Rock Band: My strummer broke... AND I FIXED IT

Okay, I’ve figured this one out. My model of guitar has 2 additional screws BEHIND the pick guard. So to take mine apart I have to unscrew the pickguard from the front as well to take those screws out.

Ben, you may want to edit your initial post to mention this as part of the fix for some guitars. This thread got picked up by Gizmodo even :)

Got it, Reldan–thanks!

My RB strat is still in the box… I don’t feel compelled to use it, since I prefer the RF Gibson. When my friends are over, I sometimes let them play and play along with my real guitar, it’s actually quite fun!

So I think I’m going to do a more serious mod, replacing the switches that are in the guitar with new (and better) ones. While Googling around, I found this page, featuring switches that look nearly identical to the ones that are in the guitar. This manufacturer was probably their supplier, at least for the switches in my Fender. The problem? These switches have an estimated switching life of 50,000 cycles. That is a really, really low number.

So, I’m thinking of replacing them with something better. This place, for instance, sells leaf-style switches for pinball machine bumper buttons. Every one of them looks much, much sturdier, and some have gold contacts. Alternately, I could go with snap-action microswitches, like the ones in the Red Octane guitars. I sort of like the silent operation, though. Either way, I’ll need to figure out a way to mount them.

I will post updates on my progress.

Awesome thread.

Also, the RB strat shits all over any of the GH guitars – especially the crappy Xplorer – for me. Easier to slide my fingers across frets, easier to get my strum on, and I have no idea what the complaint is about Overdrive since it works perfectly for me.

Though the GH3 axe is very good, I’d take the RB strat any day.

I finally played around with the Rock Band guitar at Best Buy last night and it was clearly broken. Probably a similar problem to what Ben had, but it really made me a lot less interested in ever getting this game.

I’ve been enjoying the Strat with no problems with downstrumming thus far. Hoping I don’t have to fix it. In any case, while I really like the feel of it, I’m having some difficulties on Expert and higher level Hard songs. For example, I was playing Blackened on Hard last night, and died during the solo. This solo isn’t terribly difficult and were I playing with the Xplorer in GH3, I think it would have been fine. I need to try it again with the Xplorer in RB to see how it goes. Maybe the game is just pickier on timing than GH2/GH3, but maybe it’s the different guitar feel that’s doing me in.

I’d really hate to not use the Strat though. Cheesy as it is, I really like being able to change my effects for overdrive/solos. Speaking of Overdrive, I noticed that mine is extremely sensitive when it activates. So much so that if I have it tilted just a little too much, I can’t activate it because the switch is already tripped. I’ve been making a point to dip the neck down a little before lifting up, and it works all the time that way.

Okay, found out a lot of interesting stuff yesterday.

Basically the guitar I have is completely different inside than what Ben has. It has leaf switches mounted vertically directly across from each other on either side of the strum bar. There’s no metal, or spacers, or contacts involved, just plastic sliding against plastic.

The sticker on this box was dated Oct-17-2007. Interestingly I also have another copy of the game (preordered through Amazon) dated Oct-15-2007. I decided to open this box up as well to see if it’s components worked any better. This “older” copy of the game has the guitar Ben is talking about.

This “older” guitar’s strummer is a LOT less flimsy feeling than the “newer” guitar I got, which feels almost like it’s loose. It seems fine for now, except that the effects switch is broken and only switches between Chorus and None.

They obviously changed design midway through production. The new design isn’t much better than old, however, because after a couple days use the UPSTRUM is now only working intermittently. I’m not sure how this is even possible given the mechanism for the switches being used, other than that my guitar has a faulty switch. There’s nothing inside to bend or get out of alignment. The guts of this model of guitar looks very janky inside as well - there’s masking tape being used all over the place to hold wires down.

Additionally, the drum kit from each box is also different. The “newer” kit (Oct-17) has less pronounced ridges along the rim of each pad - the lip is only a few millimeters raised. The “older” kit has rims that are maybe a centimeter above the pad.

This is important, because the newer kit has a major design flaw with the red pad - if you single-stroke roll past a certain speed it will stop registering altogether. This literally makes the following songs impossible to get through on Expert:

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Train Kept a 'Rollin
Run to the Hills

The (Oct-15) dated drums with the higher rims do not seem to have this problem. I objectively tested this by going into Practice mode on the Drum Roll section of Train Kept a 'Rollin, and I can consistently score at least 85% on that section, and well above 90% on several tries with the older kit. With the newer (Oct-17) drums, using the EXACT same technique, I was getting low 50’s with 60% tops, which means failure if playing the song in-game.

If you guys have this drum set with slighly upraised lips, I would highly recommend you test this yourself. Others at the Scorehero forum have been reporting this as a problem - the only thing that reportedly may help is wrapping the pad in tape in order to make it more responsive, but this is really only masking what has got to be a design flaw. I think this hasn’t been reported much yet because a lot of people are not playing drums on Expert and it’s only the newer kits (2G drums?) that have this error. The reviewers with advance copies of the game didn’t have this particular revision of the controller, and like I said it looks like the older model doesn’t have this flaw.

I’ve heard EA’s RMA is at this point cross-shipping new parts if you give them a credit card number with no questions asked. I think most of you can figure out if your guitar has a problem pretty easily, but I’d recommend you get your drums tested. You’re going to be very pissed off in another few months when you can’t play Don’t Fear the Reaper on Expert drums because of defective hardware.

I really can’t follow what you’re describing. Can you post pics?

That would be a shame, because this game is awesome.

It’ll be out soon enough on the Wii.

Interesting that there are two models of the drums/guitars. I have the older model it seems and the drums and guitar work fine, although I still prefer the Les Paul.

I’d love to post pics, but I exchanged that particular set of guitar and drums for a new box. In hindsight I wish I had snapped some photos. It wasn’t until later that I thought it might be valuable to share what I had found with others.

Basically Ben’s pic is of the old design - probably the one used in Best Buy demos.

The newer design is much simpler - the strum bar plastic directly pushes down on the plastic arm of a leaf switch. This design also uses a standard size screw all around the back of the guitar for every hole except the four neck holes. Additionally it has two screws hidden under the front white faceplate (making it the most pain-in-the-ass peripheral to take apart I’ve yet seen).

It IS very odd that they are shipping multiple revisions out simultaneously. My personal opinion was that they learned something from the failure rate of the Best Buy guitars and changed the design midway into production, but decided to ship all the old guitars anyways and just RMA any that people actually complained about.

Well, I guess I’ll eat some crow now. My RB strat may or may not be defective, I can’t even tell. But there is no question that in the later tiers the guitar was about half the difficulty. I hate having to say goodbye to the solo function (which I could never work out right since I am conditioned to fret before and then strum), and I really like playing slow songs on it, but after tier 3 that bitch is done. Better luck next time, Harmonix.

…linked from teamxbox


This thread. It’s been mentioned at Kotaku and the like.


Oh. Thanks for the clarification.

I was moments away from shipping back my Strat controller last week until I read this post. Ben’s instructions worked perfectly.

Also, after implementing Ben’s fix, I’m happy to report that my guitar is still downstrumming properly after this past weekend, which included:[ul]
[li]Packing all of my Rock Band gear into a large suitcase, checking it on an airplane and having it bounced around on two flights.[/li][li]Three nights in a row of intense use by less-than-delicate whiskey-numbed hands[/ul]Great post![/li]
So, now that my downstrumming is working properly, I do have some strong opinions about the Strat vs. the GH controller, but I think I will save that for another thread . :)

Like, say, this thread?

Good first post, by the way, and welcome to yet another Internet forum that will erode your compassion for humanity.


In case anyone was wondering why they haven’t received their replacement strat from EA yet, it’s because EA sent me two of them.