Eddie Van Halen's
5150 Guitar Heroes Controller Replica
Last updated: December 12, 2006 4:49 PM (CST)
Van Halen had it all, decent lyrics and the best guitar playing in the world.
When MTV was going strong, Van Halen was a staple you couldn't miss.
From 1984 to 1989, Eddie Van Halen played a guitar that became known as the
5150. It was a wild Red, white and black striped Kramer guitar and is one of the most
recognisable musical insturmants in modern histrory.
Fast forward 15 years. The Sony Playstation 2 is still going strong, and before the release of their
newest console, the PS3, they introduce a couple of music games, similar to their DDR (dance dance revolution)
games. This game comes with a 3/4 scale custom controller that looks like a guitar, with 5 fret buttons,
a strum bar where the strings would be, a wammy bar and two additional buttons. The game is a blast to play
and is fun for one or two players.
For my birthday I buy Guitar Heroes II, and I play it for a night. My wife tries it and I have
to fight her to get the controller back. ^_^
So I buy the first Guitar Heroes with another guitar, and we're able to play togeather. Then I wonder...
How hard would it be to make a full size Guitar Heroes controller?
Since I've liked Van Halen in the past, and since his is the only guitar I could ID by sight, I decide
to make a custom EVH guitar. I find a stripped guitar on eBay for more than I should have paid (appx. $100)
but it is a Kramer, the same brand that EVH's guitar was made from, and looks similar so I figure that's a
good place to start. I get it and start sanding and stripping the half-assed paint job that was already on it.
The paint job looks fine in the pictures, but it's very sloppy and there's no clear coat to speak of. Add in the fact
that the stripe design is completely wrong, so I decided to do it from scratch.
The original guitar was either an ivory or bone white. The previous owner painted white
stripes rather than repainting the whole thing white. I'll be starting with a white base
and masking all the lines. Its easier to paint dark colors over a light background than
it is to paint light over dark.
I discovered after the paint clogged 3 pieces of sandpaper, that it was faster to use a
razor blade paint scraper than try to sand off every layer. The scraper was MUCH faster
but I did gouge the surface a few times which will require bondo.
I still need to sand down the edges and the flat surfaces some more to remove all the other paint.
But I think it looks pretty good already. When scraping the backside I actually scraped off sections
of the original factory paint coat, so I need to smooth the edges down some more before I repaint.
I also need to do all my routing and figuring where the Guitar Heroes controller guts will sit, and
then bondo in any remaining holes.
Cut out the new neck from maple, but screwed up the top layer because my bandsaw
wasn't adjusted correctly. Doh!
Here's a couple pics before I killed the top layer...