doesn't it?! I think it's a great game. I have a question tho. How do you switch between playing guitar and playing bass guitar? When you start your character always wears the regular guitar and I don't know how to switch from the regular guitar to the bass guitar... Does someone have an answer on this one?


com'on people. i hear you saying about enter sandman and i just don't want to remember my case. i bought the game 2 weeks ago (one and a half actually) and i've never before played anything similar (guitar hero or so...) and i'm currently playing on hard mode solo tour to unlock all the songs so i can play them with my brother... enter sandman's a SLAUGHTER. i can play most of the songs on expert (i get most of them around 85%) but when i try this on hard it kills me on around 15-20%. medium on this song is pretty easy for me (i easyly reach 95%) but still hard for medium...
another tough song btw is 'outside' which i finally got yesterday on hard after 4 days of efforts...

i little 'trick' i found that might help a few people (mostly on hard) is when you see a streak of notes with no space inbetween them (green-red-yellow not green-yellow-blue, you get my point) if they are 'small' (these notes that you can hit without strumming) it's easier to just do it with one finger, the one you began the streak with, and don't lift it from the fret buttons just dragg it down through all the notes


I had RB #1 for a while and then i stopped playing it. My brother recently wanted to take it at his house and since then we've started to play it quite often at his house. But i quickly found that Easy was waaaay too easy for me (no challenge to get 100%). So i started playing on medium. I'm actually pretty good at it, i use the 4 finger technique but my problem is the Red-Blue notes because with the four finger technique thats my middle & pinky finger. My problem is on my left ive jammed and screwed up my fingers years ago while i was a WR in high school so i can't lower my middle & pinky fingers without lowering my ring finger as well. Its physically impossible for me. Well not impossible because i can do it if i try really really hard but you dont have that kind of time when you play this game. What i try to do is slid my fingers down a fret for those notes so its my index & ring fingers. That works but sometimes i dont have enough time to do so.

The most tiring song i played so far was "Snow (Hey Oh)" by Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Holy cow is that a pain. 1st time it was impossible for me to do. Then i went into practice mode and tried it out starting at 60% and going through each % once to try and get the notes down. I was only practicing the intro figuring that was the hardest part. Then i went to go play it for real and i got the intro down much to my surprise, but i didnt realize 80% of the song is that same set of notes haha. I made it through and now i'm quite good at it.

My only problem is getting my Star mode to work, or whatever you call it where you have to tilt the guitar. My meter will be full and i'll flip the guitar up and nothing will happen. Sometimes i'll have the full meter for a whole song because it wont work for me. I thought it was just my guitar being old (even though it was hardly used) but my brother got a brand new guitar and its the same for him. Why is that?

Leave a comment

Join Busy Gamers
on Facebook

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gamewatcher published on December 31, 2007 1:20 PM.

Wii Virtual Console - Bubble Bobble was the previous entry in this blog.

Whoa! - Valve wants to fix Orange Box on PS3 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Recent Comments

  • Matt: I had RB #1 for a while and then i read more
  • _JohNy_GR: com'on people. i hear you saying about enter sandman and read more
  • Gamewatcher: In Rock Band 1, the solo game only lets you read more
  • Mandy: Rockband rocks doesn't it?! I think it's a great game. read more
  • supercoolname: The three finger system will let you down on alot read more
  • Alex: Great post... I'm also addicted to this game. Still can't read more
  • Gamewatcher: OK, so today I made Enter Sandman my bitch. Well, read more
  • Gamewatcher: I finally got through Enter Sandman on Medium, but it read more
  • Mike: Oh man I hear you on Enter Sandman. I can read more
  • Gamewatcher: I've collected a few more tips. First, GrrlGotGame reminds me read more