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The addition of keyboards in Rock Band 3 marks the first completely new instrument to be added since drums and vocals were introduced in the original Rock Band. In order to keep in line with the other instruments, two modes of play are available. Standard keys use 5 keys total, where as pro keys utilize all 25 keys on the new controller.


The new Madcatz wireless keyboard controller is set up to be played in multiple positions. It can be played flat on your lap, a table or a separately purchased stand, or you can attach a strap to it and play it similarly to a keytar. The controller features a 2 octave range, or 25 keys and can be used as a real MIDI keyboard outside of the game. On the left side of the keyboard is a small touch strip which functions like the whammy bar on guitar, as well as a button for activating overdrive. These can be a bit difficult to use if you are trying to play with both hands on the keyboard. For those of you who already own MIDI keyboards, you may also use those in game with the MIDI Pro adapter which is scheduled to be released later this year. Overall the controller has worked great, with no noticeable response issues from the keys.

Standard Keys

Standard mode key charts look identical to normal guitar charts except for the lack of hammer on and pull off notes. Although the middle C-G keys are specifically marked for this mode with small colored dots, you may also use the lower octave C-G keys for green through orange notes respectively. People without a keyboard controller can play standard keys charts on guitar either in all instruments mode, or in normal play after completing the Guitar Immortal goal. While this mode can be a fun way to get acquainted with the controller, the true bulk of the keyboard gameplay lies in the Pro Keys mode.

Pro Keys


Pro keys mode utilizes the full range of the keyboard, with all notes authored to their accurate pitches. The game displays a total range of 10 white keys at a time. On easy and medium, there is only one range used on the keyboard per song. On hard and expert, the lanes will actually shift during the song when the chart is moving outside of the current range you are playing in. In order to help you from getting disoriented, there are colored blocks over the keys, which are also shown on screen to let you know where your hands should be focused on the keyboard. One other nice touch is that keys you are holding down will light up on screen, allowing you to see how far away the next note is from the one you are currently holding. Overall, key parts are authored to represent only what one hand is playing. Having both hands authored would most likely make the note chart look cluttered and it would be rather difficult to fit both hands parts into a 2 octave range on many songs. While every note is played on it's correct pitch, there are times where notes have to be moved out of their proper octave in order to get them to fit on the smaller range of the keyboard as well as within the current range. While pro keys give a decent start towards learning how to play a song, they do leave a few more gaps at times in comparison to the transition from pro guitar to real guitar.

Next: Vocals


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