I need to become a Guitar Hero master in 3 months... HELP!
August 26, 2008 5:52 AM   Subscribe

A co-worker and I are having an ultimate Guitar Hero Battle to the death in 3 months time. I need some tips/techniques so I can kick his ass!

After only playing 4 times I am ripping it up (getting ~95% on most songs) on medium, so I fully expect to reach expert level by the end of November (when the battle is). He currently has the advantage as he is already at expert level, but he has more demands on his time than I do so I will have much more time to play, practice and master it than he will before the battle. Also, I have 12+ years of piano training (among other instruments), and am an excellent touch typer, so I have fast accurate fingers, where he has said himself that isn't necessarily his forté.

I just need some tips on how to get really good at it quickly. Anyone know of some great tutorials/lessons/etc online? What songs should I focus on? What are some techniques for playing I wouldn't have thought of? Any tips on how to master the hammer-ons and roll-offs?

Help me beat him because the loser has to buy the other the Aerosmith version of the game, plus have a humiliating sign on their office door for a week explaining how they suck at Guitar Hero.

ps - We are going to be playing Guitar Hero 3, and I have the Wii version. Also, the battle will be that we each choose 5 songs some the set list that we will both play. Whoever gets the most points for the song gets to count it as a win. First person to get 6 wins... well, wins. :)
posted by gwenlister to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
When you move up to Hard and beyond, hold the guitar with your first finger on the red fret, not the green. It's easier to reach up to hit the greens then to shift your entire hand to hit the oranges.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:00 AM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


1) Strum in both directions, instead of just up or just down. It makes the rhythm parts much easier. It takes some getting used to at first, but it's well worth it.

2) Just practice practice practice, man. If you've got two months to practice a few hours a day, you should be a Guitar Hero God by the end, no sweat.

3) There's no real trick to hammer-ons, except to practice the timing.

4) You realize that Hard adds another finger, and Expert adds a buttload of notes, right? Because yeah, they're challenging. I would start on Hard asap.

5) Getting points is an issue of both getting streaks of notes, and timing your Star Power correctly. On the easier songs, Star Power when you have a 3x or 4x multiplier. On the harder songs, I like to star power through solo sections that I can't play perfectly, because going into the yellow really saps your points.
posted by muddgirl at 6:01 AM on August 26, 2008


I found it helpful to not rest the neck of the guitar on my palm but rather support it with my thumb. It's awkward to begin with, but you can move your fingers much faster.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:03 AM on August 26, 2008


Also, I'm sure as a Guitar Hero player you know that whammying longer notes gets you more points. It gets tougher to do on Expert, but points are points.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2008


The jump between Medium and Hard is about 50 times as difficult as the jump between Easy and Medium. But just keep playing whatever and you'll pick it up. Practice your hammer ons- you'll need them
posted by GilloD at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2008


Second muddgirl's advice - move up to Hard right away, and start strumming in both directions. Choose your songs early and practice them to death, and practice the rest of the really brutal ones so you can at least hold your own. Be ready to deal with songs from the bonus tracks section too. Ideally, pick some bonus tracks yourself.
posted by pocams at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2008


"Also, I'm sure as a Guitar Hero player you know that whammying longer notes gets you more points. It gets tougher to do on Expert, but points are points."

This is not correct. The whammy only gives you more star power on long notes that are for star power.
Otherwise you are just alternating the sound and making the game harder than it needs to be.

/The more you know

I say move to Expert right away because you'll be playing the songs on Expert.
If you can 97% a medium you should be able to pass the first 5 songs on Expert after a few tries, if not on the first try.

Don't be afraid to use practice mode to nail the solo sections after you have the rest of the song down. Getting big scores is all about consistency and keeping that 4x rolling.
posted by zephyr_words at 6:40 AM on August 26, 2008


I wouldn't skip all the way to Expert (it'll be too frustrating), but I would move up to Hard ASAP- as noted, it's a major jump because you're adding another note you can't reach naturally.
posted by mkultra at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2008


Let the whole weight of the guitar be supported by the neck strap so that your hands are free to strum and shift.

Hitting the orange key is not about stretching. I use 2 positions for my left hand. The 'home position' which is what you usually use for Easy - Medium songs and 2nd position where your pinky is on orange and your and your index finger is on red. Shift up when you need to hit an orange and shift down when you need to hit a green.
Once you shift into 2nd you'll have to ... rethink your finger placement, but keep it up there until you see a green coming up, and then shift down. Many songs seem to be written for 2 separate positions. It takes practice getting used to 2nd position but being able to shift and staying shifted is really what divides the good from the bad.
I know some excellent players who will consistently get 100% on Medium but still can't move up to hard because they can't comprehend shifting and figure the only way to hit orange is to stretch.

Also, hammer-ons are your friend. =)
posted by simplethings at 6:58 AM on August 26, 2008


The jump between Medium and Hard is about 50 times as difficult as the jump between Easy and Medium.

I'll second this. Medium is actually pretty easy. Easy mode is just a longer tutorial. When you play hard you need to use five buttons which is a challenge. You'll find that in hard you'll have to use practice mode a lot to learn the tough passages. Expert is another jump. Your friend has a huge advantage on you. I suggest you start practicing on hard as soon as possible.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:58 AM on August 26, 2008


We are going to be playing Guitar Hero 3, and I have the Wii version.

I assume then that you'll be using the Wii version for the competition? If not, you should definitely be doing all your practice on whatever system will be used.
posted by inigo2 at 6:59 AM on August 26, 2008


5) Getting points is an issue of both getting streaks of notes, and timing your Star Power correctly.

Seconding this. Two perfectly equal players can end up with drastically different scores depending on when star power is deployed. If you're able to put reasonably long streaks together, maximizing the time you're scoring 8x during star power is a huge point bonus.

Look for the sections of each song you're going to be playing that lets you hit the most notes at the highest multiplier possible. It may be worth more points to score 8x on an easy section with few notes than 2x during a difficult solo.
posted by Adam_S at 7:12 AM on August 26, 2008


If you've got that much time to practice, I would follow most of the above advice, but also consider, if you're making good progress, having this ace up your sleeve:

Practice the hell out of either (or, time permitting, multiple) "One", "Raining Blood", and/or "Through the Fire and Flames." Odds are, he's only played these enough to beat them, if even, and if you can get a leg up on these, it's almost a guaranteed win. Of the three, "One" is reasonably easy to beat if you Star Power through the hardest part (right after the dugata-dugata-DA part). The other two are going to take serious, serious practice to beat.

But if you have those three mastered, he's going to have a huge hole to climb out of. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2008


5) Getting points is an issue of both getting streaks of notes, and timing your Star Power correctly. On the easier songs, Star Power when you have a 3x or 4x multiplier. On the harder songs, I like to star power through solo sections that I can't play perfectly, because going into the yellow really saps your points.

I would do the exact opposite—save your star power for sections where you can reliably get a 4x multiplier, assuming there are enough notes to make it worthwhile. The best places for star power are long 2- and 3-note chord sections, especially if you have to strum fast. Lots of easy notes = lots of points. Going into the yellow has no effect on your score, it just means you're closer to failing the song.

You have to strum up and down to deal with Expert difficulty. Start doing that as soon as you can so you can get used to it. Most GH players hold the strum bar between their thumb and index finger to do this and only use their thumb for slower rhythm sections (strumming slow chords and such).

You also have to be able to shift your hand up and down. It takes a lot of playing to get used to doing that without losing your place on the neck. Usually it's preferable to shift your hand than to use your pinky.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs aren't terribly difficult but if you use them a lot you do have to be a lot more consistent since missing a single note means you're probably going to miss a bunch more after that until you strum again.

Scorewise, getting long streaks is a lot more important than getting a higher note% on a song. Getting and keeping your 4x multiplier is crucial; if you can't do that then hitting 2% more notes won't make a noticeable difference in your score.
posted by Khalad at 7:20 AM on August 26, 2008


If you have a fancy TV, make sure your audio is synced perfectly. Check the audio preferences. Up to early medium songs, audio lag is barely noticeable and easily compensated. On later songs (Japan Tour on medium and onwards), that lag can ruin your fret timing royally.

Instead of releasing frets the second you're done with them, learn to hold down whatever frets are the most commonly used in a passage. The second half of 'Knights of Cydonia' is a good example.
posted by spamguy at 7:20 AM on August 26, 2008


Also you can play with an expert-level player at any time if you do the online battles. If you can beat those guys you can probably beat your friend.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:21 AM on August 26, 2008


If you really want to get serious, you need to figure out exactly when to trigger the star power so you cover the most notes with the maximum multiplier (as others have mentioned). This has already been worked out by people on the Score Hero forums (see the Star Power FAQs section), so you might want to check that out (and for general advice as well).

You'll need to be able to play the song at near-100% accuracy first, though, for this to be the most useful.
posted by dixie flatline at 7:23 AM on August 26, 2008


Wow! A lot of awesome suggestions! The hand position shifting I wouldn't have thought of but definitely will do. And good uses of star power is a good point. Keep 'em coming!!

as for "Through Fire and Flames", he has said that if I can complete the song in expert then it is an immediate win. LOL I somehow doubt it is possible though. ;)
posted by gwenlister at 7:24 AM on August 26, 2008


Also, the rankings on Score Hero could be useful for your song strategy selection. You may have an advantage if you can choose less popular songs where your relative ranking on Score Hero is higher.
posted by dixie flatline at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2008


It's possible, if you believe the videos. If that's an instant win, I would devote time to that song.

Obviously completion is important, and if you were asking how to get better at the game I would say to focus on that.

Find out if there are any songs he can't finish. And if there are any, find out how far into them he can get. And then get further, or get more points. Because from the rules that I've read, the score is what's important in your competition and not completing songs.

Also, see if you can figure out what songs he will pick. With 48 options not counting bonus songs, the odds of blind guessing don't look to good. Even when you adjust that to 43 to compensate for the 5 songs you'll be picking. So if you know what he's likely to pick the practicing those songs will be to your advantage.

But really, focus on the scores. I'm making numbers up here so don't use them as a gauge for anything. But, if you can get a higher score on Through the Fire and Flames getting only 33% through the song than you can on Talk Dirty to Me when you complete it, Through the Fire and Flames might be a better choice.
posted by theichibun at 7:43 AM on August 26, 2008


We are going to be playing Guitar Hero 3, and I have the Wii version.

Its worth noting that there's a real home field advantage here. I played the xbox version for a while and switched to the Wii version recently. The wii version just feels so different that it threw me for a loop for a while. I suggest you guys play on your individual setups and just compare scores.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2008


the score is what's important in your competition and not completing songs

Well, yes and no. Completion is a requirement unless NEITHER of us complete it, at which point it is the percent completed that gets the win. (ie. if I get 32% of the way through Through Fire and Flames and he only gets 28% then I get the win for that song). I may ask him, though if it can be a score-always situation, and that completion isn't necessairy... good idea. :)
posted by gwenlister at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2008


I suggest you guys play on your individual setups and just compare scores

Yeah, we thought about that as well. The plan is the 5 songs I choose we play on my console (Wii) and the 5 songs he chose we play on his console (Xbox 360 I believe). That way we are both equally hindered/benefited.
posted by gwenlister at 7:51 AM on August 26, 2008


Hmm, have you considered picking 5 random songs? That way neither of you can just practice the same 5 songs. You can pick 5 random numbers easily from here. Just number every song.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:07 AM on August 26, 2008


Hmm, have you considered picking 5 random songs? That way neither of you can just practice the same 5 songs.

We could, but I think we're firm in that I choose 5 and he chooses 5, each to be played by both players on the console of the chooser. If there is overlap between our choices then we will have to choose new ones from our respective back-up selections, but with this many songs available it isn't super likely that we'll need to come to that.


Also, after entering negotiations just now, we have agreed that if one person fails to complete a song but still earns more points than the person who did complete it it still counts as a win for the person who earned more points. So points are incredibly important.
posted by gwenlister at 8:20 AM on August 26, 2008


Just a follow-up regarding TTFAF:

If you can beat the intro, you can beat the song. Almost certainly. It's hard, very very hard, in fact, but not even the most finger-taxing thing in the game (I'd argue that Mosh 1 in Raining Blood is tougher). It's just that it requires you to do one of two things that up until this song, were not part of the standard plan of attack.

1. Hold down the green button with your index finger and HO/PO the remaining four buttons with your other three fingers. I think there are a few instances of this elsewhere (Knights of Cydonia) but you're not really *required* to play it like that in the way that TTFAF requires you to due to speed and complexity.

2. Elbow strumming/double tapping. This, depending on your tastes, looks extremely stupid/extremely badass. In short, you use both hands on the frets, (usually 1,2,3/4,5 or 1,2/3,4,5) and strum with your elbow. Trickier to get going with, but probably the easier way to succeed once you get the hang of it.

Once you can get through the intro, the rest of the song is no harder than the hardest bits of the rest of the game. If winning is all that matters to you, and your friend will actually honor the terms of the contest that gives you an auto-win for beating this, I would do nothing but practice this for the next two months.

If the spirit of competition moves you, or you think that listening to the song on "Slowest" for the next three months might drive you nuts, I'd steer clear.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:28 AM on August 26, 2008


In case you didn't know, just like a regular guitar, you are not penalized for holding down frets lower than the one you need to hit, except for on chords. Like, if you need to hit orange, you can actually hold down all 5 fret buttons and as long as you strum when you're supposed to, you're fine. However, if you need to play an RGB chord, you need to fret exactly RGB and strum. This helps a little because you can continue to hold down notes that you know you'll hit again later in the phrase instead of one note at a time.

Also, practice mode where you can't fail, slow the difficult phrases down, and memorize the notes.

Know how the songs go.
posted by knowles at 12:47 PM on August 26, 2008


I suggest you guys play on your individual setups and just compare scores

Yeah, we thought about that as well. The plan is the 5 songs I choose we play on my console (Wii) and the 5 songs he chose we play on his console (Xbox 360 I believe). That way we are both equally hindered/benefited.
Are the scoring engines and song patterns on each console identical?
posted by madh at 9:03 PM on August 26, 2008


I think you should pick your 5 songs extremely carefully. I'd find some that are obscure (not the most popular, not in your friend's favorite style of music) so he's less likely to have practiced them intently.

Look for some songs with unusual rhythms (triplets, shuffle, etc.) Your piano training will make them easier for you and he'll be at a disadvantage.

Pick some that seem easy but turn out to be way harder than you expect in Expert mode. He'll be less likely to have practiced them because he thinks they're easy.
posted by mmoncur at 11:01 PM on August 26, 2008


Yeah, we thought about that as well. The plan is the 5 songs I choose we play on my console (Wii) and the 5 songs he chose we play on his console (Xbox 360 I believe). That way we are both equally hindered/benefited.

madh: Are the scoring engines and song patterns on each console identical?


It doesn't matter as we will BOTH be playing the song on the same console. So if I choose Paint it Black then we both play it on my Wii and compare scores. Then if he chooses Black Magic Woman we both play it on his 360 and compare scores. :)


I'd find some that are obscure (not the most popular, not in your friend's favorite style of music) so he's less likely to have practiced them intently.

Look for some songs with unusual rhythms (triplets, shuffle, etc.) Your piano training will make them easier for you and he'll be at a disadvantage.


Ahh, good plan. While I moved up to playing on Hard last night I still think, even in the 3 months he gave me, he'll have a bit of advantage. Stuff like song choice I think is going to make the difference.
posted by gwenlister at 4:32 AM on August 27, 2008


Its worth noting that the longer songs have more notes thus are worth more points. Your pal could pick the 5 longest songs and beat you even if he performed worse. I'd pick the exact same 5 songs.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:45 AM on August 27, 2008


I'd pick the exact same 5 songs.

I guess I'm not explaining it well LOL. How it is working that we will each play 10 songs, 5 that I pick and 5 that he picks. We will both play our own selections AND the selections of the other person so that stuff like that can't happen. :) It also makes it so that we both have to be good at basically all the songs because we don't know which 5 the other person is going to choose. If we spent our time memorizing and mastering just our 5 songs and ignoring the rest we would probably suck on the other person's song selections.
posted by gwenlister at 9:15 AM on August 27, 2008


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