The PS3 Rock Band Guitar Debacle

Rock Band Guitar

While most people were enjoying turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce, fans of Rock Band were lighting up the official forums. Why the uproar? Well, it turns out that the PS3 version of Rock Band has a slight issue.

You see, if you picked up the PS3 version of Rock Band on Tuesday, you’d have found out an interesting piece of information. The bundle shipped with one guitar, one set of drums, and one microphone. Of course, the game allows for 2 players with guitars, with one playing bass. Imagine the surprise of many PS3 owners when they discovered that none of the available guitar controllers will work with Rock Band on the PS3 except for the one that shipped with the bundle.

If the other PS3 owners were anything like me, I spent some serious time trying out things like the Pelican adapter for my PS2 controllers, the Guitar Hero 3 Les Paul (for PS3 and 360), and even plugging the the GH2 X-Plorer from the 360 version. None of these options elicited anything more than the ability to manipulate a few menu options.

We contacted Harmonix for comment, and received the following statement:

“Harmonix develops and bases all of our games, guitars and other peripherals on open standards established by platform manufacturers such as Microsoft and Sony. Rock Band is no exception and supports an open controller standard. Guitar controllers are like any other standard game controllers–the controller sends a signal back to the game depending on the buttons you push. If a third party game controller is based on open standards, then it should work with Rock Band as well. If certain controllers do not work with Rock Band, questions about those controllers should be directed to the peripheral manufacturer. In addition, we welcome any 3rd party software that wishes to support Rock Band guitars. If a 3rd party guitar / music game does not support the Rock Band guitar controller, questions regarding this should be directed to the game manufacturer.”

My question with this statement is this: What is this ‘open standard’ they speak of? Is it the Sony standard? If it is, why will the Sixaxis controller not work as an instrument? Is this statement their rationale for filling stores from GameStop to Wal-Mart to Best Buy with standalone copies of a game that no one has the guitars to play? The fact that EA pushed millions of copies of the standalone PS3 game out the door to retailers tells me they expect to sell them. But who will buy them if they can’t play the game (unless they have the USB mic from Boogie to make a karaoke game of it)? I understand that there are deadlines, street dates and many other considerations in releasing a game of this magnitude. However, this is a situation that Harmonix or EA should have forseen this coming to pass, and been prepared for the fallout.

What needs to happen is for Harmonix to release a patch that opens up Rock Band to all the available guitar controllers. A Rock Band forum user has posted a response they received from Red Octane (manufacturer of the Guitar Hero III guitars).


Thank you for writing us.

We are aware of the issue at hand and are looking into it. It was not something purposely designed for, but a situation that has arisen since the release of RockBand. Please have patience.


RedOctane Customer Support

Now, a forum post made today from HMXJohnlok (a Harmonix staff member) says:

“Many of you have contacted us about the PS3 edition of Rock Band–from issues with guitar compatibility to frustration that stand-alone guitars and drums for Rock Band have not yet hit stores. Please know that these issues have our full attention. We are listening and we read everything that is posted here on our forums. We are committed to providing the best play experience possible and working hard to ensure that we solve these problems as soon as possible. We promise to keep you updated and, in the meantime, we thank you for your patience.”

While there’s nothing here to get excited about, at least it shows that a resolution may indeed be possible. Since both Harmonix and Red Octane appear to be interested in working on a fix, let’s hope it comes soon. If you want to check out the discussions, you can find the original forum threads here and here, with the newest announcement from Harmonix found here. We’ve contacted Harmonix for further comment, but have yet to receive an answer. If we do, you’ll see it here.

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15 Comments on The PS3 Rock Band Guitar Debacle


On November 28, 2007 at 6:38 pm

I do not understand how games get released without people noticing problems like this :roll:


On November 28, 2007 at 7:11 pm

Because they think every single owner of a PS3 and his friends will buy one copy of their game, and end up looking like a slipknot band.


On November 28, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Why does it seem that every time EA releases something for PS3, that something has a problem.


On November 28, 2007 at 7:58 pm

mine works fine. I guess I got lucky.


On November 28, 2007 at 8:07 pm

i got the 360 version but only because I already had a couple guitars for GH.. no sense in having 3 game guitars in the house.

Ron Whitaker

On November 29, 2007 at 1:11 am

Oh, William. You miss out on so much. I can literally build a fortress out of all my Guitar Hero / Rock Band boxes, and arm my doomsday stormtroopers with guitars ranging from PS2 to 360 to PS3.

I couldn’t do that if I tried to use the same guitar over and over again!


On November 29, 2007 at 5:40 pm

So besides this issue, has anyone else been having the down-strum problem that’s been popping up on the Rock Band forums as well. I just got it and have to send my guitar back in to get a new one. While my PS2 GH guitars have lasted years, my Rock Band guitar lasted one week.


On December 1, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Hawkeye, does your PS2 GH guitars work at all with rockband? Using the PS2 pelican adapter for the ps3? Anyone know? Would like a 2nd guitar…..


On December 6, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Just to chime in, I tried that Pelican adapter, and couldn’t get it to work. You can navigate the menus, but the game does not register the controller as a guitar. It keeps prompting you to plug in a mic.

It looks like Ron had the same luck (from the article). But I’d like to know if anyone has figured anything else out.

PS3 disapponited

On December 26, 2007 at 9:36 pm

:cry: We purchased the PS3 and the Rock Band game and after 1 week the guitar went bad ,when you strum down it will not pick up the notes, big dissappointment. A lot of money for nothing, so we took the guitar back and got another one, that lasted not even a week. The drum pedal broke also, now we are older adults and we are not abusing this game. What a big joke. Right now my husband is on his 3rd trip to the store to exchange the guitar. We could not even get our hands on a PS2 Rock Band game any where. That might of been our best shot. Atleast the GH1,11,and111 and rocking with the eighties guitar works.

Jim Clark

On December 31, 2007 at 7:37 pm

I went to Gamespot before I bought mine and everything reviewed high so I purchased it. Same exact problem. Guitar wont strum down. I’ve played it less than two hours total. So I have to sit and wait for EA to send me a new one. I’d go buy one but as everyone here is already aware by learning the hard way, no guitar available for PS3. We’ve all been robbed and way to go Gamespot. I can’t even leave a review there unless I pay money to subscribe to them.. F them too


On March 13, 2008 at 3:40 pm

First things first! I’m absolutely disgusted!

1- Who’s the genius that expects me to buy batteries for the rest of my life, for an absolute piece of crap stratocaster ? WTF? No USB wire? NO options? (And NO, my AA rechargeables do NOT work)
Too expensive I guess? pfffft! 2 million sold @ 160.oo each? Do the math….

2- About this TV lag, ? DLP? CRT? Plasma? How about BS! (BTW, I have a 55″ HD Sony Vega)
I purchased it for the PS2, Of course all of the GH’s as well….
Love them all, they all run perfect, ( The guitars BTW, SG, Explorer, Shredder? Any one of these are 10x better than that POS that comes with it)
Anyhoo, So I said, AWESOME, DLC, I gotta get a PS3 ! WHOOOOPS!

Bought one yesterday, got it all hooked up, DL’d $40.oo in tunes…
Had company over, and we’re all ready to rock!

**** was I mad! No joystick ports? Can’t use my old guitars?
Start looking for an adapter, nope, they don’t work!
Ah ****, I guess I have to use the POS Strat…. But wait? Not only do I need batteries, but good thing I had a precision phillips screwdriver to get in…
(Don’t just make a little clip of some sorts)

But wait… I still need another guitar for the bass.. WTF? Like I’m gonna go buy another POS so we can have a bass? NOPE! Even IF I wanted to? I can’t, they aren’t sold seperately, who the hell is running things here?
So now 1 person has to sit, and can’t play… This is absolutely retarded!

Oh well, the 3 of us will try, no biggie…. LMAO, Until I grabbed the mic, and tried the drums… Frickin joke! LAG, LAG, and yes, more LAG!
I don’t even wanna hear about the types of TV’s, stereo? Dolby?
Geeezuz, gimmie a break… Tried fixing it, manual setup ms , etc…

We got so fed up, we re-hooked up the PS2, everything runs like a dream!
and not ONE drop of lag! NOT ONE! and nobody had to sit/wait….
Only reason I went to the PS3 was for the DLC, I never imagined I was downgrading my console in the proccess? LOL, Absolutely Ridiculous!

Purchased :
GH 1,2,3 and 80′s
1 SG, and 1 Explorer, 1 shredder wire/wireless guitars
1 rockband set.. (Now a Junk strat also)
about 500.oo with taxes ish…..

Everything, on the PS2 runs like a top!
(All I need is DLC for the PS2)

Purchased :
PS3 + Rockband (Disc only)
another 500 bux…

But guess what, I’m saving the songs I’ve DL’d…
I was gonna rip the guts outta the strat, and put ‘em in my SG, but screw it!
I’m returning the PS3…
At least I’ll have some money back… That’ll ease the sting a little bit…

Bottom line, PS2 Rockband runs like a dream,
the PS3 Rockband is nowhere even close!

Waydda go guys, top notch brainstorming there!
Don’t bring out a patch, or adapter or anything….


Pissed off! BUT,

Rockin’ along with the PS2 ….


On March 14, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Hey Poozie2k8, if your not using that ps3 fender, you can send it my way…


On May 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm

heyy rocker suck my big balls :lol:


On May 28, 2008 at 8:52 am

I don’t know what everyone else is complaining about. I read articles before the game came out that said that other guitars would not be compatible. I’ve had Rock Band for three months now and i play it constantly. I haven’t had any problems with any of the instruments and no lag problems with my TV. I love the game and think it’s great.

Maybe just the first edition/run of the game and instruments were bad. I got mine in February . . .