Introduction: Guitar Hero Clone

Picture of Guitar Hero Clone

Ever wanted to play Guitar Hero on your computer with your own home made guitar ? Get ready to play for less than 10 bucks and some patience.

Step 1: Buy a Cheap Toy Guitar

Picture of Buy a Cheap Toy Guitar

The first step is to go to your nearest Wal-Mart (or the like), and buy a cheap electronic toy guitar with at least 5 buttons on the neck. I found the following one for 9.95$CND.

While you are doing this, download the free Guitar Hero clone Frets On Fire. You can also find on the web all the songs from Guitar Hero I and II! All for free!

Step 2: Hack a Keyboard

Picture of Hack a Keyboard

For this step, I have modified my keyboard to have a parallel port connector at the back. I recommend you use an old keyboard and place the entire circuit board directly in the guitar (a keyboard's circuit board is usually about 3-4 inches wide by 1-2 inches high), then trash the case and keys.
The trick is track down the traces for 7 keys (14 wires). Though you can use 7 keys of your choice, I recommend you trace 7 keys that are on the same trace (this changes the number of required wires from 14 to 8). Be careful, some cheap keyboards prevent you from pressing certain combinaisons of keys, so 2 or 3 fingers chords might not work.

Controls to be used with the guitar:
Button 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5;
Flipper Up and Down.

I bypassed keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, X and Z, by soldering some extra wires to the parallel port connector.

Cut one or two RJ-45 cables (LAN) of about 10 feet long, and solder the wires to the male connector.

Step 3: Rip Open the Toy Guitar

Picture of Rip Open the Toy Guitar

Open the toy guitar and rip off any speakers, wires and processing unit.
Bring your RJ-45 wires from the keyboard to the neck circuit. With a knife, cut the tracing and solder your own wires for the first five buttons.

Step 4: Create the Flipper

Picture of Create the Flipper

Remove two buttons off the top of the case or create your own openings. Cut a piece of strong plastic and fit two legs in the holes.

(I used some sort of plastic piece usually found in the back of drawers to hold them on a track, but I'm sure you can figure out somethin ;-)

Step 5: Create the Flipper Circuit

Picture of Create the Flipper Circuit

This is probably the hardest part. You need to drill holes in the flipper legs and pass a long metal rod to be used as a hinge. Hot glue the extremities in place.

Use the existing screws to run springs or rubber bands to go away from the flipper. I used two screws placed vertically in the legs to hold the springs. This will have the flipper come back to a neutral position when released.

Hot glue a long thin piece of metal to one of the legs of the flipper. Glue a connector under the tip of the piece of metal and another connector above it. When pressing the flipper down, one connection is made. When pulling the flipper up, the other connection is made. (My second connector is placed on the speaker's socket)

Run a wire for each part. Make sure the keys used for Up and Down are on the same trace in the keyboard. You must have only 3 wires in this part of the circuit.

Step 6: Wrap Up Everything

Picture of Wrap Up Everything

Make sure everything is working. Make sure to label all the wires in case you need to tweak them.
Cut a hole in the bottom of the case to run the cables out to the keyboard (if you did something like me) or to the computer. I made a knot with the wires inside the case so the wires are not accidentally ripped off.

Step 7: Get a Grip

Picture of Get a Grip

Make sure the grip on the buttons is appropriate. Kids tend to hav very small hands (!), so I made the neck a little bigger and I increased the thickness of the buttons. For that I used a piece of kid floor tiles (use different colors at your discretion ;-). I have also cut grooves in the foam so my fingers know exactly where they are on the neck.

The strap is a nice add on so you can play while standing up!

Launch Frets On Fire, connect the guitar, setup FOF so the key settings reflect those of your guitar, and rock on !

(Side note, plan a Esc button on the guitar, otherwise you need the keyboard to be close by)

I didn't bother making this wireless, but I'm sure someone is crazy enough to use a wireless keyboard !!! :-)


builderkidj (author)2011-05-18


berkay (author)2009-03-24

could you explain how you solder wires that come from neck to circuit board?

qwerty29 (author)2009-01-04


Santas little helper (author)2007-09-29

this would be great with frets on fire thats an online guitar heroe basically and you can download almost any song you want its amazing nice guitar btw!!!!!!

FoF is online???

Frets on Fire...PSSSHHHHH!!! Why don't you learn to play a REAL keyboard??

(...hopes the sarcasm is obvious...)

he said in the instructable that its for frets on fire

Hawaii00000 (author)2008-04-14


corl45 (author)Hawaii000002008-06-09

You should be able too, just do the same thing, just make your own drum case (or if u can find one) and add pressure pads, or if ur like me, and dont like to buy stuff, you can try this: 1. find 2 nice sizes of cardboard, 2. cut them out in the shape of a drum 3. stick some (stripped) wire ontop of one of them 4. wrap it in tinfoil 5. repeat steps 3 and 4 for the second peice of cardboard. then solder the wires to the keys just like in this instructable

sonic_dan (author)2008-03-26

just made a new guitar hero instructable :)

corl45 (author)sonic_dan2008-06-09

u should be able too, just do the same thing, just make your own drum case (or if u can find one) and add pressure pads, or if ur like me, and dont like to buy stuff, you can try this: 1. find 2 nice sizes of cardboard, 2. cut them out in the shape of a drum 3. stick some (stripped) wire ontop of one of them 4. wrap it in tinfoil 5. repeat steps 3 and 4 for the second peice of cardboard. then solder the wires to the keys just like in this instructable

corl45 (author)corl452008-06-09

sorry i replied to the wrong person XD

fercho0816 (author)2008-04-21

im gonna try to do one but can get to this? the special you get?

purpulhaze (author)2008-01-16

I found the perfect guitar for this project at Target on clearance for $15.00. It's call Guitar Super Star and it's almost like an original GH guitar. It even has a strum bar like GH. I gutted it and wired up everything to an old usb game controller I had lying around. Changed the buttons around so that the colors would match up to the Frets on Fire keys.

purpulhaze (author)purpulhaze2008-01-16

I plan on painting the red to black and also adding some custom led fret buttons.

RFilyaw (author)purpulhaze2008-03-21

No colors anymore, I want them to turn black...

jajabyron (author)purpulhaze2008-03-11

what kind of usb cable is it? because I was wondering I have one of those and I thought it was junk until I took it apart. and How do you construct it?

purpulhaze (author)jajabyron2008-03-11

Basically your gutting it and using the switches already installed. You can use the encoder from an old keyboard (which is a pain) or an old game controller. I used a cheap usb game controller I got off of ebay. Solder the wires from the Guitar Super Star to the inputs on the game controller. There is not much to construct. You just need a soldering iron and some wire.

Realities (author)purpulhaze2008-01-17

Wow ! This is awesome ! Much better than mine ! At that price, if I get some spare time, I'll rebuild it! But lately I've been busy building a vibrating car seat for my xbox racing games... Thanks for posting !

guitarmonkey1571 (author)2008-03-21

Is there any way of hooking this up with like a electric drum set so then you and a friend could play a Rock Tour-like game on your computer?

farkob (author)2007-12-03

Guitar Hero 3 is also available for PC now, you can play the original GH too!

weaselman50 (author)2007-11-15

Sweet! I love Frets on Fire and I knew exactly that this was for it. Now all I have to do is make it.

sonicthechao (author)2007-11-08

i know a lot of people who hate frets on fire and i cant see why... plus you just made it better

koax (author)2007-10-16

thx man for this and thx for the new pics too !!

janwa (author)2007-10-02

hey.... I'd like to talk to someone who actually made one of's for a radio show. anyone interested in talking? thanks. jb

firebat45 (author)2007-10-01

Wow! I made one of these about 6 weeks ago using the exact same model of guitar. The only difference is that I made mine wireless and I kept the buttons on the guitar for strum up and down. It's a little more awkward, but probably more durable than something I could come up with, and I don't want it to break in the middle of a song.

Ward_Nox (author)2007-09-29

you ned a whammy bar but otherwise nice

super_genius (author)Ward_Nox2007-09-30

frets on fire does'nt use a whammy bar.

Ward_Nox (author)super_genius2007-09-30

oh ok nvm then

wii maniac (author)2007-09-30

i tryed to make somthing like this but miserably failed
so i got one of these :

locofocos (author)2007-09-29

I've been playing Frets on Fire for a while now. It's pretty nice, even with the keyboard (which is now easier for me than the guitar controller). One thing that's fun is to pause it in the middle of the song (especially after playing for while) and just stare in the middle of the screen. It looks like the note pathway (5 lines, whatever you call it....) is slowly getting taller.

connorcancount! (author)2007-09-29

i would love to see a video of this thing in action!

John Smith (author)2007-09-29

this is really cool, but I would have painted it a different color, though.

Realities (author)John Smith2007-09-29

Hmm, I didn't paint it.. the toy was coming in 3 different colors... Blue, Lime Green and Pink... :-) Thanks for all the good comments !

John Smith (author)Realities2007-09-29

Oh, I didn't mean to say that you painted it....I guess I just typed it that way.

GorillazMiko (author)2007-09-28

Great instructable, I might try it!

noobsarenew1 (author)2007-09-28

but how do we play the game u tell about making it but were we get emulator + game?

Dr. LD (author)noobsarenew12007-09-28

Frets on Fire is a clone of the Guitar Hero games, its made to run on the computer without the need of any emulator.. You just download the game, set it up, and your off rocking out!! It even looks like Guitar Hero, minus the fancy animations in the background. This is a real neat instructable, ive always wanted to play guitar hero but i dont have a PS2 or an Xbox 360. -LD

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