This is one of those “Posting of my strange technical troubles so that anyone in the same situation might find it and save some time” posts.
While attending CES, I decided to use the downtime to bring along my bass and electric guitars and try to get some much-needed practice time in. After failing to get the PS3 I’d lugged along working with the hotel’s TV system, I decided to bite the bullet and re-buy Rocksmith 2014 for my laptop. I felt a little foolish in the process, but Vegas is the perfect place for such money-wasting foolishness, and I reasoned that if I weren’t using my time to practice my bass, I’d likely lose a lot more money downstairs in the casino practicing my blackjack.
So, program downloaded, bass at the ready, I launched the game, only to find out that it couldn’t “hear” my guitar over the known-working Real Tone cable I’d brought with me. I quickly traced the issue to the cable not working with my laptop’s USB 3.0 ports (it appeared as a non-working “hocksmit” device under Windows’ device manager).
After much fiddling around, I took a run down the street to the casino-themed Fry’s Electronics and bought the cheapest portable USB 2.0 hub I could find ($6.99). Plugged the tone cable into that, the device was suddenly now recognized, and voila–I’m off to master Bush’s “Machinehead”.
Note: there’s a rumor afoot that the newest incarnation of the tone cable works better with USB 3 ports. Can’t confirm this myself, as my cable came with the original Rocksmith game.