All About the Xplorer Guitar (2023 Edition)

Table of Contents

At the center of the games Guitar Hero and Rock Band was the renowned Xplorer Guitar, a game controller designed to imitate the experience of playing a real guitar.

These games swept the music and gaming world in the mid-2000s.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of the Xplorer Guitar and why it’s become such a popular attachment for music gamers everywhere.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to music-based games, I hope you have a good grasp of the Xplorer Guitar’s features and whether it’s for you after reading this post.

Unfortunately, finding a brand new Xplorer Guitar game controller may be challenging, as it is an older model that has been discontinued.

However, you can still find lightly used units through online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or secondhand shops like this one:

Guitar Hero 2 Guitar Controller

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Origin Story of the Xplorer Guitar

Gibson 70s Explorer | First Impressions with Brian Bell (Weezer)

The Xplorer Guitar is a guitar controller made popular through music-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

This one-of-a-kind guitar has a fascinating past that dates back to the 1950s.

The Explorer guitar, launched by Gibson in 1958, is similar to the Xplorer guitar.

The Gibson Explorer was ahead of its time, with a futuristic design that seemed like it came from a science fiction movie.

Today, you can still find new and used Gibson (and generally less expensive Epiphone) Xplorer guitars like this one:

Epiphone Explorer Electric Guitar in Ebony

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Music-based video games surged in popularity in the early 2000s which created a need for a guitar-shaped controller that could mimic the experience of playing an actual guitar.

To meet this need, Activision and RedOctane created the Xplorer Guitar, with its design drawing heavily from the iconic Gibson Explorer guitar.

The Xplorer Guitar swiftly gained recognition as the favored guitar controller for widely popular music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Xplorer Guitar: The Design and Features

Xplorer Guitar Hero controller review

Visual Aesthetics

Shape and Color

One of the first things you’ll notice about the guitar controller is its appealing design.

The controller boasts a shape reminiscent of the iconic Gibson Explorer guitar, giving it an authentic vibe that players love.

With a sleek black-and-white finish, the Xplorer’s color scheme complements its shape, blending seamlessly with most gaming setups.

Comparison to Real Guitars

When compared to real guitars, the Xplorer Guitar holds its own in terms of aesthetics.

Of course, it’s not a full-sized instrument, but the attention to detail in the design makes it a visually pleasing alternative for those looking to rock out in the virtual world.

Buttons and Controls

Fret Buttons

The Xplorer Guitar features five fret buttons on the controller’s neck, providing a comfortable and familiar interface for players.

These buttons are color-coded, making it easy to follow along with on-screen prompts and nail those chords and solos.

Strum Bar

At the heart of the guitar lies the strum bar, the primary method of playing notes.

With a responsive and satisfying click, this bar allows players to strum up or down to match the song’s rhythm.

Whammy Bar

Adding flair to your performance is a breeze with the Xplorer Guitar’s whammy bar.

This feature lets players add vibrato or bend notes, mimicking the effect created on a real guitar.

Start and Select Buttons

The guitar keeps things simple with two additional buttons for in-game menu navigation: Start and Select.

These buttons are conveniently placed on the body of the controller, making it easy for players to pause or access settings during gameplay.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Weight and Size

The Xplorer Guitar is designed with player comfort in mind.

Its lightweight and compact size makes it easy to hold and maneuver, allowing hours of gameplay without causing strain.

This is especially important for those not used to carrying a real guitar.

Strap Adjustments

The adjustable strap included with the Xplorer Guitar ensures that players can find a comfortable fit.

Xplorer Guitar: Cons

While it’s undoubtedly a cool and fun addition to any gaming setup, it’s only fair that we also look into some of the potential drawbacks.

Some cons I’ve read from players are the following:

Size Matters

Some find too small in their hands.

Wired, Not Wireless

In the age of wireless devices, the Xplorer Guitar still comes with a wire.

While it’s not a deal-breaker for everyone, it can be a hassle.

You might need to untangle or manage wires, so they don’t interfere with your gaming experience.

Plus, it limits your mobility during those intense gaming sessions.

However, while some might see this as a drawback in the age of wireless devices, it actually has its advantages.

For starters, you don’t have to worry about batteries or charging.

Plus, wired connections tend to have less latency, meaning you can rock out more accurately.

Durability Concerns

Some users have reported durability issues with the Xplorer Guitar, particularly concerning the buttons and strum bar.

While only some have faced these problems, it’s worth noting that heavy use could lead to wear and tear.

In such cases, you’ll probably just need to purchase another one since repairs can be unlikely.

Xplorer Guitar: Compatibility and Connectivity

Game Compatibility

Guitar Hero Series 

The guitar controller is a fantastic companion for the Guitar Hero series.

In fact, it was originally designed for Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360.

Since then, it’s proven to work seamlessly with other titles in the series, making it a popular choice for Guitar Hero fans.

Rock Band Series 

Good news for Rock Band lovers!

The Xplorer Guitar is also compatible with the Rock Band series, giving you even more opportunities to rock out to your favorite tunes.

Just plug it in, and you’re ready to go!

Other Games 

While the Xplorer Guitar is primarily geared towards the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, a few other games recognize it as a controller.

Some Xbox 360 and PC games can recognize the Xplorer Guitar.

It’s always a good idea to check the game’s documentation or online forums to see if it’s compatible with the Xplorer Guitar.

Platform Compatibility

Xbox 360

As mentioned, the Xplorer Guitar was initially designed for the Xbox 360.

So, naturally, it works flawlessly with this console. Just plug the controller into your Xbox 360, and you’re all set for hours of rocking entertainment!

Xbox 360 4GB Slim Console - (Renewed)

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PC (with an adapter) 

If you’re more of a PC gamer, don’t fret! The Xplorer can work on your computer, too.

You’ll need an Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver or a Breakaway Cable adapter to make this happen like this one:

Mcbazel Wireless USB 2.0 Gaming Receiver Adapter for Microsoft Xbox 360

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Once you have the necessary adapter, you can enjoy all the compatible PC games with your Xplorer Guitar.

Performance and Gameplay Experience

Xbox 360 Guitar Hero Xplorer Controller Test Demo

Learning Curve

One of the things you’ll appreciate about this game controller is that it’s pretty easy to pick up, even for beginners.

Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s nothing to be scared of.

You’ll start with simple tunes; before you know it, you can shred like a pro!

Realism in Gameplay

We all know that playing with a guitar controller isn’t the same as playing a real guitar, but the Xplorer Guitar captures the essence of the experience.

The design is reminiscent of a classic electric guitar, and the button layout is intuitive, allowing you to feel like a rock star.

It’s not a substitute for learning an actual instrument, but it sure is a fun way to indulge in some musical gaming!

Comparisons to Other Guitar Controllers

Although there are other guitar controllers such as the Gibson Les Paul and World Tour Guitar controllers, the Xplorer guitar controller seems like it’s the most popular.

While other controllers may have more features or options, the Xplorer Guitar strongly focuses on providing a streamlined, enjoyable experience.

The Xplorer Guitar in the Gaming Community

Tournaments and competitions

The popularity of the Xplorer Guitar has surely contributed to the growth of rhythm gaming tournaments and competitions.

At tournaments like the WCG Guitar Hero World Championship, players from all walks of life attend, eager to show off their skills and compete against other gamers.

Participants can compete in epic face-offs using the Xplorer Guitar, performing difficult songs and accumulating points to claim victory.

These events bring together players and promote community and camaraderie among fans of music games.

Guitar Hero and similar rhythm games enjoyed their heyday in the late 2000s, but the craze has since died down, and the competitive scene has followed suit.

The World Cyber Games (WCG) held a Guitar Hero World Championship in 2009 as part of their event lineup.

However, it didn’t stick around as a recurring feature in the years that followed.

Mastering the Xplorer Guitar

Hand Positioning

The first thing to remember is that comfort is key.

Find a position that feels natural to you.

A common method is to assign one finger per button.

Remember that your fingers should move effortlessly between the fret buttons.

Practice Routines and Exercises

To truly master this guitar controller, investing time in practice is important.

Break down songs into smaller sections, and work on them individually until you feel confident.

Also, don’t shy away from slower practice speeds – they can help you build muscle memory and improve accuracy.

Final Thoughts on the Xplorer Guitar’s Features and Perks

I’d love to hear your comments on the Xplorer Guitar now that we’ve gone over the ins and outs of it. Have you ever tried it?

Did it meet your expectations?

Or do you have any advice to provide to your fellow guitar heroes?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments area below.

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