The Beatles: Rock Band Primer Guide

Become an honorary Beatle with our tips for The Beatles: Rock Band, including achievement and trophy details.

It goes without saying that the Beatles were a phenomenon. Neither before nor since has a musical act garnered as much love and attention that the Beatles have. So it's not exactly surprising that one of the biggest music games in town has devoted their latest installment entirely to The Beatles. In what was clearly a labor of love, The Beatles: Rock Band goes far beyond most branded music games and plays out almost like an interactive documentary. With that said, the core is still Rock Band, and you're still striving to be the best rock star you can be.

Here's what you'll find in GameSpot's The Beatles: Rock Band Primer Guide:

  • Music Lessons: If you're new to Rock Band, or just looking for some quick tips, attend our Music Lesson section.
  • Song & Arena List: Check out what songs are featured in the Beatles Rock Band, as well as the famous locales where you'll be performing them.
  • Xbox 360 Achievements: Learn how to obtain this game's every achievement.
  • PS3 Trophies: Want some of those sweet PS3 trophies? Here you go!

Music Lessons

Here's the gist: you are The Beatles. Assuming the role of any of the Fab Four, you'll be playing the parts of either guitar, bass, drums, or singer. If you've played one of the previous versions of Rock Band, you should already know the basics. But for those new to the series, this section's for you.

Objective

At its core, the goal is to complete each song and earn a high score. The fundamentals for most of the instruments (vocals aside) are very similar in that each player is presented with a "note highway," where a seemingly endless string of colored notes race toward the bottom of the screen. Each note corresponds to either a fret button on the guitar and bass or a pad on the drums. You need to perform the appropriate note the moment those notes slide past the colored fret buttons at the bottom. The longer you go without missing a note, the higher the combo and the more points you'll earn.

What's the difference between difficulty levels? Glad you asked! In general, as the difficulty level increases, so do the amount of notes and the speed at which they race down the 'note highway'. In the case of guitar and base, the lower difficulties actually offers fewer frets to worry about (for instance, you only need to worry about three of them on easy, four on normal, and all five on hard and expert). Drums, similarly, rarely--if ever--makes use of the pedal on easy, with its presence growing more prominent the harder your difficulty level. In regards to vocals, the "pitch" line decreases in width on the higher difficulties, meaning you need to be more precise to stay within the required vocal range.

Beatlemania

For previous Rock Band players, Beatlemania is just a rebranded version of "Overdrive." Here's how it works: throughout each song are sections of notes that glow white (or yellow for vocals)--as you hit these notes, the Beatlemania bar will begin to fill. Once the meter is at least half filled, Beatlemania can be activated at almost any time. With it activated, not only does it double the point value of each note hit thereafter, but the penalty for missing a note is also significantly reduced. In addition, if playing multiplayer, activating Beatlemania is the only way in which to revive a fallen teammate.

Now Beatlemania only lasts a short while (the more energy stored in the meter, the longer it persists), so it's important you activate it at the right time. In general, it should be saved for fast portions of the song with plenty of notes, to gain the most substantial score boost. Likewise, try to avoid activating it during sections with long, sustained notes, as this simply burns through your Beatlemania without netting you much in the way of points.

But how do you actually activate Beatlemania? It depends on the instrument. In the case of both guitar and bass, it can be activated at any time (assuming the meter is at least half-full) by either tilting the guitar straight up, or tapping the select button. The process is a bit different for drums, however. Instead of being able to activate it at any time, you must wait until a glowing green note appears--hitting it (by tapping the green pad) will activate Beatlemania. However, if you wish to save Beatlemania for later, skipping that note bears no penalty.

Tips
  • Having trouble at a particular point in a song? Try to remember where it is and conserve your Beatlemania until you reach that point, which should allow you to skate through that portion relatively unscathed--this can be a life saver on the higher difficulties.
  • Still can't pass that one pesky song? Try activating "No Fail Mode" to complete songs without having to worry about dropping out.

Guitar

Ah yes, the guitar, the one instrument that is not only integral to most bands, but it's also what jump-started the whole music game craze. It's generally the most popular of the Rock Band instruments, so you may have to fight your friends in order to play it.

You'll find five colored fret buttons on the guitar, in addition to the strum and whammy bars. Each fret button corresponds to the same-colored bar on the screen, at the base of the 'note highway.' In order to actually hit the notes coming your way, you'll have to tap the strum bar while holding down the required fret buttons. On the higher difficulties, this may become problematic as you have five frets, but only four fingers. To hit these notes, be sure to slide your hand either up or down by a fret to get your fingers in the proper position. It can be confusing, but practice will soon make it second nature.

Hammer-Ons & Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are important skills to learn, as it allows you to play a series of notes simply by tapping or releasing the respective fret buttons, without having to tap the strum bar except for the initial strum. This becomes crucial on the higher difficulties. A hammer-on or pull-off opportunity can be identified when you see a series of notes that shrink in size after the initial note which begins the sequence. In the case of a Hammer-On, the notes will start at the low end of the scale (green fret) and work their way to the the high-end (orange fret), whereas the opposite is true for pull-offs.

To perform a hammer-on, strum the first note of the sequence, then simply tap the respective fret for the following (smaller) notes, without further strumming. For a pull-off, you'll actually lift your fingers off each subsequent fret in the sequence (from pinky finger to pointer), again without touching the strum bar for the notes beyond the first. It can be tricky to get the hang of it, so you may want to practice in the game's training mode, which offers a tutorial specifically for hammer-on and pull-offs.

Tips
  • During quick sections, make sure to alternate strumming up and down, instead of strumming in the same direction constantly. Otherwise you simply won't be able to hit every note fast enough on the higher difficulties.
  • For any fret button after the first (the far left, green one), you don't have to let up on the fret buttons preceding it (as long as you hold them all down). This can help prevent mis-placed fingers for when things get hectic.
  • Fill your Beatlemania meter faster by pressing the whammy bar repeatedly during long notes!

Bass

As far as gameplay is concerned, bass is near identical to guitar, except that the note sequences tend to be simpler and more repetitive. As such, bass may actually be preferential for newcomers to Rock Band. Because the basics are the same, please check the "guitar" section above for advice.

Tips
  • During quick sections, make sure to alternate strumming up and down. As you simply won't have enough time to hit every note is you strum in the same direction constantly.
  • For any fret button after the first (the far left, green one), you don't have to let up on the fret buttons before it (as long as you hold them all down). This can help prevent mis-placed fingers for when things get hectic.
  • Fill your Beatlemania meter faster by pressing the whammy bar repeatedly during long notes!

Drums

With few exceptions, drumming isn't the most respected band position, and even the Beatle's Ringo Starr wasn't immune to this bum rap (whether this descriptor is fair or not is beyond the scope of this guide). Despite this, drumming is perhaps the trickiest and most intricate instrument of Rock Band and demands ones full attention.

The basics are similar to playing guitar--that is, drum the pad that matches the color of the notes shown on-screen. Unlike guitar, however, you only have four colored notes, each corresponding to one of the drum pads. However, there is one key difference--the addition of an orange line that spans the width of the note highway. This signifies it's time to hit the bass pedal. Unfortunately, for many would-be drummers, trying to manage the drum kit and bass pedal together is like trying to pat ones head while rubbing their stomach--it's not easy to do. If you find yourself having trouble, practice, practice, and practice some more. Try to focus on the rhythm of the song and not so much on your exact motions.

Tips
  • Keep your foot pressed down on the pedal at all times, instead of hovering over it. You should let up only to press it down again when the bass orange bar appears. Take it from us: this will prevent much foot and calf fatigue.
  • Remember that you can skip the glowing green Beatlemania notes without penalty if you wish to conserve it for later.

Vocals

Rock Band introduced the ability to sing while your friends drum and rock out on guitar, but now The Beatles allows for up to three to sing at once, in harmony. Unlike guitar, bass, and drums, singing works quite differently in the way it's presented. The wide bar at the top of the screen displays everything you need to know; specifically, what pitch you should be singing in and the lyrics.

The arrow on the left shows your current pitch: sing high and it raises, sing low and it drops. Your goal is to sing in pitch, as represented by the blue line--if the arrow's above or below it, adjust your pitch accordingly.

Tips
  • Running out of breath? Try to take a short, but deep breath just before the start of each verse, releasing it and taking another breath before the next.
  • Can't sing? Try humming. The game doesn't much care about your exact words; instead, it's simply looking to see whether you're matching the expected pitch. This can also be helpful if you've forgotten the lyrics and are having trouble keeping up. We can't be held accountable for the weird looks your friends will give you though.
  • When singing with multiple players, you don't neccessilarly have to sing in the exact pitch designated to you. Instead, you'll still earn points as long as you sing in the same pitch as the lead singer instead.
  • Having trouble with vocals? Make sure you're using an actual microphone and not a headset--the quality of the latter's microphone isn't quite cut out for Rock Band's demands.

Song & Venue List

The Beatles composed a ridiculous amount of songs for a single group, with their complete catalog consisting of more than 300. Of course, The Beatles: Rock Band doesn't include anywhere near that amount on the disc itself, but it does contain a respectable 45, with more available for download. Here is the complete list of songs that appears on the disc proper, in addition to the venues you'll be playing them in.

Song TitleVenue
A Hard Day's NightEd Sullivan Theater
"And Your Bird Can Sing"Budokan
"Back in the U.S.S.R."Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Birthday"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Boys"Cavern Club
"Can't Buy Me Love"Ed Sullivan Theater
"Come Together"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Day Tripper"Budokan
"Dear Prudence"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Dig a Pony"Rooftop Concert
"Do You Want to Know a Secret"Cavern Club
"Don't Let Me Down"Rooftop Concert
"Drive My Car"Budokan
"Eight Days a Week"Shea Stadium
"Get Back"Rooftop Concert
"Getting Better"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Good Morning Good Morning"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Hello Goodbye"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Helter Skelter"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Here Comes the Sun"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Hey Bulldog"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"I Am the Walrus"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"I Feel Fine"Shea Stadium
"I Me Mine"Rooftop Concert
"I Saw Her Standing There"Cavern Club
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"Ed Sullivan Theater
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"Rooftop Concert
"I Wanna Be Your Man"Ed Sullivan Theater
"If I Needed Someone"Shea Stadium
"I'm Looking Through You"Shea Stadium
"I've Got a Feeling"Rooftop Concert
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Octopus's Garden"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Paperback Writer"Budokan
"Revolution"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Something"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Taxman"Budokan
"The End"---
"Ticket to Ride"Shea Stadium
"Twist and Shout"Cavern Club
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape
"Yellow Submarine"Abbey Road Studios / Dreamscape

Xbox 360 Achievements

Note that there are Spoilers on this list.

Achievement NameHow To EarnReward
A Little Help From My FriendsStart a Story with a four player band.10
Ace BassistEarn a Bass Career score of 1,000,000.20
All the Children SingGet all possible Triple Fab ratings for every song with 3 vocal parts.25
All Together NowGet a Guitar, Bass and Drum unison bonus on the songs listed on the Trophies.15
All You Need is LoveFive-star every song in The Beatles: Rock Band30
And the Band Begins to PlayEarn Expert gold stars on 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.35
AuthenticityFinish any song as a Bassist with Lefty Mode turned on, hitting at least 50% of the notes.10
Better Free Your Mind InsteadEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.35
Day TripperStart a new Story save file and reach the credits within 24 hours.15
Dazzling DrummerEarn a Drum Career score of 1,000,000.20
Do Right By MeGet a 350-note streak playing Ticket To Ride on Guitar.25
Doing the Best That You Can!Complete all the Drum Lessons.20
Eight Days a WeekGet an 8x Band Multiplier.10
Elmore James Got Nothing on ThisGet 85% or better on all solos in The Beatles: Rock Band on Expert Guitar.25
Gear GuitaristEarn a Guitar Career Score of 1,000,000.20
Goo Goo G'joobGet a 550-note streak playing I Am The Walrus on Drums.25
How Could I Dance with AnotherScore 100% playing I Saw Her Standing There on Expert Bass20
I GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!Score 100% notes hit on Helter Skelter playing Expert Drums.35
I Saw the PhotographGet your first Beatles photo.10
In Seconds FlatMaintain Beatlemania for 60 seconds.15
In the StudioPlay a song in Abbey Road, Studio 2 in Story.10
Let's Get Some LevelsCalibrate your system for the optimal experience.5
Like a Million SunsScore 1,000,000 points in a single song.20
Liverpool LadsPlay a song in The Cavern '63 in Story.10
Mr. K Will Challenge the WorldFinish all 8 Chapter Challenges.10
No One's Frightened of PlayingEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.35
Passed the AuditionPlay all the songs on Apple Corps Rooftop '69 in Story.20
Pick a Moon DogPlay Dig a Pony on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.25
Really Big ShowPlay a song on The Ed Sullivan Show '64 in Story.10
Sensational SingersEarn a Vocal Harmonies Career score of 1,000,000.20
Shake It Up, Baby!Use Beatlemania at least 5 times in a single song using either Bass or Guitar.10
She Still Sings It with the BandGet all possible Double Fab ratings for every song with 2 vocal parts.25
Stadium SuperstarsPlay a song in Shea Stadium '65 in Story.10
Still my Guitar Gently WeepsHit 100% of the notes in either of the solos in While My Guitar Gently Weeps on Expert Guitar.30
Sun, Sun, Sun Here it ComesGet a 350-note streak playing Here Comes The Sun on Guitar25
That's It! You've Got It!Get a 350-note streak playing Hey Bulldog on Bass.15
The Complete AnthologyWow! You've gotten all the Trophies in The Beatles: Rock Band.25
The Final TourPlay a song in Budokan '66 in Story.10
The Teachers Who Taught Me WERE CoolComplete all the Beatle Beats.30
The Words You Long to HearEarn a five-star rating for the songs on the Trophies screen as a Vocalist on Hard or Expert.20
Things That Money Just Can't BuyEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.35
Toppermost of the PeppermostFinish all 8 Chapter Challenges with full star ratings.15
We Would Be So Happy, You and MePlay Octopus's Garden on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.25
What I Got I'll Give to YouHit 100% of the notes in the solo of Can't Buy Me Love on Hard or Expert Guitar.30
Won't You Come Out to Play?Play Dear Prudence on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.25

Secret Achievements

Achievement NameHow To EarnReward
Are You Gonna Be In My Dreams?Hit 100% of the notes in the solo of The End on Expert Drums.35
Don't Let Me DownYou saved a bandmate from failing!10
Images of Broken LightGet all the Beatles Photos.20
In Penny Lane There Is A BarberGet half of the Beatles Photos.10
Oh Yeah, All Right!Hit 100% of the notes in the solo of The End on Hard or Expert Guitar.30
The Love You MakeComplete the Encore in Story.10

PlayStation 3 Trophies

Note that there are Spoilers on this list.
Achievement NameHow To EarnReward
A Little Help From My FriendsStart a Story with a four player band.Bronze
Ace BassistEarn a Bass Career score of 1,000,000.Bronze
All the Children SingGet all possible Triple Fab ratings for every song with 3 vocal parts.Silver
All Together NowGet a Guitar, Bass and Drum unison bonus on the songs listed on the Trophies.Bronze
All You Need is LoveFive-star every song in The Beatles: Rock BandGold
And the Band Begins to PlayEarn Expert gold stars on 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.Silver
AuthenticityFinish any song as a Bassist with Lefty Mode turned on, hitting at least 50% of the notes.Bronze
Better Free Your Mind InsteadEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.Silver
Day TripperStart a new Story save file and reach the credits within 24 hours.Bronze
Dazzling DrummerEarn a Drum Career score of 1,000,000.Bronze
Do Right By MeGet a 350-note streak playing Ticket To Ride on Guitar.Bronze
Doing the Best That You Can!Complete all the Drum Lessons.Bronze
Eight Days a WeekGet an 8x Band Multiplier.Bronze
Elmore James Got Nothing on ThisGet 85% or better on all solos in The Beatles: Rock Band on Expert Guitar.Bronze
Gear GuitaristEarn a Guitar Career Score of 1,000,000.Bronze
Goo Goo G'joobGet a 550-note streak playing I Am The Walrus on Drums.Bronze
How Could I Dance with AnotherScore 100% playing I Saw Her Standing There on Expert BasBronze
I GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!Score 100% notes hit on Helter Skelter playing Expert Drums.Silver
I Saw the PhotographGet your first Beatles photo.Bronze
In Seconds FlatMaintain Beatlemania for 60 seconds.Bronze
In the StudioPlay a song in Abbey Road, Studio 2 in Story.Bronze
Let's Get Some LevelsCalibrate your system for the optimal experience.Bronze
Like a Million SunsScore 1,000,000 points in a single song.Bronze
Liverpool LadsPlay a song in The Cavern '63 in Story.Bronze
Mr. K Will Challenge the WorldFinish all 8 Chapter Challenges.Bronze
No One's Frightened of PlayingEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.Silver
Passed the AuditionPlay all the songs on Apple Corps Rooftop '69 in Story.Silver
Pick a Moon DogPlay Dig a Pony on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.Silver
Really Big ShowPlay a song on The Ed Sullivan Show '64 in Story.Bronze
Sensational SingersEarn a Vocal Harmonies Career score of 1,000,000.Bronze
Shake It Up, Baby!Use Beatlemania at least 5 times in a single song using either Bass or Guitar.Bronze
She Still Sings It with the BandGet all possible Double Fab ratings for every song with 2 vocal parts.Bronze
Stadium SuperstarsPlay a song in Shea Stadium '65 in Story.Bronze
Still my Guitar Gently WeepsHit 100% of the notes in either of the solos in While My Guitar Gently Weeps on Expert Guitar.Silver
Sun, Sun, Sun Here it ComesGet a 350-note streak playing Here Comes The Sun on GuitarBronze
That's It! You've Got It!Get a 350-note streak playing Hey Bulldog on Bass.Bronze
The Complete AnthologyWow! You've gotten all the Trophies in The Beatles: Rock Band.Platinum
The Final TourPlay a song in Budokan '66 in Story.Bronze
The Teachers Who Taught Me WERE CoolComplete all the Beatle Beats.Bronze
The Words You Long to HearEarn a five-star rating for the songs on the Trophies screen as a Vocalist on Hard or Expert.Bronze
Things That Money Just Can't BuyEarn Expert gold stars on the 4 songs listed on the Trophies screen.Silver
Toppermost of the PeppermostFinish all 8 Chapter Challenges with full star ratings.Bronze
We Would Be So Happy, You and MePlay Octopus's Garden on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.Silver
What I Got I'll Give to YouHit 100% of the notes in the solo of Can't Buy Me Love on Hard or Expert Guitar.Silver
Won't You Come Out to Play?Play Dear Prudence on Expert Guitar, playing all hammer-ons and pull-offs without strumming.Silver

Secret Trophies

Achievement NameHow To EarnReward
Are You Gonna Be In My Dreams?Hit 100% of the notes in the solo of The End on Expert Drums.Bronze
Don't Let Me DownYou saved a bandmate from failing!Bronze
Images of Broken LightGet all the Beatles Photos.Bronze
In Penny Lane There Is A BarberGet half of the Beatles Photos.Bronze
Oh Yeah, All Right!Hit 100% of the notes in the solo of The End on Hard or Expert Guitar.Bronze
The Love You MakeComplete the Encore in Story.Bronze

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