Guitar controller

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The guitar controllers bundled with Guitar Hero releases (from left to right): Gibson SGs for Guitar Hero & Guitar Hero II (PlayStation 2) and Gibson X-Plorer for Guitar Hero II (Xbox 360) and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PC)

A guitar controller is a video game controller designed to simulate the playing of the guitar, a string musical instrument. Guitar controllers are often used for music games such as UmJammer Lammy: NOW!, GuitarFreaks, Guitar Hero, and the Rock Band series. The controllers are played by holding down a colored fret button that matches a colored, on-screen note, while pressing the strum bar as the note passes through the target. The controllers also feature a whammy bar, which is used to bend notes and collect each game's equivalent of bonus energy. Different games and models of controllers have introduced additional features, such as effects switches, additional fret buttons, and fret touch pads. The fret buttons are colored usually in the order of (from lowest to highest pitch) green, red, yellow, blue, and orange.

Implementation as game controllers

A Guitar controller is almost always an adaption of existing controller technologies for a given console—all features of the guitar are implemented using features found on a standard game controller. Generally speaking the following apply:

  • Fret Buttons are implemented as the standard action buttons on the controller- for example, the buttons on a Guitar Controller for the Xbox 360 map to the A, B, X, Y and Left Shoulder buttons on the standard Xbox controller.
  • The whammy bar is implemented as an axis
  • The meta buttons (start, select, back) map directly to their standard controller counterparts.

Other, vendor-specific features can be implemented using standard controls, or combinations of them- for example, the solo bar on a Rock band guitar controller is implemented using the same controller buttons as the main fret buttons, plus an additional modifier key, whereas the Slide Bar from recent versions of Guitar Hero is simply another axis.

The "tilt" function is also usually mapped to an axis.

Use as a musical instrument

Numerous attempts have been made to adapt Guitar Controllers for use as legitimate musical instruments. These attempts range from simple solutions that output a single note or sound for each button on the controller, to more complicated applications, such as MIDItar Hero and Armchair Guitarist that attempt to fully adapt the controller to use as an instrument, with a wide range of notes and playing styles.