One of the best ways to learn how to play the guitar is to use the game Rocksmith. Although it doesn’t offer the same experience as an in-person trainer, it does turn the educational process into a fun, shareable moment.
When people are having fun, they are more likely to continue practicing. The interactive way you learn while playing Rocksmith encourages that process!
Whether you got the bug from the Rock Band series, the Guitar Hero series, or watching someone else play, Rocksmith brings you to a real guitar.
Although the instrument design is excellent for the game, setting up the technology to perform is a different story.
You need a Real Tone Cable to connect the instrument to the game.
How to Play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable
The Real Tone Cable from Rocksmith is a 1/4-inch standard guitar jack on one end and a USB connection on the other. This design lets you connect the guitar to your gaming console. By replicating this cable’s outputs, you can still play the instrument in the game.
Although Rocksmith is still for sale, you’ll find the game in the bargain rack at most stores. We are far from the days when you’d need to go to eBay to pay up to double for the instrument and the Real Tone Cable.
We don’t always talk about how our electronics and connectors are consumables from a music industry perspective. You will need to replace the cords for your guitar one day because they’ll eventually wear out.
That fact applies to the Real Tone Cable from Rocksmith.
When you can duplicate the connectors at home, the game still plays with your instrument. You can accomplish this setup in two ways.
- You can purchase a third-party cable that uses the 1/4-inch guitar jack on one side and a USB connection on the other.
- The other option is to use a standard guitar cable with a 1/4-inch jack on both sides and has a USB adapter that works on one end.
When you upgrade to real cords from the Real Tone Cable, you’ll notice a massive improvement in Rocksmith’s gameplay sequences. Although the game’s cable was affordable, it was also designed to be a budget-friendly item.
It delivers an inconsistent experience. You’ll find that it’s worth the money to upgrade if you’re still playing this game today – or you want to give it as a gift to help someone else learn how to play the guitar.
Why Step Away from the Real Tone Cable Today?
You can still find the Real Tone Cable for sale today. Although the prices are variable, it typically retails from Ubisoft for about $30.
Some people prefer to stick with what they know, and there is nothing wrong with that perspective.
When you have a fun experience, it builds loyalty. That’s the whole reason why people love playing Rocksmith!
When you can’t secure a Real Tone Cable in-person or online, you don’t need to give up the game.
Following these steps will lead you to the experience you want to continue having on your PC, PS3, or Xbox system.
- Purchase a high-quality guitar cable. You’ll find that one connection has a right-angle design on most cords to secure the item to your instrument.
- Buy the 1/4-inch guitar jack to USB adapter.
- Connect everything, turn on your game, and start to play.
You can also use a cable splitter cord to get the benefits you want without a Real Tone Cable when you play on PC.
Although the sound goes through more equipment when using this method, the quality is still better because of the cable’s construction.
That consistency translates to accurate gameplay representation so that you can continue progressing on your journey to learn how to play the guitar.
If you don’t want to use multiple connections, a standard 1/4-inch guitar jack to USB cord is available from third-party suppliers at varying quality levels.
Although these items don’t offer the same consistencies as a genuine instrument cable, you’ll pay about 50% of the cost of a Real Tone Cable to have a similar experience.
Real Tone Cables Are Remarkably Fragile
You’re paying more for the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable because the product offers branding benefits to some players.
The extra cost you pay is for a guarantee that the cord works with the instrument to let you play immediately.
In many situations, that result did happen for players. Over the past 5+ years, hundreds of people have come out to publicly credit Rocksmith for helping them learn how to play the guitar. This result likely happened with the help of a Real Tone Cable.
If you frequently play the game, you may have noticed how inconsistencies tend to develop in the gameplay environment after a few months.
You might have even gone through the cable replacement process with Rocksmith already because your Real Tone Cable was DOA – dead on arrival.
When you play Rocksmith, you should be prepared to swap out your Real Tone Cable frequently to continue your journey.
Since you can play without this product with a little ingenuity or by ordering items direct, it makes sense to step away from this part of the experience.
■ Does Your Computer Require Drivers for the Instrument?
When you play Rocksmith on PC (or macOS), the computer must recognize your guitar before you can start the game.
What most players discovered is that the issue with the Real Tone Cable starts with the USB connection.
It doesn’t take much pressure to bend pins or disrupt the shape of this sensitive connection.
If you got into a song and started bouncing around when playing, you might have pulled the cable out of your computer accidentally.
When that event happened, there is a chance that you damaged the Real Tone Cable. Some players found that this sequence of events could also create problems for their computer’s port.
If you play Rocksmith on a computer, you’ve probably popped out the USB connection from its port dozens of times to get it to play correctly. It’s one of the biggest headaches of the design that you must manage.
Ubisoft doesn’t offer drivers to support the gameplay experience. That means your computer must recognize the guitar, or you don’t get to play!
When you stop using the Real Tone Cable for a different setup, you’ll find that the discovery process is much easier to complete.
■ Does Your Game Suffer from Latency Problems?
“Latency” is the term used to describe the lag that occurs from the time you play the guitar on Rocksmith to when that action appears in the game.
When your setup performs correctly, the time should be relatively short.
It should only take a couple of milliseconds for your instrument to send the playing information to the game. If it takes longer than this time, you might struggle to accomplish your goals in the game.
What you see on the television or your computer monitor should feel like a real-time playing experience.
When using the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable, latency issues can develop without any fault of your own.
Although some users have positive experiences with this connection setup, older computers or broken connectors could find lag to be a significant problem.
If you play Rocksmith and experience latency, it might be better to use an alternative gameplay method to achieve your goals.
Alternative Ways to Play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable
Although the best way to play Rocksmith is by using an alternative cable-to-USB design, that option isn’t the only way to enjoy this instrument-learning experience.
When you cannot secure a guitar cable and adapter that meets your needs, it is possible to play the game still using a dedicated audio interface.
The experience is much better with this option because you’ll get a direct audio signal into the game.
It requires you to use a standard guitar cable with an extra cost, but it delivers a better USB audio interface for your console or computer.
This audio interface bundle gives you the microphone, headphones, and connectors you need to have a successful playing experience.
When you use an audio interface with Rocksmith, you’ll need to change the game’s input settings to its microphone mode to recognize the new setup.
Although this switch’s purpose was to let acoustic or classical guitar players make progress, it’ll work for your electric guitar without much hassle.
The only issue to consider with this alternative setup to play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable is its cost.
■ You Can Switch to an Acoustic or Classical Guitar
If you don’t want to spend the extra money to upgrade your equipment to an audio interface, another way to keep playing Rocksmith is to eliminate the electronics entirely.
When you change the setup to microphone mode, you can play an acoustic or classical guitar.
When you play on PC, the computer’s microphone does a reasonably good job of grabbing the sounds from your guitar. You’ll see the results without much latency on the screen.
If you prefer to play on your PlayStation or Xbox gaming console, it helps to invest in a decent USB microphone to get your pickups heard.
Although several top brands provide USB microphones, the best option for playing Rocksmith without an electric guitar is the HyperX QuadCast S.
It is an RGB USB condenser microphone that uses an anti-vibration shock mount.
That means you won’t get any interference from the mic when playing your guitar into it for the game when set up correctly.
The microphone also comes with gain control, polar patterns, and compression with isolation to provide Rocksmith with a pure sound.
The adapter works with most boom arms and mic stands if you prefer a more traditional approach to play Rocksmith.
When you’re finished playing the game, you can turn this microphone into your streaming, recording, or podcasting tool without hesitancy.
■ You Can Use the Play-Along Mode on Rocksmith
If you prefer a more casual approach to play Rocksmith, it might be better to switch the game to its Disconnected Mode. This option eliminates the need for you to play with a Real Tone Cable.
You still see the notes on your screen or television to play.
The only difference is that the game doesn’t detect your efforts because you’re not transmitting any sound to it.
This option can still help you learn how to play the guitar, but it doesn’t provide the interactive aspects that make it such a fun way to play!
If you go in this direction, you’ll also lose the chance to play the mini-games.
A Final Thought on Rocksmith and the Real Tone Cable
Some Rocksmith fans got so fed-up with the Real Tone Cable that they worked together to create a software patch to avoid it altogether.
That’s how problematic this one equipment piece is to the instrument learning process.
If you have not encountered issues with your Real Tone Cable yet, it might only be a matter of time before problems arise.
It is better to be prepared for those circumstances now so that you can keep playing instead of needing to wait for a replacement cord.
When you prefer to use the branded products, a new Real Tone Cable guarantees that you can start playing again.
Although it doesn’t always offer the best experience, some players get lucky and have a lot of success with that product.
For everyone else, knowing how to play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable can help you stay in the game and keep learning without breaking your budget.
Please keep this guide available for when you’re ready to upgrade so that you can continue developing your playing skills.