How to Install LED Lights in Guitar Fretboard

By Zyon Silket

Things Needed

  • Metric and standard drill bit set
  • Electric drill
  • Metal scratch awl
  • Router
  • 1/4-inch router bit
  • 5mm flat round LED diodes
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • 22-gauge insulated wire
  • Wood glue
  • fret board clamps
  • Single pole single throw mini switch (SPST)
  • 9-volt battery plug
  • 9-volt battery

If you play guitar in a band, you usually play on dimly lit stages. This makes it almost impossible to see the position markers on your fret board. Installing LED lights will illuminate your fret position markers so you can see them easily on stage. If you do not play in a band, you can install the LED lights on a fret board so you can dazzle your friends with a spectacular light show while you play.

Place a mark in the center of the fret board between the third, fifth, seventh, nineth, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th and the 21st frets with the tip of a metal scratch awl. These are the standard fret position markings used on most guitars. If you choose, you can change these locations to the fret positions that suit your needs.

Drill a hole through the fret board at each marked location with a 5mm drill bit.

Route a 1/4-inch-deep by 1/4-inch-wide channel the down the back of the fret board for wire routing. Use a router and router bit for this procedure.

Drill a 1/4-inch hole half way down through the neck heel and then drill a hole with the same drill bit through the end of the neck heel that intersects with the first hole. Drill a hole with the same drill bit through the neck pickup cavity so you can route the wires from the neck into the guitar’s neck pickup cavity.

Press the 5-millimeter flat round LED diodes into the back of the fret board.

Solder the leads together in series. This means, solder the right lead of the LED at the third fret to the left lead on the LED at the seventh fret. Repeat this as you work your way down the fret board. When completed, the left lead on the third fret LED and the right lead on the other end of the fret board are left unsoldered.

Solder an insulated 22-gauge wire to the left lead on the third fret LED and tuck the wire into the channel in the back of the fret board. Cut the wire long enough that it will reach into the electronics control cavity for the guitar. Solder a 22-gauge wire to the last unsoldered lead. Use a different colored wire for reference. Again, cut the wire to a length that will allow it to reach into the control cavity of the guitar.

Route both wires through the holes in the guitar neck, through the hole in the neck pickup cavity. After that, route the wires through the holes designed to route the pickup wires until the wires rest inside the electronics control cavity.

Apply wood glue to the guitar neck and to the back of the fret board and then glue the fret board onto the guitar neck with fret board clamps. Wait 24 hours for the glue to dry.

Drill a hole through the face of the guitar with a drill bit that matches the diameter of the shaft on your SPST mini switch and then mount the mini switch to the face of the guitar.

Solder one wire from the LED circuit a lug on the SPST mini switch. Solder the black wire from the 9-volt battery plug to the other lug on the SPST mini switch. Solder a 22-gauge wire onto that same lug. Solder the other end of the wire to the back of a control component.

Solder the red wire from a 9-volt battery plug to one of the LED wires extending from the LED circuit.

Plug a 9-volt battery into the battery plug and turn on the switch to illuminate the LED lights. Turn off the switch to turn off the lights.

Tip

Use LED lights designed for use with 9-volt circuits. These LED lights already have the correct resistors built into the light housing.

About the Author

Since 2006 Zyon Silket has been writing for companies such as SEOWhat, L&C Freelancing and T-Mobile Wireless. He has extensive experience working in supervisory roles within the wireless and Internet technologies fields. Silket is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in business management and network technologies at Lehigh Carbon Community College.