Intro: 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
*Double Sided Tape
*ROCK AXE WOOT
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!