Rock Band

Rock Band

Rock Band expands on the concepts Harmonix established in its Guitar Hero franchise by allowing players to play guitar, bass, drums, and sing to a variety of songs from various sub-genres and time periods.


Released on November 20th, 2007, this Harmonix-developed, MTV-published, and EA Partners distributed music game provided players with four instruments-- guitar, vocals, drums, and bass guitar--which are controlled by different instrument-shaped controllers. The basic gameplay for the guitar, bass, and drums are similar to Guitar Hero, and the vocals bear a strong resemblance Konami's Karaoke Revolution. Both of these similarities are unsurprising, as Harmonix originally developed both of those franchises.

Rock Band has several modes of play, including a multiplayer Band World Tour, a single player Solo Tour, both Solo and Band Quickplay modes, and various tutorial stages and competitive quickplay modes as well. Rock Band ships with 58 songs, 51 of which are master recordings (the remaining 7 being covers). The game also features a built-in Music Store, where users can choose to purchase from hundreds of songs, song packs, and entire albums, with new content added every week. A complete listing can be found here: Rock Band DLC.



Rock Band Guitar
Rock Band Guitar

The guitar sections are similar to the early Guitar Hero system, except the gems are now rectangular instead of circular. They have implemented a more robust hammer-on and pull-off system which allows them to manually place these in songs instead of having them automatically detected. Overdrive (Rock Band's equivalent of star power) is still activated by either tilting the guitar upwards or by pressing the select button.

The Rock Band Fender Stratocaster guitar features solo buttons, which are located further down the neck of the guitar, and closer to the body. These solo buttons allow for the user to play through solos in certain game tracks without having to strum the strum bar. During these solo sections, the track becomes a translucent blue, and players earn bonus points at the end of the section based on the percentage of solo notes they hit. An effects switch on the guitar also allows players to choose a pedal effect during overdrive deployment.


Rock Band Drums
Rock Band Drums

The drums are designed to be similar to real drums. They are played using regular drum sticks and the pads themselves are very similar to practice pads. The gameplay of the drums is similar to that of the guitar and bass, however there are only four regular notes. This is supplemented by a kick/bass pedal. The bass pedal is represented by a horizontal orange line on-screen. Overdrive is activated by completing freestyle drum fills, then hitting the green pad (representing the crash cymbal). The red pad generally acts as the snare drum, however substitutes the yellow as the high hat (and yellow as snare) during long sections of quick, repetitive high hat hits that have snare hits every downbeat (or other similar beats), to give the players a more natural feel as opposed to being forced to cross their arms to hit the snare. The yellow pad, for the most part, acts as the high hat, but also plays as the snare and a tom. The blue either represents a ride cymbal or tom, and green either a crash cymbal or tom. During the freestyle fills, the red is the snare, yellow and blue are toms, and green is the crash cymbal.


Rock Band Microphone
Rock Band Microphone

The vocal track features a horizontal scrolling bar with lines to represent the pitch. Depending on the user's preference, the lyrics either scroll beneath the bar in time with the music, or remain stationary and change color as the music progresses, similar to classic karaoke systems. The style used is reminiscent of the Karaoke Revolution games, which Harmonix also developed. The current pitch being sung is represented by an arrow on-screen which can then be used to judge if the pitch needs to be lowered or raised. Overdrive energy is obtained by singing specially marked phrases accurately. Once enough energy has been collected, Overdrive can be activated any time a yellow section without pitch guides shows up, usually during a break in the vocals. During some of the longer vocal breaks, vocalists must hit or tap the microphone to simulate instruments such as a tambourine, cowbell, and hand clapping. Rather than lyrics, small circles scroll across the vocal bar during these sections, which notify when players must strike the microphone, similar to playing notes on the guitar or drums. While missing these notes has no penalty in terms of how well the vocalist is doing, hitting them earns the player/band points, along with a bonus amount of points at the end of the section determined by the percent of notes hit, similar to the guitar solos.

Game Modes

Solo Tour

For guitar, drums and vocals only. This is the single player career mode component of Rock Band, and strongly resembles the tiered structure of the Guitar Hero games. As the player rises through the tiers, the difficulty of the songs increase. The score a player receives at the end of a song may be added to their career score, which is the total of the highest scores of all the songs played at that difficulty. A player can compare their career score with others across the country through online leaderboards.

Quick Play

This is the quick, get in and play mode of Rock Band. Quick Play available for any single instrument, or combination of. This mode can be played either online or off, with remote players filling in for band members if the host chooses. The scores achieved in this mode are not recorded onto leaderboards.

Band World Tour

This is the multiplayer co-op career mode of Rock Band. The player must create a band with multiple people and go on tour like a real band. Traveling from city to city, the player has a choice of different venues to play at, each with several different set lists. Initially, set lists are short, with one or two songs, and most of the cities and venues are locked. Playing through set lists unlocks new cities, venues, set lists, and songs as well as extras such as tour buses and jets. After enough set lists have been completed, the endless set list is unlocked, which has the band play through all 58 on-disc songs non-stop.

Score Duel

Score Duel is when two players compete for the highest score on the same song under the same difficulty. Players will play through the song and simply see who comes out with the higher score. This is also the main multiplayer component of rock band.

Tug of War

Players will take turns playing sections of the song trying to win the crowd's favor. Played on the same difficulty, this is similar to Guitar Hero's "Face Off" mode. This is also the other multiplayer component of Rock Band.


The soundtrack consists of 58 songs listed by band in alphabetical order, as well as additional downloadable content. The on-disc songs are (* indicates a cover, ~ indicates songs that can not be exported to Rock Band 2):

Artist - "Song Title"

  • *Aerosmith - "Train Kept-a-Rollin"
  • Beastie Boys - "Sabotage"
  • *~Black Sabbath - "Paranoid"
  • Blue Oyster Cult - "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
  • Bon Jovi - "Wanted Dead Or Alive"
  • Boston - "Foreplay/Long Time"
  • The Clash - "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?"
  • Coheed and Cambria - "Welcome Home"
  • David Bowie - "Suffragette City"
  • Deep Purple - "Highway Star"
  • Faith No More - "Epic"
  • Fall Out Boy - "Dead On Arrival"
  • Foo Fighters - "Learn To Fly"
  • Garbage - "I Think I'm Paranoid"
  • The Hives - "Main Offender"
  • Hole - "Celebrity Skin"
  • *~Iron Maiden - "Run To The Hills"
  • Jet - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"
  • The Killers - "When You Were Young"
  • Kiss - "Detroit Rock City"
  • ~Metallica - "Enter Sandman"
  • Molly Hatchet - "Flirtin' With Disaster"
  • *Mountain - "Mississippi Queen"
  • The New Pornographers - "Electric Version"
  • Nine Inch Nails - "The Hand That Feeds"
  • Nirvana - "In Bloom"
  • OK Go - "Here It Goes Again"
  • *The Outlaws - "Green Grass And High Tides"
  • Pixies - "Wave Of Mutilation"
  • The Police - "Next To You"
  • Queens of the Stone Age - "Go With The Flow"
  • Radiohead - "Creep"
  • Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop"
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California"
  • R.E.M. - "Orange Crush"
  • The Rolling Stones - "Gimme Shelter"
  • *Rush - "Tom Sawyer"
  • Smashing Pumpkins - "Cherub Rock"
  • Soundgarden - "Black Hole Sun"
  • Stone Temple Pilots - "Vasoline"
  • The Strokes - "Reptilia"
  • *Sweet - "Ballroom Blitz"
  • Weezer - "Say It Ain't So"
  • The Who - "Won't Get Fooled Again"
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps"

Bonus Songs

  • The Acro-Brats - "Day Later, Dollar Short"
  • Anarchy Club - "Blood Doll"
  • Bang Camaro - "Pleasure (Pleasure)"
  • Crooked X - "Nightmare"
  • Death of the Cool - "Can't Let Go"
  • Flyleaf - "I'm So Sick"
  • Freezepop - "Brainpower"
  • Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives - "I Get By"
  • The Konks - "29 Fingers"
  • The Mother Hips - "Time We Had"
  • Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld - "Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld"
  • Tribe - "Outside"
  • Vagiant - "Seven"

Downloadable Content

Check out the Rock Band DLC Page for a list of songs currently available.

All DLC is cross-compatible between different games in the Rock Band franchise.

Faulty Peripherals

The initial launch run of Rock Band peripherals are noted to have many issues and poor lifespans, that in some cases renders them unusable.

The most common problem is a snapped kick pedal.
The most common problem is a snapped kick pedal.

The drum heads can suffer a variety of different issues. Excessive stomping on the kick pedal can cause the pedal to snap. The drum heads are also known to crack after long enough use, and the pads used on the heads may "bubble," resulting in dropped hits.

The initial launch guitars were equipped with physical strum bar sensors. Over a series of hours, these could get misaligned and cause double strums or missed strums. Future deliveries of guitars switched to a magnetic read system that didn't exhibit these symptoms.

Thankfully, Harmonix and EA took an early awareness to these issues and customers were able to replace any faulty equipment free of charge using the Rock Band customer service page on EA's website.

Xbox 360 Game Installation

Besides being able to export the songs to the hard drive via in game menu, you can also install the game to your HDD

Rock Band requires 5.2 GB of space to be installed on an Xbox 360 HDD.