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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.

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