Posted on December 6th, 2007 by Bill Pendry.
Categories: Computers, Games, Mac, Music, Technology, Toys.

I was trying to hook my PS3 Rock Band drum kit up to my Mac, with the goal of using it as a MIDI controller for GarageBand.

It appears in System Profiler as:

Harmonix Drum Kit for PlayStation(R)3:

Version: 10.00
Bus Power (mA): 500
Speed: Up to 12 Mb/sec
Manufacturer: Licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment America
Product ID: 0x0210
Vendor ID: 0x12ba

Good start.

I installed GamePad Companion, and it detected the kit. I mapped different buttons to different keys, hit Start and switched to TextEdit. Hitting the drums gave me this:


Sweet. Each pad (and pedal) gave me a different key. The key repeat rate was really high, but it was working at least. So we end up with:

Button 1 = Blue (3)
Button 2 = Green (4)
Button 3 = Red (1)
Button 4 = Yellow (2)
Button 5 = Orange (Pedal)

As for the controller buttons on the kit (could come in useful!), the four symbol buttons all mapped to the same keys as the drum pads. The rest are:

Button 9 = Select
Button 10 = Start
Button 13 = PS Button

And finally, the d-pad maps to the “Hat Switch” element.

After this, I went looking for software to turn GamePad Companion’s HID input signals into MIDI signals. But after a few minutes I realized I didn’t need to.

I was already getting the drums to run my keyboard, and GarageBand has a feature to play the MIDI instruments with the keyboard. All I needed to do was map everything correctly and I should be good to go!

I opened GarageBand and set the default track to Drum Kits > Rock Kit. Then I turned on Musical Typing. You don’t get the whole musical keyboard with MT, just an 11-key section you can move up and down along a virtual 88-key keyboard. I moved the keyboard section down until the kick drum was available, then noted what keys where what:

A = kick
S,D = snares
F,G,H,J,K,L = toms
; = crash
and more…

I ended up choosing kick, snare, two toms and one cymbal, since the other cymbal I wanted was in a inactive area of the keyboard. I re-mapped the keys in GPC, switched back to GB and gave it a try. Success! Samples were triggered correctly, the fast key repeat rate didn’t cause any problems, and latency was basically nil.

Here’s a quick clip of Jake trying them out:

I *think* you can customize the keysets for Musical Typing, I’ll look into it more when I get more time. Customizing the MT keyboard layout would get you around the “can’t use samples from hidden areas of the full keyboard” problem. Once that’s figured out, this should make for a good RB-to-GB solution.

UPDATE 2007/12/8:
Several people have asked about the XBox 360 drum kit.

I don’t have access to Rock Band for 360, but I do have the Wireless Gaming Receiver to play with. I installed Colin Munro’s XBox 360 Controller Mac OS X Driver and got a controller synced up with it on my PowerBook.

(It simply would not work on my Power Mac G4, and looking around teh internets I see that the WGR can be pretty flakey. Hmm, Microsoft made something that often doesn’t work correctly… that’s odd.)

After getting the 360 controller successfully connected to the Mac, I opened GamePad Companion to see that it had found the controller. I mapped Buttons 1-4 (the A,B,X,Y buttons) to the A,S,D,F keys and then switched to GarageBand. The buttons successfully triggered the keypresses and played the drum kit samples.

I can’t say for sure that this means the drum kit will also work OK, but it is very promising. If anyone can try it out and leave a comment if it works, it would be much appreciated.

I’d also like to thank everyone who posted a link to this article:
Digg (this post)
Digg (video)
Rock Band Forums (here, “Superchivo” demonstrates that this technique will also work with the guitar controller)
Create Digital Music


Cornwalis von Hole

Comment on December 6th, 2007.

Wow, all you need to do now is get a haircut and learn how to play the drums, and you’ll be all set!

Don Funk

Comment on December 6th, 2007.

Excellent work, Bill! I was going to tackle this myself after the kids got R/B for Xmas; I ended getting a second R/B S/E for the extra Fender and was thinking what I’d do with the extra set of drums. A lot of Mac-using, PS3-owning, Rock Band players are gonna be happy you blazed the trail! Thanks!

R. Eye

Comment on December 7th, 2007.

Any reason(s) why this wouldn’t work with the drum set from the Xbox 360 version of Rock Band?

Rex Kramer

Comment on December 7th, 2007.

Great find! But I’ll second the haircut and drum lessons comment. Seems these days as everyone thinks they can play the drums. Well, I mean, I know I can, since I’ve been playing them for over 25 years.



Comment on December 7th, 2007.

Nice work :) I’ve been trying to do the same thing with xbobx 360 drums, but the software is recognizing the kit when i plug it in. Anyone figure this out yet?


Bill Pendry

Comment on December 7th, 2007.

I’ll see what I can figure out on the 360 drums. I’m guessing it will involve the use of the Xbox 360 Controller driver for Mac OS X. I don’t have the 360 drums, but I’ve got some 360 controllers and the Wireless Gaming Receiver. That should be good enough to do some testing with.

Oh, and Jake knows he can’t play the drums. :)


Comment on December 7th, 2007.

me am best drummar uv AWL THYME!!!!!!!!!
I’m going undercover at a drum circle later this month.


Comment on December 7th, 2007.

yeah i’ve got that driver installed, but it still doesn’t work. my goal is to use reason on my mac with my 360 drums. so far no luck.


Comment on December 11th, 2007.

Well I wanted to thank you for posting this….I dont use garage band as much as I use Ableton Live Lite and was wondering why my mac didnt recognize the Rock Band drums…..GPC made it possible for me to at least have the Mac recognize the controller so I could map them to the keyboard keys and its working great. Now I have taken my older usb game controller and I’m creating two more triggers to somehow have a complete set. [since the gpc has room for a few more triggers, I may do more] I now have snare, three toms and the pedal….so of course the hi hat and cymbal are my goal. Video will be posted as soon as I’ve acheived my goal.


Comment on December 11th, 2007.

yeah i i cant get my macbook pro (OSX Leopard) to recognize the xbox 360 controller. I downloaded GPC and the 360 controller driver from carvware. dunno….


Comment on December 12th, 2007.

It looks like the 360 controller doesn’t get properly recognized by the Xbox 360 Controller driver provided by yet, I would think a 0.7 update (current version 0.6) would cover this, as its not being recognized power wise (e.g. the X Logo button isn’t lighting up). Once that is sorted it should be a fairly easy map like the PS3 version. This does amaze me the 360 version doesn’t just load up, but it may be the mechanics of the system. Here’s to waiting for the drivers so us mac users can get their GarageBand on.


Comment on December 16th, 2007. just released version 0.7 and it works for 360 version of Rock Band with the drum kit. So two thumbs way up to both you and tattlebogie for great software and a great tutorial!


Comment on December 16th, 2007.

I can also verify the v0.7 works just fine with the 360 Rock Band drum kit. Kudos for the awesome finds!


Comment on January 1st, 2008.

yeah, i got it to work as well. thanks for the help, i used the 360 drum pad. but i noticed there is a moderate lag, with the drum pad. is there anything i can do to fix that?

Andy Day

Comment on January 16th, 2008.

video of drums with 360 and download links! it can be done!–QY_FI


Comment on January 19th, 2008.

I downloaded from tattiebogle for the driver, but I can’t seem to find it on my computer. When you install are you supposed to look for a program somewhere to test it?


Comment on January 23rd, 2008.

I got everything setup and mapped correctly in GPC however when I switch over to Garageband and try to play the keypresses aren’t recognized. I made sure to hit the ‘Start’ button in GPC before switching to GB. I also tried going into TextEdit to see if anything was displayed but nothing there either. Any ideas?

Bill Pendry

Comment on January 23rd, 2008.

Eric, the 360 driver downloads as a disk image that contains an installer package.

Vince, are you using PS3 or 360 drums? If 360 you will need the 360 driver.


Comment on February 4th, 2008.

What version of Garageband and OS are you using >?

Bill Pendry

Comment on February 4th, 2008.

This was with 10.4.11 and GB ’06. I now have an iMac with 10.5 and GB ’08 but haven’t had time to test this method with the new setup yet.


Comment on February 22nd, 2008.

I have had no problems getting my 360 drums and guitar mapped to the keys for musical typing. I am in the process of figuring out how to be able to have the strum bar actually matter. I can get the strum bar to be recognized but I am still trying to figure out how to sync the strumming with pushing the buttons down to make chords and such.


Comment on March 15th, 2008.

thanks it was a good idea to try with the “musical typing” in GB.

i found “junxion” too which works by sending midi data instead ( I am not affiliated with that group at all but i can attest that it works much better. Nearly no lag…


Comment on May 28th, 2008.

if u have done or if u plan to connect a ps3 controller to the mac using gamepad c. can u please tell me how to calibrate it or tell me the button layout anyways the rock band drums works! i installed an extra driver and now i have my own electronic drumkit

Robert Fisher

Comment on June 21st, 2008.

I finally got around to trying this. Thanks for sharing this info!


Comment on February 28th, 2009.

Got the Rock Band 2 drums to work with Live 5 with Reason 2.5 running as a slave (input to Redrum) in OSX

— Use Gamepad Companion
— Map buttons (as above) to a,w,s,e,d keys. a is best for the kick.
— Set keyboard as a midi input device in Live preferences
— Hit z or x keys until you are in Octave c1 to d2 (Octave comes up momentarily in lower left hand corner when you hit z or x)

That’s it! Happy trails!

You can map to other nearby keys to pick up different pads on Redrum if desired…


Comment on July 26th, 2009.

This does not work in Leopard. For some reason when switching to keyboard typing everything is greyed out. Shame really..


Comment on August 1st, 2009.

Works great on PS3 drum kit, except I got annoying latency problem.


Comment on August 31st, 2009.

By disabling key repeats, I solved the “latency” problems with the PS3 rock band drums.


Comment on September 9th, 2010.

Works well with PS3 but have slight delay with the sound, can anyone help please???


Comment on October 10th, 2010.

got it all to work on the ion pro kit, but no luck on the cymbal pads being unlinked from the same color drum pads. anyone know how to get around this?