You’re chilling in your living room with three buddies preparing to play some Rock Band 2 when it suddenly hits you: someone will have to play bass. It’s a low point in anyone’s day, because the bassist never gets any respect. Instead of feeling like the runt of the litter, bassists can now rejoice; Mad Catz has stepped up as the official licensee of Rock Band 2 peripherals in order to deliver you a Rock Band 2 wireless bass guitar they like to call the Fender Precision.
Let’s face it: the Rock Band 2 peripheral market is over-flooded with low quality third-party guitars. The Fender Precision, while expensive, provides the user with an authentic experience that makes playing bass a pleasure. Sizing in at 84% of an actual Fender guitar, the Fender Precision offers gamers a less cluttered instrument with an ergonomic thumb rest and the ability to kick some serious Rock Band ass.
The Fender Precision was designed with a real bass guitar in mind. The standard thumb rest mentioned above is utilized so you can dangle your middle and index finger in order to strum the split-strum bar. That’s correct, the strum bar is broken into two pieces. Each piece signifies a different click direction (up/down) in order to provide you with the ability to strum at twice the speed of any other guitar on the market. Combine this with the nice clicking noise rendered by the strum and you should be nailing 98%+ on the majority of songs (unless you’re a newbie). Mad Catz has also taken the strum one step further by increasing the distance you must strum in order to register a stroke. This contributes heavily to the faster strumming capability, and decreases accidental presses.
Much like a true bass guitar, there is no whammy bar on the Fender Precision. However, Mad Catz understands some lead guitarists may enjoy utilizing their product as well. Therefore, one of the handy knobs found below the strum bar can be turned to create whammy bar sounds. The same goes for the effects selector. The knob closest to the neck of the guitar controls what type of sound effect is selcted. Meanwhile, the lowest knob is for your start/select option depending on which way you turn the dial.
The color selectors and solo play keys are your standard five-color buttons. They’re featured at the end of the neck, and again at the bottom. The buttons feature increased sensitivity over the standard peripheral, thus you don’t have to push down so hard in order to land each note. This is helpful for people with weak pinky fingers trying to utilize that little guy to play a fourth button.
Currently the Xbox 360’s model is available on the market as a wired peripheral, though Mad Catz is releasing the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 wireless version later this year. Now, this isn’t set in stone, but the Mad Catz representative hinted that the PlayStation 3 bass guitar may cost $10 less than the X360’s. This is good for Sony and for your wallets. We apologize for having to utilize an X360 image of the guitar, but Mad Catz has yet to release official photos of the PlayStation 3 version.
This brings us to the Fender Precision’s new best friend, the Overdrive Pedal.
This third-party peripheral does exactly what you’d expect it to: activate overdrive with a nice clean stomp. Instead of ruining your multiplier by trying to reach over and activate overdrive or tilting your guitar up and down until you succeed, Mad Catz has decided to just release a peripheral that makes it easy. This concept isn’t new, as many gamers have modded their own versions of the product, but this officially licensed version makes an overdrive pedal available to anyone.
While we agree that the pedal doesn’t look like the sturdiest piece of equipment, it does hold strong against our high-powered Chuck Norris stomps. We found it very easy to just rest our foot on the pedal and push it forward whenever we needed to active our overdrive, making this easily one of the simplest, yet most useful accessories for Rock Band to date. The pedal also hooks up with no hitches; you simply plug it into your Fender Precision or your first-party guitar and you’re set.
Mad Catz expects to ship the Overdrive Pedal some time this Spring with a $29.99 price tag. We think it’ll be money well spent.