Instructables

Rock Band Guitar Mod: Guitar Hero Buttons and Strum Bar

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By cannibalizing a PS2 Guitar Hero Controller, I added all my favorite elements to my Xbox 360 Rock Band Controller: Raised buttons and mechanical switches for strum bar.

This mod results in increased functionality for my Rock Band Controller: The new buttons are smooth and responsive, they are wired into the bottom fret buttons, allowing automatic hammer-ons, and the strum bar is reliable and consistent, and complete with clicky feel and sound.

I completed this mod in a few hours, in between binge drinking, and reading depressing political commentary blogs. If I can do it, you can to!

You will Need:
One PS2 Gibson SG Controller, that is no longer loved.
One Rock Band Fender Controller, that was never loved like it deserved.

Dremel Compatible Rotary Tool, with sanding discs.
Soldering Iron
Solder
Electrical Tape
Phillips head screw drivers, of various sizes.
Hot glue gun, and at least 3 sticks of hot glue.
XTREME GLUE. I used Gorilla Glue, but you could use JB Weld, or shoegoo, or any other plastic holding mega glue with a warning label big enough.
 
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Step 1: Why Would You do This?

This Tutorial was constructed for those of you who have an extra rock band controller lying around. I say extra, because When I play Rock Band, I exclusively use my Xplorer, and that of my friends. The Rock Band guitar's weak, often faulty strum bar, and the flat buttons make it relatively unpopular with my friends, and I believe, guitar heroes around the world.

But it Doesn't have to be that way! You paid for the thing, so why not put it to use! And not just as the bass guitar you make your girlfriend use.

Many, many of us have Guitar Hero from the PS2 days, and many of us have controllers that are no longer up to the task of play. My PS2 controller had a broken whammy bar that no amount of glue could fix.
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ScienceWiz4 years ago
AAWEEEE!!!!! I wish I had read this instructable a week ago!! I Just traded my Ps2 guitar back to gamestop for a grand total of 2 Dollars!!! Wow... this would've been a much better idea!
pretty sneaky! nice job so what do you have against the rockband buttons?
Sp4m (author)  the_burrito_master6 years ago
The rockband buttons are very well built. Improvements in almost every regard. very smooth action, very consistent. However, they all feel exactly the same. My calloused man-hands can not feel the five microbumps that designate the middle button, and often, I find myself pressing the wrong keys, just when I start to rock out the hardest.

Also, It's a game controller, not a guitar. So I like it to look like one.
call me crazy, I like colored buttons :).
ftw
oh ok that's what I thought then whats the new strum bar for?
Sp4m (author)  the_burrito_master6 years ago
The new strum bar replaces the inconsistent, cheap rock band switches with the better, more responsive guitar hero ones.
peach_fart Sp4m5 years ago
the rockband strum bars are really sensitive, you barely need to move it to strum, how far do you need to press the gh strum bar to strum?
Sp4m (author)  peach_fart5 years ago
An excellent question. you need a little more follow through with this mod to register a button press, but it's much more consistent. However! There is also more resistance. Some of my friends have complained that continuous play wears them out on that guitar. If I were to make a change to my design, I would mount the switches in a semi depressed (~1/8th) state, so reduce the strum distance.
peach_fart Sp4m5 years ago
i played gh3 at gamestop. the strum bar is hard to hold and you have to push it in all the way.
oh! yeah that's what I thought.
Why didn't you just modify the Rock Band buttons with paint or something? ;P
Sp4m (author)  HarveyDanger6 years ago
The problem was not the appearance of the buttons, but the feel. Adding the PS2 buttons specifically, gives me a nice "old-school" feel. Plus, The PS2 guitar was what I had, and what I think a lot of people have, lying around.
I'm not sure I know what you mean. Like, the plastic-y feel? I read what you said about the bumps on the middle button not helping much, but I would think you would have just altered the texture of the other buttons if that was the only problem.
Sp4m (author)  HarveyDanger6 years ago
That's not a bad idea, but what it comes down to, is that when my friends and I play Rock Band, the Guitar Hero controller is the one everyone wants to use. This mod was designed to take all the elements of a guitar hero controller that make it preferable, and add that into the Rock Band controller, without losing any functionality.
yeah I know what you mean I played rock band a while ago and I really decided I almost hated the controller.
mrjubjub6 years ago
you're house is so small..
Sp4m (author)  mrjubjub6 years ago
It's tiny. Did you notice the corn flakes? That and bacon flavored chocolate is all I have right now.
bounty1012 Sp4m5 years ago
er, bacon flavored chocolate?
Sp4m (author)  bounty10125 years ago
it's Seriously Delicious. Seriously. Look up a company called Vosages, and enjoy it one tiny bite at a time. It is THAT good.
mattdias Sp4m5 years ago
bacon flavored chocolate?!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE TO HAVE THAT! GIMME SOME!
pvgangster5 years ago
Flames gook really good for being electrical tape.
Hultsy5 years ago
Would this mod be any different for an xbox 360 except that I would have to strip an xplorer for the parts? Also, I was wondering if I could somehow add wireless capability on the rock band controller because I hate wires.
Sp4m (author)  Hultsy5 years ago
My mistake! I misunderstood your Q. This mod IS for the Xbox 360. The PS2 Buttons function as buttons for any platform.
no offense but theirs a ten times easier way to do this if you have a 360, a gh guitar and a rock band disk you don't need that rock band guitar cuz it connects
Sp4m (author)  officeblueprint5 years ago
Oh absolutely. I totally recommend using a GH guitar over the gen 1 RB guitar. However, this mod put to use the buttons off of a broken PS2 GH guitar. Doing a little tech recycling and improvement.
oooo ok hey btw to u happen to no a way to make a costume face plate for a ps2 guitar that doesn't have the removable one?
Sp4m (author)  officeblueprint5 years ago
Well, you could carefully place white painter's tape over your existing face place, cut off the excess with a Xacto blade, and sharpie in your design. Kind of simple and amateur, but a fun project. I disassembled my PS2 guitar (took 20 mins) and then painted the body with spray paint. that gave it a great custom look for $5. Using masking tape stripes over the original cherry body, I created a crisscross red/ blue pattern. It was pretty slick.
sounds sweet you should put up some pics
Sp4m (author)  officeblueprint5 years ago
Hah hah. That's the guitar I cannibalized for THIS mod :) (I fudged the pictures). The whammy broke, resisted a gorilla glue fix, so I tried this.
o ic
Sp4m (author) 5 years ago
the Xplorer controller is very similar, so mechanically it should work the same. You will have to check the wires in the ribbon cable, to make sure the buttons are connected properly. As far as wireless goes, I know it's possible. People were doing wireless GH1 guitars on the PS2 for years, but I can't find any step by step guides for XBox260. If you want to be a pioneer, then look up a PS2 wireless guitar mod, and make your own Instructable! Good luck!
Sp4m (author)  Sp4m5 years ago
Oh, however, making the guitar wireless pretty much requires dismantling a functional wireless controller, and wiring the guitar's control switches into that. It's a little impractical, so you'd probably just want to buy one of the new wireless rock band guitars.
peach_fart5 years ago
i would have made the flames wrap onto the frets & just cut the pieces so they wouldnt interfewe with the buttons preesing down & springing up.
crankyjew6 years ago
lol, i guess i really am the only person who likes the rockband guitars better than the guitar hero ones? nice 'ible tho.
Sp4m (author)  crankyjew6 years ago
you're absolutely welcome to :). Though keep the strum bar switch mod in mind, because the RB controller's strummer is notoriously unreliable.
peach_fart Sp4m5 years ago
its really freakin sensitive, what are you talking about?
Redgerr Sp4m6 years ago
i like ur name lol, thanks for the mod
tomonto Sp4m6 years ago
because it doesn't click. that is the only problem with it.
i do, definitely. GH:click click-click clickity click click RB: (which means you hear nothing!)
actually, GH strum bar: click click-click clickity click GH buttons: (none) RB Strum Bar: (none) RB buttons: click click-click clickity click click So, it kinda evens out, except with hammer-ons, where the RB guitar clicks but not the GH.
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