Introduction: Make a Korg Kaossilator Guitar

Picture of Make a Korg Kaossilator Guitar
I came up with the idea for this project when I saw a video of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. He had mounted his Kaossilator on a guitar and a taped the neck of a video game controller next to it to make it look like he was fingering the notes. I thought "Hey, I can do that for real!"

WARNING: Playing such an instrument may induce Funky-Techno-Madness.

Watch in HD

Watch On

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools

A major part of my design is the ability to take the Kaossilator out of the guitar. One of its greatest features is its pocket-portability. I don't want to lose that.

For this Project you will need...


Korg Kaossilator (They are usually yellow but there are limited edition pink ones available too)
RedOctane Guitar Hero Les Paul Controller (It fits perfectly into these models and the removable neck and faceplate make it easy to remove the Kaossilator.)
1 IDC Female Socket for Ribbon Cable
Ribbon Cable (at least 10 conductors)
.1 Inch Header Pins (Double Row)
Proto-board (I get mine from a seller on ebay)
50k Ohm Resistor
1/4" Stereo Output Jack
Les Paul Style Jack Plate
4 #4387 Gibson style pickguard screws
Stereo RCA Audio cable
Great Stuff Expanding Foam Insulation


Hex Screwdrivers
Small Pliers (not needle nose)
Hacksaw Blades (different sized teath cut different plastics better)
Exacto Knife
Vice Grips
3/8" Skew*SHARP! (For cleanup work)
Soldering Iron
Wire Strippers
PanaVise Junior Clamp (#ci0011)
Hot Glue Gun

Step 2: Sticker Removal

Picture of Sticker Removal

I buy my guitars second hand so I usually need to spend some time taking off stickers. After doing some research I found this at

Sticker removal:
To remove stickers from your guitar without leaving behind a sticky residue, I would recommend using Goo Gone. Apply the goo gone to the sticker while it is still whole. Let it soak in for a minute or two and peel off the sticker. Wipe it down after. It is also safe to use rubbing alcohol or WD-40 to clean up the sticky residue.

DO NOT USE: Acetone (nail polish remover), Goof Off, heat, gasoline, lighter fluid, paint thinner, turpentine, or razors. They WILL either scratch and/or leave the plastic cloudy.

WD40 worked just fine for me.

Step 3: "Break It Down Now Yall"

Picture of "Break It Down Now Yall"

There is a great How to Disassemble Your Guitar Hero Guitar Controller at Take all of you screws and put them in a jar or cup. Don't throw anything away.

Now that you have the controller in pieces, set everything aside except for the top half of the body. This includes the faceplate. You are going to need to break off a few things in order to
1.) make room for the Kaossilator
2.) make that plastic easier to saw through.

There are two techniques I use. For the little stubby poles I just take some pliers an rock them back and forth until they snap off. For long lines of plastic I peal off sections at a time.

Step 4: Cutting Pt. 1

Picture of Cutting Pt. 1

This is the hardest part of the entire project. I would recommend that anyone under 18 get an adult to supervise, help, or even do this for you.

There a bunch of ways to cut plastic and I've tried most of them; hot knife, Dremel Tool, scroll saw, etc. The problem is those methods produce a lot of heat and this plastic will melt and make a mess of your project. You know how when you bend plastic it turns that white color? Well those are little stress fractures that weaken the plastic and we are going to use those to our advantage. The technique involves cutting two lines then using an exacto knife with a straight edge to score between them and then breaking the plastic at that score line. Lets practice on the strum bar housing. See the pictures below.

1. CUT

I sometimes need a little more leverage so I use vice grips. Work from one side to the other.

I made these cutting templates in Inkscape. They aren't perfect but they're darn close.

Body Template
Faceplate Template

I like to mark out the corners then use a straight edge to connect them. A red Sharpie shows up well. Use the skew for touchup.

Step 5: Cutting Pt. 2

Picture of Cutting Pt. 2

If the body doesn't look perfect don't fret. Consider it practice for this step. Use the faceplate template to mark you lines on the underside of the faceplate. Align it the best you can. You want this thing to be as level as possible.

1. CUT

I use the skew to cleanup any unevenness.

Step 6: Foam

Picture of Foam

So you have all the cutting done. Its all downhill from here. Take the bottom half of the body and fill the area where the Kaossilator sits with foam. This will help keep it in place and cushion it a little. This stuff is really sticky so be careful. Let it sit and expand for 24 hours and then cut out what you don't want with the hack saw or razor blade.

Step 7: Soldering Pt. 1

Picture of Soldering Pt. 1

Before opening up the Kaossilator and diving in solering iron first, lets work on the adapter for the guitar buttons. Now you can use either the PS3 or XBOX 360 controller. The necks are interchangeable, but the electronics in the bodies are different. Bacically the PS3 one uses six connections and the XBOX 360 uses 8. If you just want to reroute the buttons the PS3 will work just fine but it doesn't have enough connections for the sustainer mod.

1.) Desolder existing wires (I cut them so I can pull them out one by one)
2.) Solder ribbon cable to the neck connector
3.) Solder the 10 pin header in the center of your protoboard
4.) Look at the back of the neck connector. There is one wire with a square around it and only it. For instructional purposes this wire is 1. In my picture its the grey one all the way to the left.
5.) Depending on what kind of controller you're using, refer to the corresponding diagrams a solder wires to their correct pins. The "X"s mean nothing is soldered.
6.) Hot glue your protoboard to the body.

Step 8: Soldering Pt.2

Picture of Soldering Pt.2

Now its time to open up the Kaossilator. The way I've designed it, this will work in both guitars. 3amsleep and I were working on similar projects at the same time. I found his blog while doing research. On my first prototype I rerouted two connections from each button. Then 3amsleep publish his project on his blog and I saw that you only need one connection from each button and a ground. He's even made a video tut on how to disassemble the kaossilator.
You need to look at these pictures for reference.

Wire it as shown in the diagrams below.

Folding the wire in strategic places keeps everything tidy. You will need to cut a hole in the side of the top portion of your Kaossilator. I used a little drill bit and the skew to clean it up.

When once you've fed the wire out of the hole and closed everything attach the 10 Pin connector by applying A LOT of even pressure. Make sure to line up the triangle on the size of the connector with wire 1.

Step 9: RCA to 1/4" Stereo

Picture of RCA to 1/4" Stereo

Measure you wire cure, strip, and wire as shown below. Mount in in the hole left by the phone jack. I forgot to order my screws yet but I plan to heat up the plastic and bend it to conform to the body, then dill holes and add screws.

Step 10: Sustainer

Picture of Sustainer

Solder a 50K Ohm resistor to wire 5 in the neck. I had two 40K and they worked just fine. This could be done one the protoboard as well. I actually forgot and didn't feel like unhotglueing it. It just has to be in line with SUI.

Step 11: Final Product

Picture of Final Product

I made some last minutes changes to my design. For instance I didn't like having to take the thing completly apart to turn it on so I cut out a little more of the faceplate. I also used some Krylon Fusion Sunbeam spay paint to add a little character. This project was a lot of work for me but A LOT of fun. I hope to experiment a little more with the resistance touchpad. Check out my blog Go make something.

Step 12: Green

Picture of Green

Over 5 Million copies of Guitar Hero III were sold within three months of its release. Based on the trends of video game consoles one can see that about every 5 years a new generation is born. In a few years these controllers will become obsolete leaving millions of little plastic guitars strewn about the globe. Also the switches that are triggered by the flipper can wear over time and break. They are rarely repaired. You can find a broken/as is controller on ebay for under $10 including shipping. Old tech meets new tech makes mother nature happy.

Besides, these things were useless from the start :]



Commander Shepard (author)2012-10-18

This reminds me of a product called the Misa Kitara (
which is essentially a guitar-shaped synth.

The only real differences are:
a) The Kitara costs $900
b) It has a touchscreen similar to a tablet (as opposed to the Korg laptop touchpad).

I REALLY like this project, and (providing that I finish my rendition) it's saved me around $900 worth of instrument.


tylercard (author)2011-12-25

Great instructable!

bglasby (author)2011-12-01

Do you have any links to the actual parts or do I just search the net for each one? Would be nice to link each part with where to get them. That or offer a do it your self kit with the parts needed.

keeverw (author)2010-11-02

This is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my entire life!!!!!
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. :)
But this is really awesome!

After much research on my part, I have asked my wife to get me a Kaossilator for Christmas this year, because after playing with one at Guitar Center, I must have one. These things are too much fun and addictive. And the only thing that would make them more fun and addictive is having it mounted in a guitar.

Aside from looking awesome, I really think this mod would make the Kaossilator much more playable as an instrument, because accessing the control buttons would be much more ergonomic. Also the sustain button would add a lot of playability to the device as well.

I can't afford to buy one of these, or I would. And right now I can't even afford to parts to build one, but I will start gathering them up little by little, and maybe by then the new will have also worn off of my Kaossilator enough to where I am not so scared of opening it up and working on it. I am an electrician, so I am not scared of the soldering or anything. So hopefully mine will turn out as good as yours did. Painting the guitar yellow definitely added a nice touch.

I can't thank you enough for putting this instructable online, so I can know how to do this myself. I have heard some music made on the Kaossilator and it is very impressive once you know how to use it. And putting it in the guitar frame with the sustain button is only going to add to how awesome it is.

Great job!

jhardee (author)keeverw2011-08-26

i saw this instructable and i had to make it, but i too have a limited amount of money, so i amazon-ed it. TGFA

hope you are able to get it now :D

James Haskin (author)keeverw2010-11-02

I'm so happy to hear you that dig my project. There's also the option of running the sustain feature to a toggle switch on the body instead. I'll try to update the instructable soon. I've made some improvements on the design since I published it. If you have any questions feel free to email or skype me.

James Haskin

keeverw (author)James Haskin2010-11-03

Cool deal. The switch instead of the button for sustain might be a cool option.
But is there any reason you couldn't put both in parallel, so you could have more options when playing?

Is your parts list on the instructable still good, even after your new improvments?

James Haskin (author)keeverw2010-11-03

Yes that'd work fine. Just make sure you get an xbox 360 controller if you want to use the 5th button.

The parts are the same, however, I no install the resister for the 5th button on the protoboard instead of inside the neck. Also green craft foam from Jo-Ann Fabrics can be used instead of the spray foam. The spray foam is a lot harder to work with.

keeverw (author)James Haskin2010-11-04

And one more thing I forgot to ask. There are at least 2 spare wires in that ribbon cable after doing your mods, correct? Because that would be enough to add in the guitar's battery pack using that same ribbon cable, so I wouldn't have to have any other wires hanging off the Kaossilator.

If not, I could always just plug it into the power supply jack, given I could find the right plug for it somewhere. But I'd rather just use the spare wires on the ribbon cable if there are at least two.

keeverw (author)James Haskin2010-11-04

Another thing I was thinking of doing is using the battery pack on the guitar, and the on/off switch on the guitar to wire into the Kaossilator, in parallel to it's own battery pack. That way I could not put any batteries in the Kaossilator, but instead just put batteries in the guitar, and leave the Kaossilator's on/off switch to the on position, and toggle the power with the on/off switch that is already built into the guitar.

I just think first off it would eliminate the need to cut out that notch for reaching the Kaossilator's on/off switch. And second, if you are planning on leaving the Kaossilator in the guitar most of the time, as I am, it would make changing batteries much easier, because you could just change the guitar's batteries without having to remove the Kaossilator.

The only problem I forsee is that I think the Xbox Les Paul guitar only uses 2 "AA" batteries, and the Kaossilator uses 4. My PS2 wireless guitar controller uses 4 "AA" batteries but it's a totally different shaped guitar, and I don't know how well the Kaossilator would fit in there, plus you have less wires coming from the neck as you mentioned which is not cool either, because I definitely want to use the 5th button as a sustain.

Can you confirm if the Xbox Les Paul uses 4 or 2 "AA" batteries. I really hope it uses 4, but if not, I may try to find a guitar that does.

keeverw (author)James Haskin2010-11-03

And what were the Gibson pickguard screws for? I didn't see them used in the instructable, or maybe I missed it.

James Haskin (author)keeverw2010-11-03

They're used to attach the jack plate to the guitar body

freudenheim (author)2010-01-04

I can't get to the link for the .1 Inch Header Pins (Double Row) (#ci0073). Can you see that at Curious Inventor, and if not point me to another site that has this? I'm very new to electronics and am not sure how to proceed.

James Haskin (author)freudenheim2010-01-04 
Yes Currious Inventor has them still.
When you finish post a picture :]

freudenheim (author)James Haskin2010-01-05

Can you also recommend where I could get a protoboard like the one in your photos? It looks tiny compared to the ones I could find at CI and elsewhere.

Also, does the ribbon just dangle from your Kaossilator when you're not using it inside the guitar?

Thanks for your help! Will definitely post a photo if we get this to work. We're starting without the sustain feature, not even the guitar jack at first, just want to make it work.

James Haskin (author)freudenheim2010-01-05

I buy my 1" two sided boards from Measure Explorer on ebay.

 Yeah, when the kaossilator is not in the guitar the ribbon cable just hangs.
It doesn't bother me :] You can make it pretty short but I like to make them 2 feet. You can always go shorter if it becomes an issue.

 I'd be happy to skype chat with you and give you some pointers. I have two Kaossilators open at the moment. Just email me

renglish1 (author)James Haskin2011-08-22

Umm, I'm in England and want to make one of these. However, some of the links to parts are a. expired, and b. for America. Any chance that you could please post links to the parts for someone in England?

Thanks, great project :D

kdadd (author)2011-06-14

Awesome idea! I was wondering if it would be possible to do this but with a Korg Monotron instead? Either way I'm making one of the Kaossilator ones

B.F.L.M (author)2011-05-04

what about the wii? or should i just get an xbox controller/?

Tradecog (author)2011-04-26

Incredible idea. Hire this man, Korg, and expand upon the Kaossilator's amazing potential. Gonna have to have my electrical engineering mate help me out on this one though :-/

FYI: Thinkgeek charges far too much for the Kaossilator. Use Kaossilator HQ's link to save starving artists' money :)

ragdollman (author)2011-03-14

This is amazing!
I am planing on building this in the summer, I am just a bit confuesd about the sustainer.
Is adding the 50k resistor all I need to do to create the sustainer, or must I also follow 3amsleep's tutorial on sustainer modding?
Please help.
Thanks in advance.

888hilly (author)2010-11-23

Well now you need to install a GBA and your all set for a road trip!

moogbeatz99 (author)2010-10-26

dude, just a suggestion for mere cosmetic looks, you should add some sort of clip apparatus so the end of the ribbon cable just clips into some female connector screwed into the body of the Koassilator, so when/if you take it out of the guitar, you don't have that messy little slit you had to cut in the body.

merely a suggestion. AWESOME INSTRUCTABLE!! =D

check out mine, pleaseeee

offbest (author)2010-08-19

I finally decided to try to finish this, but I can't seem to get the scale or gate button working with the guitar neck. I've check and rechecked all my connections; swapped out the neck adapter, swapped out the 10-pin adapter, resoldered the SCA and gate connections and I'm out of ideas. Any input would be great. The protoboard looks fine, but is the only thing that hasn't been completely replaced so that is my next move.

steveoath (author)2010-07-27

Hi James, just a quick Q. If I'm not interested in the sustainer MOD do I just leave out step 10?

James Haskin (author)steveoath2010-07-27

If your using an playstation controller then yeah just leave out step 10. If you have an xbox360 controller You can the resistor in series with the switch on the neck or a separate one on the guitar body. It's a really cool feature. However, I no longer put the resistor in the neck. Instead, I put it on the protoboard in step seven Soldering Pt.1 If you have any other question feel free to ask. Post post pictures of it when you're done :D James

steveoath (author)James Haskin2010-07-29

Cool - I'm starting another project at the mo' but thought I'd order the parts I needed for this as well. I'll post up my pics when done (possibly September!!! I know, but i'm busy busy busy!). Mine is one of the Pink Kaossilators, so expect some shocking pink bodywork!! Steve

offbest (author)2010-06-01

Great guide, but I'm having some issues. I have the guitar nearly completed and it just needs to be put back together, but when I turn on the Kaossilator it displays "dly" and I can't get it to do anything. I've tried attaching only the two connectors, and the connectors to the neck but the problem persists... Is there any areas I could have gone wrong and caused this? I had it working for a few moments, but when I reset it the problem came back.

James Haskin (author)offbest2010-06-01

 The screen reads dLY when you enter a mode that give you the option of 16 beat loop while taking away the Fix function. You activate it by holding TAP and REC when you turn it on. It should go away after you release both TAP and REC. Make sure your soldering inside the Koassilator is clean and there are no crossed wires.

offbest (author)James Haskin2010-06-01

Wires must have been crossing in the connector, I cut the TAP and REC wires at the connector and it returned to normal. Thanks for the help!

offbest (author)offbest2010-06-01

I've figured some of this out. I can hold down the buttons and turn it on to get to "normal" mode, but none of the buttons work after that. The sustain works when I push orange as it should.

So I'm guessing the buttons are constantly being pressed simultaneously for some reason, since I have to reverse the process of getting into DLY mode.

elephantdress (author)2010-05-28

 for what console is that guitar from?

andrum (author)2010-05-08

 is this a ps2 controller?

SuperCoPilot (author)2010-04-28


 Post some pictures when you're done :]

Glockenator (author)2010-02-28

too confusing

IX Smith XI (author)2010-02-04

Tell me if am right, if you add a 10K Ohm resistor insted of the 50K Ohm resistor to the sustainer  mod it would make the note shorter?

James Haskin (author)IX Smith XI2010-02-04


IX Smith XI (author)James Haskin2010-02-04

What affects do you have when useing different Ohm resistors?

James Haskin (author)IX Smith XI2010-02-04

 Ah, now your asking the right questions :]
The XY pad uses 4 leads. I think, I'm just a hobbiest, ones positive, ones negative, and the other two are analog signals out. The 50 ohm resistor is just enough (or just to little) to make it think you're pressing down still. 

Daniel Spaulding (author)2010-01-08

Would this be a hard project to pick up and do? It seems very interesting and I would like to try it. However, I'm fairly new to the whole soder and wiring thing. Should I try something else first to get some practice?

manuel0097 (author)2010-01-05

I have a little question... can I make this with a wii guitar hero controller?? is the process of making a kaossilator guitar different with a wii guitar hero controller??
please tell me how to make it if its different
thanks ;)

kelano (author)2009-05-08

i would totally pay you to make one for me!!! how much would it take for you to make me one? cuz that is the coolest thing ever!!!

A.C.E. (author)kelano2009-05-26

the kaosillators are expensive though..

IX Smith XI (author)A.C.E.2009-12-19

you can buy one on amazon for 150.

James Haskin (author)kelano2009-05-09

I sell them through paypal on my blog

IX Smith XI (author)2009-12-19

You should make a video of how to make one.

chicoconceptual (author)2009-09-08

Wooooooooooooooow INcredible finding! a Moebius stirp!

Mr. Brownie (author)2009-08-20

one of the youth pastors at my church did this with his computer.

JamieTringham (author)2009-07-29

Is there anyway to do it, but still being able to remove the wire

About This Instructable




More by James Haskin:Make Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs... in an OvenMake an LED Bow TieMake a Korg Kaossilator Guitar
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