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)

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

* 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.



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:
* 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.

38 Responses to Configuring USB Keyboard with Rock Band 3

  1. Isaya Nealy says:

    Nice guide, this is isnealy from the RB forums

  2. Andy says:

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


  3. Ndolger says:

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

  4. Veritasisacerbus says:

    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?

  5. Ndolger says:

    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.

  6. Scott Andrews says:

    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.

  7. Igor says:

    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.

  8. Ndolger says:

    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

  9. Igor says:

    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.

  10. viking says:

    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.


  11. Ndolger says:

    Took a bit of digging to find UVCView.exe (dead links), I found it here:

    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: 0x01
    Open Pipes: 2

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< === bLength: 0x07 bDescriptorType: 0x05 bEndpointAddress: 0x81 -> Direction: IN – EndpointID: 1
    bmAttributes: 0x03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0x0040 = 0x40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< === bLength: 0x07 bDescriptorType: 0x05 bEndpointAddress: 0x02 -> Direction: OUT – EndpointID: 2
    bmAttributes: 0x03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0x0040 = 0x40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Device Descriptor< === bLength: 0x12 bDescriptorType: 0x01 bcdUSB: 0x0200 bDeviceClass: 0x00 -> This is an Interface Class Defined Device
    bDeviceSubClass: 0x00
    bDeviceProtocol: 0x00
    bMaxPacketSize0: 0x08 = (8) Bytes
    idVendor: 0x12BA = Sony Computer Entertainment America
    idProduct: 0x2338
    bcdDevice: 0x0001
    iManufacturer: 0x01
    English (United States) “Licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment America”
    iProduct: 0x02
    English (United States) “Harmonix RB3 MIDI Keyboard Interface for PlayStation®3”
    iSerialNumber: 0x00
    bNumConfigurations: 0x01

    ===>Configuration Descriptor< === bLength: 0x09 bDescriptorType: 0x02 wTotalLength: 0x0029 -> Validated
    bNumInterfaces: 0x01
    bConfigurationValue: 0x01
    iConfiguration: 0x00
    bmAttributes: 0x80 -> Bus Powered
    MaxPower: 0x20 = 64 mA

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

    ===>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: 0x03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0x0040 = 0x40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    ===>Endpoint Descriptor< === bLength: 0x07 bDescriptorType: 0x05 bEndpointAddress: 0x02 -> Direction: OUT – EndpointID: 2
    bmAttributes: 0x03 -> Interrupt Transfer Type
    wMaxPacketSize: 0x0040 = 0x40 bytes
    bInterval: 0x0A

    Thanks for taking a look, hope this helps.

  12. viking says:

    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…

  13. rom says:

    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.

  14. Ndolger says:

    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.”

  15. Forest says:

    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 🙂

  16. Michael says:

    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!

  17. Michael says:

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

  18. Adilson de Jesus Alves says:

    Hello, this tutorial is for the drum too??

  19. Ndolger says:

    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.

  20. Ernesto H. says:

    I just bought the Midi pro adapter for X360 and of course my daughter’s keyboard (Yamaha ez220) doesn’t have a midi out but a USB B out to host. BTW thanks for the info. My question is does this fix still hold true today. I’m not too computer savy but I’m willing to try this if it still works, or even better is there a more simple way to do this. I appologize in advance I know this is an old thread but any help would be greatly appreciated. I feel I’ve looked and looked and looked and you are the only person that has shown a comprhensive solution to this problem. Thank you in advance!!!

    • Ndolger says:

      Well, the article is over 4 years old! 🙂 And Windows 8 and 10 have released since then, but as long as you can run MIDI-OX and follow the instructions, it should work.

      FYI: I am the only person that has a comprehensive solution to this problem, haha! As mentioned in the article, it took me forever to find anything relating to getting USB instruments to work with Rock Band. I don’t understand why they didn’t just release a MIDI/USB adapter…

      I may need to update this guide for Rock Band 4 (which is coming out soon), but I’m assuming everything should still work. You just need to have software running that will convert MIDI to USB. There may be something better than MIDI-OX out there at this point, I don’t know. If I learn any more information, I’ll update this page.

      • Ernesto H. says:

        Thank you so much!!! I will give it a try. I will order the adapter and let you know how it worked out!!!!

        • Ernesto H. says:

          Thanks again ndolger for taking the time to respond to such an old article ! Haven’t ordered the adapter yet (oldest son going away to college and all) but as soon as I get it and try it I will update you with results. Again, nothing but respect for you. Enjoy the rest of what’s left of the summer !!!!!

  21. Ernesto H. says:

    Ndolger, I finally tried it. At first I had problems with the program recognizing the keyboard or the adapter but turning on and off a couple of times and it finally worked. Only tried once because I will set it up again on my daughter’s B-day. Thanks again!!!!!!! I’m really surprised the actual adapter didn’t come ready for both midi and usb but Im happy with this solution!!!!

  22. RCR says:

    Hi, I am looking to do something like this with both a keyboard and drum kit (both with USB B MIDI outputs) and I am wondering one thing. Why is the computer necessary. Or another way to put it, is MIDI-OX doing anything other than just relaying exactly what comes out from the instrument (i.e. MIDI signal through USB) over to the USB-MIDI cable?

    Since the instrument is already putting out MIDI signal over USB, isn’t the USB-MIDI cable exactly what you need all by itself?

    Couldn’t you just use a USB Male-B to Female-A adapter (e.g. and connect directly the instrument to the USB-MIDI cable, then to the Rock Band MPA and that’s it? No computer or MIDI-OX required?

    Or is there some kind of “translation” from what comes out of the instrument that MIDI-OX performs that is required so that the USB-MIDI cable can do it’s thing?

    Sorry if this is a dumb question, I just want to understand better what all the parts in this setup are for and why they are all necessary.

    Thank you!

    • Ndolger says:

      There’s no such thing as a “USB B Midi Output”. USB and MIDI ports are two different things. If you literally have a MIDI port, this guide is not necessary, and you can do exactly what you say, you can direct connect everything.

      It’s not a matter of converting a Male to Female USB. The adapter that Harmonix put out is a MIDI adapter. If you have a USB peripheral (drum/keyboard), you cannot simply direct connect the two things. You need a conversion middleman; software running on Windows (MIDI-OX).

      Hell, I could be very mistaken and you can do exactly what you say. Haha, this guide is years and years old though, but it’s possible we’re all stupid? If you can get a different solution to work, I’m all ears. With Rock Band 4 not supporting any peripherals though, it’s kind of moot. :/

      Thanks for your comment!

      • RCR says:

        Hi, thanks for the reply.

        My point was that, in your setup, the USB-MIDI cable you run from your computer to the Rock Band MPA does exactly a conversion of MIDI messages through USB (in this case, sent by MIDI-OX) over to a regular 5-pin MIDI port.

        From what I have read in a few e-instrument manuals (e.g. what comes out of the USB B port from these instruments is literally that: MIDI info over USB.

        If that’s the case, MIDI-OX seems superfluous to the whole thing, does it not?

        I can see MIDI-OX being a necessary middle-man if you need to remap MIDI notes from the instrument you use to match the ones the Rock Band MPA expects, but from what I have found, plenty of instruments (both keys and drums) already come with the right ones without the need for remapping.

        I guess I will have to try for myself when I get the instruments. I just wanted to see if you knew exactly why MIDI-OX would be absolutely necessary in this setup.

        In the end, thanks for the tutorial, it will have been useful one way or the other.

        • Ndolger says:

          If you can get it to work another way, be sure to let me know. This is one of my most active pages, so…I’m sure it would be of use to other people. I was not able to connect a USB peripheral to work with Rock Band’s MIDI adapter any other way. If Harmonix would have released a “USB Adapter” this whole discussion would be moot.

          But they did not.

          Again, thanks for thinking about alternative set ups. Hope you end up getting what you want working one way or another!

          • Isaya says:

            I had no clue that this was still active after all these years, I am the YouTube who made those videos. Even today i am glad i was able to help!

          • Ndolger says:

            Haha! Thanks again man. It’s just a shame that Rock Band 4 doesn’t support keyboard. 🙁

        • Ernesto H. says:

          RCR please let us know if it works as it would be a more direct way to do this, How ever I was under the impression you needed MIDI-OX to translate the info coming out of, in my case, my keyboard. BTW I can testify that if your method doesn’t work, ndolgers’s will.

  23. Michael Anguiano says:

    the cable i bought from the recommendations does not show up in the midi outputs. What am i doing wrong?

  24. Joald says:

    Thank you very much for this tutorial, almost 10 years later it’s still useful to people 😀

  25. Beal says:

    Hello! I realize this is 10 years after you originally posted so I don’t even know if you’ll respond or not. I just bought an electronic drum kit (with a USB Midi Out) and we have rockband 3 on XBox 360, I’m assuming this guide will hold true for that…

    However, I can’t see the YouTube videos, is there any way you could link them?

    And thanks sooo much for posting this, it will be hugely helpful! I can’t find any other guide!

    • Ndolger says:

      Hey, glad to see the interest is still here, this many years later. Sorry for the delay! It looks like the Youtube embedding changed…should be good now (assuming the content still works!). Good luck!

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