How To Use Guitar Hero/Rock Band Controllers in Windows 11

Author’s note: The original text of this article detailed a method that involved using an unsigned driver. In Windows 11, this requires disabling core memory protection and can create serious vulnerabilities on the machine. The official driver will work just fine in Windows 11 and is preferable to disabling any level of device security.

Clone Hero is the pinnacle of development in the “pretending to be a rock star by pressing buttons on toy instruments” genre of gaming, combining all songs from every Guitar Hero and Rock Band title into one open-source, customizable experience. Unfortunately, through some brilliant decision at Microsoft, the wireless guitar controllers for Rock Band and Guitar Hero no longer work with the official Xbox 360 wireless dongle. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to find official Xbox 360 wireless dongles since the Xbox One utilizes the Bluetooth protocol for its wireless connectivity.

Enter the Chinese Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver dongles that are advertised all over eBay.

They’re cheap, and they work, but they need a little jiggery-pokery to get started.

The first thing you’ll need is the official Microsoft drivers for the official wireless dongle. They’re somewhat difficult to find, but there is an archive available here. Extract the files for your version of Windows.

Plug in the dongle’s USB cable and open the Device Manager. The dongle should show up as “Other Devices > Unknown Device”. Right-click the device and open it’s properties. On the Details tab, look for the device’s hardware ID. It should list as 02A9, 0291, or 9244. Make note of the ID number.

Go back to the extracted driver archive and dig in until you find and xusb21.inf. Open xusb21.inf in Notepad and use the Find-Replace function to locate all of the instances of “0719” and replace them with the hardware ID that you noted earlier. Rename to something else. At this point, the official Microsoft driver is now an unsigned driver, and Windows will consider it a security threat. You may need to disable driver verification temporarily while you install the driver.

Back in the Device Manager, right-click the device and select “Update Driver Software”. Browse for your driver and point it to the modified xusb21.inf file. Windows will warn about using an unsigned driver. Push through and finish the installation. The device should now show up as “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows” under the Xbox 360 Peripherals heading. Click “Browse my computer for drivers”, then “Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer”. From the list that opens, highlight “Xbox 360 Peripherals” and click the Next button. In the next list, highlight “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver For Windows” and click the Next button. You may get a warning that the driver might be incompatible, but trudge through. Once the driver installation is complete, the receiver will work just fine for guitars, drums, keyboard, or even just the good ol’ wireless controller.

Sync your guitars like you would normally (push the Guide button on the guitar to turn it on, then press the button on the dongle, then press the Sync button on the guitar). The dongle can handle up to 4 wireless controllers for those party time supergroups! Rock on!