Introduction: Make Your Own Custom NES Controller!

About: A cosplayer/ prop maker, I'm going to be putting up tutorials alongside videos, if you have any requests for builds please subscribe to my Youtube channel and leave a comment!

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to customise your NES controllers to be shiny and new and totally original! I am going to show you a Zelda example but you can use any colours/ designs you want! There is a video attached of my tutorial if you're more of a visual learner, but I'll break it down here in steps for you.

You will need:


  • An NES Controller
  • A small Philips head screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Nail polish Remover + cotton buds
  • Primer Spray paint (your choice in colours)
  • Sealer
  • Custom NES plate stickers (Link here:
  • Custom buttons (If you'd like them)

Step 1: Taking Apart Your Controller

Use your screwdriver to unscrew the six screws on the back and place them in a container where they won't get lost! I actually use my paint pallet to keep things organised while I do this.

Next take off the back plate and unscrew the single screw inside (it is a slightly different length to the others so keep it separate) and carefully remove the motherboard, silicone pads and buttons keeping them all together so, again, nothing gets lost.

Note: The controller I'm working with is a slightly cheaper knock off version but the insides are pretty similar and the outside is identical.

Step 2: Cleaning

Now we CAREFULLY remove the plate sticker from the front, I use my craft knife just to get the corner going and then use my hand to peel it back (it's pretty satisfying to do). There will inevitably be chunks of glue left on the plastic so just clean those off with some nail polish remover using a cotton bud. If it is an old controller I would take this opportunity to clean the silicone pads and button holes of any collective gunk.

Next sand down both plates to get rid of that shiny outer coating, this just creates a better surface for the paint to stick to and then we're to take it to the workshop for painting!

Step 3: Decorating

Firstly we prime! Not as in Optimus Prime, but primer! This gives the plastic an even surface to stick to and once that is fully dry feel free to add your desired colours! I went with a gold front plate and a black gloss back plate for my Zelda theme but this is where you can get creative.

Once you are finished use some sealer, I used a satin sealer just because it's not as thick as gloss. Sealer just helps the paint not to chip.

Once you're happy with that and everything is fully dry then break out the nail polish remover once more to clean up the button holes, this will just stop any build up of paint from making the buttons stick and acetone removes spray paint pretty easily.

Finally the most frustrating part, getting your sticker straight.

There is a link in the introduction showing you where I got the sticker on eBay, they are only about $4, there's tons of nostalgic designs, and it was super nice quality and fit perfectly once I spent ten minutes lining it up. Then you get the sweet release of peeling off the plastic. Mmm...

Step 4: Reassembly

This is the point where we do all of the first steps in reverse!

Place in the buttons and the silicone pads and then screw the motherboard back in place, this is a good point to check that the buttons are working correctly as you only have to undo one screw instead of seven to re-preposition the pads.

Once it's all working perfectly you can go ahead and screw on the back plate, making sure the wire is lined up with the hole as you do.

Step 5: Finished!

There we have it! A finished custom painted NES controller for you to show off to your friends. Please leave a comment if you made one or have made custom ones in the past, I'd love to see your creations!

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