Introduction: Guitar With LED Fretboard!!!
Hello people, fdr1929 here, and this is an instructable where i'll show you a way to modify your guitar and change the regular inlays with led inlays, this way to do this conversion is one that i figure out by myself, inspired by the Led guitar from Steve Vai. I highly recommend not to do the conversion the way that i show you here if you are planning to do it on an expensive guitar, because you probably could damage it.
Well that's all, see the following steps where you will find videos showing almost all of the process of the modification.
Also you can check the videos that i post you here to see some of the guitars and bass guitar that i've modified with LED's!!!
Step 1: Removing the Original Inlays
First you have to dismount the neck from you guitar, once you have done that, using a motor tool, at the lower speed, put the milling broach over the inlay and begin to undo it. When you finish, you must have a hole in the position where the inlay originally was. Do the same with all of the remaining inlays. Be extremelly carefull, use safety glasses when doing this, and if you are not an expert using a motor tool, try asking someone to do this operation for you, remember SAFETY FIRST.
Watch the video so you can see how it is done, and don't forget to activate the english subtitles!
Step 2: Making the Holes BIGGER!!
This step is not really necesary, when i did this modification i didn't have tiny 3mm o less led's, i had the big 5mm led's, so i just made the holes that i had bigger. You can do it also if you wish, but it is not necesary. If you uses 3mm led's you are ready to go. Independently if you did the holes bigger or not, you have to use a thin broach, usually the motor tool comes with one, and at the bottom of the inlay hole put the broach with 45 degrees and make a perforation pointing to the neck edges, one to the upper edge (sixth string edge), and one to the lower edge (first string edge).Do not perforate too deep, with a depth of 1 cm is enough. Sorry, that part of the process was not recorded in video :(.
Watch the video to see how it is done, and don't forget to turn on the english subtitles!
Step 3: Drawing and Making the Rear Holes
Once you have done the holes on the front part of the fretboard, you must flip your neck and with a pencil draw some points, these points will be the place where it would be your front inlays if they could pass through the neck. When you have drawn all the central points, draw 2 extra points above and below the central point, with 1 cm of distance between the central point and each side point, so in this order, the distance between the 2 side points should be 2 cm aprox. Repeat the process for all of the central poitns you have drawn. In the 12th freth usually there are 2 inlays near to the neck edges, so you just have to measure and draw a point where each inlay would be on the rear part of the neck. Finally, when you have all of the side points drawn you can trace a line that pass and connect all of the side points on each side, so you will have two lines that go along the lenght of the neck.
When you have finish all of the guide drawings, grab your motor tool and with a thin broach drill holes over all of the side points. The depth of these holes must be minor than the thick of the neck, so ir order to do it well, you can measure your guitar neck thick, and to that measure substract 5 mm aprox, you will notice that this thick greater as you move from the third fret, so the depth of the holes will change too. You must be extremelly carefull with this measure and no to drill beyond the measured depth to avoid that the broach pass through the whole neck and damage your fret board, YOU DO NOT WANT THAT!!!
Check the video first, so you can see how the holes are done, don't forget to enable the english subtitles!!!
Step 4: Making the Cables Ducts
Now, you have to use your motor tool with the cutting wood disc and following the lines you drew in the previous step make a thin duct all over the line is. Repeat the process for the other line. Now you have the ducts for the cables that connect all of the led's to the main voltage supply.
Step 5: Preparing the LED's!!!
Here is where the led's enter into the game. Grab one led and identify the positive and the negative pin, the negative pin is the one that is on the plain side of the led. Now cut two wires of different colors, peel their extremes, and with the soldering iron and the tin, weld one of the cables to the negative pin, weld it near to the led, cut the remaining lenght of the pin, now this cable will be the negative pin of the led. Repeat the same process with the other color cable, weld it to the positive pin near to the led, this cable will be the positive pin. Remeber always which color is negative and which is positive. When you have done the process of replacing the pins for cables, repeat with all of the leds your guitar will need.
Step 6: Filling the Inlays Holes With Resine!!!
When you have the led's done, introduce them into the inlays holes, making sure that the positive and negative cables of the led's pass through the neck and go out on the rear part of it. (Sorry again for not recording that part of the process). Once all of the led's are in place into the inlays holes, using epoxic resine, make the mix of resine and hardener and begin to fill the inlays holes with the mix. Do it two times, the first one it's to seal the inner holes and the led into the inlay hole. Let the mix to ossify, it takes about 10 minutes if you did the mix well. When it's sealed, fill the rest of the holes with more mix of resine and use a card or something plain to leveling the amount of mix with the fret. In the video you can see how this process is done.
Step 7: Connecting the LED's to the Main Supply Lines.
When the resine is done, flip again your guitar neck. Now grab a long cable, and with a marker make marks where each led is. When you finish the marks, repeat the process for the other line. Once you have done this, peel each cable where the marks are, then grab the soldering iron, the tin, and weld each peeled part of the cable with each pin of the led's. weld the positive line cable with the positive pins of the led's, and do the same with the negative line cable. Watch the videos to see how it's done.
Step 8: Final Step, Connections on the Guitar Body, Switch and More!!!
When you finish the neck connections of the led's, use some wood putty to fill and seal the dutcs where the main supply lines go through. Let the wood putty to harden for 24 hours. When it's done use some sand paper to level the hard putty with the rear part of the neck. To get a better, polished and soft end, you can use sand paper number 1000-1200 at the end of the sanding. If you wish you can paint the rear part of the neck too.
If you a have a solid guitar body as mine, that doesn't have a pickguard like the stratocaster, remove the mics, grab two different colors cables, preferably the same colors you used for negative and positive lines on the neck, twist each one with the other, and pass them through the holes allows the mics cables go to the volume and tone controls cavity, so you must have one extreme on the neck mic cavity, and the other extreme must be on the volume and tone controls cavitiy. Peel the extremes on the positive and negative lines that come from the neck and also peel the extremes of the two twisted cables that are in the neck mic cavity, then twist the positive peeled extreme with the peeled extreme of the cable that will be the positive line in the guitar body, and now with the soldering iron and the tin weld both extremes, cover the peeled part with tape or shrink tube. Repeat this process with the negatives lines.
Make a mark where you want your switch be over the guitar body, and with the motor tool drill a hole with the necessary diameter so your switch can pass through your guitar body. I recommend you to install the switch between or near the voumen and tone knobs, so that way the switch pins will be into the volume and tone cavity.
So when you have your switch installed, peel the extremes of the positive and negative lines that are into the volume and tone cavity, with the soldering iron and tin weld a 220 ohms resistance with the positve line, the other pin of the resistance must be welded to one of the switch pins. Once you have done that grab a 9V battery connector, peel the extremes of positive (red) and negative (black) cables, weld the positive cable to the free pin of the switch, and now weld the negative cable with the negative line that you peeled before, cover this connetion with tape or shrink tube, i recommend you to use shrink tube instead of tape.
Finally, connect a 9V battery to the connector, and put the switch on the ON position and your fretboard should be shinning with beatiful led's hehe. If your fretboard is shinning, is time to organize everything, the cables, the battery, the mics and mount again your neck on you guitar body.
Well, that's all mis amigos, thanks for read my instructable and watch the videos, hope you liked it and have helped you. If you have any doubt put them on the comments and i would be happy to answer and help you.
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6 years ago
Looks great -- Just one question: What steps did you take to make sure that you didn't drill through the truss rod when putting all those holes through the neck :)
Reply 6 years ago
Hi MikB, thanks for your comment, well one the third video you will see that on the rear part of the neck there are some lines drawn, what i did to draw that lines was to measure and mark some points on the medium part, the center of the neck, those points would be like a mirrored inlays over the rear part. Now the truss rod has often 1cm of diameter, so when i draw all the central points i just measure 1 cm to each side of it with a measuring tape, and at 1 cm of separation i mark one point for each side, so you would have 3 points, then repeat this process for all the inlays. then you can draw a line that go through all of the side points. Finally each hole will be in the position of the side poitns, if you drill straigth through them you should't hit the truss rod with the drill, and that's it. Check the image so you can see what i mean