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Fender Play vs Rocksmith: Can Technology Ever Replace Real Teachers?

Fender Play vs Rocksmith: Can Technology Ever Replace Real Teachers?

Since Guitar Hero first emerged, tech companies have tried their best to turn guitar playing into actual playing. Guitar Hero toy guitars eventually left their place for real instruments, and even vintage purists had to admit that video games were on to something good. But is new tech always beneficial when it comes to learning guitar? To answer this, I will compare the best example of modern guitar teaching – The learning platform Fender Play and the successor of the Interactive video game Rocksmith, Rocksmith+.

Bottom Line Up Front

Rocksmith and Fender Play are the best examples of modern guitar playing, incorporating all the lessons from almost two decades of online guitar teaching and guitar video games. Rocksmith takes engaging, interactive guitar technology to new heights with the subscription-based Rocksmith+, while Fender Play offers the most concise teacher-based learning platform for beginners and intermediate players. 

Rocksmith is a great fun tool to practice songs and have fun, yet it offers a lower quality of teaching, and neither has the human interaction and knowledge of real guitarists. If you aim to learn guitar, blending Fender Play with Rocksmith or using Fender Play are the best choices.

Fender Play Vs Rocksmith+ is a battle of great content adapted to the online world and an entirely new approach to learning the instrument. If you’re considering both, my experience as a session guitarist through online learning might help you find what works best in your quest to become a better guitarist.

Main Differences Between Fender Play vs Rocksmith

The Main Differences Between Fender Play vs Rocksmith are:

  • FenderPlay is a teaching platform based on pre-recorded material with real teachers, while Rocksmith+ is a video game based on real-time interactive feedback.
  • Fender Play is the best platform for teaching technique, music theory, and how to play the instrument to beginners and intermediate players, while Rocksmith+ is best for teaching and practicing songs.
  • If you are a beginner, Fender Play is the safest alternative; with Rocksmith+, you lack watching the proper technique from a real guitarist.
  • Fender Play offers live streams with the teacher, while Rocksmith+ is limited to 
  • It’s easier to find specific categories on the Fender Play website than on the theRocksmith+ Menu.
  • You need specific system requirements to run Rocksmith+, while there is no requirement to watch Fender Play Videos or use the tools.
  • Both have a large database of songs, but Fender Play can easily add new songs, while on Rocksmith, you can only play or arrange pre-licensed music.
  • Both are subscription-based, but Fender Play is a more affordable and versatile solution.
  • Both have a goal-oriented approach to learning, with players reaching different levels.
  • Fender Play teaches ukulele besides only guitar and bass and has much more content for the acoustic guitar than Rocksmith+.
  • The Fender Play app is an extension of the website, while the upcoming Rocksmith mobile app will still be an interactive on-the-go practice tool.

Rocksmith – Guitar Hero With Real Guitars

what is rocksmith plus

Rocksmith was what every guitar player wanted after everyone got obsessed with toy guitars. I bet many players have had the feeling of challenging any guitar hero player using a real amp and guitar; with Rocksmith, you could do that. Among all the video games, Rocksmith is still the one that guitar players will recommend, as there is no point in pressing buttons on a stick when you already have fretted guitars.

The original Rocksmith was marketed with the catchphrase “Play Guitar in 60 days.” The statement is contrary to what every guitar teacher will say; however, for a beginner who can only fret a few notes and chords, it makes the starting struggles fun and gets your hands in great shape. You will be able to play simple guitar songs fast as the game makes you follow a nice laid-out path, and you practice while playing. 

Fun is the keyword, as it is a video game. If you know how to use it, it could be a great learning resource. The tutorials have the necessary information, and the songs have great backing tracks. You will also learn how to play well on time due to the rhythm-based gameplay.  

The main disadvantage is that the game doesn’t teach you how to use your ears, nor can you detect if you are playing using the wrong techniques or without any details.

I have tested Rocksmith results with some of my students, and I found they were improving their dexterity and repertoire. However, I had to step up time after time to teach them proper fingering techniques, muting, music theory, ear training, and everything else the guitar and music are about. 

What is the Difference Between Rocksmith and Rocksmith+?

rocksmith vs rocksmith plus difference

Seeing the new trends, the software giant Ubisoft unfortunately for the game owner, shut support for Rocksmith, delisted it, and launched Rocksmith+ – a subscription-based online game still available only for PC. Unlike the original Rocksmith, who was available in almost every console and had only a one-time fee.

Besides the technical and payment side, all the pros and cons remain the same. The gameplay and how it helps shape your playing haven’t changed, apart from a better-personalized approach to music learning with the new technology that analyses your playing. Using a mobile app, you can also run your guitar through your phone mic.

The best improvement is getting short video lessons with the subscription, making the learning experience more holistic. They could be more detailed, but they show you some basics.

Even if you consider purchasing the still available Rocksmith Remastered 2014 game for your console, I will answer your guitar-related questions. 

Rocksmith+ Pros

  • Fun and engaging learning method
  • The most accurate guitar detection systems, especially when plugged into the pc or sound card.
  • Excellent for learning and practicing songs
  • Very vast selection of genres and an extensive library of 5000+ songs
  • Adds short video lessons to the subscription
  • You can use the software as an amps sim with great tones.

Rocksmith+ Cons

  • It doesn’t have the teacher-student interaction and knowledge that only an up-close look at a guitar teacher can give
  • The song library is limited to licensed songs.
  • You don’t get the Real Tone cable free if you download the game.
  • The audio detection is not 100% correct, especially when running in through the phone app.
  • The newest game is only available for PC
  • It is more expensive than the one-time payment of the original Rocksmith.

Interactive Guitar Video Games vs Online Guitar Lessons

Rocksmith Web Photo

I have dwelled deeply in this argument before and taken inspiration from my standpoint as part of the new internet generation, but with old-style experience as a working musician.

I first started learning guitar on my own, then relied on the teacher and added to the mix different apps and eventually Rocksmith and now Rocksmith+. After all, my generation first got obsessed with Guitar Hero and first related on Youtube and is now watching how everything is evolving to match new tech and marketing trends.

For over a decade, I observed that the goal will always be to get as close as possible to real-life teaching. Video games and apps are trying to add the one things real-life teachers have more online lessons: real-time feedback. In the quest to get here, though, they are sacrificing much-needed human interaction and all the precision and subjectivity of guitar playing.

What Are Guitar Video Games Useful For?

Guitar Video Games like Rocksmith’s most significant merit is they manage to keep players with a guitar in hand for hours and are great for practicing songs. Mixing regular lessons, where you get the core knowledge, with video game apps that give feedback on timing and notes makes for an excellent practice routing. Rocksmith+ adds video lessons to the package, but they are not comparable to those of dedicated guitar learning platforms or even the best Youtube channels.

In my career, I had many moments where I was not inspired to play and only did so when I needed work. Sometimes months would pass without touching the guitar as I was stuck in a rut that kept me away from the instruments. This happens to all players eventually, and video games and apps are a great way to get back on track and inspired to play.

As one of my favorite teachers from Lick Libray, Danny Gill, said in my first lesson, “The more you play every day, the better you will get.” Use Rocksmith to play more but don’t rely on it as you would on a professional musician.

Why Aren’t Guitar Video Games Useful?

interactive music earning rocksmith

Video Games and all interactive apps are limited in how they help players learn guitar. The limit to Guitar Video Games is engraved in the interactive nature of the gameplay. Guitar Hero, Rocksmith, or even apps like Yousician focus players’ attention on getting their playing right according to the game’s criteria.

Guitar Hero is categorized as a rhythm-based game, and so are all the interactive apps at their core. Even though the software detects the note you are playing from the device’s mic or cable, it won’t tell you if your vibrato, bendings, sliding, or overall feel are suitable. As long as you play the fret that shows on the screen on time, you will always get a perfect score.

Rocksmith is a more evolved version of Guitar Hero, aimed at teaching through entertainment, and is categorized thus as a music game. However, the limit is still based on getting the right notes at the right time, which is only a fraction of what playing guitar truly is about after your beginner years. 

Video games can teach some aspects of playing guitar or song, but not even the best teacher can directly teach feel, touch, or other complex topics. Good teachers, though, can teach you to use your ears and show you how to find the answers yourself.  Video games and apps, on the hand, cannot do that.

Fender Play – The Best Beginners and Intermediate Platform

Fender Play Overview

Fender Play came a few years ago at a time when we already had too many guitar-teaching platforms. With all the good and bad examples already existing and the backing off of the best guitar brands in the world, the platform squeeze in between TrueFire and Guitricks with the short lesson format and game-like improvement method.

The platform avoids many cliches and is all about condensed information backed by great teachers and learning tools. It’s the best blend of technology and classic teaching style, laying out learning paths for starters or players with some experience.

What Makes Fender Play A Good Platform To Learn Guitar?

Fender Play Web Photo

As a beginner, I have wasted hours just going from YouTube video to YouTube video of guitarists going to lengths about concepts that only needed a few demonstrations. Having a tricky song or technique split into ten short videos, each detailing one aspect, makes even hard concepts more accessible on Fender Play.

The method used for teaching beginner guitarist is often even better than Justin Sandecoe or Marty Shwartz, who is still the first face every new player see on YouTube. The teachers on Fender Play are just as motivating, professional, and down-to-earth musicians as the two.

Standardizing teaching across all lesson make Fender Play a consistent long-term choice. All teachers skip all the needless noodling and go right to what you should know and practice to get it right.

There are many teachers on Fender Play, all of which are professional, but some are truly world-class musicians. Once you reach the intermediate skills level and get into deeper playing concepts, you need a good example of professional playing. No technology is yet to match the human element. 

Backing materials are excellent, with an interactive tablature practice mode and backing tracks you can access on your phone, tablet, or pc. New songs and lessons are added continuously, and the teachers often do live streams to answer questions.

The platform’s app, as of yet, Is an extension of the website and is now testing out its feedback mode. Once tested and stable, it might match Rocksmith+ at its game. However, it’s interesting that the way you pass levels and reach goals at Fender Play is very similar to the gaming experience of Rocksmith+ with “player” stats.

The Downside of Fender Play?

Fender Play Web Photo

The first downside to all the Standardization at Fender Play is that sometimes there’s not a big connection with the teachers, unlike when the teachers have their own courses.

Sometimes in a learning path, you will encounter different teachers, and in my experience, that is not beneficial to starters who want one guitar than can imitate. It might not be important to many, but I still remember all the guitar teachers I learned online from for an extended period.

The second downside is that there’s not much material for advanced players. Fender Play aims to help guitarists eager to improve, but you will hit a brick wall once you have the basics down and can play most of the songs on the platform.

The third and last is the need for in-depth knowledge and content about non-commercial genres. There is some metal, prog rock, and jazz on the platform, but it barely scratches the surface of genres and is limited to the “pop” side.

Fender Play Pros

  • A user-friendly and intuitive website with laid-out learning paths
  • Perfect for new players and those who are still working on getting to a good level
  • Multiple professional teachers
  • Excellent video quality 
  • Top-notch backing material and online tools
  • Continually updated song and lesson library
  • Perks and giveaways from Fender

Fender Play Cons

  • Not much content for upper-intermediate and advanced players
  • The real-time feedback feature is still developing
  • The song and lesson library lacks some genres

Alternatives to Consider


Yousician is the everyday player’s guitar learning app. It works almost exactly like Rocksmith but is focused mostly on teaching rather than entertaining.

It is a humble video game compared to Rocksmith in gameplay terms. However, you can install it on any phone and have a structured learning path followed by videos and songs. It has a free trial, which should be enough to help you decide whether it’s a good tool for you.


TrueFire is the go-to place for intermediate and advanced players with clear goals for their playing. All the best teachers and sometimes guitarists in the world upload lesson in TrueFire, even though they are relatively expensive.

As soon as you open the website, you’re introduced to master scales from Steve Vai, Joe Bonamassa, and other great. Besides the teachers, the desktop app on which you can play and learn the different instruments from the “On The Jam” series is fantastic.

Tim Pierce Guitar

Tim Pierce takes the aspect of online human interaction to extremes with his masterclass. Tim is a master session player with hundred of records under his belt from music legends. His experience is fully transmitted in every lesson. 

Tim has lessons for players of all levels, but it’s mostly an intermediate and upper intermediate. Have a go at his free trials and try them for yourself. 

My guitar guru and Nashville’s top session man Tom Bukovac is a free resource, similar to Tim Pierce’s masterclass, that both teaches and entertains in an old-school way.


Question: Why Was Rocksmith Discontinued?

Answer: Ubisoft claimed it delisted Rocksmith due to the technical limitations the game had. Rocksmith Remastered is still available, while Rocksmth+ promises future developments.

Question: How Much Does Fender Play Cost?

Answer: Fender Play’s monthly membership costs $9.99, while the annual membership costs $89.99.

Question: How Much Does Rocksmith+ Cost?

Answer: Rocksmith+ is a subscription-based video that costs $14.99 for a 1-month subscription,  $39.99 for a three months subscription, and  $99.99 for a yearly subscription.

Final Thoughts on Fender Play Vs Rocksmith+ 

Online guitar lessons, both prerecorded videos and remote lessons are still the best way to learn guitar for multiple reasons. At the same time, apps and games have their place but are still supplementary to the learning journey. 

In conclusion, Fender Play is good for everyone wanting to start or improve their playing, while Rocksmith or Rocksmith+ is a fun way of practicing after/while you’re learning guitar from an in-person or remote teacher.