September 5, 2009
The Schecter-alike fake plastic axe introduced with Guitar Hero: World Tour was (and is!) one of my favorite fake plastic guitars, ever.
The Guitar Hero 5 guitar looks nearly identical to its older sibling — and it is identical in shape and size — but there are some key differences if you look closely.
(warning: I have received direct reports that the Guitar Hero 5 guitar package in Europe does not include the new, updated guitar model, but instead substitutes the same old World Tour guitar. If you’re in Europe, double check before buying!)
Obviously, the faceplates are different. The GH5 faceplate offers a faux metallic red with white pickguard. It looks OK in static photos, but it does not look very good in person, in my opinion — it’s trying a bit too hard to be something it clearly isn’t. Plus, I have made my own real metallic faceplates and they look a zillion times cooler than this cheesy photoshop printing effect.
But that’s purely cosmetic, an issue of taste and preference, and anyway the faceplates are designed to be easily swapped out. Let’s move on to the real differences.
For one thing, the pegs on the headstock are now chrome!
I used a silver sharpie to achieve a similar chroming effect on my other guitars, but it doesn’t look nearly as good as the factory chrome effect. A nice detail touch.
The strumbar, star power button, and navigation control are all rubberized now. This is hard to show in photos, but immediately obvious when you handle the guitar. Notice how the area around the strumbar is very shiny while the strum itself is flat and matte — it’s rubberized!
Allow me to explain using the Xbox 360 controller as a point of reference: the old strumbar was hard smooth plastic like the controller triggers; the new strumber is rubberized plastic like the analog sticks.
The touchpad has gone from analog to digital, and now features embossed marks at each end and in the middle, so you can more easily “feel” where you are on the touchpad. The colored dots on top of the neck (cleverly printed on both side for lefties or righties) are also new, and way more logical than printing the colors on the surface of the touchpad where you can’t even seen them while playing!
While the jury’s still out on the overall usefulness of the touchpad in the big scheme of things, these changes definitely make it easier and more effective to use than the older model.
Beyond that, the guitar fret buttons look and feel unchanged. They are identical.
There is, however, one major change that isn’t visible from the outside — the internals of the strum have changed in a big way for the Guitar Hero 5 guitar.
The World Tour guitar had sophisticated leaf-switch activation, with two springs physically attached to the strum to provide centering force and resistance.
The Guitar Hero 5 guitar, on the other hand, has reverted to the classic, and much simpler, Les Paul switch mechanism. No springs, no fancy leaf switches, back to simple plastic digital switches exactly as in the GH3 Les Paul.
(The above photo is from a Les Paul, because I forgot to take photos when I disassembled my GH5 guitar. Anyway, the GH5 switches are identical in shape, size and function except they are two physical parts instead of one.)
This is probably the most dramatic change to the GH5 guitar, and definitely changes the “feel” of the strum. How you react to this will depend how you feel about the Les Paul strum action versus the GH:WT guitar strum action. After spending some time with both models, I slightly prefer the smoother, frictionless action of the fancy spring-tensioned GH:WT strum — but I can see why people might want a basic digital switch strum, too.
Anyway, that’s probably way more detail than you ever needed. I can’t believe you even read this far!
At any rate, now you’re equipped to go forth and decide on the fake plastic guitar that best fits your play style.