Introduction: Easier Guitar Hero Clone Controller!

Picture of Easier Guitar Hero Clone Controller!

This is inspired by Realities' excellent idea, but I used a PC controller instead of a keyboard circuit board, eliminating the need for an elaborate flipper build.

Step 1: Parts!

Picture of Parts!

I used a cheap $10 electronic guitar (you can find them just about anywhere... Dollar General has this particular double fret model =) and a PC game controller. I used an old Xbox controller that I had modded to use as a PC controller, but any PC controller should work. Dual stick models are great!

Step 2: Prep Work...

Picture of Prep Work...

Take apart the guitar and gut the electronics. Lots of good stuff in there for other projects! Remove the frets and cut the wires from the frets as close to the guitar's PC board as possible. Go ahead and take apart your controller as well. If your controller has Force Feedback motors, you can simply snip those off without effecting how the controller works.

Step 3: Map Out the Fret Buttons

Picture of Map Out the Fret Buttons

Use the continuity setting on your voltmeter to map out which wires go to which fret. Removing the top of the fret helps greatly, as you can also follow the fretboards PC traces. One wire will be a common ground (different colored), and the rest will correspond to each fret.

Step 4: Fit the PC Controller to the Guitar Shell.

Picture of Fit the PC Controller to the Guitar Shell.

Trim plastic on the guitar body shell as necessary until you can nicely flush fit your controller PCB into the guitar body shell. You'll want to fit it at an angle with a multiple of 45 degrees (i.e., 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, etc.). This makes use of the eight way position of your controller's joysticks, so that two of the positions will be "up" and "down" for the "flipper" picking used by the Frets on Fire game.

Step 5: Solder Time!

Picture of Solder Time!

Solder the wires from the fretboard that you mapped out earlier to the gamepad's button pads on the controller's PCB. It doesn't matter which controller buttons you solder to, because Frets on Fire setup will automatically map the buttons you use in the game's setup!

Step 6: Final Check!

Picture of Final Check!

Plug in the controller cable, and go to the Game Controller Control panel in your PC. Press the five fret buttons you soldered to your controller to make sure they light up in the control panel.

Step 7: Hot Glue Alert!

Picture of Hot Glue Alert!

Now that everything has checked out, Reattach the fret to the guitar body, then use copious amounts (lots) of hot glue to firmly attach the controller board in your guitar shell.

Step 8: Almost Done!

Picture of Almost Done!

Use a circular file or Xacto knife to make a whole for the controller cord. I found that using some hot glue around the cord just inside where it fits in the guitar body makes a nice "stopper" to protect the cord from being accidently yanked out, just like the rubber stoppers used on regular controllers. Now, reassemble the guitar. Almost done!

Step 9: Cosmetic Time!

Picture of Cosmetic Time!

Your controller is perfectly usable at this point, but you can do some cosmetic work if you want your controller to have a "finished" look. Thin 1/16th or 3/32nd aluminum sheeting can be used, as it is easily cut, even with scissors. Plastic cut from coffee can lids, cheap tupperware, etc., also works great! I used colored tape on the frets to match the color scheme used in Frets on Fire, and hot glued two extra thin guitar picks to the flipper controller. The real beauty of this is one joystick becomes the flipper, and the other stick allows you to navigate through all the game's menus from your guitar!

Step 10: Thrash Away!

Picture of Thrash Away!

Have fun with your new controller. If you'd like to support this Instructable, and see my controller in action, then please watch the video! Thanks and have fun!

Watch the Video!


noodleman97 (author)2010-06-05

Will this work on a PS2 controller? Except with different parts...

Kindhamster (author)noodleman972010-09-11

In theory, yes.
however, if the game you're trying to play does NOT support using a normal game controller, then you're screwed

Doddity (author)2010-04-07

Thank you heaps for this great instructable. I was just about to give up on fixing/adapting a broken guitar hero controller after a massive rage at it and this pretty much saved it so thanks. =)

Lion-O (author)2008-10-06

Where exactly do you solder the wire onto the controller buttons? I have an xbox s-type controller which is slightly different but the soldering should be the same. I am just wondering if I solder anywhere on the button itself or in the tiny hole beside the button (the hole connected to the gridline coming from the button. Any help would be great. Thank you

xsammymanx (author)Lion-O2010-01-19

if you have bought a toy guitar like this, it should have wires already connected to the fret buttons. all you have to do is solder the fret wires to the corresponding buttons on the gamepad

bounty1012 (author)2009-11-25

I know this is a random question but, how do you hook your computer up into your TV like that?

Metal4God (author)2007-11-19

WTF why not use a PS2 controller and make it work with REAL guitar hero!

rootbeerben3 (author)Metal4God2008-08-31

it is for people who dont have a ps2 or dont want to spend $200+ for a ps2 and game

Metal4God (author)rootbeerben32008-08-31

most people have a ps2 or w/e if u have a 360 use a 360 controller, ps3, then use ps3 controller not that hard to figure out!! and ps2's are like 100

evanwehrer (author)Metal4God2008-09-27

I dont have a ps2 or an xbox 360

Metal4God (author)evanwehrer2008-10-06

ok tell me

when did i say "you HAVE to do this with a ps2 controller"

i was saying IF u have one


evanwehrer (author)Metal4God2008-10-06

You said most people have a ps2 or xbox 360

rootbeerben3 (author)evanwehrer2008-12-20

IF everyone had a ps2 that this, instruable would be pointless, but not everyone does, therefore making it a good instruable.

evanwehrer (author)rootbeerben32008-12-21

i never said it was a bad instructable.

evanwehrer (author)evanwehrer2008-12-21

i love FoF

bounty1012 (author)evanwehrer2009-09-02

Playing it with a x-plorer or drums is the best .

bounty1012 (author)evanwehrer2009-09-02

FoF pwns.

duck-lemon (author)evanwehrer2009-01-09

As do i =]

firesketch (author)duck-lemon2009-03-14

I have GH on my 360, but I still love FoF.

rootbeerben3 (author)Metal4God2008-08-31

I'm buying a ps2 controller and a ps2 to PC adapter.

Metal4God (author)rootbeerben32008-09-14


Lithium Rain (author)2009-05-30

Excellent! I plan on doing this! Also, how did you mod the original game controller to work with your pc? I see you soldered a usb cord onto it - how did that work h the wirinwiring? Would the pinout be similar for an old game controller with a 15 pin connector at the end?

kagenin (author)Lithium Rain2009-07-15

Frets on Fire is a free Rock Band/Guitar Hero clone for PCs. People have ported the content from those games over to it, as well.

Lithium Rain (author)kagenin2009-07-15

Erm, yeah, thanks...but I knew that, I meant the hardware, not the software. =]

kagenin (author)Lithium Rain2009-07-17

Oh, my bad, I think I misread your original question. I use a PS2 controller to USB connector to play (although the USB connector I use doesn't support the whammy bar on the PS2 GH controller). Sorry I'm not much help.

Lithium Rain (author)kagenin2009-07-17

Ahh, I see, thanks! That actually does help. :)

junior640661 (author)2009-04-10

can someone give me an old (useless but still works) wii remote so i can do this mod

dogbot10 (author)junior6406612009-05-29

"Useless but still works" LOL! How does that work?

yourmom0164 (author)2008-12-30

WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why dont you jest use the guitar or mic or drums.that what makes it fun. if you dont like to use thoe s then you are lazy

Yes, he's lazy because he decided to make his own controller, instead of buying one premade. You just made a fail.

TMSheik (author)2008-12-30

very nice Instructable! indeed I thought too about using a controller instead of the... how do you call it? I don't remember hehe Well, nice work and keep it up. I'd like to see more projects from you later.

weaselman50 (author)2008-01-05

I need a little bit of help conserning my fret buttons. The buttons are rigged so u have to press two buttons for a regular button press for the original guitar. My ribbon does not identify a common ground and only has 6 wires out of 7 buttons. What shall i do?? sorry for the bathroom pictures and fisheye( my macro is for extremely close-up)

evanwehrer (author)weaselman502008-12-21

lol the bathroom sink

the_burrito_master (author)2007-10-17

frets on fire has spy ware on it but it dosn't rely matter

Ummm... Frets on Fire is open source. If it had spyware, the whole frikkin' world would know about it by now. Please do some research before spreading rumors.

well it has to access the internet so I thought it did even if it dos the game is still worth it.

Wtf. Seriously. First you say that FoF has spyware and then you say that you just thought that it did. FoF is a great game which DOES NOT contain any spyware, viruses, adware or dirty pictures of your mom. If you don't want to spend your money on GH, then go download FoF now. Seriously.

lewis30039 (author)Noodle932008-12-10

frets on fire was tested by and was found spyware, viruses, and adware free.

thats a load of bull right there!

it dose access the internet I thought it was for spy wear

heck no! ki have it and it's the best game! you should play it!

i do play it I bet I can play better than you

i get %100 on the song mostly i've been playing guitar this week ON AMAZING!

yeah right give me a screen shot.

how do you excpect me to take it?

the print screen button on the key board will take a picture then you load it up and post it on my orange board.

ok oh and FoF won't work


oh and that song is pretty easy

bobhill125 (author)2008-11-28

i might do this to drums so it will be like rock band and post an instrucable on how to make it me and my sisters love rockband

About This Instructable



Bio: I've had many different jobs in my life, but I've discovered my passion: Mental Health Counseling. However, that doesn't keep me from ... More »
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