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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Filed under Fake Plastic Musical Instrument Mod, Guitar Hero, Rock Band