Introduction: How to Make a PS2 Guitar Hero Controller Out of Scratch

Picture of How to Make a PS2 Guitar Hero Controller Out of Scratch
So this is my second instructable, thanx for clicking on it! It is not fully true what the title claims, you do need some materials of course (in fact a lot), I just wanted to emphasize that I had no guitar or anything at the beginning, so it's not a "how to make a big guitar from a small original Red Octane one just by placing the circuit board from the GH controller to a real guitar" type of instructable. Well, maybe it would look much cooler, but I didn't want to sacrifice a real guitar. So I made the body of the guitar and everything from the proper materials and I took the circuit board from a PS1 joy pad. Some wiring and a lot of work and it's done. I'm satisfied with it and I hope you like it too.

This is a video of me playing the GH controller. The Song is called Holy Diver. I'm playing it on Hard. It demonstrates that it is working just fine (every part of it).

Note: I hadn't seen an original red octane controller (nor any 3rd party copies) at the time I made this controller, only on pictures.

Feel free to leave a lot of comments about my project, I'd like to have some response, and if you have any questions about anything according to my project, don't hesitate to ask (but please try to ask things that aren't covered in the instructable! Thanx!)!

Step 1: The Mentioned "scratch"

Picture of The Mentioned "scratch"

So here's what's needed for this project:

- a PS1 controller with analog sticks (important! PS2 controllers won't work with GH2, only GH1)
- trigger buttons of another PS1 controller (I used an old one with no analog sticks - i haven't used it for ages) or some sensitive micro switches for the guitar fret buttons
- some other switches and plastic pieces
- a whammy bar
- some csrews
- a tilt sensor, covered in my fist instructable, the correct one for this project starts at Step 4
- a longer flat cable consisting of 6 wires (it will be easier to glue it down) and a bunch of other shorter wires
- 2 pieces from a roll-top (guitar neck)
- a thick paper with fine surface on one side (guitar body shape)
- a long piece of wooden slat or more smaller pieces (body stability)
- lots of hot glue
- soldering-iron and some solder and of course soldering knowledge
- an electric drill, rasp, Stanley knife and some other tools

Step 2: The Electronic Part of It

Picture of The Electronic Part of It

It is really important to use a PS1 analog controller, because a PS2 controller just won't work with GH2. It doesn't matter for GH1 though, so you can make a guitar exclusively for GH1 from a PS2 pad. And so why is GH2 so picky? Beats me, but it needs a digital controller with analog sticks, and we all know that the PS2 pad is totally analog! Even the buttons, they are touch sensitive. So our only choice is a PS1 pad if we want to make it compatible with GH2 and the probable further versions (I mean beyond the Rocks the 80s, cuz' it worx the same as GH2).
I used a Typhoon 3rd party PS1 pad, because it had an ugly shape...

Ok, so here is "what goes where":

1. You have to solder the left d-pad - as if it was always pressed down - it tells the PS2 that this is a guitar controller (try to push it in the game, the tutorial menu will be unfolded).
2. GND - needed for all the switches. There are a lot of outlets of it fortunately.
3. up d-pad - strum up
4. L2 - 2 outlets for the motion sensor (star power)
5. down d-pad - strum down
6. select - I haven't found any other uses of it than star power
7. start - important for pausing the game and for the in-game menu
8. square - orange fret button (be careful, there's no little extra solder pad - but maybe yours will have)
9. R2 - green fret button
10. cross - blue fret button
11. circle - red fret button
12. triangle - yellow fret button
13. Y-axis of the left analog stick - whammy bar trimmer (connect it between GND and Ucc)
14. Ucc - the easiest place where it can be found

I won't go into details with these later, there will be a reference always in this step.

Note: I would recommend you to remove the rumble motors, because in GH they don't have a role.

Step 3: The StrumBar

Picture of The StrumBar

This was the most interesting part of the whole process. I've tried a lot of things as the strum bar, but nothing succeeded. So I had to make one... I took apart a small switch, put a broken drill-bit into the upper part of the switch (not the electric, but the mechanical), because it is hard, so it won't break (it will be pushing the buttons). After that i cut the trigger-pad in half, soldered it (common GND!!) glued the button gums to the trigger pad, placed it to the switch as seen on the pic and glued the whole thing. It works perfectly!!!!!

Step 4: The WhammyBar

Picture of The WhammyBar

The WhammyBar can be easily made of the analog stick. Cut the CB in half (we'll just need one analog stick). Solder it like on the pic, so it would only move on one axis. Then solder the pins of the "!!!!still moving!!!!" trimmer like the diagram says on the 2nd pic. The direction shall be first tried before placing the analog to its place.

Take the plastic stick and drill a hole into it slantly, then place some bar into it. The Whammy is done!

Step 5: The Neck - 1

Picture of The Neck - 1

There will be 5 fret buttons, so you'll need 3 trigger button circuit boards for this (one button will be unused though). Take one of the roll-top pieces and measure those fret buttons and place them in their place as you wish - find out the comfortable distance between those buttons. Cut the fret wires according to that and solder them to the CBs. You need to have one common GND (so that's why you need a 6-wired cable) - note the white GND cable. Now glue the CBs down. Add some plastic pieces to hold the buttons in their places. Glue them and the wires down, too.

Step 6: The Neck - 2

Picture of The Neck - 2

Measure the fret distances again precisely now as they are glued down. Draw it on the other roll-top piece and drill the holes with the electric drill and work on them with a rasp until they have a square-like shape. Make sure the fret buttons fit there. Now you can make the head of the guitar from the same thick paper you'll be using for the body of the guitar. I made it of 3 layers then glued them together. Don't glue the neck together yet!

Step 7: The Body - 1

Picture of The Body - 1

Draw your desired guitar shape on 2 of these papers (maintain the proportions to the neck). I chose the shape of Gibson Explorer (the shape of the original Xbox360 controller), because it is easy to draw, cut and stabilize with slat pieces.

So cut the shape out with scissors, make the edges finer. Cut out a piece of the slat, it's size must be the same as the length of the guitar. It will be the main slat. Make a hole for the strum bar - it must fit totally, still it must be stable! So measure it precisely. Make a hole for the wiring of the strum bar. Then cut it in a way, that the neck could perfectly be fixed on it by screws and some glue. Hot glue it on the back of the guitar (back paper shape). Now cut 4 other slat pieces, one to each edge of the guitar. Of course you need to measure the circuit board, etc. to make sure everything will fit from those slats. Glue and possibly screw everything together. Make some holes for the wires passing from one part of the guitar to the other. Now fix the neck to its place (with glue and screws). Don't spare with the hot glue because you'll regret it later.

Step 8: The Soldering

Picture of The Soldering

Now comes the soldering (or rather resoldering if you tried it out already whether it worx well). You have to cut every wire to its correct length to fit perfectly (not too short-not too long!!!). Solder everything to its correct place. Make sure everything worx well before proceeding to the next step!

Step 9: The Body - 2

Picture of The Body - 2

Now you have to fix the electronics and the wires to their place and glue 'em there. Place the whammy bar, the start/select buttons, the strum bar and the motion sensor to their places and glue 'em there. I would recommend to glue the Whammy slantly, for the bar to look a bit up.

Cut the second neck piece as it is a bit shorter than the other. Glue the two neck pieces together now.

Now cut some strips of the same paper that you used for the body, with the same width as the thickness of the slats. Carefully glue it around the guitar (i guess it needs at least 2 people). It is the harder part of the whole process, i guess. Don't spare with that glue!!!

Make a hole on this strip for the connection cable. You can also add 2 holders for the guitar strap.

And now another hard task - cut the holes on the body cover very precisely. Then place it correctly on the body and fix it with 5-6 screws. Voila, done. Now for some design.

Step 10: Design

Picture of Design

You may want to add some design elements - to make it look better and to cover the mistakes you made during the progress. I added some transparent plastic to the neck, some metallic and plastic pieces around the Whammy, some metallic piece around the StrumBar, some plastic pieces to the body (wanna' look like the bridge and the pickup...)

So that's it. Thanx for reading and if you would like to help me in my further projects or/and want to know how to get free stuff, please read my blog. Thanx and please save your comments about my blog to my blog comments. But still, feel free to leave a lot of comments about my project, I'd like to have some response, and if you have any questions about anything according to my project, don't hesitate to ask!


ajanthep (author)2013-12-23

That Hurt This Time (author)2007-12-01

I wonder what would happen if i tried to make a toilet plunger guitar...


awesomeness. duh.

rritchie1 (author)2011-11-06

regardless what its called, it works, dude did good, dont bash him for not labeling something correctly, im pretty sure anyone who read it, knew what he meant, i did, and if you cant decipher what he means, by the word "playstation" as well as the PHOTO of it, you probably shouldnt be tinkering around with this kind of stuff anyways, "JUST POINTING THAT OUT"

zjschafer (author)2011-08-20

spray paint flames on it. :D

yaly (author)2011-07-05

are those hard drive platters?

Robot Lover (author)2011-05-18

To make something from scratch, you must first create the universe.

mostafa_n1939 (author)2011-04-27

it was awsom tnx

artcher (author)2010-08-12

very good instructable but this guitar works with rock band for PS2 (sorry, i'm brazilian and my english isn't good)? thanx!

TheMadScientist (author)2007-09-11

I also found that cd tray sensors work wonderfully. you need to tear up a few old cd trays to get the sensor switches that spring back into place though

The same as I was thinking about!

Sabudum (author)2010-07-16

Yo, teebee918, can you tell me the technical difference between the ps1 and ps2 controllers, and why a ps2 controller should not work with this project?

freakyoshi123 (author)2010-06-09

Why is your circuitboard different from mine?

freakyoshi123 (author)2010-06-09

Where did u get the circuit board??

Netspyware (author)2010-03-30

 Is the "Ucc"    the    "Vcc"   point  of  analog led ?

reznikrecords (author)2010-03-15

ahaha ))
100% four-handed

dkcas11 (author)2009-12-03

 Does anyone know if it works with Rock Band I and/or II?


cdman321 (author)2009-09-21

do you have to use a ps1 joy pad controller

1993_18 (author)2009-06-24

I did the same... i put the circle, square, triangle and the cross as the buttons but they don't do... i play GH2 and they don't assume to be the real buttons...

stratisfire (author)1993_182009-07-13

you need to solder down the left cuz thats how the game recognizes it as a guitar

1993_18 (author)2009-06-17

can you put a litlle box... showing were is the gnd? plz

1993_18 (author)2009-06-15

how didi you conect the ps1 controler to this buttons?

crisicla (author)2009-04-20

I have a lot of old nonworking PC mouse, and all of them (optics, with a ball, two, three buttons, with or without wheel) have the same type of internal button, they are very sensitive and easier to use than the original ones

foxtrot4697 (author)crisicla2009-05-13

and why are you posting this here?

crisicla (author)2009-04-20

I use a car electric window switch, from an 87 VW

yaish60 (author)2009-01-23

hey guys how are u '

djsteph974 (author)2009-01-16

hello , i'm french, so sorry for my writing.

i made ,me too ,a guitar DIY, with a BigBen command .

I made my wooden support and pvc. I diverted all the touches of the command on sleeve and install a "mediator".

J also created a sensor of slope as that of your guitar.

You realized a beautiful work, thank you for your ideas!!!

Coming soon !!!

Here is my web site :

kbhkiss (author)2008-01-21

Hello, I am brazilian, sorry my bad english, but It works for guitar hero 3? thank you...

Its okay, almost everyone talks in bad english on the internet.

That's a sad truth, particularly when so many of them speak english as a first (and only) language. When it's a second (third, fourth, etc.) language, poor spelling or grammar can be excused more easily.

Yeah, I agree with that, but it doesn't matter very much if it is only going to be read once by one person.

msnake17 (author)kbhkiss2008-01-27

yes, work perfectly for gh 3, gh2, gh rocks the 80, and gh1 I have tested in all the guitar hero and i never have a problem with nothing of the guitar

fons82 (author)2009-01-05

Hi great instructable!
You if its posible to do the same for Drums , to get it working for rock band or guitar hero IV .
May be there is another trick like the one you did solderting the directional buttons, to get it working as drum ?
I'm thinking that, if this trick exists we can apply this other instrcutable
to get a drum with piezos for PS2 ..
what do you think ?
thanks excellent work, and very well explained.

mountain island (author)2008-12-16

OMG!!! Hav u got 3 hands?!

No, he has four! how do you think he took the pic?

n0ukf (author)2008-12-28

What exactly is that part you're calling a "roll-top"? All I can think of by that name is a roll top desk and that doesn't look like any I've seen.

RJax (author)2008-12-01

Will it work to use ps2 controllers on GH3? WHy won't a ps2 controller work for guitar hero 2 anyway?

JohnyK (author)2008-11-09

But what is Ucc and GND? You don´t explain what that is.... In fact I didn´t understand nothing of how to actually assemble the pieces! For example:

"I took apart a small switch, put a broken drill-bit into the upper part of the switch (not the electric, but the mechanical), because it is hard, so it won't break (it will be pushing the buttons).After that i cut the trigger-pad in half, soldered it (common GND!!) glued the button gums to the trigger pad, placed it to the switch as seen on the pic and glued the whole thing"
What is that suppose to mean??!! What kind of swith? What is the upper part? electric not mechanical? Your explanations weren´t so good, and it kept like this for all the guide so that the only thing that´s good to understand are the pictures(but they´re not enough)! I suggest you make a more detailed guide, better explained or, even better, a video! That would be awsome!
P.S: I wrote this the nicest way i could. I´m not trying to be rude. I sincerely appreciate your effort and thank you for sharing this with us.( Just to be sure you won't read this the wrong way, because, on forums and such, people tend to start arguing for no aparent reason. lol)

guitarmasta (author)2008-07-29

Can you make it it for the wii?

NKing (author)guitarmasta2008-10-08

you can but you need a gyro sensor because the way the wii works - the gyro sensor tells the wii which position you have the remote so it knows which position to put on screen and you need to do it wirelessly. understand??

sasukepie109 (author)2008-07-30

do you absoluteley need a soddering gun?

sasukepie109 (author)2008-07-30

does it work with gh3?

Hammers14gogogo (author)2008-07-07

How much will this cost to make? (In UK pounds)

abcdefq (author)2008-06-20


Markam (author)2008-06-20

I recently made a guitar controller thanx to your Instructable, but there's one thing bothering me. I can't get the starpower to work in GH2 and 3. I soldered a female jackplug to the select button, now I have a pedal attached. When I step on the pedal starpower is activated, well it is in GH1. It works fine in gh1 but not in 2 and 3. I used an original ps1 controller, with the sticks. Also tried to solder the starpower at the L2 button (and L1 just to try) but that doesn't work. Does anyone have any idea's why it doesn't work? btw: I made my strum bar like the original controller and used the microswitches from an old Arcade joystick (the commodore/atari joystick), it works really well, and as we all know the arcade joystick is indestructible...

Brother_D (author)2008-06-17

excellent! I love it! Keep up the good work, man.

JFMS (author)2008-06-09

Hi, I don't have guitar hero, but play frets on fire and already made 2 controllers for it. The first one, which I'm very proud, is made with a ps1 controller connected to my serial port. Now i'm looking for ways to improve this controller and your motion sensor will help me a lot. but i'm writing this to show you how i made my strum bar. Here are two photos, one of my controller and the second of the strum bar in details. sorry for my bad english, thanks.

tecman (author)2008-05-17

Will it work with a controller looking like this? If so, give me the prints/instuctions with that, please:)

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