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

Action DualShock
Green Fret R2 button
Red Fret Circle button
Yellow Fret Triangle button
Blue Fret Cross button
Orange Fret Square button
Star power Select button
Start/Pause Start button
Strum Up dpad Down dpad
Whammy (analog) Up lstick

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

In-game[edit]

On the menu screens, treat Green as Cross button and Red as Triangle button. Green goes forward, Red goes back, strum bar goes up and down. Simple as that. When playing a song, the fret buttons correspond to the colored notes on screen, the strum bar strums, start pauses, the whammy whammies notes, and select activates star power.