Review: Riff Rocker USB guitar controller (Verdict: Sorry, but no)

The Riff Rocker pitch was intriguing: a cheap little USB guitar peripheral that actually ships with the open-source Guitar Hero clone Frets on Fire. Pretty cool — except the $20 peripheral is really just not a good piece of equipment and worth, at most, a buck or two. The controller is two small to easily hold in two hands and the narrow neck makes the fret buttons difficult to strike. It doesn't feel anything like playing a standard-sized guitar peripheral at all — let alone a guitar. The tiny little rocker switch that serves as a strum bar is difficult to flip back and forth. The cord is only about three feet long, which means you'll have to be seated right next to your computer. At that distance, why not just use a keyboard? Consider Frets on Fire ships with only a couple of songs — let's face it, it's really designed to be used with copyright-violating packs of pop songs with fret patterns programmed by fans — there's really nothing much left to a Riff Rocker owner except frustration and a desire to play with a full-sized (miniature) controller. Riff Rocker project page [] RelatedMake a Guitar Hero Kit for your PC for $30 [Instructables]
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11 Responses to Review: Riff Rocker USB guitar controller (Verdict: Sorry, but no)

  1. simonemarie says:


  2. rAMPANTiDIOCY says:

    i believe that photo is of joel, in the style of Waking Life – and excellent.

  3. bardfinn says:

    I like ze picture; What filters / tools / blah were used to make it?

  4. Garr says:

    @yer maw: The Mac release is experimental and, as far as my experience goes, has a 20% change to run on your mac (totally random).

    I’ve been playing the game almost since it’s release, and I’m still addicted to it (I still play for about an hour each day).
    And the only reason I could think of to plug a “real” controller into my PC is so I could more easily switch between Frets on Fire and Guitar Hero/Rock Band. But so far I’ve been playing wonderfully on my wireless keyboard (it lags a couple of msec, but you can make up for that in the Settings).

    A tip for anyone who’s looking to play Frets on Fire:
    Download Puppetz “PuppetHero” song packs, they’re one of the best out there. (was that illegal?)

  5. yer_maw says:

    frets on fire crashes every time i try and run it.

    ah well.

  6. airship says:

    Dig out your old Commodore 64 and go with Shredz64 instead. Retro!!!

  7. zikman says:

    awh man, don’t ever do that again

  8. Gary61 says:

    I didn’t know Adam Savage (MythBusters) had such a wee little …. guitar.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t had any problems with it cramping my hands although i can see in Joel’s pic that it appears that the device would. I spend a lot of time on the road and the Riff-Rocker is so easy to throw into my computer bag for some quick entertainment on the go. I am actually planning on buying a few as cheap gifts for my niece and newphew.

  10. Anonymous says:

    For 20USD, you can get yourself a USB keyboard and one of those toy guitars from a dollar-store, and make a better version of this (some soldering required).

  11. Downpressor says:

    its full of fabulous fail!

    this whole genre of stuff makes me wonder about humanity cuz its not not that hard to learn to play a guitar

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