August 9, 2009

Mad Catz Wireless Bass Review

I recently broke down and purchased one of the new second generation Mad Catz Wireless Fender Precision Bass Guitar Replicas. (Yep, this was the other part of the package deal with the guitar pedal.)

The first version of the bass was wired and … frankly, a little buggy, based on player feedback. But the general design, shape, and functionality of this new bass is the same as the older model, so this promotional video for the original wired bass can give an idea of what the Mad Catz Precision Bass Guitar is all about:

I love the idea of a fake plastic bass guitar, rather than the generic “guitars” included with every game to date. So when the wired model came out, I was sorely tempted! But once I saw the so-so expert bass player feedback on the first wired Bass model, I decided to pass.

The second version of the Bass addresses all the major complaints with the first model. I finally felt comfortable adding the new, revised model to my stable of fake plastic axes. Oh, and it’s wireless, the way it should have been originally. And it’s a great looking fake plastic bass, in my opinion:

fender-precision-wireless-bass-full

fender-precision-wireless-bass-body

fender-precision-wireless-bass-headstock

It’s available in White and Hot Rod Red, but I went with Sea Foam Green because, well, it’s an awesome color.

It’s hard to tell from my pictures, but it is also quite large at 84% scale. A real bass guitar would only be about 15% bigger than what you see here.

I scanned in the manual so you can get an idea of the features.

mad-catz-wireless-bass-manual-1-small

I’ve had it for two days and run it through its paces in both Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour (gotta love that open bass note!).

Most importantly, I can personally confirm that this new model is eminently playable on Expert. I am a decent Expert guitarist, and I did not feel at any time that the Mad Catz Bass was significantly impeding my performance; I was able to 5-star songs I can normally 5-star. Now, if unlike me you’re a 100%-every-freaking-song kind of expert guitarist, you’re in a different performance class altogether and you might feel differently about any slight change to your guitar of choice.

A few review notes:

  • A fairly nice strap is included. I usually get custom straps for my guitars, but the Fender strap that’s bundled with the Bass is quite nice. It’s wide, soft, and has a cool metallic silver Fender logo pattern.
  • This is definitely a Rock Band 2 style guitar. Meaning, it has a softer and less clicky strum, and the fret buttons on the neck are flat. I’m assuming most people reading this have tried both the classic Guitar Hero style guitars (Les Paul or newer) and Rock Band 2 style guitars by now. If you have strong feelings about which style is better, consider yourself warned. Note that I’m referring to the good updated RB2 guitars, not the godawful RB1 guitars.
  • It is larger than most guitars. Specifically, the neck and buttons may take more reaching than what you’re used to. My wife and I had no trouble adapting to it, but if you’re looking for a guitar for younger kids, this might not be a good choice.
  • The split strum. One of the attractions of the bass is the split strum so you can play “authentically” as a bassist, by plucking up with both fingers. This does work, and is fun as a diversion, but it’s a rather different strumming style that I had trouble adapting to. The good news is that you can ignore the split strum entirely and play with either ‘half’ of the strum no problem. So consider it an optional feature, something to experiment with. On some of the more boring and repetitive bass songs, this is a plus!
  • The lack of whammy bar. The whammy bar has become a “whammy knob”. As you can see in the manual scan, above, it’s below and to the left of the strum. This makes it really hard to use except on exceptionally long hold notes, since you have to take your hand off the strum to use it! It’s workable, barely, but if whammy is a big part of your regular guitar/bass play style, you will hate this. I consider the weird positioning of the whammy the only true negative of the P-Bass.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with my Mad Catz Wireless Precision Bass Replica. I can definitely recommend it — as long as you’re generally cool with the Rock Band 2 style of guitar, and the unusual positioning of the whammy.

(The only mod I performed on the P-Bass was to add weights to it; it’s almost a modded guitar by definition. I can’t stand weightless fake plastic axes any more, the lack of ‘heft’ somehow makes them feel even more insubstantial than they already are.)

As far as I’m concerned, having a purpose-built Bass fake plastic axe makes Bass that much more interesting to play. And anything that makes Bass more fun … well, that’s worth exploring!

August 5, 2009

Guitar Hero: Van Halen Song List

Details on Guitar Hero: Van Halen have been sketchy at best. But now, we have the full track list! It’s 47 songs: 28 by Van Halen, and 19 from artists … er, “inspired by” Van Halen.


guitar-hero-van-halen-logo

Update: the first trailer was just released, too.

Van Halen Tracks

Ain’t Talkin Bout Love
And The Cradle Will Rock
Atomic Punk
Beautiful Girls
Cathedral (solo)
Dance The Night Away
Eruption (solo)
Everybody Wants Some
Feel Your Love Tonight
Hang ‘Em High
Hear About It Later
Hot For Teacher
Ice Cream Man
I’m The One
Jamie’s Cryin
Jump
Little Guitars
Loss Of Control
Mean Street
Panama
Pretty Woman
Romeo Delight
Running With The Devil
So This Is Love
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Spanish Fly (solo)
Unchained
You Really Got Me
Tracks by Other Artists
Alter Bridge – Come To Life
Billy Idol – White Wedding
Blink-182 – First Date
Deep Purple – Space Truckin
Foo Fighters – Best Of You
Foreigner – Double Vision
Fountains of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom
Jimmy Eat World – Pain
Judas Priest – Painkiller
Killswitch Engage – The End Of Heartache
Lenny Kravitz – Rock And Roll Is Dead
Queen – I Want It All
Queens of the Stone Age – Sick, Sick, Sick
Tenacious D – Master Exploder
The Clash – Safe European Home
The Offspring – Pretty Fly For A White Guy
Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life
Weezer – Dope Nose
Yellowcard – The Takedown

(click through to see YouTube videos of any song, if you’re not familiar with it.)

Release is scheduled for the incredibly odd date of December 22nd, 2009. Which means it’ll effectively miss the holiday buying season completely. Maybe that’s a good thing.

In a season of The Beatles: Rock Band (September 9th) and Guitar Hero 5 (September 1st), not to mention the previously released Guitar Hero: Metallica and Guitar Hero: Smash Hits … the Fake Plastic Rock market is definitely starting to get a wee bit crowded out there.

August 3, 2009

Guitar Hero Tattoo

I was searching around the internet and stumbled across this picture of a Guitar Hero tattoo.

guitar-hero-tattoo

It’s fairly tasteful, as these things go, just the archetypal 5 colored guitar buttons as geometric outlines. But to get them tattooed on your arm — now that’s dedication to your craft!

I did a little searching around and found the source of the image. Cool tattoo!

July 31, 2009

Guitar Hero 5 Song List Revealed

The full Guitar Hero 5 song list was finally unveiled.

guitar-hero-5-kit

3 Doors Down – “Kryptonite”
Arctic Monkeys – “Brianstorm”
Blink-182 – “The Rock Show”
Dire Straits – “Sultans Of Swing”
Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed American”
Johnny Cash – “Ring Of Fire”
Megadeth – “Sweating Bullets”
Mötley Crüe – “Looks That Kill”
Muse – “Plug In Baby”
Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Queen & David Bowie – “Under Pressure”
Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”
The Killers – “All The Pretty Faces”
The Raconteurs – “Steady As She Goes”
TV On The Radio – “Wolf Like Me”
A Perfect Circle – “Judith”
AFI – “Medicate”
Attack! Attack! UK – “You And Me”
Band Of Horses – “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands”
Beastie Boys – “Gratitude”
Beck – “Gamma Ray”
Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself”
Billy Squier – “Lonely Is The Night”
Blur – “Song 2”
Bob Dylan – “All Along The Watchtower”
Bon Jovi – “You Give Love A Bad Name”
Brand New – “Sowing Season (Yeah)”
The Bronx – “Six Days A Week”
Bush – “Comedown”
Children Of Bodom – “Done With Everything, Die For Nothing”
Coldplay – “In My Place”
Darker My Love – “Blue Day”
Darkest Hour – “Demon(s)”
David Bowie – “Fame”
Deep Purple – “Woman From Tokyo (’99 Remix)”
The Derek Trucks Band – “Younk Funk”
The Duke Spirit – “Send A Little Love Token”
Duran Duran – “Hungry Like The Wolf”
Eagles Of Death Metal – “Wannabe In L.A.”
Elliott Smith – “L.A.”
Elton John – “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”
Face To Face – “Disconnected”
Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.”
Gov’t Mule – “Streamline Woman”
Grand Funk Railroad – “We’re An American Band”
Iggy Pop – “Lust For Life (Live)”
Iron Maiden – “2 Minutes To Midnight”
Jeff Beck – “Scatterbrain (Live)”
John Mellencamp – “Hurts So Good”
Kaiser Chiefs – “Never Miss A Beat”
King Crimson – “21st Century Schizoid Man”
Kings Of Leon – “Sex On Fire”
Kiss – “Shout It Out Loud”
Love and Rockets – “Mirror People”
My Morning Jacket – “One Big Holiday”
Nirvana – “Lithium (Live)”
No Doubt – “Ex-Girlfriend”
Peter Frampton – “Do You Feel Like We Do? (Live)”
The Police – “So Lonely”
Public Enemy Featuring Zakk Wylde – “Bring the Noise 20XX”
Queens Of The Stone Age – “Make It Wit Chu”
Rammstein – “Du Hast”
The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For The Devil”
Rose Hill Drive – “Sneak Out”
Rush – “The Spirit Of Radio (Live)”
Santana – “No One To Depend On (Live)”
Scars On Broadway – “They Say”
Screaming Trees – “Nearly Lost You”
Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
Spacehog – “In The Meantime”
Sublime – “What I Got”
Sunny Day Real Estate – “Seven”
T. Rex – “20th Century Boy”
The Sword – “Maiden, Mother & Crone”
Thin Lizzy – “Jailbreak”
Thrice – “Deadbolt”
Tom Petty – “Runnin’ Down A Dream”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “American Girl”
Vampire Weekend – “A-Punk”
Weezer – “Why Bother?”
The White Stripes – “Blue Orchid”
Wild Cherry – “Play That Funky Music”
Wolfmother – “Back Round”

(click through to see YouTube videos of any song, if you’re not familiar with it.)

The game is scheduled for release September 1st on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and Playstation 2.

Note that the game does include a slightly revamped and enhanced guitar, with changes detailed by IGN:

guitar-hero-5-guitar

  • new faceplate
  • chrome pegs (no more silver metallic sharpie mod needed!)
  • more durable strum switches
  • textured strumbar
  • completely revamped digital slider touchpad

The basic design of the guitar has obviously not changed, so it’s a few tweaks and improvements to the internals. The major slider touchpad changes are definitely good news, as the old analog sliders were so touchy and finicky I’m not sure anyone ended up using them.

There are also improved drums, although I don’t know how anyone can get them quite yet — as there are no band kits available for pre-order, just the guitar and game combo:

July 28, 2009

How to Look Hot While Playing Rock Band (or Guitar Hero)

This video, How to Look Hot While Playing Rock Band is … well, hilarious.

I am only posting this for fun, of course, but there is some actual truth here underneath the silly glitz:

  1. Dress the part — like a rocker!
  2. Trick out your guitars or drumpads with decals.
  3. Be a hot chick. (err…)
  4. Adjust your strap to the right length when playing guitar.
  5. Learn to hold the drumsticks correctly.
  6. Grip the mic passionately with both hands.
  7. When playing bass, try alternate strumming.
  8. Pick an easy level so you can play confidently.
  9. Practice some moves for your solos.
  10. Save your bandmates with overdrive when you can.
  11. Serenade a target.

Let’s put this in context — it’s more important to have fun than it is to stress out about how you look while playing fake plastic instruments. But I do have to say that a few of these style tips are not bad, and could make you look slightly less dorky when you are exercising your God given right to Fake Plastic Rock!

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