Breaking and fixing my Guitar Hero drums

16th October 2009 – 5.05 pm

My new, heavier drum sticks make missed registrations on the fake plastic drums less likely to occur, as each strike hits with a firmer thwack. I may be able to use lighter strokes to get the same effect, but nothing beats accentuating the right notes. It's great fun to pound away with solid thuds! Purely coincidentally, my red fake plastic drum pad stops working within a week of getting the new sticks. I wonder briefly how many songs make no use of the red pad, ostensibly the snare drum, before deciding that perhaps I should effect a fix.

Removing the lower cover to the main drum section reveals the problem: one of the two wires connecting to the transducer has broken. Nil desperandum! Stripping the insulation back a little lets me solder the wire on to the transducer again, giving me a solid connection once more. Assembling the fake plastic kit shows that the fix is good, the red pad registering my enthusiastic hits as before. But only for a day, until it breaks again.

The problem is that I only make half a repair. The solder joint is good, but the vibration from the sticks hitting the pad wears on the, frankly, puny wire between the insulation and solder joint. All the other factory-made joints are completed by a lump of glue, which covers the bare wire to secure the connection to the insulation, preventing vibration fatigue on the bare metal. Having no such glue I only make the solder joint, but I clearly need to do more.

I have some sturdy single-core tinned copper wire handy—bought a while back to help shape a new tail I was planning to sew—which will easily suffer my pounding. I solder a short section of the single-core wire to the transducer. The single-core wire is bent so that the soldered connection is flat on the transducer before angling upwards, allowing me to solder the drum kit's wire to it. With a generous section of single-core wire pointing upwards I can then wrap insulation tape around the wire-to-wire solder joint, performing the same function as the glue in preventing vibrations from fatiguing any exposed wire by virtue of there being no exposed wire.

I check the rest of the joints on the drums and they all seem to be intact, with no gap between the glue and the wire's insulation, so there are no impending failures. I am back to playing fake plastic drums, rocking along to Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran and Dire Straits. And, um, Motörhead. Yes. As Bez would say, job's a good'un.

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