New to the guitar but don’t know where to start? Millions of players over the past decade turned to Rocksmith to learn the basics and hone in on their skills. The popular computer, Xbox, and PlayStation game has become a proven method for many guitar players today.
As the game’s popularity picked up, so has an interest in purchasing guitars. That has resulted in people wondering what’s the best guitar for Rocksmith?
Many aspiring guitar players might be wondering which axe they should purchase to use when they embark on the Rocksmith journey. However, with such an abundance of different guitars on the market, shopping for the best Rocksmith guitar for your specific needs as a player can be overwhelming
Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork and have come up with a list of the 10 best guitars for Rocksmith. For each guitar reviewed, we’ll discuss factors such as specifications, price point, quality, and what genre the guitar excels in to help you decide which is the best guitar for you.
Let’s get started!
The Best Guitars for Rocksmith
- Epiphone Les Paul 100 – Editor’s Choice
- Squier By Fender Affinity Stratocaster – Best for Beginners
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX – Most Versatile
- Ibanez GRGR120EX – Best Playability
- Squier By Fender Affinity Telecaster – Best for Country
- Jackson Dinky JS22 – Best for Metal
- Epiphone SG Special VE – Best for Classic Rock
- Ibanez Artcore AS53 – Best Semi-Hollowbody
- ESP LTD MH-17 – Best 7-String
- Fender FA-135CE – Best Acoustic
Epiphone Les Paul 100 – Overall Best Guitar for Rocksmith
For the price, the looks and the playability, the Epiphone Les Paul 100 is a great guitar for beginners and, as a result, a great guitar for new Rocksmith players.
Here are some of the specs of the Epiphone Les Paul 100:
- Body: Mahogany body
- Neck: Maple neck
- Fretboard: Rosewood fretboard
- Frets: 22 medium-jumbo frets.
- Bridge: Tune-o-Matic Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece
- Tuners: Sealed
- Pickups: 650R Humbucker on the neck; 700T Humbucker on the bridge. Controlled by two volume knobs, two tone knobs and a three-way toggle pickup switch.
Because this is a beginner’s guitar with a very low price tag, it’s certainly not perfect. The cable jack can become loose after uses and it doesn’t come with a case. But a decent gig bag for this guitar will only set you back about $25-$50.
What makes this Epiphone a top pick for Rocksmith players is its versatility. It can handle rock. It can handle blues. And it can handle country music. Any genre you want to play, the Epiphone Les Paul 100 can handle it.
Another exciting reason to purchase this guitar is that it looks like a significantly more expensive Gibson Les Paul. Epiphone has mimicked the Les Paul for many years now, and while advanced players can tell the difference in sound between a Gibson and an Epiphone, a beginner won’t be able to tell.
And when it comes to Rocksmith, the game is going to offer digital effects and amps that create the best possible sound.
Squier By Fender Affinity Stratocaster – Best Rocksmith Guitar for Beginners
When experienced guitar players are asked about guitars they would recommend for beginners, a Squier is always one of their first suggestions. I tend to agree with that as well.
It looks like a Fender Stratocaster and feels like a Fender Stratocaster, but it sells at a fraction of the price of a mid-range Strat. The Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster is one of the most popular beginner guitars on the market today – and a great option if you want to learn guitar by playing Rocksmith. If you’re new to the guitar and can find the Affinity Strat in stock, definitely buy it.
Let’s check out the technical specs of this Squier:
- Fast neck. Made of solid maple, this neck is designed for minimal strain on your hands, which is handy when you get caught on a song in Rocksmith and need to keep playing and practicing.
- Classic single-coil pickups. No, these aren’t the same quality pickups you’ll find on a 1964 Fender Custom Shop classic, but they’re going to get the job done on Rocksmith. The Squier Affinity Stratocaster features individual tone knobs to dial in the tone you desire – allowing you to play any genre that interests you.
- Fender tremolo. The six-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo can provide some great sounds. If you use it religiously and aggressively, it will throw your strings out of tune.
One of the best parts about these Strats are the color options. Choose from the classic Fender sunburst, black ,orange, slick silver, or surf green.
No case included with this beginner guitar, which isn’t a big deal. This is affordable enough that you won’t mind keeping it out of a case.
Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX – Most Versatile Guitar for Rocksmith
Yamaha is often associated with pianos when it comes to musical instruments, but the Yamaha PAC012DLX is actually a great, versatile beginner’s guitar that’s perfect for Rocksmith.
The Strat-like guitar is specifically designed for beginners (and has the price tag to prove it!) by featuring a lightweight agathis body and a smooth maple neck. The pickups deliver a punchy tone and actually sound pretty good when using distorted sounds.
The guitar features two single-coil pickups and a humbucker pickup that is custom made by Yamaha. The HSS pickup configuration is extremely versatile, allowing you to practice on a host of different genres on Rocksmith.
Owners of this guitar say it plays way better than your typical beginner’s guitar – especially when it comes to intonation.
Sure, the agathis wood is a cheap, soft wood, but for Rocksmith, you don’t need the highest quality of wood. Those who don’t care for Agathis complain it sounds too dull. Again, though, when you’re plugged into the Rocksmith game, it’s not going to matter.
Use this Yamaha as a tool to learn and appreciate the guitar and then look to upgrade down the road.
Ibanez GRGR120EX – Best Playability Rocksmith Guitar
Highlighted by its sharp, double-cutaway tails up top and very playable neck, the Ibanez GRGR120 EX is another excellent beginner guitar for Rocksmith players who want to better understand the guitar.
This guitar earns our designation as the most playable because of its maple neck, which is thinner, and deep cutaway design, which allows you to reach all 24 frets with ease.
Here are some other specs:
- Poplar body offers decent resonance.
- Infinity pickups on the bridge and neck are quite versatile, capable of multiple genres.
- Black hardware really shines on this affordable guitar, making it look more premium.
- Jumbo frets make it great for playing fast on metal and hard rock songs.
This Ibanez guitar comes in three colors: jewel blue, white or black.
What I really like about this guitar is its weight, which is important when you play Rocksmith.
As you start nailing songs, you become a bit addicted to the game and want to play for an extended period of time, which is why you need a comfortable guitar to keep going.
While this is a very playable guitar, it’s not the most versatile. It’s pretty decent for rock and metal, but it’s not the cleanest tone for jazz and blues.
Also, as a beginner guitar, it doesn’t come with a case.
Ibanez is known for making high-quality guitars, so while this isn’t in the same level as its high-end rocker guitars, you can rest assured knowing it’s going to hold up as you learn to play guitar on Rocksmith.
Squier By Fender Affinity Telecaster – Best Rocksmith Guitar for Country
Like it’s Stratocaster brother, the Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster is a great beginner guitar for those aspiring to play more country music.
While it’s still very affordable, it is slightly more expensive than the Stratocaster version for some reason.
The resonant alder body on this Telecaster is really high quality and the solid C-shape maple neck feels quite comfortable, allowing for long hours of Rocksmith practice.
Here are some other specs:
- Maple neck is the same as the Stratocaster. It’s smooth and comfortable to hold.
- Single coil pickups offer that Telecaster twang country players desire.
- Only 21 frets, but they’re considered jumbo frets, which add to this guitar’s playability.
Rocksmith has expanded its library over the years, including plenty of country songs that will put your Squier Telecaster to the test.
Owners of this guitar – despite its cheap price – say it plays really well out of the box. They recommend swapping out the strings for something a little more premium to ensure you get a better tone.
So, if you’re a guitar newbie and want to play country, definitely consider the Squire by Fender Affinity Telecaster. And if you end up really liking it, you can always end up doing your own modifications on it with upgraded pickups or perhaps a tremolo system.
For the money, you can’t beat this Tele.
Jackson Dinky JS22 – Best Rocksmith Guitar for Metal
Metal guitars need to accomplish a few things: They need to look hardcore, play fast and sound great with distorted tones.
The Jackson Dinky JS22 checks all of those boxes – and with a very affordable price tag!
As a bonus, Rocksmith is packed with great metal songs, making this guitar a smart purchase if that’s the genre you really want to pursue.
Let’s dive into some of the specs:
- Three great colors, including metallic blue, natural oil, and the sinister looking satin black.
- Jackson-branded pickups actually pack a punch. The ceramic humbuckers have plenty of output. Actually, they are more than enough for learning on Rocksmith.
- Poplar body is great for durability and weight.
Jackson necks come out of the box pretty raw, so you may need to oil it a bit to make it more playable. That being said, the frets are quite comfortable and the smooth fingerboard allows you to travel up and down easily.
The two-point tremolo tailpiece gives you those really nice whammy sounds, but it will throw this guitar out of tune easier than higher-end models.
Buying a Jackson beginner guitar, like the Dinky JS22, is always a great idea – especially if you want to play metal or heavy rock music. You can later upgrade to a higher quality Dinky model that will be familiar to you, but sound immensely better.
Epiphone SG Special VE – Best Rocksmith Guitar for Classic Rock
A large section of the Rocksmith music library is dedicated to classic rock, which is where the Epiphone SG Special VE comes into play.
Like the other beginner guitars on this list, the SG Special VE comes with a great, affordable price. Actually, this guitar sold brand new is about $30 cheaper than most of the guitars on this list, making it a no brainer for first-time players.
So, how does Epiphone make it so cheap? For starters, it’s mass produced overseas using cheaper materials. Still, this guitar can be a great tool for learning how to play – especially if you’re going the Rocksmith route.
- Poplar body is great for a fat, clear tone.
- Worn finish gives it a classic rock look.
- Epiphone-branded pickups are capable of great tones and plenty of power.
While this is a beginner guitar, it comes out of the box with minimal setup. Some owners have complained it doesn’t stay in tune that well, but that’s not consistent across the board.
You can’t go wrong with the Epiphone SG Special VE. It looks like a classic rock guitar, and will help you learn your favorite tunes, from Zeppelin to Queen.
Ibanez Artcore AS53 – Best Semi-Hollow Body Guitar for Rocksmith
For fans of semi-hollowbody guitars who are on a budget and looking to learn how to play via Rocksmith, the Ibanez Artcore AS53 is a great option.
For a semi-hollowbody, this guitar actually features a smaller body, which makes playing more comfortable. Here are some other specs:
- Sapele top, back and sides offer crisp, warm tones.
- Nyatoh neck is super smooth and fast to play on. The shape is also comfortable for your hand to shape chords.
- Versatile humbucking pickups make this great for rock, jazz, rockabilly and many other genres. The clean tones are actually really clean for a guitar at this price point.
There are some complaints about this guitar staying in tune, but beginner-style guitars tend to feature cheaper tuners. For learning how to play on Rocksmith, I wouldn’t be too discouraged by those reviews. I wouldn’t recommend buying this guitar only to buy a new set of tuners to replace the factory set. For the total price, you could buy an upgraded guitar.
The best part of this guitar has to be its looks. It’s simple, but classy. The matte finish is really smooth and preferred by a lot of players because it doesn’t show fingerprints. That seems like an odd reason to check this guitar out, but there’s some logic behind it. If you’re playing a lot of Rocksmith, chances are you’re also eating at the couch or wherever you may be playing, and food stains on your fingers could eventually make it on a guitar. This Ibanez does a good job at masking it.
ESP LTD MH-17 – Best 7-String Guitar for Rocksmith
As we mentioned above, Rocksmith isn’t just designed for pure beginners. It’s also for folks who are relatively new to the guitar, but need some extra motivation to push them to the next level.
So, that’s why we’ve included the ESP LTD MH-17 on this list.
Note: It’s important to understand that this guitar will work with Rocksmith, but seven string guitars aren’t fully supported, but songs are being added to the library. If you come across a six-strong song, you’ll need to pay close attention to the strings and colors.
To kick this mini review offm, this ESP 7-string guitar is super affordable (much like the other guitars on this roundup!). It’s biggest difference is the extra bass string, making it great for those interested in learning metal.
Here are some additional specifications:
- Basswood body gives it a near mahogany body feel.
- 24 frets that are quite jumbo – allowing for great playability.
- Tune-o-matic bridge helps immensely with intonation.
While this 7-string guitar is really affordable, you may have to budget an extra $50 to $100 to have it setup correctly. Out of the box, there’s a chance you could be dealing with fret buzz or extreme squeal when plugged into an amp.
That being said, other owners have praised this guitar’s intonation and tone.
Remember, this is a beginner’s guitar, so it’s not going to be perfect. But if you want to learn how to play with a seven-string and pursue metal and rock music, this is a great starter.
Fender FA-135CE – Best Acoustic Guitar for Rocksmith
Including the Fender FA-135CE – an acoustic guitar – on a list of guitars recommended for learning how to play on Rocksmith is an interesting choice. Typically, Rocksmith players use an electric guitar in the game, but an update in 2016 opened the door to acoustics, which is why we’ve decided to include this Fender.
Fender acoustics are typically geared toward beginners because of their low price tags, but the FA-135CE has a very premium look to it.
- Concert style body. The thin, concert-style body – along with a nice single cutaway that gives you access to the top frets – makes this acoustic quite comfortable to play. Larger dreadnoughts can become uncomfortable after a few hours of playing.
- Beautiful color options. Pick from natural, black or sunburst options. All of them look great.
- Artistic saddle. Fender went above and beyond on making the saddle look high end and classy.
Why is this Fender is the best acoustic guitar for Rocksmith?
For starters, the price tag is perfect. It’s a great beginner acoustic that’s made in China. If you lose interest in the guitar, you’re not going to be out a ton of money.
And two, it includes a Fishman pickup and preamp, allowing you to plug into Rocksmith the same way you would with a solid-body electric guitar. Fishman is the go-to pickup brand for acoustic guitars because of its expertise in amplifying natural acoustic tones.
Like most of the guitars on this list, there’s no case sold with it, but Fender sells some pretty affordable options.
What is Rocksmith?
Rocksmith is a guitar education video game for PlayStation and Xbox that first launched in 2011 and has seen a handful of updates over the past several years. Ubisoft, the game’s developer, has since released PC and Mac versions of the popular game that have been updated with the latest songs.
More than 3 million have learned how to play guitar using Rocksmith’s proven method. And according to a Toluna Consumer Survey, 95% of Rocksmith players have said their guitar playing skills have improved because of the game.
So, how does Rocksmith work? Let’s briefly take you through the method.
If you’re familiar with the video game “Rock Band,” then Rocksmith is going to look a little familiar too. The game takes you through a series of mini-games and popular songs across several genres, training you to hit certain notes and chords on your guitar as the notes pop up on the musical highway on the screen. If you hit everything correctly in time, you score the maximum number of points.
Obviously, the point is to play those drills and songs perfectly and naturally become a better player. Rocksmith is all about motivation. Because it was created by a video game developer, it’s packed with goals and accomplishments to chase throughout the game.
To play, Rocksmith does require you to buy its proprietary “Rocksmith Real Tone Cable,” which allows you to plug your guitar into your computer or gaming console and have the game pick up on your playing. That accessory will run you $40.
While Rocksmith is geared toward those brand new to guitar, it’s also a great tool (and a fun game!) for those with basic knowledge of the instrument and who perhaps know a few chords already. The more you play, the better you’re going to get. That’s the idea anyways.
How to Choose The Best Guitar for Rocksmith – Buyer’s Guide
Still having trouble figuring out which guitar is best for your Rocksmith journey? Use this buyer’s guide to make a more-informed purchase.
Electric Vs Acoustic Guitar for Rocksmith
Rocksmith is typically associated with electric guitars, but back in 2016, Ubisoft released an update that allowed acoustic players to join in on the fun.
Still, a majority of the game’s songs are intended for electric guitar, which can leave you feeling a bit discouraged if you’re playing it with an acoustic.
In terms of the technical side of things, if your acoustic has built-in pickups, simply plug it into the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable, just as you would an electric guitar. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to purchase a USB microphone and download the microphone patch from the game so that it accurately picks up on your strumming and plucking.
So, while you can make an acoustic work for Rocksmith, I really prefer to play it with an electric.
Materials & Build Quality
The beauty of Rocksmith is that it’s for beginners, so you don’t need anything too fancy.
Of course, you don’t want your neck to snap off the guitar if you play a little too hard on some Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”
If you stick to any of the brands listed above, from Fender to Epiphone, you’re going to be just fine. Don’t fret about an ash body guitar vs a mahogany. Same with neck and fretboard materials.
Use your time with Rocksmith to focus on becoming a better player. As you improve and enjoy the instrument more, then start looking at your next guitar purchase with a closer eye and find something with the materials and build quality you truly desire.
For newer players, I suggest going with a guitar that has a double cutaway, like a Fender Stratocaster, because it allows you to crawl up and down the neck without the guitar getting in the way.
Guitars with Strat-like bodies, like the Jackson Dinky, is always a good idea.’
That’s not to say a guitar with a Les Paul-style body, where there’s only a single cutaway in the top part of the body isn’t a bad choice for Rocksmith, but I think you’ll be happier with the double cutaway.
Sound & Music Genre
Thankfully, Rocksmith and its trove of downloadable effect pedals and amplifiers make any electric guitar a blank slate.
Sure, the clean tones from a Fender Stratocasters’ single-coil pickups are great for pop music, and the design of a Jackson electric is awesome for metal. But in terms of sound and music genre when playing Rocksmith, the game is automatically going to give you the sound to match the song or exercise you’re playing.
You definitely want something comfortable when embarking on the Rocksmith journey. Look for an electric guitar with a lightweight body and a smooth, thin neck.
When you first start learning how to play the guitar, shaping chords is a foreign feeling to your hands, so you mine as well have something comfortable to play as you gain that muscle memory and become more familiar with the guitar.
Unless you have money to burn, I wouldn’t recommend buying an expensive guitar to learn on using Rocksmith.
Again, Rocksmith is a video game geared toward beginner guitar players. Why spend $1,500 on an instrument that you may or may not want to play after six months?
Buy something in your budget that won’t break the bank. As you become a more skilled guitar player and love playing the instrument even more, then start exploring more expensive models that will likely play and sound better.
What guitar works best with Rocksmith?
Electric guitars typically work best with Rocksmith because the game was originally designed with electric guitars in mind in terms of connecting to your game console or computer with the Real Tone Cable and the overall music selection. While any electric guitar will work, we would typically recommend using a guitar with humbucking pickups because we found that the higher output tended to register the notes in the game more consistently.
Can you use any guitar with Rocksmith?
Yes, you can use any guitar with Rocksmith. Electric guitars are typically preferred because this is how the game was normally intended in terms of connecting to your gaming device and the overall music selection. Rocksmith has since added support for acoustic guitars as well, however, you will need to pair it with an external microphone for it to register the notes in the game.
Is Rocksmith good for learning guitar?
Yes, Rocksmith is a good tool for learning guitar because it makes practicing fun and enjoyable by gamifying the experience with features such as fun mini-games, the riff repeater and more. While it’s no replacement for traditional guitar learning methods, it can definitely supplement your normal practice routine and motivate you to put in the necessary hours of practice.
Do you have to use the Real Tone cable for Rocksmith?
No, you do not need to use the Real Tone cable for Rocksmith. While it is the official cable that is paired with Rocksmith, there are many affordable Real Tone cable alternatives, which are essentially just a USB to guitar cable. In addition, if you are using a computer, you can replace the cable all together by connecting your guitar to your computer via a USB Guitar Audio Interface. If you are using an Acoustic guitar for Rocksmith, then you will need to use a microphone instead of the Real Tone Cable. Check out my guide on How to Play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable
Recap of the Best Guitars for Rocksmith
|Rocksmith Guitar||Best For|
|Epiphone Les Paul 100||Editor’s Pick|
|Squier By Fender Affinity Stratocaster||Best for Beginners|
|Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX||Most Versatile|
|Ibanez GRGR120EX||Best Playability|
|Squier By Fender Affinity Telecaster||Best for Country|
|Jackson Dinky JS22||Best for Metal|
|Epiphone SG Special VE||Best for Classic Rock|
|Ibanez Artcore AS53||Best Semi-Hollowbody|
|ESP LTD MH-17||Best 7-String|
|Fender FA-135CE||Best Acoustic|