Introduction: Make a Korg Kaossilator Guitar

I came up with the idea for this project when I saw a video of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. He had mounted his Kaossilator on a guitar and a taped the neck of a video game controller next to it to make it look like he was fingering the notes. I thought "Hey, I can do that for real!"

WARNING: Playing such an instrument may induce Funky-Techno-Madness.

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Step 1: Parts and Tools

A major part of my design is the ability to take the Kaossilator out of the guitar. One of its greatest features is its pocket-portability. I don't want to lose that.

For this Project you will need...


Korg Kaossilator (They are usually yellow but there are limited edition pink ones available too)
RedOctane Guitar Hero Les Paul Controller (It fits perfectly into these models and the removable neck and faceplate make it easy to remove the Kaossilator.)
1 IDC Female Socket for Ribbon Cable
Ribbon Cable (at least 10 conductors)
.1 Inch Header Pins (Double Row)
Proto-board (I get mine from a seller on ebay)
50k Ohm Resistor
1/4" Stereo Output Jack
Les Paul Style Jack Plate
4 #4387 Gibson style pickguard screws
Stereo RCA Audio cable
Great Stuff Expanding Foam Insulation


Hex Screwdrivers
Small Pliers (not needle nose)
Hacksaw Blades (different sized teath cut different plastics better)
Exacto Knife
Vice Grips
3/8" Skew*SHARP! (For cleanup work)
Soldering Iron
Wire Strippers
PanaVise Junior Clamp (#ci0011)
Hot Glue Gun

Step 2: Sticker Removal

I buy my guitars second hand so I usually need to spend some time taking off stickers. After doing some research I found this at

Sticker removal:
To remove stickers from your guitar without leaving behind a sticky residue, I would recommend using Goo Gone. Apply the goo gone to the sticker while it is still whole. Let it soak in for a minute or two and peel off the sticker. Wipe it down after. It is also safe to use rubbing alcohol or WD-40 to clean up the sticky residue.

DO NOT USE: Acetone (nail polish remover), Goof Off, heat, gasoline, lighter fluid, paint thinner, turpentine, or razors. They WILL either scratch and/or leave the plastic cloudy.

WD40 worked just fine for me.

Step 3: "Break It Down Now Yall"

There is a great How to Disassemble Your Guitar Hero Guitar Controller at Take all of you screws and put them in a jar or cup. Don't throw anything away.

Now that you have the controller in pieces, set everything aside except for the top half of the body. This includes the faceplate. You are going to need to break off a few things in order to
1.) make room for the Kaossilator
2.) make that plastic easier to saw through.

There are two techniques I use. For the little stubby poles I just take some pliers an rock them back and forth until they snap off. For long lines of plastic I peal off sections at a time.

Step 4: Cutting Pt. 1

This is the hardest part of the entire project. I would recommend that anyone under 18 get an adult to supervise, help, or even do this for you.

There a bunch of ways to cut plastic and I've tried most of them; hot knife, Dremel Tool, scroll saw, etc. The problem is those methods produce a lot of heat and this plastic will melt and make a mess of your project. You know how when you bend plastic it turns that white color? Well those are little stress fractures that weaken the plastic and we are going to use those to our advantage. The technique involves cutting two lines then using an exacto knife with a straight edge to score between them and then breaking the plastic at that score line. Lets practice on the strum bar housing. See the pictures below.

1. CUT

I sometimes need a little more leverage so I use vice grips. Work from one side to the other.

I made these cutting templates in Inkscape. They aren't perfect but they're darn close.

Body Template
Faceplate Template

I like to mark out the corners then use a straight edge to connect them. A red Sharpie shows up well. Use the skew for touchup.

Step 5: Cutting Pt. 2

If the body doesn't look perfect don't fret. Consider it practice for this step. Use the faceplate template to mark you lines on the underside of the faceplate. Align it the best you can. You want this thing to be as level as possible.

1. CUT

I use the skew to cleanup any unevenness.

Step 6: Foam

So you have all the cutting done. Its all downhill from here. Take the bottom half of the body and fill the area where the Kaossilator sits with foam. This will help keep it in place and cushion it a little. This stuff is really sticky so be careful. Let it sit and expand for 24 hours and then cut out what you don't want with the hack saw or razor blade.

Step 7: Soldering Pt. 1

Before opening up the Kaossilator and diving in solering iron first, lets work on the adapter for the guitar buttons. Now you can use either the PS3 or XBOX 360 controller. The necks are interchangeable, but the electronics in the bodies are different. Bacically the PS3 one uses six connections and the XBOX 360 uses 8. If you just want to reroute the buttons the PS3 will work just fine but it doesn't have enough connections for the sustainer mod.

1.) Desolder existing wires (I cut them so I can pull them out one by one)
2.) Solder ribbon cable to the neck connector
3.) Solder the 10 pin header in the center of your protoboard
4.) Look at the back of the neck connector. There is one wire with a square around it and only it. For instructional purposes this wire is 1. In my picture its the grey one all the way to the left.
5.) Depending on what kind of controller you're using, refer to the corresponding diagrams a solder wires to their correct pins. The "X"s mean nothing is soldered.
6.) Hot glue your protoboard to the body.

Step 8: Soldering Pt.2

Now its time to open up the Kaossilator. The way I've designed it, this will work in both guitars. 3amsleep and I were working on similar projects at the same time. I found his blog while doing research. On my first prototype I rerouted two connections from each button. Then 3amsleep publish his project on his blog and I saw that you only need one connection from each button and a ground. He's even made a video tut on how to disassemble the kaossilator.
You need to look at these pictures for reference.

Wire it as shown in the diagrams below.

Folding the wire in strategic places keeps everything tidy. You will need to cut a hole in the side of the top portion of your Kaossilator. I used a little drill bit and the skew to clean it up.

When once you've fed the wire out of the hole and closed everything attach the 10 Pin connector by applying A LOT of even pressure. Make sure to line up the triangle on the size of the connector with wire 1.

Step 9: RCA to 1/4" Stereo

Measure you wire cure, strip, and wire as shown below. Mount in in the hole left by the phone jack. I forgot to order my screws yet but I plan to heat up the plastic and bend it to conform to the body, then dill holes and add screws.

Step 10: Sustainer

Solder a 50K Ohm resistor to wire 5 in the neck. I had two 40K and they worked just fine. This could be done one the protoboard as well. I actually forgot and didn't feel like unhotglueing it. It just has to be in line with SUI.

Step 11: Final Product

I made some last minutes changes to my design. For instance I didn't like having to take the thing completly apart to turn it on so I cut out a little more of the faceplate. I also used some Krylon Fusion Sunbeam spay paint to add a little character. This project was a lot of work for me but A LOT of fun. I hope to experiment a little more with the resistance touchpad. Check out my blog Go make something.

Step 12: Green

Over 5 Million copies of Guitar Hero III were sold within three months of its release. Based on the trends of video game consoles one can see that about every 5 years a new generation is born. In a few years these controllers will become obsolete leaving millions of little plastic guitars strewn about the globe. Also the switches that are triggered by the flipper can wear over time and break. They are rarely repaired. You can find a broken/as is controller on ebay for under $10 including shipping. Old tech meets new tech makes mother nature happy.

Besides, these things were useless from the start :]


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