I bought an acrylic guitar the other week. It was on ebay for cheap and it looked quite beautiful, and I already have an acrylic bass so I bought it, despite knowing that these instruments are of somewhat dubious tonal quality (even though the auctioneer gave assurances that it sounded ALMOST as good as a decent Epiphone Les Paul). I was already planning to "do" something to it, when it arrived and proved to sound not unlike a ukelele squeezed through a baked bean tin microphone, I was decided. I henceforth procured some nice colour changing rainbow LEDs, and stealthily gathered my soldering equipment.
Basically, there are two sections to the process as I did it. I will outline these separately because they are essentially two projects stuck together. The first section involved the mount and wiring of LEDs and pretty much anyone can do it. The second section, fabricating and wiring a guitar effect board is quite advanced by itself not to mention installing it into a tiny guitar control cavity, I would only advise undertaking this if you already know a bit about effects, electronics, or are REALLY determined to learn.
You know the rest- I am not responsible, ever, for anything, blah blah blah so ner.
Step 1: Plastic Rainbow Instrument....... BEGIN!
1) Soldering iron and the grey matter associated with wielding it
2) Glue gun, or clear 5 minute epoxy depending on taste.
3) Rainbow LEDs! Or any LEDS for that matter. I Used THESE
5) Wires, solder, resistors, heatshrink.
So. First I spent some time working out what was going where and how to do it etc etc. I wanted mixed LEDs of various colours mounted all round the guitar at first, but I didn't want unsightly wires all over it, on top of that, different spec LEDs can be troublesome when wiring them up with limiting resistors in parallel and all that malarkey... The best solution I considered was to mount very bright LEDS in roughly the four corners, and angle them into the guitar body for impressive refraction effects.
I also made the decision to lose the neck pickup for battery space, this simplifies the wiring in the control cavity greatly.. The guitar sounds nasty anyway, so the FX I chose for Part Two is a real NOISE maker... I doubt I'll miss the neck pickup, and this way it will only cost me once to replace the bridge pickup with something that doesn't sound like a 1950's transistor radio.
This is what it looked like shortly after I started removing strings and knobs and was around the time I started to think 'hmm maybe I should try and make one of those instructabilly things..'
Step 2: Strip Boring Twee Electrics, Drill New Holes, Replace With Cool Electrics.
After stripping almost all the electrics, I wired up long leads to each of the LEDs. I wanted to drill as few new holes as possible to mount them, so: One went in the already drilled out pickup switch compartment which was angled just the way I wanted (into the guitar and slightly toward the viewer). I drilled a similar angle of hole on the other side from the empty neck pickup compartment. One went in the bottom control cavity.
In the bottom left area there was no compartment to run a route into. After much deliberation I decided to drill a slightly over sized hole in from the bottom to allow me to angle the led from below. This resulted in only a single set of wires routed outside the guitar body. I ran this behind where the bridge would sit to the control cavity, and attached to the back of the guitar with some clear sellotape. It turned out to be quite an elegant solution, however If I want a more professional finish in the future I will have to grind a shallow furrow somehow (some sort of router?), and recess the wires inside, maybe covering with something like clear epoxy.
All the LEDs were fixed in place by applying a dollop of hot glue to the LED and mounting to the required angle. Where the LEDs are mounted inside tight spots, its a good Idea to heatshrink one of the leads. I routed all the wires then to the battery compartment (Empty pickup hole), except for the one mounted in the switch compartment, which I would tie in there to save hassle.
Step 3: Connect All the Leds Up to Power.
I soldered all the positive leads from 3 LEDs to the positive battery snap connection in the battery compartment. I soldered all the negative LED leads together but did not connect this to the battery negative. So I had three wires to run up to the switch compartment: LED positives + battery positive, the battery negative, and LED negatives. In the switch compartment I attached my battery negative to the switch through my limiting resistor. The led negatives wire was soldered to negative lead of the LED in the switch compartment and the collective positive wire was soldered to the positive lead of the same. The combined negatives were then connected to the other side of the switch. Voila and Done.
Well roughly done anyway. I ended up changing the power supply to 3 AAA batteries, giving 4.5v so I could remove the limiting resistor for efficiency. They should have a higher capacity and last longer than a regular square 9v job. I also wanted something easy to get out without removing the strings so I made a holder for them out of cardboard and bits of tin can inspired by THIS GUY who I share a finger munching disorder with.
Looks dodgy? Maybe, but believe me it is SOLID, I have tried it with the jump test, and even the play-with-your-teeth-test... no problems or flickering of any kind.
For the purist the old pickup cover can be replaced or even modified to a battery holder. I replaced the empty cover and it slides under the strings without them providing too much of an obstacle.
Step 4: Time to Play a Little Bit of LED Zeppelin....
AHAHAHAH I kill me!
Honestly, the pictures don't look very good, I hate digital cameras and mine is particularly belligerent, but take my word for it.. in the flesh (plastic) it looks AMAZING! It refracts around a whole room, the LEDs cycle colours almost in time but slowly run out from each other the longer its left on creating beautiful mixtures :)
Thanks for your attention, if you thought that was troublesome, wait for the second part, it will blow your clogs off.
This is my first Instructable!
and if you don't like it, you can ball off and bounce! :D