Guitar Hero Vs Real Guitar: Will the Game Help Real Life Guitar Playing

Published Categorized as Other

If you play guitar hero then you might be wondering if it will help with playing real guitar.

There’s definitely divided opinion about this.

Personally I can say that I know people who can’t play guitar that are much better at guitar hero than I am. But then that’s not to say that they wouldn’t also be better guitarists if they learnt real guitar.

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Guitar Hero vs Real Guitar: Does One Help the Other?

Let’s take a look at what opinions people have on this.

First we’ll take a look at some comments from people who think that guitar hero will help with real guitar and then we’ll take a look at some comments from people who think that they are completely separate.

Guitar Hero Helps with Real Guitar

The following are comments paraphrased from real comments online.

  • Guitar Hero and real guitar are very similar but not the same. You won’t be able to pick up a guitar and play it even if you are the top guitar hero player in the world – but it does help with rhythm, fretting etc.
  • Guitar Hero helps to build finger strength for playing guitar – the guitar hero guitar is of course a simpler instrument than a real guitar.
  • Certain aspects of the game are beneficial for learning real guitar such as helping with picking up rhythm – young guitarists who have mastered guitar hero learn faster. It also helps with building finger dexterity
  • Guitar hero may not teach you how to play guitar but it does train your brain to be better at things like hand-eye co-ordination and multi-level thinking – things which are needed for playing actual guitar
  • Guitar hero helps with timing and rhythm but I’m not sure it would help with much else.

Guitar Hero Doesn’t Help Real Guitar

O.k. now let’s take a look at some comments from those that don’t think that guitar hero is helpful at all.

  • Not only will guitar hero not help with your actual guitar playing – it will hinder it. It’s nothing like the real thing and some promising guitarists waste their time playing this game when they could actually be gifted guitarists
  • No way. The finger motions are completely different, your finger positions never change, and your strumming motion is completely different in actual guitar than just clicking a button
  • Not at all. I find that all the really awesome guitarists I know suck at guitar hero. And those that are great at guitar hero can’t play real guitar – there seems to be a negative co-relation if anything
  • A real guitar has 6 strings and usually at least 20 frets. Guitar hero has 5 colored buttons. Strumming is completely different – there’s no comparison and in my opinion no reason to think that one helps the other.

What’s a Reasonable Conclusion to Come to?

There are obviously a lot of different opinions on this one.

There was a pretty consistent theme coming through in most of the comments. Which was pretty much that:

  • It could help with rhythm
  • It could help with finger strength
  • It could help with hand eye co-ordination
  • You aren’t going to be able to pick up a real guitar and play after playing guitar hero

A common thing that was mentioned was using other guitar games that use a real guitar.

Rocksmith was the one that was mentioned the most. This is software that helps you to learn guitar via a game similar to guitar hero – but you plug in a real guitar. I don’t know that much about this but you might want to check it out if you like the idea of using a game to learn guitar.

Learn more about Rocksmith.

What Do I Think?

In my personal experience, I’m not that good at guitar hero but would like to think I was a decent guitarist.

But I think that there are some arguments regarding song structure, rhythm and finger strength that can somewhat help a guitar hero player transition onto the real instrument.

But I think that otherwise there is very little connection. Someone who has mastered guitar hero would start in pretty much the same place as someone who never played the game if they were to start learning real guitar.

They might progress slightly faster – but at the same time they may find it harder to motivate themselves if they can blast out some awesome songs playing the game and can hardly play a note or chord on the real thing.

Also, there could be other things about the game that make it harder to transition onto the guitar, because it might make your brain work in a certain way in relation to “playing guitar” which makes it a harder adjustment than if you were to have not ever or rarely played the game.

What Do You Think?

Thanks for reading my general overview of what others think about whether or not guitar hero helps real guitar and what I think about it.

If you have any opinions as to whether you think it will help real guitar or not please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.


How close is Guitar Hero to real guitar?

Guitar Hero can be a fun and engaging game that introduces players to the concept of rhythm and music in a simplified way, but it is not a substitute for learning to play a real guitar. Real guitar playing requires a deeper understanding of music theory, technical skills, and practice to master, while Guitar Hero is more of an entertainment experience that simulates the feel of playing a guitar without the complexity and depth of the real thing.

Does Guitar Hero improve hand-eye coordination?

Yes, playing Guitar Hero can help improve hand-eye coordination.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)


  1. I don’t play guitar hero or a real guitar, though I’ve tried both. In fact, we have a guitar in the house from when I encourage my youngest daughter to take it up. I do read sheet music though… or rather I was fluent during my elementary through high school years from band.

    However, I do imagine it guitar hero would help a bit, even if the finger movements are different. The reason I say that is muscle memory. Keep in mind, my experience with both guitar hero and a real guitar are limited. However, it makes me think one gets into a rhythm with guitar hero to the point one isn’t really remembering where the keys are. Rather they’re get into a muscle memory type of rhythm. I would think it’d be easier to train the fingers to develop muscle memory of a real guitar after playing guitar hero from some time.

    I’m just speculating. 🙂

    1. Hi Renee

      Thanks for your message.

      I think I agree with you to an extent. The muscle memory training possible helps to some extent and I agree it probably helps a little but I think that it’s probably a very small amount given the difference in complexity of hitting one of 5 big colored buttons and hitting one of 6 thin strings inside one of at least 20 frets. I think there would be some connection there but I don’t think it would lead to much difference in progress on a real guitar due to the relative simplicity in hand eye co-ordination.

      But we’re all just speculating 🙂

  2. Thank You

    This is an interesting article on guitar hero and playing the guitar, I have never played guitar hero but I have played the guitar. It does not sound like playing guitar hero is worth it if you think it is going to help you learn to play a real guitar, but if you just like the game no harm is done.


    1. Hey Jeff

      Thanks for your input.

      Yeah definitely agree, playing the game won’t do any real harm for playing the actual instrument – but probably won’t help you to play the real guitar either. I think to an extent that are some aspects that will help and some aspects that might hinder but they probably cancel each other out.

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