I’ve always had an affinity for the musical arts. I picked up violin in the fourth grade after spending Kindergarten through third grade becoming a guitar virtuoso. To be fair, the guitar was made of plastic and had little buttons along the fret that played totally radical riffs, but I was a bloody rock god and I don’t care what anyone else says about it. Back then, in the late 80s and early 90s, I thought that I was experiencing the absolute best that the world would ever offer in the field of pretend rocking out. Nearly fifteen years later, Harmonix blew people away with Guitar Hero, and followed that up with giving people the ability to play as a full band with Rock Band. The quality of a game like Rock Band 3, Harmonix’s most recent outing, is entirely limited by the quality of the peripheral hardware used to play it. This is where Mad Catz comes in.
For Rock Band and Rock Band 2, Mad Catz released a wired Fender Precision Bass Replica controller that doubled as a guitar. Later on, a wireless version was released, which is the device that this review serves to opine on. The hardware continues to work with Rock Band 3, in spite of the “Rock Band / Rock Band 2″ setting switch on the back of the instrument. While wired controllers may be cheaper in certain circumstances, and can offer lower latency for input, I generally tend to choose a wireless control method when the choice is mine to make, ESPECIALLY for music game peripherals. Why? Because they make bitchin’ power slides so much easier.
Why is the Mad Catz Wireless Fender Precision Replica Bass a better purchase than any other bass? Because that isn’t actually a .GIF, it’s a video of me powersliding so fast that you only catch glimpses of me.
As I said, the quality of the experience when playing a game like Rock Band 3 is directly dependent on the hardware being used to play it. You can not play a peripheral based game with shoddy peripherals, and Mad Catz seems to have a great grasp on that concept. Is the Wireless Fender Precision Replica Bass absolutely perfect? No. It does have its flaws, but they are relatively minor when compared to its strengths. The split strum bar has a high level of resistance to the final click, which is difficult to work with in the beginning, but once you’ve become accustomed to the pressure required, the split nature of the strum bar lets you improve your accuracy and speed by large margins.
The bass is designed to double as a guitar, which makes it a great way of killing two birds with one stone, but in the interest of form, function was left by the wayside. Perhaps that’s a bit extreme, though. Guitars have whammy bars, bass guitars do not. In order to visually replicate the look of the Fender bass, this device was made without a whammy bar. To provide guitar whammy functionality, the instrument was given a knob that acts in the bar’s place. Unfortunately, the clicking action of the knob makes it fairly inconvenient to use, and requires that you move your fingers/hand away from the strum bar; something the length of a proper whammy bar prevents. If the device is advertised with its ability to function as both a bass and a guitar, then it should be designed to do so easily and functionally.
Otherwise, this device is really well designed and built. Though made of plastic, it’s fantastic. It has a very solid, hefty feel to it that makes it feel like more than a plastic bass or a glorified toy. You feel like you’re holding an instrument. The standard buttons near the head of the bass are there, but it includes the solo frets on the neck just above the body as well for guitar soloing. The Fender strap is wide, strong, and soft, providing great support for the hefty instrument; when you’re standing to play, this strap will definitely spread the weight of the guitar over a greater surface area, reducing long-term fatigue. The strum bar, once you get used to it, is very sharp and responsive, as are the fret buttons; it definitely is a break from the old single strum bar guitar I used when playing Rock Band 2, and provides a lot more player flexibility. As with any wireless Rock Band 3 controller, be sure to calibrate it first to ensure that everything is timing correctly.
For the price…well, you’re getting a wireless bass or a guitar, depending on how you prefer to use it, that features a split strum bar for faster, more accurate playing, and an overall solid device that gives you magic power slides for $59.99. Peripheral based games are nothing without a good peripheral to play them on. The Mad Catz Wireless Fender Precision Replica Bass is a fantastic starter/extra/main instrument for Rock Band 3. Don’t have Rock Band 3? The bundle includes a copy of the game along with some Red Hot Chili Peppers DLC to get you started.
Great weight and shape
Sweet power slides
Includes copy of the game
|Whammy knob is a poor choice|