Awesome, easy P-Bass mod: no-miss strum bars!

kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
edited March 2009 in Rock Band
Hey crew, this is going out to all you P-Bass owners out there (and potential future ones).

The twin strum bars are cool, right? I thought so too, but the functionality isn't there. If you upstrum with both fingers, the guitar tends to drop a LOT of notes due to hardware limitations. The guitar just can't keep up with rapid upstrums because the switches take too long to reset between hits.

So my good friend Doc and myself brainstormed and came up with this mod that basically switches the Up- and Down-strum on the right strum bar. It takes some basic soldering/desoldering skill, but it's WELL worth the effort. Keep in mind that opening up the Bass with void your warranty, but this mod will make it work the way it's SUPPOSED to :)
  • Unscrew the back on your P-Bass and open up that sucker. Be careful with that wire for the RB1/RB2 switch that connects the back plate to the front.

  • Find your strum bars.

  • Unscrew the boards on the top and bottom of the strum bars (also, take out the hot glue holding them in place from the bottom. A blade along the bottom works just fine)

  • Find the wires that connect the switches for the Right Strum Bar's Upstrum and Downstrum to the main board.

  • Desolder the plastic wire casings from the end of the board and remove them from their respective boards.

  • Swap the wire casings and attach them each to the opposite boards, as shown in this diagram:

    [ATTACH]2975[/ATTACH]

  • Solder the wires back into place on their new boards, screw the boards back into the strum housing, and you're done! Just make sure the wires you just switched are not touching the actual strum bar or spring before you close up the Bass, otherwise you may have some contact problem inside and have to re-open it again to put it out of the way.
With this fix, the Left Strum Bar will work as normal, but the Right Strum Bar will be reversed. You'll be able to strum MUCH faster, though, without missing notes, because you'll essentially be alt-strumming between the two strum bars, instead of only trying to hit Up-strums.

There is ONE downside: since the up-strums on the right strum bar will count as downstrums, you won't get the Authentic Strummer award at the end of songs, even if you up-strum only. If it really bugs you and you're trying for the Flawless Groove achievement, play an easy song (such as "Charlene (I'm Right Behind You") and only use the left strum bar for up-strums.

If you're unhappy with the performance of your P-Bass, but still love the guitar like hell and want to maximize its potential, please consider doing this mod :)

Comments

  • Lily_MuLily_Mu RB Wii Super Fan
    edited December 2008
    I hate mods, and there isn't even a P-Bass for Wii yet.
  • karmajackkarmajack Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    I'm all for this and will be opening up mine this again this weekend. Good job.
  • beaker3beaker3 Opening Act
    edited December 2008
    I have my bass open here and am confused as to what wires you are talking about that need to be resoldered.

    Are you talking about the ones on the blades under and above the strum bars or the ones on the board that they plug into?

    I can't discern which wire controls the right strum bar. Are there pictures of this anywhere?

    Thanks for this info.
  • jrinckjrinck Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Isn't the whole point of the p-bass so that you can quickly upstrum? If you can't do that right out of the box, then it's a pointless product.
  • Bobman32xBobman32x Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    i think because the game only allows you to strum in one direction so fast, this gets around the problem y making it seem like your alt strumming when your not
  • jrinckjrinck Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Bobman32x;1743900 said:
    i think because the game only allows you to strum in one direction so fast, this gets around the problem y making it seem like your alt strumming when your not
    I always thought the limitation on strum speed was hardware. You're saying it's software limited? I'd have a hard time believing that.

    Having two side-by-side strum bars that work independently, yet wired in parallel, should be the way to go with a guitar designed specifically for bass.
  • AoxomoxoaAoxomoxoa Unsigned
    edited December 2008
    Photos would rock!

    I can't believe Mad-Catz didn't get this right themselves. They probalby spent more time sitting in meetings about whether or not to include a whammy bar than they actually spent play testing the instrument. Either that or their engineers are lame... or both. :mad:

    I'll definitely try this mod.
  • kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
    edited January 2009
    I'm glad to see there's some interest in this. I'd be happy to take and post some photos tomorrow, but I'm currently in no state to operate a camera. :)
  • kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
    edited January 2009
    Okay, the original post has been updated with a picture of which two wiresets to switch.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask 'em. :)
  • Sargehalo51Sargehalo51 Road Warrior
    edited January 2009
    I like the idea of the mod and hope it helps those who do have problems. I must be one of the lucky ones that had no problems, no dropped notes, with my P-Bass.
  • edited January 2009
    Nice work Kev.

    I rewired mine last night and now you can finger walk however you like without locking yourself out.
  • edited January 2009
    Lily_Mu;1743811 said:
    I hate mods, and there isn't even a P-Bass for Wii yet.
    Yeah there is not a P-Bass for PS3 either, yet I have one... of wait, two...

    Point your hate somewhere else.

    The people who get stuff done are trying to talk.
  • beaker3beaker3 Opening Act
    edited January 2009
    A big THANK YOU! for this mod.

    I don't have a soldering iron here so I did the old clip and splice and it works like a charm. I'll bring the soldering iron home from work when I go back next week.

    I replaced the springs on this bass when I first got it with some more spring-ier ones and this mod makes the bass just perfect.

    Thanks again! Great work.
  • SerpentdSerpentd Road Warrior
    edited January 2009
    Hey kiggidykev, dude thanks for this info. I'm a bit confused though. My bro got this guitar for me for Xmas and I haven't even taken it out of the box yet so this might be why I'm not fully understanding the purpose of this mod. I'm definitely not afraid to mod anything. I'm just curious as to what the benefit of this mod is. Sorry if I missed the obvious, I'll re-read the op. Thanks again. :)
  • kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
    edited January 2009
    Serpentd;1746527 said:
    Hey kiggidykev, dude thanks for this info. I'm a bit confused though. My bro got this guitar for me for Xmas and I haven't even taken it out of the box yet so this might be why I'm not fully understanding the purpose of this mod. I'm definitely not afraid to mod anything. I'm just curious as to what the benefit of this mod is. Sorry if I missed the obvious, I'll re-read the op. Thanks again. :)
    No problem. Once you try out the guitar, give it a shot on some faster songs with quickly repeated notes (such as my two staples: "Ballroom Blitz" or "Holiday In Cambodia"). If you choose to use up-strums only and "finger walk" between your pointer and middle fingers using both strum bars, you may notice that you are missing a lot of notes that you feel you should be perfectly on time with and hitting. This is due to a limitation in the hardware itself; the "up" switch in both strum bars just can't keep up two fingers pressing it so quickly. If such is the case, then this mod is for you.

    If you don't notice anything, then by all means, keep your P-Bass the way it is. :)

    I'm also glad this has worked for everyone that's tried it so far. :)
  • HeyRilesHeyRiles Besse's Girl
    edited January 2009
    I'm absolutely afraid of popping open my instruments in fear of doing damage and/or voiding the Best Buy warranty, but I always enjoy reading these mods all the same.

    Good work, Kev!

    EDIT: I'm considering it now though...I have the bass myself, but it's extremely hard to keep a consistent beat. I mean, I can GS songs pretty easily, and Panic Attack is certainly passable, but the harder, faster songs are always combo breakers. Especially considering in Thrasher, the in-game character is alt-strumming the bass, so I always found that not being able to alt-strum the bass was pretty stupid. I'm still hung up on the 'voided warranty' however, so I don't know
  • SerpentdSerpentd Road Warrior
    edited January 2009
    kiggidykev;1746573 said:
    No problem. Once you try out the guitar, give it a shot on some faster songs with quickly repeated notes (such as my two staples: "Ballroom Blitz" or "Holiday In Cambodia"). If you choose to use up-strums only and "finger walk" between your pointer and middle fingers using both strum bars, you may notice that you are missing a lot of notes that you feel you should be perfectly on time with and hitting. This is due to a limitation in the hardware itself; the "up" switch in both strum bars just can't keep up two fingers pressing it so quickly. If such is the case, then this mod is for you.

    If you don't notice anything, then by all means, keep your P-Bass the way it is. :)

    I'm also glad this has worked for everyone that's tried it so far. :)
    Okay bro, now I fully understand, makes total sense actually. Thank you very much for your time in explaining this a bit better for me, I appreciate it. I'll try out my new bass tonight hopefully. Thanks again buddy. :)
  • kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
    edited January 2009
    HeyRiles;1746580 said:
    EDIT: I'm considering it now though...I have the bass myself, but it's extremely hard to keep a consistent beat. I mean, I can GS songs pretty easily, and Panic Attack is certainly passable, but the harder, faster songs are always combo breakers.
    Let me know if I can help, I'll walk you step-by-step through the whole thing in more detail, if you like.

    All you need's a Philips-head screwdriver, a soldering iron (preferably with a fine point), and possibly a desoldering tool to get rid of the solder that's already there.
  • AoxomoxoaAoxomoxoa Unsigned
    edited January 2009
    Thank you Kev!!!

    I finally got around to applying this mod and it's absolutely amazing. :D

    I was totally frustrated that I couldn't use the double upstrum without missing tons of notes. After the mod I spent hours playing songs with streams of fast notes which I had pretty much avoided before the mod. No more missed notes! My percentages increased by 5-10%! Wow!

    I truly hope that Mad Catz incorporates this enhancement into their new wireless model... just in case I get one of those.
  • kiggidykevkiggidykev Thinks about pandas
    edited January 2009
    I'm happy it helped. Nothing more frustrating than seeing a stream of notes go by while your brain goes "HEY! I know I hit those!" :)
  • v0lum3v0lum3 Opening Act
    edited January 2009
    ... I completely forgot about this mod, I did it about two weeks after my buddy got his bass and couldn't stand the dropped notes, it works VERY well... I probably should have posted it though, rude me :p Props for posting it up ;)

    On an unrelated note, he wore his strum bars out last week... dude is a MONSTER on the bass.
  • edited January 2009
    kiggidykev;1819861 said:
    I'm happy it helped. Nothing more frustrating than seeing a stream of notes go by while your brain goes "HEY! I know I hit those!" :)
    Totally. It just rocks not having to be so surgical to keep them working.

    Now you can get all funky. :)
  • NeoxonNeoxon Opening Act
    edited January 2009
    Lily_Mu;1743811 said:
    I hate mods, and there isn't even a P-Bass for Wii yet.
    Since the Fender P-Bass Mark 2 (wireless) it on its way, we'll probably get that one for the Wii rather than the wired Mark 1.
  • Lord KronosLord Kronos Unsigned
    edited January 2009
    Aoxomoxoa;1819646 said:
    I truly hope that Mad Catz incorporates this enhancement into their new wireless model... just in case I get one of those.
    Well, I suspect they wouldn't incorporate this mod, as they'd catch hell from people who found you couldn't do the upstrum achievement properly, plus the fact that it would be confusing when you are strumming through the menus and the 2 strum bar halves take you opposite directions.

    I wonder if this problem is the result of the two switches simply being hooked in parallel, which would create the same type of problem you get when you try to hook up 2 bass pedals using a y splitter. The way you could test this out would be to hold one of the halves up and then see if up strumming the other half registers at all. If this is indeed the problem, they would have to solve this problem using the same technique that is used to make 2 bass pedals work properly (in electronics, it is called a monostable multivibrator), which is actually a pretty simple circuit. It would also indicate very poor design by their engineers.
  • AoxomoxoaAoxomoxoa Unsigned
    edited January 2009
    Lord Kronos;1820490 said:
    Well, I suspect they wouldn't incorporate this mod, as they'd catch hell from people who found you couldn't do the upstrum achievement properly, plus the fact that it would be confusing when you are strumming through the menus and the 2 strum bar halves take you opposite directions.

    I wonder if this problem is the result of the two switches simply being hooked in parallel, which would create the same type of problem you get when you try to hook up 2 bass pedals using a y splitter. The way you could test this out would be to hold one of the halves up and then see if up strumming the other half registers at all. If this is indeed the problem, they would have to solve this problem using the same technique that is used to make 2 bass pedals work properly (in electronics, it is called a monostable multivibrator), which is actually a pretty simple circuit. It would also indicate very poor design by their engineers.
    You're probably correct. Designers will catch hell from someone about every decision that has a tradeoff. But, the tradeoff between getting a single achievement does not outweight the advantage of the mod. If someone must have that achievement then they can always do it the old-fashion way and use a single strum bar. And if people think they need to double-strum to navigate the menus then... I don't have much to say about that.

    It just disturbs me when people think of reasons to not do something, but can't seem to put them in context. Are the points valid... perhaps. Do they trump everything else... absolutely not.
  • hawkofvahawkofva Rocks You Like A Hurricane
    edited January 2009
    I think the really funny part is that you can play the Strat like a bass with more than one finger no problem. My limiting factor has never been the strum-bar, it's my fingers. As much as I'd love to have a guitar controller that looks like my real bass, I simply don't see the point in paying $99.99 (current Amazon preorder estimate) for a modification I don't really need. If it was competitively priced with the RB2 Strat, that would be another story.
  • Lord KronosLord Kronos Unsigned
    edited January 2009
    Aoxomoxoa;1824234 said:
    You're probably correct. Designers will catch hell from someone about every decision that has a tradeoff. But, the tradeoff between getting a single achievement does not outweight the advantage of the mod. If someone must have that achievement then they can always do it the old-fashion way and use a single strum bar. And if people think they need to double-strum to navigate the menus then... I don't have much to say about that.

    It just disturbs me when people think of reasons to not do something, but can't seem to put them in context. Are the points valid... perhaps. Do they trump everything else... absolutely not.
    Whoh...first of all, I never said they shouldn't improve it. I was simply saying that THIS particular fix is less than ideal for a shipping product. What I was suggesting was that there more than likely are other ways to fix it. I beleive this is an electronics limitation, rather than a software limitation. I gave one example of a possible way the electronics were designed poorly, and how to test to see if that was the case. If it is not, I'm still fairly confident that it would be something else in the electronics design that they could change to fix it.

    The reason I am fairly confident that this is not a software limitation is that the game shouldn't see the guitar as anything more than a controller with buttons, and how fast it can read buttons from 1 controller should be the same rate as it can any other controller. With the drums, you can play the same note incredibly fast and it will read every hit. I can't imagine why the software would treat the strum bar any differently, thus I'm fairly certain it's a hardware issue.

    As far as double strumming through menus....I can certainly see a use for it (I do it on the drums to scroll through the song list quickly), but I was more thinking about the inconsistency confusing inexperienced players.

    But again, I'm not suggesting ignoring the problem. I'm suggesting they fix it properly rather than do a hack solution.
  • edited January 2009
    hawkofva;1824245 said:
    I think the really funny part is that you can play the Strat like a bass with more than one finger no problem.
    Sure you "can" but Its simply not the same thing as a double strum no matter how you do it.

    If your stoked with what you have, coolio.

    IMO the double strum is the single best thing to happen for Bassists in Rockband.
  • Lone BulldogsLone Bulldogs Road Warrior
    edited January 2009
    Doc_SoCal;1824559 said:


    IMO the double strum is the single best thing to happen for Bassists in Rockband.
    AGREED! You can upstrum using two fingers as long as the song is not TOO FAST. If it is you have to alt-strum. Doc is on it. I'm more inclined to get the P-Bass now than before. Great mod OP!
  • MarnBeastMarnBeast Unsigned
    edited March 2009
    Very nice, works beautifully and the instructions were very easy to follow. Thanks for the diagram.

    One suggestion though, I'd switch the left bar rather than the right. This is only because I usually use the right strum bar to navigate menus, and having it switched is kinda wierd now, though I'm sure I'll get used to using the left instead.

    Also, I didn't really see a need for unscrewing and unglueing the strum hardware, unless you don't have a friend to hold the wire things in place for 5 minutes while you solder.
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