How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

guitarhero   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or MacThere are some amazing, free rhythm games available online, and we’ve covered the best of them. JamLegend can be played from your browser, with impressive functionality, and Frets on Fire is a multi-OS desktop variant.

But however great these games are, it’s easy to get cramped when you’re using your keyboard (even if you hold it like an actual guitar, as suggested by both games).

However, it’s easy to use your Guitar Hero Playstation 2 or 3 Guitar Hero controllers on your PC – and it’s a lot cheaper! Read on for the full tutorial.

For PS2 Controllers

You might have noticed there’s no way to insert a PlayStation 2 controller into your PC. This is easily solved by buying a PlayStation 2 to USB converter. This little piece of hardware is easy to find both on eBay and in your local hardware store.

sl 6502 1   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

For only a couple of dollars, it’s a far better alternative than buying a new (USB) Guitar Hero controller – which often retails for around $50.

On Your Windows PC

For Windows, we’re going to use a little application called Xpadder. The current release isn’t available for free, but you can find a two year old version on FileForum that fits our needs. It’s an archive that unzips on your desktop.

If you’re on Windows 7, the application will draw a blank. To fix this, right-click on the unzipped Xpadder.exe, go to Properties -> Compatibility, and tick off the Compatibility mode checkbox for Windows XP or Windows Vista.

xpad1   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

On your first launch, Xpadder will ask you from which directory you want to run the application and where to save the files. There’s no explicit reason for not running it off your desktop, but you can do here as you please.

xPadder will take a while to start up and detect third-party controllers. When it’s done, click on the tiny controller icon in the top left corner, and select New. If any of the following steps don’t work, select a different square (controller) in the top ribbon, and try again.

xpad2   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

In the Controller Settings, open the Buttons tab. You can now press those colored buttons on your Guitar Hero one at a time, and they will show on the screen. Notice that the button names and order are probably messed up. Drag and drop the buttons in the right order, and rename them. This will make the rest of the process a lot easier.

xpad3   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Switch to the DPad tab, and tick off the ‘enabled‘ checkbox. When the application prompts you to press the up and down buttons, respectively strum up and down. Click cancel if it prompts you for left and right.

xpad4   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Go to the Finish tab, and press close. The above specified buttons will remain visible. You can click either of these, and select the corresponding key from an on-screen keyboard. You’ll want to use the default keys in JamLegend and Frets on Fire. You’re probably safe by using the same combination as me below; numbered keys do not require shift.

xpad5   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Again, press on the little top left controller and save as a file on your desktop. You’ll need to open this configurations file whenever you want to use your Guitar Hero controller. Enjoy!

On Your Mac

ControllerMate is a similar, but more advanced application for Mac OS X. The free version is limited to 10 simultaneous action/output building blocks, but we’re only going to need 7 of them. It’ll also deactivate if you keep it in the background for more than 20 minutes, but if you open the screen every 2 or 3 songs, you’ll be fine.

If you’re going to use a PS3 controller, you’ll also need to install Ps3Controller.

With your Guitar Hero controller plugged in, fire up the application. You’ll be able to find it in the Palette window, as a USB controller. If you press the colored buttons on your controller, you’ll be able to see the corresponding virtual buttons light up on your screen. Open a new ‘page’ from the left hand side pane, and drag the buttons into it. You’ll need to order and possibly rename them yourself.

controllermate1   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Switch the palette window to Outputs, and drag Keystrokes onto the page, one for each button. For each one, select it and press ‘start recording‘. Press the correct key on your keyboard that needs to be linked with the button, and press ‘stop recording‘. Now drag the lower, light-grey button to the right hand field, ‘When turned OFF’.

controllermate2   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Change the Palette to Calculations, and find the Value Selector. Drag it in between the Y-Axis button (strum) and the corresponding keypress.

There are three important values associated with your strum – neutral, up and down. You can read each one off the button on your screen. In my case neutral is 127, and up and down are 0 and 255. Select the values you see on your screen in the inspector.

Now drag a relationship between each button and keypress, by dragging the green tabs on top of each other. With your Y-Axis, drag the input on the Value Selector, and the Value Selector output on the keypress.

controllermate3   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

All that’s left to do is ticking off ‘Master Enable‘ and the correct page at the left hand side of the screen, and you’re good to go.

controllermate4   How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Don’t forget to check back at least every 20 minutes, or your page will become inactive. It’s only a slight bother if it enables you to use your Guitar Hero controller.

Any other (controller) tips for JamLegend or Frets on Fire gamers? Let us know you own tips and experiences in the comments below!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

16 Comments -

0 votes

Dead End

Xpadder can detect my PS2 console controller okay, but it doesn’t detect my Guitar Hero 2 controller :(

0 votes

Simon Slangen

Hi there,

Depending on the converter, Xpadder might detect multiple controllers. You can see this by the number of ‘tabs’ available (two in the screenshot above). If that’s the case, try selecting the other tab.

Otherwise, can you tell me a little more about your set-up? e.g. what converter are you using (type and make)?

0 votes

Simon Slangen

Hi there,

Depending on the converter, Xpadder might detect multiple controllers. You can see this by the number of ‘tabs’ available (two in the screenshot above). If that’s the case, try selecting the other tab.

Otherwise, can you tell me a little more about your set-up? e.g. what converter are you using (type and make)?

0 votes

Srivatsan Venkatesh

Is there any program like ControllerMate but free? It seemed a little complicated.

0 votes

Simon Slangen

To my knowledge, there isn’t. And if there were, it probably wouldn’t be less complicated. You should be alright if you follow the above instructions. The only downside is that the application can’t remain idle for over 20 minutes.

0 votes

The Other J Young

JoyToKey.

I used it for my guitar hero controller. It takes a while to tune the key movements for strum but it works great.

0 votes

Axel482

If you have bluetooth on your computer, you can connect a Wii GH controller and program it with GlovePIE.
Windows 7 is supposed to support the Wiimote natively, though it may be tricky. For Vista and XP, you’ll need to search around for some drivers.

0 votes

Simon Slangen

Thanks for the tip!

0 votes

Axel482

If you have bluetooth on your computer, you can connect a Wii GH controller and program it with GlovePIE.
Windows 7 is supposed to support the Wiimote natively, though it may be tricky. For Vista and XP, you’ll need to search around for some drivers.

0 votes

The Other J Young

JoyToKey.

I used it for my guitar hero controller. It takes a while to tune the key movements for strum but it works great.

0 votes

ConfusedR0cker

Argh! My PS3 GH controller is having none of it. I followed the above instructions to the letter. When in GH3 on my mac the only playable buttons are green (which it plays as orange) and blue (which it plays as red) which would lead me to believe lefty flip is on but it won’t even recognise the others it’s as if I’m not playing them at all. However it lets me sail through the menus with the appropriate colours. Any thoughts?

0 votes

Simon Slangen

Does it recognize the other buttons while in ControllerMate? What game are you trying to play on your Mac?

0 votes

ConfusedR0cker

Guitar Hero III.

That’s the thing in ControllerMate it recognises everything but in game (Guitar Hero III) it won’t recognise the buttons. And as mentioned above the only time it doesn’t recognise the buttons is in the songs, on the menus everything works fine.

0 votes

Simon Slangen

That means the problem is with GH3; for some reason, it doesn’t recognize said controls once you start playing. Try changing the in-game key configuration (e.g. DFGHJ instead of the standard keys), and configure ControllerMate to use those same keys.

0 votes

ConfusedR0cker

Guitar Hero III.

That’s the thing in ControllerMate it recognises everything but in game (Guitar Hero III) it won’t recognise the buttons. And as mentioned above the only time it doesn’t recognise the buttons is in the songs, on the menus everything works fine.

0 votes

Jamesworts

Hi, Having a nightmare with this, I am using the wireless les paul receiver, I have installed the PS3controller driver and control mate, however when i run ghIII it plays all the wrong buttons, I have set all the things up in controlmate, if i turn off control mate it still works in GH3 but in menu, the green and red buttons etc do the right job, the strum up and down works properly but as soon as you start playing its all arse about face, for example green doesnt do anything, nothing seems to be in order at all.