Saturday, January 31, 2009

Welcome to Mr. Break-It!

Hello, dear visitor. You have stumbled upon Mr. Break-It, a blog dedicated to breaking things (and, of course, fixing them up afterwards).

The site's initial focus will be on fixing and modifying Guitar Hero World Tour / Rock Band instruments. I am an avid fake plastic drummer and guitarist, and after having broken my drumset a dozen or so times, I discovered there is a serious lack of information about these fake plastic instruments. Not only that, they happen to be almost amazingly simple, and by extension, almost endlessly customizable.

If you're a fake drumming enthusiast, you've surely seen aftermarket replacement drum pedals for sale. Those are great, professional-grade products, but they're also quite expensive, especially if you're a Canadian, like me, and have to pay incredible amounts just to get the things shipped.

Well, when I first started playing fake plastic instruments, I was playing on my neighbor's second-hand, out-of-warranty Rock Band 1 drum set, with the absolutely horrible kick pedal. After less than a week, I smashed the pedal in half during a particularly grueling session. Needless to say, I was both embarrassed and annoyed, having broken someone else's toy. I repaired the pedal several times, using glue, duct tape, epoxy, and none of these solutions were enough to last longer than a week (I know, I know, I'm not supposed to stomp on the pedal like it was some sort of undesirable vermin, but I get excited. Sue me). After I got sick of the whole 'break & repair' cycle I finally took the whole thing apart... only to discover that the whole thing is no more complicated than a simple alarm circuit sensor, like you would put on a window or a door. I found an old drum pedal, strapped the appropriate electronics to it, and voila! Better than the original.

Of course, I'm not the first person to discover this... these aftermarket drum pedals are a great example of what someone can do with a bit of knowledge. However, I've found that there are no real reference sites for repairing out-of-warranty instruments. That's what I aim to do with Mr. Break-It: allow players of these wonderful games to continue to rock out despite the (sorry, Activision and Harmonix) rather shoddy design and/or assembly of some of these instruments. I understand that it's really hard to make an entire band kit that lasts a long time for under $200 USD, but that doesn't mean people should constantly be either sending their instruments back for repair or replacement, especially when most of the needed fixes can be accomplished in the home in less than an hour, often for no cost at all.

A big shout-out goes to Jeff Atwood at Fake Plastic Rock, who seems to have the same problems (breaking his drum set) and the same ambitions (documenting the Guitar Hero / Rock Band / hardware scene) as I do. Jeff, you rock, even if it's in a fake plastic way.

Cordially yours,
Mr. Break-It
A.K.A Raphael Schmidt