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DIY: How to Install a MIDI Pad in Your Guitar


4. Pre-drill and route away any other cavities needed for a battery box or the extra controls. The instructions above on how to make a template should work here: Whatever you are routing, make a template to guide you and keep your guitar safe from mishaps. Again, pre-drill the cavities with Forstner bits or large standard drill bits (10 mm or more), taking into account the required cavity depth.

Connecting the Cavities
Your new screen cavity needs to be joined up with the existing (or new) control cavity. To do so, you’ll need a drill bit large enough to accommodate the XY MIDIpad’s largest connector. The MIDIpad project video on covers a few options, but chances are you have a spade or flat bit that will do the job fine. I prefer to use extensions to the drill bit so that the body of the drill is as far away from the top of the guitar as possible—spinning chucks near glossy guitar tops are scary things. Just to be safe, I recommend putting a slice of veneer or another sturdy protective material under the drill bit to protect the finish against slips.

To install the MIDI output jack, use a 12 mm drill bit to drill through the side of the guitar. Obviously, the jack must connect to the main XY MIDIpad cavity, so be aware of how much wire you have to play with—we want to keep soldering to an absolute minimum. You can then drill the rest of your control layout holes through the guitar’s top or your scratchplate. Once you’ve done so, clean up the dust and shavings before working on the electronics.

Installing the XY MIDIpad
We’re so close to being able to test out this MIDIpad that we can practically feel the coordinates coursing through our neurons toward our fingertips. Let’s get this thing in the guitar so we can start spacing out!

1. Shield the screen cavity from undesired electrical fields. Just as you wouldn’t throw a set of pickups in a new project guitar and wire up some pots in a bare control cavity, you shouldn’t just fit the MIDIpad in the guitar as is. Sometimes there can be crosstalk between the LED behind the screen and your guitar’s existing electronics. You can shield the cavity by coating it with shielding paint or an adhesive-backed foil. (Note: If you use foil, make sure the edges of adjacent pieces overlap for a better electrical connection. Also, use a scalpel to remove excess shielding from holes in any new scratchplate material.)

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