Imagine the embarrassment of a talented guitarist losing out in a shredding battle with someone who can't play a note. Since the launch of games like Rock Band, such things can and do happen. Now there's a chance to level the playing field somewhat, with the forthcoming release of a game controller that's also a genuine Fender Squier Strat. Of course, as well as introducing a whole new level of gameplay to virtual axe grinders, they can also benefit from learning to play an actual instrument. Rock 'n' roll...
Rather than just tapping along to onscreen prompts, the Squier by Fender Stratocaster Guitar and Controller will allow players to get closer to the realism of playing. Not only is it an officially licensed Rock Band 3 video game controller, but it also happens to be a fully functional electric guitar. Designed to work in the game's Pro mode, the device "allows players to play the actual notes and chords of their favorite songs while racking up high gameplay scores."
A game sensor is hidden at each of the guitar's 22 frets on the fingerboard, which allows "direct on-screen feedback indicating the player's finger position when using the instrument as a Rock Band 3 controller and in the game's guitar-training tutorials." Although tuning up isn't necessary for gameplay, it's a good habit to get into if you intend to use the guitar out of the game – and if you buy this guitar, then that's probably the intention.
The instrument needs to be connected to the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 via a Mad Catz MIDI PRO adapter (which needs to be purchased separately). The 5-pin MIDI interface in the guitar can also be used with hardware such as computers, where users will be able to use sequencers and recording software such as Ableton Live Lite 8.
The Squier Strat controller has an agathis wood body with polyester finish, maple neck with polymer fingerboard, enclosed tuners, a custom bridge pickup and hard-tail bridge. In addition to the MIDI port, the guitar also sports a 0.25-inch output jack for onward connection to a real amplifier using a standard guitar cable (please refer to the earlier note about tuning).
The Squier Stratocaster Guitar and Controller will be available from March 2011 for a suggested retail price of US$279. Pre-order begins on New Year's Day.