Rocksmith is a fun and engaging way for you to learn how to play the guitar.
Learning how to play the guitar can be super intimidating so we always recommend trying to find an inspiration or fun way to make it easier!
Rocksmith is certainly a step ahead of other guitar video games and is fantastic for any beginner. The only downside is that setting up for your first at-home performance can be a bit challenging!
This is principally because of the Real Tone Cable requirement. Without the Real Tone Cable, you can’t play Rocksmith. Or can you?
Keep reading to find out how to play Rocksmith without the Real Tone Cable. We will also talk about why you should think about getting rid of your Real Tone Cable completely.
What Is Rocksmith?
First of all: the basics. What exactly is Rocksmith?
Quite simply, Rocksmith is a music video game from Ubisoft that is designed to help people learn how to play the guitar.
The standout feature of this game that sets it apart from its competitors is that you do not need to purchase proprietary controllers to use it – you can plug in any electric guitar that you want.
You start at the beginning of your guitar-playing career, and gradually level up as you gain experience and practice playing increasingly difficult songs.
The more Rocksmith points that you have, the more challenges and mini-games that you have access to.
Because Rocksmith starts off at a gentle pace, it is a fantastic learning tool for beginners. It has the added bonus of being super fun and packed full of incentives to get you playing – no more dreaded music practice for you!
Do You Need A Real Tone Cable For Rocksmith?
It is usually recommended that you purchase a Real Tone Cable with your Rocksmith set. This cable is advertised as being essential for a good playing experience – but is it?
You may not want to get the cable to begin with or maybe wondering what you should do if you lose it, or it gets broken. Do you need to buy a new one each time?
What about digital playing? You can download Rocksmith to play on your PC but the cable is not always part of the bundle.
Whatever your setup, it is always a hassle and time-consuming to try and get hold of just the single Real Tone Cable. So can you get around this requirement and play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable?
Thankfully, you can!
The Real Tone Cable from Rocksmith is just a bog-standard ¼ inch guitar jack. One end has a jack that connects to your computer or console, the other has a USB connection.
You can get this type of cable from a whole host of different places. Any of these alternatives will work fine the next time you fancy a Rocksmith jamming session.
There are also a number of different ways to connect to Rocksmith with your guitar. A lot of the equipment you need for this type of setup you probably already have to hand at home.
Do I Need A Real Tone Cable To Play Rocksmith?
If you have ever had a go with Rocksmith in the past, you will know that the only drawback from this fantastic game is the Real Tone Cable.
It isn’t very well designed so it does not connect brilliantly and it feels a bit cheap. It can be very frustrating!
So frustrating, in fact, that many people opt to play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable at all.
Why Should I Not Play With A Real Tone Cable?
As we have already mentioned, the Real Tone Cable is often the only thing that people mention is a drawback to the Rocksmith playing experience. This is for a multitude of reasons.
The first reason is that the cable is super pricey for what it is. It is a basic cable with a ¼ inc jack on one end and a USB connection on the other. That’s it!
The official Real Tone Cable is typically sold for $30. This is an outrageous price at the best of times but – if we are being truly honest – the official Real Tone Cable is not high quality at all.
You can get a much better cable for the same function for an awful lot less.
If you are serious about Rocksmith, it may be worth your while spending in this sort of price range but with other brands.
For around $30 you can get a fantastic cable that is of much higher quality and will give you a much better playing experience.
The official Real Tone Cable is not high quality and so breaks very easily. It really does feel cheap whenever you handle it.
We have found it difficult to make a Real Tone Cable last for more than 2 months playing around 3 times a week. For $30 you would have thought it would last a bit longer!
So if you are a dedicated Rocksmith player you can expect to regularly replace your Real Tone Cable.
Unlike other USB cables, the Real Tone has some definite and noticeable connectivity issues.
Whenever we plugged the Real Tone Cable into our PC, we regularly experienced driver problems. This was usually because the USB port on our PC would not recognize the Real Tone Cable.
Even when we could get it going and connect everything up, it would randomly disconnect. Sure, you could try moving the Real Tone Cable around and try other USB ports but we quickly ran out!
Interestingly, Ubisoft does not have any online support for Rocksmith. There is no handy driver to download so connectivity is better.
This means that the only thing that you can do is plug in your cable and cross your fingers!
Finally, there is a significant latency when using the Real Tone Cable.
Latency is the name of the gap between you plucking a string on your guitar and Rocksmith recognizing or registering what you have played.
A long latency can be very frustrating and make playing well impossible.
Long latency pauses are certainly not ideal if you want to work on your rhythm!
If you are finding it impossible to use Rocksmith with the Real Tone Cable due to the latency issues, don’t panic!
We recommend trying a different way of using Rocksmith, such as using an audio interface system or a microphone.
How Do You Play Rocksmith Without A Real Tone Cable?
Fortunately, there are 5 different ways of playing Rocksmith without using the Real Tone Cable. Keep reading to find out how!
Real Tone Cable Alternative
The Real Tone Cable is just a regular cable with a USB end and a ¼ inch jack. That is it.
If you can find any other cable that has the same connectivity options then it will be compatible with Rocksmith and your guitar. Chances are it’ll be better, too!
This one is our favorite. It is cheaper than a Real Tone Cable but is made from better quality materials. This means that it connects better to your console or PC and the latency is markedly improved.
To bypass the need for a cable altogether you can set up an audio interface on your PC. Those who record their guitar playing via direct-in will be well versed in audio interfaces.
We have found that the Rocksmith experience is a little more immersive with an audio interface.
This is because the connectivity is remarkably consistent and the responsiveness of Rocksmith to our guitar playing is incredible.
A good quality audio interface is a little bit on the pricey side. That said, it is a worthwhile investment if you are serious about learning to play the guitar with Rocksmith, or if you do a lot of recording using direct input.
We recommend the Focusrite Scarlett audio interface. It is easy to use and works excellently with Rocksmith.
To use an audio interface with Rocksmith, all you need to do is plug in your guitar, plug in your interface of choice, and then open up Rocksmith.
You will then need to navigate on Rocksmith’s menu to the input settings. Switch the input mode to ‘Microphone.’
Technically this mode is for connecting an acoustic guitar to Rocksmith but it will recognize signals from your chosen audio interface.
You will need to choose your interface from the options but then you are ready to go.
Setting up a microphone to use with Rocksmith and then playing with an acoustic guitar is another great alternative to using a Real Tone Cable.
As with using an audio interface, all you need to do is go into the settings tab and then switch on ‘Microphone Mode.’ Any microphone that you plug in should be immediately recognized and available to select.
Now you can begin playing with any acoustic guitar that you want – it really doesn’t matter!
If you are going to be using a microphone, we recommend investing in a good quality one.
A better-built microphone made to a higher standard will have no difficulty recognizing your guitar sounds so that the game will always recognize what you are doing.
You don’t want to be playing your best and then fail a Rocksmith level because it can’t recognize you!
We recommend the Blue Yeti Microphone. It is a great all-rounder so you aren’t limited to using it with Rocksmith.
It is also super simple to connect thanks to the USB cable – just plug it in and you are ready to go.
If you are more relaxed about using Rocksmith, you are completely forgiven for not wanting to splash out on fancy equipment.
But even the most casual player will find the Real Tone Cable off-putting. So what can you do?
You could give ‘Disconnected Mode’ a go!
When playing in this mode, all note detection is disabled but the notes still appear on the screen for you to play along to.
Rocksmith will not recognize anything you play so you won’t be scoring a PB!
That said, it is a fantastic alternative for those who aren’t serious about playing with Rocksmith, or for those who want to get a bit of extra practice in.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play any of the side games on offer. These rely on you hitting the notes at the right time – if Rocksmith can’t recognize your notes you aren’t going to score any points!
But don’t just disregard Disconnected Mode. It is a lovely stress-free way to play Rocksmith – you know that you can’t fail, it won’t know if you play something wrong or miss some notes, and there is no pressure for you to hit a high score.
Literally, all you do is play your guitar quite happily with no Real Tone Cable in sight!
Feeling a bit technical? This is the last method that we have found that allows you to play Rocksmith without a Real Tone Cable. It is by far the most difficult to master!
Computer-minded fans in the Rocksmith community have put together a piece of software called the NoCable Patch that allows you to play without the Real Tone Cable.
Having this software installed will mean that you can connect your guitar up to your computer via a line-in port or your microphone and Rocksmith will read it as it would signal from a Real Tone Cable.
If you are comfortable with downloading and installing this software to your computer, go for it! However, keep in mind that it is unofficial third-party software so you absolutely don’t have to use it if you don’t feel comfortable.
Even if you don’t use NoCable Patch, there are so many other good alternatives to the Real Tone Cable that you don’t need to feel like you’re missing out.
Is Rocksmith Still Available?
Unfortunately, you are unable to purchase or download Rocksmith as of October 2021. So, if you would like to have a go at this excellent game, you will need to source a hard copy for your console.
Ubisoft is continuing to support all Rocksmith games on all consoles, PCs, and Macs. Nothing has been taken away or discontinued for Rocksmith fans!
You can still access the great content on old systems as well as newer models.
Rocksmith is an excellent game that will allow you to master playing the guitar whilst having fun!
The only downside to this game is the official Real Tone Cable. It has patchy connectivity, is not made from high-quality materials, and breaks easily.
The Rocksmith community has come up with a list of alternatives to the Real Tone Cable. Using one of these alternatives will allow you to carry on playing the Rocksmith that you love, without the frustrations of the cable.
Try experimenting with the above alternatives to discover what works best for you and your playing style. You are bound to find your groove with this guide!
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘What A Guitalele Is and Why You Might Consider Owning One‘.