Installing Strum Fix Plus in a Rock Band Fender Jaguar Guitar

PRELIMINARY

These instructions are being revised and may be incomplete. Please contact me at guitar@bytearts.com if you have any questions. The "Jaguar option" referred to may not yet be publicly available since it is still in beta-testing.

About the only guitar for Rock Band that you buy new these days is the "Fender Jaguar" guitar from PDP. It's actually a fairly well-made controller and features a folding neck which makes it easy to store.

Unfortunately it still has the same 'mushy' stummer that plagues the older guitars, and the internal layout of the guitar was changed slightly making it a little more difficult to replace the stock strummer with a Strum Fix Plus. If you do wish to install the Strum Fix Plus in one of these guitars, be sure to order your Strum Fix Plus with the "Jaguar option" which in addition to the standard Strum Fix also includes:

  • a set of wires for connecting to the strum switch on the motherboard
  • a little bracket/spring retainer that is installed on the backside of the Strum Fix circuit board

In this post I'm going to show the procedure for installing a Strum Fix Plus in a Fender Jaguar guitar. If you have any questions please contact me at guitar@bytearts.com

The first few steps are the same as the other guitars, so you may want to take a look at the standard Strum Fix Plus Installation Instructions but I'll cover those steps here as well.


Step 1. Take the guitar body apart.

Remove all the screws on the backside of the guitar body. Don't forget about the screw that is underneath the battery cover -- it's a sneaky little b*^%!

 Be sure to take off the battery cover to remove the screw in the battery compartment

Be sure to take off the battery cover to remove the screw in the battery compartment

Flip the guitar over and remove the pick guard -- it's held on with tabs all the way around its perimeter, so you may have to use something thin and flat (a butter knife works well) to reach under the guard and push on the tabs to get them to release. Once it's off, your guitar should like this:

 pickguard is off!

pickguard is off!

Now remove all the exposed screws and you should be able to separate the two halves of the guitar -- watch out that you don't lose the silver thingies that you connect the strap to. Also be careful of the wires that go from the battery compartment on the back half of the guitar to the motherboard -- you can disconnect them at the motherboard connector, just be careful that you pull on the connector, NOT the wires.

Step 2. Remove the old strummer

The strummer has a number of screws holding it in place - remove them all (circled in red below) - keep track of them since you'll need some of them later:

 remove these screws - hang on to them, you need some of them later!

remove these screws - hang on to them, you need some of them later!

Next we need to disconnect the the black and silver ribbon cable that goes from the motherboard to the neck of the guitar. To detach the ribbon cable, first slide the black locking bar that is part of the white connector on the motherboard (see photo below) -- you just need to move it about 1mm to unlock the connector. Once you slide the lock a little bit, you should be able to gently pull on the ribbon cable to disconnect it.

 slide the black locking bar just a bit to 'unlock' the connector and detach the ribbon cable.

slide the black locking bar just a bit to 'unlock' the connector and detach the ribbon cable.

Now remove the spring that is attached to the ribbon cable "folder bracket" (the weird, Y-shaped piece of beige plastic). I find it helpful to tape the bracket to the neck to keep it out of the way. Now you can remove the small screw that holds the ribbon cable in place (see photo below). Keep track of this screw -- there's only one and it's different than all the others.

 

 remove the screw from the circled location

remove the screw from the circled location

Now we need to cut the wire that goes to the switch on the strummer assembly:

 cut the wire that goes to the switch on the strummer assembly

cut the wire that goes to the switch on the strummer assembly

The old strummer assembly can now be removed from the guitar by lifting the assembly up out of the guitar and feeding the ribbon cable back through the slots in the assembly.

 the old mushy strummer is gone!

the old mushy strummer is gone!

Step 3. Connect and prepare the strum switch wires

There are two magnetic reed switches on these guitars -- one is part of the strummer assembly that we just removed (after cutting the wires to that switch), the other is mounted near the edge of the motherboard near where the strummer was:

 this is the strum switch on the motherboard - we'll need to attach wires to it

this is the strum switch on the motherboard - we'll need to attach wires to it

You have to connect 2 wires, each about 4 inches long or so - one to each side of the switch on the motherboard, as shown below. If you ordered the Strum Fix Plus with the "Jaguar option", then a set of wires for this is included. The preferred way to connect the wires to the is by soldering them to the leads on the switch, but you can also connect them by removing the insulation from the end of the wires and wrapping the wires around the leads a few times. It might be a good idea to use a little hot melt glue to hold the wires in place.

 wires soldered to the strum switch on the motherboard

wires soldered to the strum switch on the motherboard

Next you need to strip the ends of both sets of wires: the wires you just connected to the motherboard, and the other 2 wires that went to the old strummer assembly that you already cut. If you don't have wire strippers, you can use a knife to lightly score the insulation and then pull it off the ends of the wire with your fingers. You just need to expose about 1/4" of wire:

 

 strip ends of wires about 1/4" (5mm)

strip ends of wires about 1/4" (5mm)

 wires stripped, ready for the Strum Fix

wires stripped, ready for the Strum Fix

Step 4 (optional). Cut the old strummer bracket

UPDATE (June 21) - I am working on making a replacement bracket so that you don't have to cut the old one. This will make the whole install process a lot easier.

If you don't care about being able to fold the neck of the guitar, you can skip this whole step and go to Step 5. Otherwise, do the following procedure and you'll be able to fold the neck just like before.

This involves cutting the black plastic bracket from the old strummer in half. I use a small hand-held 'razor' saw, but you could use a hacksaw or about any kind of saw or even a sharp knife. BE CAREFUL AND DON'T CUT YOURSELF! USE LEATHER GLOVES TO PROTECT YOUR HANDS WHILE CUTTING!

The goal is to cut the bracket to just leave the part that helps hold the ribbon cable in place while folding the guitar. Use the photo below as a guide to show you where to cut:

 the old bracket, cut apart - we'll need the piece on the left

the old bracket, cut apart - we'll need the piece on the left

Now you can place the part we just cut off the bracket into the guitar and feed the ribbon cable through it as shown below - be sure to line up the holes in the ribbon cable with the little "posts" and the hole for the screw. Use the small screw (you did save it, right?) to secure the bracket piece in place. Make sure the little round, beige plastic 'axle' piece is in place as shown.

 bracket piece and ribbon cable back in place

bracket piece and ribbon cable back in place

Step 5. Connect wires, install the new strummer

First you need to reconnect the ribbon cable from the neck to the motherboard. Just reverse the process you used when disconnecting the ribbon cable: 1) slide the black locking bar a bit to left, then 2) insert the ribbon cable into the connector (it only goes in about 1-2mm), and 3) slide the locking bar to right to lock the connection.

Next, place the Strum Fix Plus into the guitar, lining up the holes in the corners of the circuit board with the molded-in 'standoffs' of the guitar body. Put 4 of the screws from the old strummer assembly into the holes on the circuit board and gently tighten them down -- DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN OR YOU WILL STRIP THE PLASTIC. (If you do, try using a bit of plastic glue or super glue to hold the screws in place).

Insert the stripped ends of the wires into the screw terminals on the Strum Fix circuit board and gently tighten them -- DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN or you might break the ends of the wires. Gently pull on the wires to make sure they are securely attached to the Strum Fix board.

If you followed step 4 and want to be able to fold the neck, put the Y-shaped bracket in place as shown below and connect the spring from the bracket to the small tab retaining tab on the Strum Fix (included with the "Jaguar option" for the Strum Fix Plus). Make sure the little beige colored "axle" piece is also in place as shown - be careful that it doesn't fall out of place when handling the guitar during the next steps.

When everything is done, it should look like this (if you skipped step 4, just carefully fold the ribbon cable and tape it into place):

 behold, the new strummer in all its awesomeness! If you skipped step 4, it will look a little different

behold, the new strummer in all its awesomeness! If you skipped step 4, it will look a little different

Step 6. Reassemble the guitar

Now just reverse the first two steps and reassemble the two halves of the guitar. I recommend only putting in a few of the screws on each side at first, just in case you have to take it apart again to check for a loose wire or other issue. Don't forget to reconnect the wires to the battery compartment!

Once you are satisfied everything is working, install the rest of the screws. Be careful to not over-tighten any of the screws or you may strip the plastic.

Thank you for purchasing the Strum Fix Plus, and happy strumming!