Introduction: Amplify Your Gamer Guitar

Picture of Amplify Your Gamer Guitar

Perhaps you have built a NES "cigar box"-style 'Gamer Guitar' (book p. 193) and learned to play a few tunes, but you have decided that it is just not loud enough. No matter how hard you wail on your guitar, its little acoustic chamber just can't do that three-chord classic 'Wild Thing' any justice. What is a guitarist to do?

If you have diligently read 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, you perhaps might already know the answer. As the project aptly titled 'Acoustic Rock Revolution' (book p. 184) demonstrates, you must amplify! Yes my friends, it is time to amplify your Gamer Guitar and rock out in your garage like a hurricane (or at least a tropical depression - exotic and angsty).

Using a handful of basic, easy-to-find, parts and tools, I'm going to show you how to perform this operation in a matter of minutes.

For those about to rock, I salute you.

(Note: In the video, I sent the guitar through a killer fuzz pedal. Normal amplification is cleaner sounding and with less feedback.)

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff

You will need:

- A 1/4" male mono plug
(These are available at Radioshack or most guitar shops.)

- A piezo element
(You can find these in many devices including broken touch tone phones or PDAs. They can also be purchased at Radioshack)

- A NES controller cable
(I used the cable left over from Laser Gag Zapper [book p. 138] because it tends to be longer than normal NES controller cables. This is good for playing the guitar.)

Step 2: Take Apart the Plug

Picture of Take Apart the Plug

Disassembled your 1/4" mono male plug. Typically you can twist it open and then simply separate the pieces.

Step 3: Prepare to Solder

Picture of Prepare to Solder

Trim the NES cable free from any circuit board it may be attached to. Also, trim the wires shorter so that only an inch of wire is protruding from the end of the cable.

Strip the jacketing off the white and brown wires.

Finally, slide the outer jacket of the mono plug onto the NES cable if it seems like you won't be able to reassemble the plug assembly after soldering. Basically, most plugs twist together and you won't be able to twist it shut if the piece isn't already passed onto the wire before you solder.

Step 4: Solder

Picture of Solder

Solder the white wire to the metal lug protruding from the back of the male plug.

Solder the brown wire to the shield on the side of the male plug.

Step 5: Reassemble

Picture of Reassemble

Once the two wires are soldered, put your plug back together in the same manner that you took it apart.

Step 6: Case Open

Picture of Case Open

Remove the back half of your Gamer Guitar by removing all of the necessary screws.

Step 7: More Soldering

Picture of More Soldering

Locate the wiring harness for the first player controller socket.

Free the brown and white wires from the plastic connector.

Strip 1/4" of the jacket from each of these wires.

Twist the brown wire together white the black wire from the piezo and white wire together with the red wire from the piezo.

Solder both pairs together.

Finally insulate them using electrical tape. I didn't have any electrical tape on hand, so I glued the two pairs together with hot glue in such a way that the metal contacts could never meet (see last image below).

Step 8: Attach the Pickup

Picture of Attach the Pickup

Using double-sided tape, attach the piezo pickup somewhere along the top side of the guitar near the bridge. You can experiment placing the pickup at various spots inside the guitar body to achieve various sounds.

Step 9: Case Closed

Picture of Case Closed

Close the case pack up and replace all of the screws.

Step 10: Plug and Play

Picture of Plug and Play

Plug the NES end of the wire you made into the first player socket and the music end into your amp and get ready to rock.


mni ming yun (author)2014-12-30

Video = (-..-ll)

A good name (author)2010-06-16

3 strings?

beardedknome (author)2010-03-30

Its pretty cool looking but i bet if you somehow made the body wood and put the nes case over it the sound would be way better. just a tip.

Kasm279 (author)2010-01-28

 Nice PowerMac. I hope it's not dead too! D:

Power Mac? Oh! You mean my guitar stool. It is quite dead.

Although, I have another one lying around that still works. I use it for testing web pages and computer apps on older browsers/OS 10.3.

 How did it die?

It was my friends' computer. She said either the power supply and/or the motherboard was fritzing out. She was having trouble telling. Perhaps the power supply shorted something important on the motherboard?

Unfortunately we will never know as she took out the hard drive and give it to me. That was the final nail in the coffin because I then proceeded to gut it and tear everything apart.

If i were you i would have thrown some PC parts in there to fool some people, maybe added a Leo theme to Vista or XP :) 

 Heh, my Mac here is a G3, it looks like yours except instead of being silver on the sides its transparent white and the letters "G3" printed on the side, and where yours is graphite this is greenish-blue (Blueberry as its called by apple :\) Oh, mine has a 400MHz CPU :D

Scoop35 (author)2010-03-01

 The sound isn't the greatest, but it might just be the mike you recorded the video with.

stephenniall (author)2010-02-15

ahh the comfy mac g5 quicksilver . i have one in my bedroom with a foam top and a cd drive modded to open as a drink holder

Very nice! Those would be good additions to make to mine. It's not very comfortable or accommodating to my beverages right now.

adris8 (author)2010-02-13

thats a Neutrik jack right?

emedina94 (author)2010-02-10

how did you make the guitar

Nicolas Jara (author)2010-02-01


Yerboogieman (author)2010-01-29

Hey Randy, how about a video playing without the pedal?

It will have to wait a week or two. I'm going to Berlin tomorrow.

Can I go? I've always wanted to go to Germany.

1up (author)2010-01-29

1. That NES controller mic cable is the most awesome thing I've seem all week.
2. Finally, something useful to do with your Mac - use it as a stool!

Only joking. I have nothing against Macs. :P

There's a teacher at my school that props open his classroom door with a Mac. I'm not sure if the computer works or not, but it would make me mad if it did.

supertroopa86 (author)2010-01-28

Wouldn't it have been easier just to put sound holes like a acoustic guitar???
Just Sayinnnn

It is basically an acoustic guitar to start with. This how to amplify it as though you were amplifying an acoustic guitar.

Zergling_pack (author)2010-01-28

You should have had it be both a console and a guitar. :P This is hell-a cool though.

It would be difficult as a large wooden beam passes through the middle, but that's not a bad idea. It surely gives us all something to think about.

 I wasn't really sure how much room the circuit board of the NES took up. So my idea was to just shift that board over to the side if possible. 

baken411 (author)2010-01-25

that is the most amazing cable ever, that should be the new standard guitar hook up.

I completely agree.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previously life I had founded and run the Instructables ... More »
More by randofo:Large Motor ProjectsRemove a Wheelchair Motor BrakeBuild a Robot
Add instructable to: