Fix Your Broken Rock Band Strum Bar


While most of us who preordered Harmonix's Rock Band rhythm videogame have been enjoying the fruits of its rockitude for the last few days, some unfortunate souls have been crushed by a broken or buggy strum bar that makes the included guitar unplayable. On the Quarter to Three forum, Ben Sones has diagnosed the strum bar issue and offered up a possible repair. While it sucks that the quality control for these guitar controllers was so poor, the good news is that it looks like it should be possible to fix it yourself without sending back your whole unit to Electronic Arts.

(P.S. Drumming in Rock Band is hilarious fun.)

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

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  1. The original poster is close, but not quite right. The cause of the failure is the little contact pad falling off one side or another of the spring steel arms of the switch.
    The contact pad looks like a little chunk of piano wire that is resistance (tack) welded onto the arms of the switch. Upon opening up my guitar I noticed one was missing, and subsequently found inside the guitar case. Once it falls off, the switch has to be pushed that much further before making contact.
    Reattaching it would be tough… most people don’t have access to a resistance welder, and soldering it would melt the plastic bits of the switch.
    Bending the contact arms closer to each other is probably the best bandaide fix, but the root cause of the failure is a defective switch. And that’s why you shouldn’t buy important stuff from China.

  2. This sort of thing is why I never include leaf-style switches in my electronics designs. They fail so often, and as they wear they deform. Sure they’re cheap as hell, but you’re gonna end up with whole product returns because you scrimped on a couple switches. Profits aren’t worth this kind of lousy engineering.

  3. Yesterday evening I was showing a friend of mine Rock Band when disaster struck: the dreaded “downstrum” error. It doesn’t seem to happen consistently, but now every so often strumming down on the paddle doesn’t register. I’m going to open it up today and see what I can figure out, but it’s very frustrating, especially since we’re supposed to use these for a charity event in a couple of weeks.

  4. I loved the info concerning the repair for our Rock Band guitar!! Poof! It works!!!! Great job and thanks sooooooooo much! Does anyone know how I can make a second guitar work on this game?

  5. You know I keep seeing these pictures of the Rock Band Fender guitar setup but when I opened my fender up to look inside the mechanism that worked the strum bar was entirely different. There were no little metal contacts, all that were there were 2 pieces of white plastic attached to individual black plastic pieces of the guitar with 2 wires coming out of each going to the rear circut board. And what the hell do the 3 AA batteries do for this guitar, its wired, why does it need batteries?

  6. You can also go to and get a replacment guitar sent to you in 2 days and it is free and comes with a shipping label to send your old one back…

  7. I have the same model as post #5 and even though it looks more reliable I am experiencing down strum problems. Has anyone with this model discovered a remedy?

  8. This is a very interesting thread, good info to have. I have had problems with my Strat guitar as well. I have order a replacement but decided to open up the guitar in the meantime to see what might have been the cause of the strum bar problems. My problem differed a little bit in that I could still get strums to register up or down, but not very fast, and the strum bar felt VERY loose. When I opened up my guitar I discovered the contacts to be in good shape. However, the spring that keeps the strum bar centered (or brings it back to center when you are playing) had broken in two. I tried putting a small piece of wood down the center of the spring as a temporary fix, but that didn’t work so well (it worked for about 4 hours of play). I speculate that a decent metal rod in place of the wood might be a more permanent fix, but it bothers me that the design is so poor. 🙁

  9. Hello All,

    We wanted to drop in and let every one know about our new strummer solution for the Rock Band Guitars. We have tried to make it as Installation friendly as possible. No wires need to be cut. Currently it is compatible with Generation 1, 3, and 3.1 Strum Bar Hardware. But Generation 2 and 4 are not far behind. See our site OR email us for questions regarding compatibility. Generation 1 is the one which everyone has been returning the most. Our solution clicks big and loud just like the old guitars because it uses the same switches. We think those little click switches have demonstrated their endurance. Plus we believe Rock Band should be cranked to the point where you just hear a faint click anyway

    The Kit is very non invasive and can be un-installed just as easy. With this upgrade ALL mush goes out the door and the Strum Bar returns to center just as good as the old guitars. Please give us a look.

    Also check out our other products which offer PS3 RockBand Strat compatibility for Hero games on PS2 ONLY !!!

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