November 9, 2008

Guitar Hero: World Tour Guitar — Best Fake Plastic Axe Ever?

Although I have mixed feelings about Guitar Hero: World Tour, there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure of — the new GH:WT guitar is, without a doubt, the best fake plastic guitar ever.


As I’ve mentioned before, the GH:WT guitar is technically unlicensed and “generic”, but appears to be based on the Schechter Classic.

Although the original Rock Band Stratocaster was a deeply flawed controller*, it had some great ideas. It appears the Red Octane team took those ideas to heart when building the successor to Guitar Hero III’s Les Paul. I feel the GH:WT guitar combines the best aspects of the RB strat and the GH3 Les Paul to create a fake plastic guitar superweapon:

  • Like the RB Strat, it’s substantially larger, so it feels a bit more like a real guitar.
  • The strum bar is almost twice as long, and feels much more “locked in”. There’s no play in the strumbar whatsoever this time around, and the up/down movements are rock solid. This is reminiscent of the RB Strat strumbar. Fair warning: it is extra clicky, which I personally prefer. If I had to point to one element that felt the most improved on the guitar, it would be the fantastic new strumbar. It’s a completely different strumbar design internally, totally unlike all previous GH guitars. I honestly feel that the new strumbar helps me play better.
  • The large, rectangular activation button that rests directly under your palm gives you an easy alternative to tilting the guitar to activate star power. For what it’s worth, both GH:WT guitars we own are more consistent with tilt activation than the LPs. Still, some players (and some guitars) have a lot of trouble with the tilt mechanic, so it’s great to have a viable alternative to activate while playing.
  • Continuing with the “bigger is better” theme, the whammy bar is much, much larger — almost twice as large! It makes the LP whammy look teeny-tiny in comparison. I believe this is another item they cribbed from the RB Strat design.
  • The buttons appear unchanged, to my fingers, but there is the alternative touch-sensitive pad on the neck. The touchpad is only active when playing GH:WT itself, and even then only in specific guitar solos — the notes with the purple rope connecting them. I definitely prefer the analog touchpad to the oddball solo fret buttons on the RB Strat; at least this is offering an interesting analog alternative to yet another set of small digital buttons. Note that “taps” on the touchpad are equivalent to strums at all times (in GH:WT anyway) so you can tap-strum notes if you like, too. It’s fun to mess around with, but probably not a serious form of playing fake plastic rock.
  • It’s a small detail, but I like the way the d-pad and xbox button are now integrated into a single “tuning knob”. Overall the guitar looks more guitarlike, with fewer obvious game controller buttons.

In this fake plastic guitarist’s book, the new GH:WT guitar blows the previous king of the hill — the GH3 Les Paul — out of the water!

Of course, no fake plastic guitar is complete without some modifications, and here are the first three modifications I did to our GH:WT guitars immediately after buying them:

  1. I added some weights to give the guitars more realistic “heft”. I still say this is one of the best, if not the best “bang for the buck” mod you can do.
  2. I used my white lithium grease crayon to lubricate the buttons. You’d be astonished how much this reduces button noise — easily 50% quiter, and smoother movement as well. I also lubricated the strum hinges while I was in there, but it comes fairly well lubricated out of the box, so that one’s for completionists only.
  3. I used a silver metallic sharpie to add some faux metal flair to the fretboard and pegs. This one is totally easy, and it looks great!

If you’d like to perform similar mods on your guitar controller, refer to my guitar disassembly guide. Note that the screws on the GH:WT guitar body are under the faceplate, which you can detach by unlocking via the switch on the rear, and then pulling it firmly by the neck attachment area. The lack of screw holes on the back does make for a nice, seamless rear body, too.

I don’t think they’re selling the GH:WT guitar by itself, yet, but even if you have no interest in the GH:WT game, it might be worth picking up a single guitar bundle just to get the killer new guitar! Although I still prefer RB2 overall, GH:WT has some great songs in it and a few interesting innovations that are worth playing for yourself.

* To be fair, the RB2 Strat is a much, much better controller. I still don’t think it’s as good as the GH3 LP or the GH:WT guitar, but it’s a totally respectable fake plastic guitar controller this time around. I couldn’t even play with the RB1 strat it was so bad!

Although I completely agree with you, I do have a question that you may be able to answer.

I am having a lot of trouble with this new guitar, but I am unsure that it is any technical issue. When I am using the GH:WT guitar, the buttons sometimes seem to “stick.” I am unsure if that is the correct term to use, but the result is that I find it difficult to hit fast changing note sections without missing at least one out of every four or five notes. Oddly, this seems to happen in RB2 more than GH:WT, though it may just be coincidence. Is it possible it’s just because it is still new and needs to be “worked in?” Should I be worried? Or is it possible I just need to do the lubrication mod on the buttons? I don’t think it matters, but as a note, before switching to this guitar I was still using the wired Xbox 360 Guitar Hero 2 control.

December 16, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Well this inspired me to take apart my own guitar. Unless I made sure to press down the frets in the center, they would rub against the bottom and would not necessarily fire. I was unable to find the grease crayons anywhere. Eventually I went to a local pepboys and bought a liquid version that came in a tube. I have a star t-10 screwdriver around the house and took the guitar apart. What I found was one more star screw… only this on was not the t-10. Also, it was the one screw keeping me from greasing the frets. Anyway what ended up working for the inner screw was a T-6 size. First tests have everything working much better, and no problems with sticking frets.

December 24, 2008 at 7:33 pm

IanAKAIan, glad to hear lubricating the frets worked! Tim, I definitely would recommend the lithium grease crayon treatment on the button edges. It’s quite a difference before and after.

Jeff Atwood
December 24, 2008 at 8:11 pm

I like the guitar but I find that my strum bar sticks from time to time. I also prefered the RB 1 Strat silinced strum bar. I got into tapping all the notes in songs with the sticking strum bar but it was to easy that way and less authentic.

January 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm

hi im a guitar hero fanatic and my fav guitar is the les paul. i recently received world tour as a gift with the guitar and it has a few problems, i found that the whammy bar squeeks a little and the strum bar squeeks alot but im not too morried about that, my main issue is that when you strum down, the guitar doesnt register all of the strums, it gets all of the up strums but not the down ones, i wanted to try to fix this because i called red octane and even know its still under warranty, they want 12$ for shipping and handling so i would rather fix it myself. after i took the faceplate off and got all the torque screws out, there were 4 more very small looking ones that are silver right by the neck. does anyone know what kind of screws and what size they are? thanks

February 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I’m glad I have the ability to leave a comment; I was just browsing around websites.
The Guitar Hero World Tour guitar seems great and all fancy with its color and sharp looks but beware!
The paint on the guitar has no glossy finish so the paint peels off with a scratch, eventhough the faceplate is removable, who is going to go out and but one realisticly?
Secondly the slide bar really is a pain for you may notice they take the full room of a fret right, should be rite, rite? WRONG!
When you are actually using the buttons you may notice that your finger is only using about 3/5ths of the fret for the button only takes that ammount, so your finger cooralation is wrong.
THIRD The buttons are a bit harder to press down, this is a great factor for those who are post-expert and love soloing.
FORTH The strum bar slowly but surely looses its “precise” strumming and leaves you with about 3/4 of an inch to strum, unrealistic!
But the whammy bar is a good part, though it’s just a whammy. only good for star power.
I use the GH2 controller for PS2 over the new World Tour one.
Altered the strummer of the GH2 Strummer, took away about 1mm of play. Works GREAT!
I’ll tell you how to do this simple trick of taking the play out of your strummer at
Any comments please email me at
Please tell me why you agree/disagree upon my verdict.
April 6, 2009 at 9:26 am

I must agree that the WT guitar is an excellent guitar, although in the reliability category, I have found my GH3 Les Paul to be the best. I’ve had my GH3 guitar for almost 2 years now, stick works great! My WT guitar is sitting on my desk all opened waiting for me to buy a new strum bar switch because the game won’t register any downward strums (I mostly use downwards.) I must say that my GH3 guitar and my GH:WT guitar (when working) beat the SHIT out of either Rock Band 1/2 guitars. I absolutely despise the strum bar on both of them. I can never tell whether I hit something or not because there is no feedback. You jsut move this little knob down till it hits the guitar and hope it strummed. I personally like the click feeling. It makes me feel like I hit a string on a real guitar instead of playing air guitar (like RB and RB2) with no feedback. The WT guitar had some amazing improvements, but my GH3 guitar is still more reliable

May 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

yeah right, i have this guitar and i hate it with a passion! the buttons work fine but there is one problem, the strum bar barely works!! i would love it if the combined the world tour guitar with the les paul. with the neck of the world tour and the strum bar of the les paul, except make it a little longer. and improve on the slider because i hate that too :) lol

June 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

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