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The PS2's Cherry Red Gibson SG controller.
The Xbox 360's Gibson X-Plorer controller.

The game typically uses a special guitar controller, often packaged with the game disc. It can also be played with a standard DualShock controller. Each controller appeals to different players; some can use a guitar, some can use a DualShock, and some can comfortably use both well.

The guitar controller features five colored buttons on the fret, a strum bar, and a whammy bar. However, DualShock players use different buttons. This table details the guitar to DualShock control mapping.

Guitar DualShock Action
Green control R2 button Hold for note
Red control Circle button Hold for note
Yellow control Triangle button Hold for note
Blue control Cross button Hold for note
Orange control Square button Hold for note
Select button Select button Star power
Start button Start button Pause
Strum control Up dpad Down dpad Play note/chord
Whammy control Up lstick Treble/Sustain
Tilt control L2 button Star motion sensor

The other buttons (Right dpad, R1 button, R3 button, L1 button, L3 button, Neutral rstick, and the remaining axes of Neutral lstick) are unused.