Instructables
Picture of 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!
 
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Step 1: Gathering Tools and Materials

Picture of Gathering Tools and Materials
I used the following materials:

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

Step 2: Turn Off the Guitar and Remove the Batteries

Picture of 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

Picture of Detach the Fret
UnscrewingFrets.jpg
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

Picture of Observations about the Original Build
NakedFret.jpg
ButtonRestingOnSwitch.jpg
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!
duckman8885 years ago
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. 

ipwnatn645 years ago
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!
catsilo (author)  ipwnatn645 years ago
Ooh, I'll have to open that up and take pictures! Thanks for the tip, ipwnatn64!
jgrills5 years ago
FWIW, I have done a similar mod for a Les Paul. The fret buttons are nearly identical and the same approach should work:

http://docsrockbandmods.netforums.us/les-paul-fret-tuning-mod-vt621.html

I've also converted an Ashley Rock Axe to work on an XBox360:

http://docsrockbandmods.netforums.us/ashley-rock-axe-with-xbox360-rb2-strat-electronics-vt914.html
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!
duckman8885 years ago
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.
duckman8885 years ago
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.
duckman8885 years ago
Before i found this fix and tried it, I fired off an email to Ashley. I am glad the fix made this thing work because I would have flipped dealing with them. As you know, this is a common issue if you hunt around online for reviews etc. Thought I would share a part of the email response I got. I also blasted back a nice reply to them.... Here ya go. Thank you for contacting us about your Rock Axe game controller. What you describe is a rare problem, but I have heard of it occasionally. It is quite normal for the buttons to be a little hard to press initially as our controller is a full size genuine guitar and is much sturdier than other smaller controllers. The buttons will ease over time and with more play. This process usually takes 3-4 weeks to complete and I can send you the paperwork for this if you would like. You will need to send us a copy of your receipt, and once approved, will send the Rock Axe back to us in Florida at your own cost for shipping. I love the "rare" and "once approved" and "at your own cost"
catsilo (author)  duckman8885 years ago
Jeez, yeah, I mean, these are expensive guitars, and heavy (so expensive to ship too!), so I sorta understand where they're coming from. The problem is, I can think of very few things in life that don't come ready to use anymore. And if it needed to be broken in, just pack in a little card that says as such. No need to have a great deal of your customers believe your product is defective! BTW, I'm going to try that loosening of the screws in the back mod as soon as I have a few more minutes, so that I can take matching pictures and include them in the step-by-step properly. Thanks so much for your contribution to this project!!
duckman8885 years ago
I was totally bummed out that this guitar didn't work. I was already heading in the direction of trying to take apart the frets and as usual, turned to the web to do a little research and see if anyone else had the same problem. Looks like there are A LOT of people with the same problem. I was pretty excited when I read this fix, i was hoping it was as simple as it looked to make this guitar work because when it does work like it should, it rocks and was worth every penny. I paid $49 on woot and when I bought it. I was already thinking of sometime in the future, trying to gut a guitar I have to make a full size wireless guitar and when I saw this, I figured for $50, worse case is I have the body and neck already cut for me to do my own thing. This fix above works really well. It pretty much solves our problems. Here are a few things to consider.... When trying this, I'm sure like we did, you will be using what you have on hand. This will cause each persons to be different and you may have to take out the buttons a few times while you are making adjustments and they are a pain to take out but well worth the effort. I took the cardboard from the back of a small pad. It is about the thickness of a white paper cd sleeve with a plastic window folded over. I cut the cardboard with the curve to fit in the button more snug. I secured them in with a small double sided sticky that was a a thin foam. thinner than the cardboard. With the cardboard and sticky in the buttons, there was still a small lip around the inside of the buttons so the cardboard was not flush with the edge. Even with the small indent to go over the jelly button, after it was all screwed back together, the buttons were to stiff so I figured now I would take them out again and go thinner with the cardboard and try again. While I was loosening the screws to take the circuit board off, I noticed the buttons were getting much more springy like my other guitars and they had a nice feel to them. I decided to leave the cardboard the way i have it and give it a shot and leave the 5 screws backed out about 2 millimeters or so each. I screwed the whole thing back into the neck and was very excited about the feel of the buttons. I tried it out and it was amazing. It was like a whole new guitar and really made it feel and play like it should. Again, it's going to be a trial and error process to get it right but this is clearly the fix for this guitar and it is pretty easy. You will not be disappointed.
Definitely a trial and error process as you said. I used the three business cards glued together and taped to the buttons. After using it, the top blue button was pressing by itself often messing me up. I dropped it to two business cards thick leaving the other 9 at three thick and now its perfect for mine. Each will be different. I have used this all day today and it is a different guitar now. Went from totally unusable to being able to go through a whole song without missing or not holding a note!
ke4sfq5 years ago
The foam moutning tape sounded perfect so I tried it. But it was too thick in mine and kept the button depressed. I went to the three business cards and it was perfect!
catsilo (author)  ke4sfq5 years ago
Oh, excellent, I'm really glad someone tried both of those suggestions! I'll add that to the guide!