Released in early 2009, Guitar Hero Arcade is an arcade version of the music game franchise. The game is built on a modified version of Guitar Hero III for the PC: in fact, all of its songs are either main set list or bonus songs from Guitar Hero III or downloadable content for it. Its displays and menus share the same art style and backgrounds, with the needed modifications for a coin-operated game. Some songs, perhaps thought by the developers to be the most popular songs from Guitar Hero III, are labelled "premium" and require additional credits to play.
The arcade machine comes with two hard-wired guitars, significantly more sturdy than those of the home version of Guitar Hero III. To counter the threat of the guitars breaking, which would make the machine unusable, the guitars have metal frames inserted. This makes them noticeably heavier than any home guitar, and closer to a real guitar in weight.
While the game has a built-in operator menu that allows for lag calibration and volume setup, it is highly rare for arcade operators to actually utilise it. For this reason, Guitar Hero Arcade machines are often uncalibrated and suffer from as much as 80-100 milliseconds of lag. Asking an operator if you as a user may be allowed to access the operator menu to calibrate can be one solution if the lag is making it hard to play.
As in the game, master recordings are noted by "performed by", and cover re-recordings are noted by "as made famous by". WaveGroup were credited as covering songs for Guitar Hero III, and as all songs here re-occur from that game, they are also the source for all the covers in Guitar Hero Arcade.
In this tier, Slow Ride, Talk Dirty To Me, Hit Me With Your Best Shot as well as Rock And Roll All Night and Sabotage are from the main set list of Guitar Hero III. Yellow and Jukebox Hero are both downloadable content.
- Slow Ride, as made famous by Foghat
- Talk Dirty To Me, as made famous by Poison (re-recording with Brett Michaels)
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot, as made famous by Pat Benatar
- Rock And Roll All Night, as made famous by Kiss
- Sabotage, performed by Beastie Boys
- Yellow, performed by Coldplay
- Jukebox Hero, performed by Foreigner
Sunshine Of Your Love, Mississippi Queen, School's Out and Bulls on Parade are from the main set list of Guitar Hero III. Closer is a bonus song, and Hole in The Earth and Pretty Handsome Awkward are downloadable content.
- Sunshine Of Your Love, as made famous by Cream
- Mississippi Queen, as made famous by Mountain
- School's Out, as made famous by Alice Cooper
- Closer, performed by Lacuna Coil
- Bulls on Parade, performed by Rage Against The Machine
- Hole In The Earth, performed by Deftones
- Pretty Handsome Awkward, performed by The Used
Tier 3 introduces the first premium songs of the game: Barracuda, from Guitar Hero 3's main set list, and Avalancha, from its bonus set list. Of the rest, Paranoid and Lay Down are from the main set list, Helicopter is from the co-op main set list, and No More Sorrow is downloadable content.
- Barracuda, as made famous by Heart (Premium song)
- Helicopter, performed by Bloc Party
- Paranoid, as made famous by Black Sabbath
- Avalancha, performed by Heroes Del Silencio (Premium song)
- Lay Down, performed by Priestess
- No More Sorrow, performed by Linkin Park
The first tier without covered songs, from tier 4, all the songs except This Is A Call are from the main set list, the Foo Fighters song being downloadable content. In an anomaly, Paint It Black has a co-operative bass part that was not playable in Guitar Hero III: this seems to be a mistake, as all the notes in the track are identical to the guitar track's except the very intro, which is absent in the bass track.
- Paint It Black, performed by The Rolling Stones
- She Bangs the Drums, performed by The Stone Roses
- Anarchy in the U.K., performed by The Sex Pistols (re-recording with the band, specifically for Guitar Hero III)
- Reptilia, performed by The Strokes
- Cherub Rock, performed by The Smashing Pumpkins (Premium song)
- This Is A Call, performed by Foo Fighters
All of the fifth tier's songs are from Guitar Hero III's main set list, except The Arsonist by Thrice which is downloadable content.
- Rock You like A Hurricane, as made famous by Scorpions
- La Grange, as made famous by ZZ Top
- Black Magic Woman, as made famous by Santana (Premium song)
- Same Old Song And Dance, performed by Aerosmith (re-recording with the band, specifically for Guitar Hero III)
- Pride And Joy, as made famous by Stevie Ray Vaughan
- The Arsonist, performed by Thrice
From this tier, only Monsters and Holiday in Cambodia are from Guitar Hero III's main set list. In The Belly of a Shark is from the bonus set list, Cities on Flame... is from the co-op set list, and both Almost Easy and Peace of Mind are downloadable content.
- Cities On Flame With Rock & Roll, as made famous by Blue Öyster Cult
- Monsters, performed by Matchbook Romance
- Peace of Mind, performed by Boston (Premium song)
- In The Belly of a Shark, performed by Gallows
- Holiday in Cambodia, as made famous by The Dead Kennedys
- Almost Easy, performed by Avenged Sevenfold
The seventh tier includes Black Sunshine, Stricken, and Knights of Cydonia from the main set list, Don't Hold Back from the bonus set list, as well as Motorhead and Sleeping Giant from the downloadable library of Guitar Hero III. It is the tier with the most premium songs, having three.
- Black Sunshine, as made famous by White Zombie
- Don't Hold Back, performed by The Sleeping (Premium song)
- Stricken, performed by Disturbed
- Knights of Cydonia, performed by Muse (Premium song)
- Motorhead, performed by Motörhead
- Sleeping Giant, performed by Mastodon (Premium song)
The last tier is also arguably the hardest for guitar, including Surfing With The Alien and For The Love of God from the downloadable Guitar Virtuoso Track Pack, Cliffs of Dover from Guitar Hero III's main set list's last tier, as well as The Metal and Cult of Personality from other tiers and the bonus song Take This Life.
- The Metal, performed by Tenacious D
- Cult Of Personality, performed by Living Colour (Premium song)
- Cliffs Of Dover, performed by Eric Johnson
- Take This Life, performed by In Flames
- For The Love of God, performed by Steve Vai (Premium song)
- Surfing With The Alien, performed by Joe Satriani