How Guitar Hero Works

Getting Started with Guitar Hero

Play simultaneously with a friend in co-op mode to become rock stars together.

Before you start playing Guitar Hero, you must decide whether you want an open mic night or sold-out arena level of intensity. In the latest Guitar Hero release, "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock," you have five game mode options. Each offers different opportunities and environments to allow you to build your skills, show off against friends or climb your way to the top.

  • Tutorial: Use this space to hone your skills and get you ready for the big time. You can slow songs down or play them at the normal pace without the pressure of being booed offstage.
  • Career: Play your best to unlock songs and venues and earn cash as you go. This mode separates the game into levels made of song sets that increase in difficulty. Guitar Hero recommends starting off in career mode to unlock hidden contents such as new characters and songs and experience the thrill of success.
  • Co-op: Get high scores with a little help from a friend. Two people play different guitar parts of the same songs (for example, base or lead guitar) to try to get the highest scores possible on "Guitar Hero II" and "Guitar Hero III".
  • Quick Play: Select a song and play without having to move through the levels.
  • Multiplayer: Challenge a friend to a face-off by playing different guitar parts of the same song. Or, unlock the pro face-off mode to compete on the same notes of a song. [source: Activision]

Next, it's time to determine how close you'll stand to the rock 'n' roll fire. The four difficulty levels are separated by the speed and number of notes thrown at you during a song. If you're just starting out, don't even think about trying anything but the easy level to get the hang of it.


  • Easy: only use green, red and yellow fret buttons.
  • Medium: use green, red, yellow and blue fret buttons.
  • Hard: play with all five fret buttons.
  • Expert: use five fret buttons at a faster pace. [source: Activision]


Whether it's Mick Jagger's snarl or Gene Simmons' blood-spitting, onstage persona is everything. For that reason, Guitar Hero has a variety of characters, or avatars, to choose from. Match your riffing style with Johnny Napalm's mohawk, Judy Nails' vixen vibe or one of the other seven "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" characters (not including the one you can unlock). Also, if you dig Izzy Sparks' mullet, but not his pants, don't fret. As you progress in career mode, you can buy your avatars new clothing and instruments.

Now that you've established your virtual set list and band, it's time to play. Read on to learn Guitar Hero's essential rules for scoring.