I love Rock Band – it’s one of my favorite videogames of the last year or so, and it’s turned me into an unexpected fan of ‘party games,’ something I’d been pretty skeptical of in the past (Mario Party? Super Smash Brothers? Pshaw!). Everyone I’ve turned Rock Band onto has loved it, and Susan and I are looking forward to Rock Band parties at her place this fall. The one fly in the ointment has been the guitars – there’s no way to sugar coat it, they’re simply unreliable pieces of crap. Why a Chinese or Taiwanese factory can churn out reliable DVD players for $20 but can’t produce a reliable $60 plastic guitar is beyond me, but it’s been a frustrating experience. I’ve had to disassemble the first guitar I bought at least a half dozen times in attempts to ‘tune’ it so that strums on the strum bar would register, using instructions I found online. This worked, but it would eventually creep back out of alignment due to what is in my opinion a flaw in the design. To the credit of EA, the publisher’s of Rock Band, they’ve had a pretty generous return policy on the guitars so far, but I basically concluded nothing they could do for me would permanently fix this issue due to the design flaw. Fortunately I found a link in the official Rock Band forums to Bytearts, who manufacture a replacement circuit board/microswitches/mounting hardware for $20 shipped. I installed this on Saturday and love it. The installation process was relatively simple, and the difference in the guitar performance is amazing. For the first time since I’ve owned the game I feel like I know for sure when *I* made a mistake when I’m strumming versus wondering if it was the crappy hardware failing to register. I celebrated this by buying the new Who pack and had a blast Saturday afternoon playing through all of it. It’s great.
Anyway, if you’ve got a Rock Band guitar that’s failing to register strumming reliably, consider checking out the Bytearts kit, it’s fantastic. Meanwhile, I’m on to the next challenge, which is finding a way to fix the unreliable Overdrive mode tilt sensor. I bought a second guitar and the thing came out of the box unable to reliably register Overdrive. Curses to the hardware designers at Harmonix – Great great game, shitty shitty guitar hardware.