Shimming the Ashley Rock Axe





Introduction: Shimming the Ashley Rock Axe

This guitar is awesome! However, many users of this guitar have complained (rightfully, in my opinion) that the main fret buttons need to be pushed down too hard to be practical. This is a step-by-step guide for a super-simple fix that might make others less hesitant to open up their new piece of kit!

Step 1: Gathering Tools and Materials

I used the following materials:

*Two business cards (though you may only need one)
*A small screwdriver
*Super Glue
*Double Sided Tape

Step 2: Turn Off the Guitar and Remove the Batteries

Yes, the title pretty much says it all. But this step is a good excuse for this awesome picture.

Step 3: Detach the Fret

So in all, you'll have 7 screws to keep track of. 2 screws that are plainly visible above the green button and below the orange button, and 5 screws that are holding the circuit board to the fret mount.

There isn't a whole lot of slack to the wiring inside of the neck of the guitar, so be careful not to try and rip out the fret altogether. This fact makes the last 5 screws kind of hard to get to. I found it easiest to cradle the neck of the guitar in my lap as i unscrewed from behind, as shown in the second picture.

Step 4: Observations About the Original Build

At this point, I just wanted to share why I thought this was a good idea, and figured this would be the best place to solicit alternative ideas. These fret buttons aren't flush on the bottom (picture 1) they're hollowed out a bit to allow for the jelly switches that actually control the guitar (picture 2). When they rest on the gelly switch (picture 3) it seemed like the simplest solution was to fill in the buttons a little bit.

However, number 1, as I'll mention later, I used 4 layers of business card stock, but perhaps 3 is a more prudent number. Number 2, I don't know much about electronics. Is there a better way to manipulate this setup? Comment below!

Step 5: Cutout the Shims

So I used old business cards and just kinda fit a corner in there to see how big I should cut the shim. A bigger man might make a tracing and cut out the curve, I just cut so that it fit completely inside of the button.

Step 6: Glue the Shim Together

Obviously one layer of card stock wouldn't do much, so I shot for four.

-Edit: Apparently three also works, and is "perfect," according to ke4sfq.

I used super glue to hold them together, because it was the first glue I found, to be honest, and is good for just about anything you need to stick one thing to another for.

Step 7: Put Scotch(r) Double Sided Tape on the Shim

I thought this step was really cool because it turns out that the tape is almost exactly the same width as the shim. :)

My friend Nathan points out that if the tape fits inside of the button, perhaps using some Scotch(r) Foam Mounting Tape. It's a solid idea, except for I didn't find any foam tape on my desk, as opposed to all of my other materials ;-)

-Edit: ke4sfq points out that the foam tape is too thick and keeps the buttons depressed the entire time. He used a 3 card stack, and was pleased. Thanks ke4sfq!

Step 8: Repeat Steps 5-7 for All Five Buttons

So you'll cut, glue, and tape five shims to the five buttons. Why tape? Too chicken in case it was too thick / thin to glue it.

Step 9: Put Your Axe Back Together

Remember what a pain it was to unscrew those 5 screws? It's easier to put them in, probably just because of practice. But yeah, do step 3 in reverse and put everything back together!

Step 10: Rock Out!!

The end result is a MUCH more responsive guitar. But it's a bit of a mixed blessing. Using a 4 layer shim, you can't even rest your fingers on the fret a little bit without it registering.

Also, I had just a bit of trouble with the yellow button registering when I wasn't pushing it. It has largely subsided, but I'm going to party hard with the Axe tonight, so we'll see if the constant mashing will have any impact on it.

Final word: I might go to a 3 layer shim, if accuracy problems persist. But from the first song I tried after the mod, my accuracy was pretty damn good!



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    Also, I would add that the I may in the future pull the pick guard off and snip the wire running to the D Pad to kill it. I noticed i have been hitting it when i rest my palm on the guard. I also may kill the tilt switch for star power. I like sitting in my recliner with the neck pointed up and as soon as star power is avail it kicks in.

    I See a slight Problem in my unit I use it W/lefty Flip Ican't hit the star BuTTon I Was Going To add a new BuTTon T0WoRK out this issue.

    I found the controller for $35 incl. shipping, so I had to try it.  Holding/pressing those buttons was tiring. It seems that part of the problem is that the buttons have too much "slop."  It only makes good contact if you press the button in the middle, otherwise it wobbles back and forth, breaking contact in the process.

    The shims were definitely needed, but I thought I could do more. The other complaint I had was the rattling noises of both the fret buttons and the strum bar.  So, before I shimmed it, I did another mod. I wrapped teflon tape around the flange of each button, this made the wobbly go away, it shortened the "throw" of the button, and it took away the rattle.   with that done, I only needed a layer or two of electrical tape for shims to get a really responsive button.  The button now depresses at most 1/8" , takes a bit of getting used to, but the sensitivity is really quite good.  

    Since I already had the pick guard off, I gave the strum bar a little tweak. I removed the circuit board behind the strum bar (4 screws)  Then slid the strum bar retaining plate off the screw stand offs.  I took the strum bar out, cleaned the grease off the little pivot pins, and wrapped the pins in teflon tape.  I put electrical tape on the retaining plate at the spots where the bar hits it when strummed.  Now the bar action is much smoother, and it only clicks once for each strum instead of twice.

    After just one day, the mod seems to be holding up fine, the button action has loosened a bit, but it plays so quietly I really hope this works.  Now I can hear the music instead of the rattling. 

    How on earth do you get the bottom screws out? I'm new to this kind of stuff and I'm really worried I will just end up ruining the whole thing. Is there any kind of trick to taking them out without pulling out the wires?

    I've found a really easy way to fix the problem I had before! Just take off the pick gaurd where all the electronics are in the bottom of the guitar and fish more wire through to the top fret so you can shim it!

    Ooh, I'll have to open that up and take pictures! Thanks for the tip, ipwnatn64!

    Thanks for posting this. I got this guitar off Woot and love the size but HATE the lack of responsiveness. I did not want to buy anything else so I am thrilled to have found your Mod. I will do it tonight!

    ok. this guitar is killing me. I cut the cables going to the toggle switch and also going to the d-pad and lighted button. I figured that would help with less drain for unused items attached to the board. I re-shimmed the buttons and still getting dropped notes, notes not registering and exits to menu during a song. also noticed even with not hitting the strum bar, it is moving down a song on the song list or registering as a missed note during a song when not even hitting it. I give up on this. I am in the process of fitting the guts of my tried and true kramer striker to put in the rock axe. I think with some mild modification I can get it mounted properly to the pick guard and then I have to modify a mount for the top buttons. I will update the progress as I go.

    I started playing with this some more and I still am getting some dropped note issues. I think it might have to do with the wireless connectivity cutting out. I have no way to test this theory but it seems most likely. I still love this concept and I am thinking of taking my best wireless plastic guitar (maybe my Kramer Stryker) and gutting the Ashley and the Karmer and putting the Kramer guts in the Ashley. I am a little leary of taking off the body pickgurd and seeing how everything is wired and mounted inside. If anyone has any pictures to share of the inside of the body, that would be great. Will keep you all posted if I do it.