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How to Play Guitar Hero on Your PC (Updated 2023)

Guitar Hero was an absolute smash hit upon its release and has remained incredibly popular ever since, with 23 editions published between 2005 and 2015. Unfortunately though, most versions were only ever released on console platforms like Xbox and Playstation, meaning PC gamers had to either invest in a games console, or limit themselves to the three editions released for PC.

Since then, there have been developments that now actually allow you to play any version of Guitar Hero right on your PC. In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide we’ll be looking at the methods you can use to play Guitar Hero on a PC, including any software you need, as well as any hardware.

If you’ve always wanted to play Guitar Hero on your PC, you won’t want to miss this!

Is it Possible to Play Guitar Hero on PC?

Yes, it is possible to play Guitar Hero on PC, but it does require a little work – you will need a compatible controller, and a copy of the Guitar Hero game. There are tons of emulators that will allow you to play any version of Guitar Hero on your PC, but the best way to play is using a genuine copy. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, and Guitar Hero: World Tour were the only versions of the game officially released for PC.

If you aren’t worried about playing in career mode, Clone Hero is probably the best fan made GH style game out there, and the best part is that it’s free.

How to Install Guitar Hero on your PC

How to Install Guitar Hero World Tour: Definitive Edition MOD! (2023)

If you’re planning to use an official copy of the game, installation is a really straightforward process – simply insert the disc into the CD drive on your computer, and follow the installation prompts. 

The specific process will vary slightly depending on what version of Windows you’re using, but the installation wizard should run automatically in any case.

How to Play Guitar Hero Using an Emulator

We will preface this section by pointing out that using emulators and unofficial ROMs may result in damage to your PC. You should be aware of the dangers of downloading files from unverified sources before downloading and installing such software.

In addition to the obvious risks that come with downloading these files, emulator ROMs are often sluggish performance-wise, and won’t offer the same kind of experience you’d find on an official copy of the game, or even on fan-made freeware. 

If this is the path you’re taking, we’d suggest looking at RPCS3 as a relatively reliable emulator. This is a PS3 emulator, and works with Windows, Linux, and MacOS. If you’re going to use this emulator, we can’t stress enough that you should only ever download it from the official website. 

You’d then perform a Google search for the ROM of the specific edition of Guitar Hero you’re looking to play, and open it with the emulator.

How to Install Clone Hero on your PC

How to install Clone Hero + Add Songs 2023

Besides the official Guitar Hero games for PC, our favorite way to get a GH style fix is to use Clone Hero. This is a free Guitar Hero-style game that doesn’t require emulators or downloads from potentially nefarious sources.

Not only is Clone Hero a safer option, it also allows you to use any song you like. No longer will you be limited to the game’s standard selection!

To install Clone Hero, visit their website, and download the latest version from the home page. The link to their Discord server is also featured on the home page and it’s a great place to get involved in the growing Clone Hero community.

When you click download, you’ll see some download options, with Windows 64 bit as the standard choice. If this isn’t compatible with your system, click “Can’t find your operating system?” for more choices.

The download package will include a 7z compressed file, which you’ll need to open with an extraction tool like WINRAR. Move the extracted folder to a location of your choice.

When the folder is in the desired location, open it, and create a new folder inside, and call it “Songs”. This is where you’ll save songs to. 

There are a ton of pre-formatted songs available here. The Discord channel is another great resource.

Download any songs you’d like to play, and save them to the songs folder you created earlier. You’ll then need to open the Clone Hero game, proceed to Settings – General – Scan Songs. This step will ensure that the game detects any songs you’ve downloaded. 

From there you’re good to play! Clone Hero is compatible with practically any guitar controller, including Guitar Hero models, and even those from the competitor, Rock Band.

Which Guitar Hero Controllers are PC-Compatible?

There were never any PC specific Guitar Hero guitar controllers made for the PC versions of the game. That being said, there are several controllers, both officially licensed and 3rd-party manufactured, that work perfectly on this platform. 

The PlayStation 3 Guitar Hero controllers that came with GH 1, 2, and 3 all came with a USB cable as well as the proprietary PlayStation connection. These tend to be the best options as they don’t suffer from latency issues. 

If you have a wired controller that features a PS2 style connection, a PS2 to USB adapter is a cheap solution. They are readily available on Amazon, and are dirt cheap. If you have an Xbox-type wired controller, you’ll need a slightly different adapter.

Later versions of the controller, including the latest Guitar Hero Live version, came with Bluetooth connectivity. This is great if you don’t want to be tethered to your PC, but as mentioned, latency can become a real issue. 

Wireless controllers can be a little more tricky to set up, and will require the purchase of a wireless USB dongle.

How to Connect a Guitar Hero Controller to a PC

The instructions will change slightly depending on which type of controller you’re using. 

Wired Controllers

The first step is to plug your controller into a USB slot on your PC. If your controller has a console connection rather than a USB, be sure to use your converter. Windows should automatically detect the control device and attempt to install the requisite drivers.

Once the drivers are installed, it’ll be ready for use as soon as the software is up and running.

Wireless Controllers

With a wireless controller you’ll need a USB dongle plugged into your PC before you start. Most wireless controllers come with a dongle in the box. If you bought yours used and there was no dongle included, then you’ll need to buy one before starting. 

The dongle may or may not automatically trigger a driver download. If it doesn’t, check to see if the controller came with a disc – the drivers are likely to be on there. Otherwise, check the make and model, then search for the drivers online. 

Again, when the drivers are installed, the controller should work without any additional input.

Bluetooth Controllers

Bluetooth Controllers, like the one that comes with Guitar Hero Live will connect via Bluetooth as long as you have a Bluetooth-enabled PC. If this is the case, turn on the controller, ensure that your PC is able to pair with new devices, and push the sync button on the guitar.

If successful, you’ll see the controller in the list of Bluetooth devices on your PC.

Final Thoughts on Playing Guitar Hero on PC

The Guitar Hero series of games are undoubtedly some of the greatest video games of all time. Not only are they fun to play, but they’ve inspired countless gamers to pick up real guitars and get started in music.

The steps for playing Guitar Hero on PC are pretty straightforward, especially if you’re using official copies of the game and the associated peripherals. If you decide to go with an emulator, be sure to scan any files for malware before opening, and be aware that there’s a good chace you’ll suffer from reduced performance. Again, if you’re not going for an actual copy of Guitar Hero, we recommend Clone Hero as the best free option. 


  • Simon Morgan

    Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and played the local scene throughout his teen years before life got in the way. Favorite Genres: Blues, Classic Rock, and he’s not ashamed to admit - Emo