DIY Friday: USB Guitar

Shredding Guitar Hero I, II, 80s, and Legends to its raging, satanical death? Maybe its time to stop the make-believe rocking and pick-up a real guitar.

You could pick-up a late 60’s Gibson Les Paul. Hell, Jimmy Page has one. The price tag? $12,500. Ouch.

How about Eric Clapton’s axe, a Fender Stratocaster? Ditto on the cost – looks to be pushing 20k.

Better just find a cheap electric guitar. But don’t stop there – integrate Guitar-Hero-like features into a real instrument. Build a USB Guitar:

Why would you want a USB port in an electric guitar? The answer is simple: convenience. By putting a small USB port and audio codec in a guitar, you’re adding an extra sound board. So when you record, your guitar is digitized locally and the signal is transmitted to your computer over a USB cable. The guitar retains all its standard analog capabilities but outputs to USB as well. Now you can rock steady until your hard drive is full. Here’s how to do it.

The full instructions are here. After purchasing a guitar and a Micro USB interface, measure, cut, and plug:

Here’s an approximation of the jack and module layout. The Micro USB module fits easily into the control cavity. The topmost jack is the normal guitar analog output. I’ll change the stock jack (very inexpensive) to a rugged Switchcraft jack. The second jack was intended to be an auxiliary input jack, but that didn’t work out, because it wasn’t -technically feasible to add a second jack for a microphone or another guitar. The third jack is a stereo headphone jack. For durability, I used a 1/4-inch jack. The female USB jack is from L-Com. It’s the smallest panel jack I could find, and I liked the chromed plastic shell. A mini USB connector wouldn’t be rugged enough, so I went with a full-size A-style connector.

Too complicated? You can buy an off-the-shelf guitar for about $400. Check out the demo:

Now that you have the equipment, better learn how to play (if Guitar Hero hasn’t already prepped you).

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