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Configuring USB Keyboard with Rock Band 3

So, you bought Rock Band 3. Good for you! For argument’s sake, let’s just say you bought it mainly for the keyboard support. You really want to start rocking out hardcore, but you uh…first need to buy a keyboard. What are your options? You’ve got two, and we’ll go over them below. Everything hereafter will be assuming you’re using a PS3 (this is what I’ve tested this with). However, everything should apply to the Wii / 360 versions as well.

1) Buy the Rock Band specific keyboard.

Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard (PS3)

Pro:
* Easiest option. Should be relatively simple to setup.
* Smaller size; easier to store.

Con:
* It’s expensive. Do you really want to drop that kind of cash on another plastic instrument that’s only for Rock Band?
* It’s not even a full keyboard! Ehh…

2) Use your own keyboard!

Now we’re talking! Let’s use an actual keyboard. Maybe you have one lying around someplace (I did). From here we also have two options. There are two main types of keyboards on the market. Ones that provide USB connectivity to a target and ones that use MIDI. If you have a MIDI keyboard, then that’s the least interesting case, relatively simple to configure, and not the point of this article (but I’ll talk about it below). You can tell which you have fairly easily by looking at the ports on your keyboard.

MIDI

USB

Basically, it boils down to this. Cheaper keyboards use USB type A and type B (for the most part). More expensive top-of-the-line ones use MIDI. So what does all this matter? Well, to use your own device, Harmonix teamed up with Mad Catz to release this.

Rock Band 3 MIDI PRO – Adapter (PS3)

Using this gadget, you can connect any keyboard, drum, or guitar that has a MIDI port to the PS3 directly (only talking about keyboard here though)…but, there’s a small problem. It only accepts MIDI input. If you have a keyboard with a MIDI port, well, it’s pretty simple. Just buy the MIDI Pro Adapter, connect your instrument to it via MIDI cable, and you should be good to go. Good luck finding one now though, they’re becoming pretty rare. But, if you give up now, then the rest of the article is moot, so go find one!

OK, what about if you have a USB-only keyboard? You’ll still need the Midi Pro Adapter, but there is no official mechanism to use a USB based instrument in Rock Band 3 (otherwise we’d have a MIDI USB Adapter). But…if you happened to read the title of this article, there is in fact a way to do it! It only took me about five months to figure out how, but it can be done (thanks to Isaya1 for his Youtube videos).

What you’ll need:

USB MIDI Cable Converter PC to Music Device (right)

* Rock Band 3 MIDI PRO – Adapter (PS3) (top left)

* Keyboard I Tested This With

* Computer

* USB cable to connect from keyboard to computer. Type depends on your instrument. Above is a type B – type A cable. (bottom left)

How to Setup Your Environment

Main takeaway points:
* Turn on keyboard and PC
* Connect USB cable from keyboard to PC
* Connect USB cable from MIDI converter to PC
* Connect MIDI OUT (from MIDI converter) to MIDI IN (on MIDI Pro Adapter)
* Plug MIDI Pro Adapter into PS3

How to Setup MIDI-OX

Main takeaway points:
* Download here: http://www.midiox.com/zip/midioxse.exe
* Options -> MIDI Devices -> Configure MIDI Input for your instrument (should show up if you plugged it in and it has a valid driver) -> Configure MIDI Output (should be your MIDI Converter Cable)
* Options -> Data Mapping -> Insert -> OK -> OK (take defaults)

If you did everything correctly, you should start seeing activity on the LED on the MIDI Pro Adapter when you hit keys on your keyboard. If not, make sure the switch in the middle of the MPA is set to “K” (keyboard) instead of D (drums) or G (guitar).

Now when you turn on your PS3 and start Rock Band 3, press start on the MIDI Pro Adapter and you should see a piano icon. Pick a song and go nuts!

Hopefully, this was helpful. I’ve been looking for a guide like this for months, so I’m hoping I can help someone else out.

20 Comments

  • On 02/22/2011 at 12:42 AM Isaya Nealy said

    Nice guide, this is isnealy from the RB forums

    Reply

  • On 03/03/2011 at 11:28 PM Andy said

    You Rock I’ve been looking for this for quite some time now.

    Andy.

    Reply

  • On 03/05/2011 at 5:19 PM Ndolger said

    For some reason the embedded Youtube videos vanished. I’ve added them back to the page. Glad I could help guys, thanks.

    Reply

  • On 07/01/2011 at 8:18 PM Veritasisacerbus said

    thank you! this is great i have only one question will I need to buy an additional “midi” cable or is all of what you said above all you need?

    Reply

  • On 07/02/2011 at 1:13 AM Ndolger said

    The MIDI converter is actually a MIDI cable itself. So that’s all you need! It’s part USB, part MIDI. Plug one end into a PC and the other into the MIDI pro adapter and you should be set. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Reply

  • On 08/03/2011 at 5:20 AM Scott Andrews said

    This was a great guide. Thanks! I am sick of playing drums after two years so I am going to give the keyboard a try. Weird that my computer identified my input and output devices backwards, but it works at any rate. I got the clue when I tried the computer keys and the output went to my keyboard. Then I switched Casio USB Device to output and USB Midi Device to input (backwards from what I expected) and all was fine.

    Reply

  • On 12/27/2011 at 2:44 PM Igor said

    Funny, the keyboard is detected, it shows activity on the LED of the PC, I may start a song, but in the song the Keyboard shows no activity.

    Reply

  • On 12/27/2011 at 9:08 PM Ndolger said

    That probably means one of two things:
    1) The MIDI settings on the computer aren’t set properly in MIDI-OX. It’s absolutely important you follow that video exactly.

    2) Maybe there’s a problem with the connections? When you play a key on the keyboard, you should see activity in MIDI-OX and then on the LED on the Midi-Pro Adapter. Make sure it’s on the “K” setting in the Midi-Pro Adapter

    Reply

  • On 12/28/2011 at 6:46 AM Igor said

    Thanks! The problem was that I was setting input and output for the Keyboard instead of choosing the MPA as well.

    It works. Now I’m experiencing a new problem but I think it is common: while playing, many times the keys aren’t played properly (some keys being played even though I didn’t play anything, messing the score).

    In other cases, I play the key but it isn’t detected.

    I think nothing can be done because it works perfectly on the PC software, only in the game that there are those ocasional mess-ups.

    FYI, X360 version and thanks for your guide :)

    PS: If you know how to solve it, tell me, haha.

    Reply

  • On 01/17/2012 at 3:18 AM viking said

    Hi Ndolger, Interesting article! I’m also trying to get midi into rock band 3, but the midi pro adapter is near impossible to get these days. I figured that shouldn’t be too much of a problem – I can solder my own! :)

    Would you be interested in helping by sharing the usb descriptors from the midi pro adapter? It should be pretty easy to retrieve… just plug it in a pc. if on windows uvcview will do the job. on Linux “lsusb -vvv” should work.

    The descriptors might change depending on the Guitar/Drums/Keyboard switch.

    Cheers

    Reply

  • On 01/17/2012 at 10:30 PM Ndolger said

    Took a bit of digging to find UVCView.exe (dead links), I found it here: ftp://ftp.efo.ru/pub/ftdichip/Utilities/UVCView.x86.exe

    Here is the information you requested:

    —===>Device Information< ===---
    English product name: "Harmonix RB3 MIDI Keyboard Interface for PlayStation®3"

    ConnectionStatus:
    Current Config Value: 0x01 -> Device Bus Speed: Full
    Device Address: 0×01
    Open Pipes: 2

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x07
    bDescriptorType: 0x05
    bEndpointAddress: 0x81 -> Direction: IN – EndpointID: 1
    bmAttributes: 0×03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0×0040 = 0×40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x07
    bDescriptorType: 0x05
    bEndpointAddress: 0x02 -> Direction: OUT – EndpointID: 2
    bmAttributes: 0×03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0×0040 = 0×40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Device Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x12
    bDescriptorType: 0x01
    bcdUSB: 0x0200
    bDeviceClass: 0x00 -> This is an Interface Class Defined Device
    bDeviceSubClass: 0×00
    bDeviceProtocol: 0×00
    bMaxPacketSize0: 0×08 = (8) Bytes
    idVendor: 0x12BA = Sony Computer Entertainment America
    idProduct: 0×2338
    bcdDevice: 0×0001
    iManufacturer: 0×01
    English (United States) “Licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment America”
    iProduct: 0×02
    English (United States) “Harmonix RB3 MIDI Keyboard Interface for PlayStation®3″
    iSerialNumber: 0×00
    bNumConfigurations: 0×01

    ===>Configuration Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x09
    bDescriptorType: 0x02
    wTotalLength: 0x0029 -> Validated
    bNumInterfaces: 0×01
    bConfigurationValue: 0×01
    iConfiguration: 0×00
    bmAttributes: 0×80 -> Bus Powered
    MaxPower: 0×20 = 64 mA

    ===>Interface Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x09
    bDescriptorType: 0x04
    bInterfaceNumber: 0x00
    bAlternateSetting: 0x00
    bNumEndpoints: 0x02
    bInterfaceClass: 0x03 -> HID Interface Class
    bInterfaceSubClass: 0×00
    bInterfaceProtocol: 0×00
    CAUTION: This may be an invalid bInterfaceProtocol
    iInterface: 0×00

    ===>HID Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x09
    bDescriptorType: 0x21
    bcdHID: 0x0111
    bCountryCode: 0x00
    bNumDescriptors: 0x01
    bDescriptorType: 0x22
    wDescriptorLength: 0x0089

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x07
    bDescriptorType: 0x05
    bEndpointAddress: 0x81 -> Direction: IN – EndpointID: 1
    bmAttributes: 0×03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0×0040 = 0×40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< ===
    bLength: 0x07
    bDescriptorType: 0x05
    bEndpointAddress: 0x02 -> Direction: OUT – EndpointID: 2
    bmAttributes: 0×03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0×0040 = 0×40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    Thanks for taking a look, hope this helps.

    Reply

  • On 01/18/2012 at 5:02 AM viking said

    That’s great, thanks..

    Sorry for letting you search for the uvcview tool.. The article I linked explains using “the way back machine” to get it.

    As I imagined, the device descriptor says “midi keyboard”, and would probably change if the switch is on guitar or drums when plugged in.

    Now its just a question about refitting ps3 gh3/rb guitar adapter. the midi physical input should be trivial, then it’s just software…

    Reply

  • On 01/21/2012 at 3:00 PM rom said

    Thank you for the guide. I am having a problem. I set up everything exactly in your videos but the only thing is Midi-ox is not detecting my midi-usb output. It reads my keyboard fine. I have the same Midi-usb cable you have. I am also trying to use this for the xbox 360.
    Thanks

    Reply

  • On 01/21/2012 at 6:17 PM Ndolger said

    Is it the same problem a poster had a few comments back?

    “Thanks! The problem was that I was setting input and output for the Keyboard instead of choosing the MPA as well.”

    Reply

  • On 07/10/2012 at 1:12 PM Forest said

    Thank you for the guide. I have been struggling for a while until I found this. Got my USB keyboard connected via a Laptop PC to pro-adapter to Xbox as per above instructions…

    I got everything to work but I am now having the same issue as Igor (On 12/28/2011 at 6:46 AM Igor said..) where “while playing, many times the keys aren’t played properly (some keys being played even though I didn’t play anything, messing the score).”

    Has a solution to this been found yet or anyone know what’s causing it?

    Thanks :)

    Reply

  • On 07/30/2012 at 9:30 AM Michael said

    Thanks for the info dude. Just ordered my usb to midi cable before I test this out. Will update on any problems I encounter. I hope I don’t get the ‘some keys being played even though I didn’t touch them’ problem!

    Reply

  • On 08/03/2012 at 4:55 PM Michael said

    Works perfectly! I’m using a Casio CTK-4000 with a USB midi converter I bought off amazon. Thanks a lot guys.

    Reply

    • On 08/03/2012 at 5:10 PM Ndolger said

      Great! Glad I could help.

      Reply

  • On 06/15/2013 at 6:38 PM Adilson de Jesus Alves said

    Hello, this tutorial is for the drum too??

    Reply

  • On 06/22/2013 at 7:22 PM Ndolger said

    As far as I know, the same logic should apply. Although I have only tested it with the keyboard. This should work for both MIDI Guitars and Drums…as the MIDI Pro Adapter supports them.

    Reply

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