Guitar Hero III: Problems with the Detatchable Neck

Other parts of the blog-o-sphere are reporting some issues with the bundling of Guitar Hero III with wired guitars. I’d like to address a different problem that I’ve had, along with a number of others according to forum posts.

I’d like to preface by saying I really do enjoy the Guitar Hero series (although I have to admit my wife is better at the games than I am), and I’ve bought 4 games with 4 guitars to date (2 on PS2 an 2 on 360). However, after the issues with the X-Plorer, I’m surprised there was not more quality control with the wireless Les Paul.

I picked up my copy (360 version with wireless guitar) at GameStop at midnight and went home to play. Now, I’m not terrible at the game, and I was having some real problems once I hit tiers 4 and 5 on medium. I assumed I was tired, and went to bed. The next morning, both my wife and I started playing, and once I was able to watch the game more closely, I found that the red and yellow buttons were not registering being pressed. After disassembling and re-assembling the guitar, the problem continued. I tried blowing on the contacts a la NES cartridges circa 1988. While the responsiveness improved, it was still only in the 70-80% range. I exchanged it for a new guitar, which seems to be working in a 95% or higher error range, which is far more acceptable (though still less than ideal on a game that requires such accuracy).

The issue almost certainly stems from the detachable neck’s contact system, which is truly unfortunate since the removable neck was generally a good idea. I hope that Red Octane will resolve this issue sooner rather than later. The button problem seems to be appearing on many message boards, so I don’t believe my problem is an isolated one.

On an unrelated note, it seems there’s some sort of error in the track “One” on medium between the 85 and 90% mark. I at first thought it was the guitar, but having seen the same error with both myself and my wife with both the X-Plorer and Les Paul, I think there’s something not working correctly in the track. And it’s limited to the Medium difficulty. If anyone else notices this issue, please let me know, but I will acknowledge that I might be wrong on this track error.

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About Mark Methenitis

Mark Methenitis is an attorney in Dallas Texas. Mark received his Juris Doctorate and his Master of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas.

36 Responses to Guitar Hero III: Problems with the Detatchable Neck

  1. LoneWolf says:

    I had one customer return the 360 bundle because he and his friends experienced the green and red buttons to be unresponsive when trying to sustain them in a chord during gameplay. Luckily he still kept the Xplorer controller and just returned the bundle in exchange for a copy of just the game and the difference was credited back to him. I think it is the break apart neck concept that is the problem. Red Octane should’ve stuck with the solid guitar construction. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

  2. Collin says:

    Yea, I was so happy to come home with my GH III (360 wireless) and I played the first few sets fine, but then I noticed the green button wasn’t always registering. In short, now I’m sad. This = sadface :[

    Then the button didn’t work at all. (I find it funny that I too went straight to blowing on the thing like the good old days.) But I guess some people are having problems too. Well I’m going to return it tomorrow and get a new one.

  3. Brian says:

    I am experiencing the same problem:

    Considering the size of my living room and the ability to avoid buying batteries all the time, maybe I’ll just return it for the solo game and buy another wired controller.

  4. Alex says:

    Green button didn’t work on my 360 bundled wireless. I asked the Best Buy returns/exchanges guy if other people had reported the same problem and he said yes, a few, mostly 360 bundles. Behind me in line was a guy with a PS2 bundled where the red button didn’t work.

    I wonder if RedOctane really over-pushed their manufacturing capabilities here.

  5. Samantha says:

    I currently have a problem with two of the buttons and for some reason, the tilt sensitivity seems to be way too high. When i’m playing normally, my star power will go off unprompted (i know that i’m not tilting, the most tilt it would be getting would be from the strum bar).

    I was really looking forward to playing with a wireless controller, but it looks as if i may have to revert to a wired controller.


  6. Airborne says:

    It is not possible to play GH3 on the GH2-issued Gibson SG on the PS2 if you use a guitar pick. When the strum bar rebounds, the GH3 engine picks the middle switch selection as a 2nd strum. I stopped playing it after 2 hours of frustration. Oh well.

  7. Chris says:

    2 of my friends and myself went down to Game Stop for the midnight release. We each purchased the 360 bundle with the wireless controller. when we got back to the house, and started playing my buddy always just plays with the frets before the song starts and commented on how it now plinks (like when you strum a note thats not there) with out him strumming, it wasn’t till later on in the night that we found out that if he held down 2 of the 3 buttons of the green, red & yellow and press the third (it didn’t matter what combination he held down of those 3) but it would register being strum with the 3rd button being pressed down, with out us actually strumming. we swapped necks to see if that was it but it happened on his guitar still and didn’t on mine, so he took his guitar back the next day. My other buddy got home to find out that his neck would come loose and lose connection and the buttons would stop working. Finally, I didn’t find any problem with my guitar until the next day when i got online for some battles and found out my Headset jack didn’t work consistantly. I have not returned mine as I planned on getting a wireless headset anyways, and my problem doesn’t effect game play. 3/3 botched guitars, thats a pretty bad spread. well they each returned theirs and the new guitars seems to be doing good for the time being.

  8. Monica says:

    We had this exact problem with our Guitar Hero III for the PS2. We have since exchanged it and are happy to report, this one works fine.

  9. Mark says:

    Im on my fourth exchange for Ps2. First controller wouldn’t connect no matter what, second the strummer was defective and third the tilt sensor was defective. I know the new sensor is touch but when you play holding guitar horizontal and the second the meter fills star power kicks in, if it didn’t no matter of shaking would make it work. I forsee recall

  10. I just bought the Guitar Hero III bundle (having no knowledge of any issues) for the 360 and after playing through about 13 songs I realized that I was either (A) REALLLY BAD, even though I’ve had the other GH games and beat them on expert or (B) This controller was a piece of crap.

    So I’m returning the game and getting ALL of my money back. I will pick this up around Christmas when official word of the fix comes out.

  11. Travis says:

    another disappointed ghIII user here as well. I was noticing it was doing it randomly last night. If i gave the neck of the guitar a nice slap it seemed to remedy the problem and play fine for a while. I already had the xplorer guitar and got one of the shotty defective guitars with it. Having 1 bad guitar is the reason I bought the bundle again. It is disappointing having 2 crappy guitars for the GH series.

  12. Trey says:

    GH3 is really pissing me off. My copy, for the ps3, just simply does nothing right. Controller issues, timing issues, optical out DD5.1 issues, online connection issues, and the leaderboards won’t even sort properly.

    Top it off with the effectively non-functioning guitarhero portal, and I have to ask the question: Can this launch, when taken as an aggregate, be accounted in any way as a success, other than in units sold?

    I’ve written a review detailing most of my ps3 issues here.

  13. koltz says:

    Here is a link the fix I discovered which seems to completely fix the button issue on my controller.


  14. Mark C says:

    I’ve been having the aforementioned issues: my buttons tend to be blue and orange, and it is from the way the neck kinks a bit due to a loose connection when sitting down…when I stand the buttons work fine (because there is a good connection). However, when I stand, and movement other than moving my hand on the fretboard sets off Star Power, which is really frustrating. I am used to the old guitars, where you had to give it a good shake or extreme tilt to set it of, not shift your weight from one foot to the other…talked to two others that have the game, one is experiencing the same problems, the other says its fine (both have 360 bundle)…it seems like more buyers than not are having this problem.

  15. bruce says:

    I have the same problem as the author. When I press both the green and red buttons and strum DOWNWARDS, on only the long chords, the yellow button activates as well. It doesnt happen any other time with the same buttons or any of the others. It also works fine if I strum upwards!? This Sucks…

  16. Dwayne says:

    Just fixed my wireless guitar. My problem was a common one, un-responsive buttons. After trying both the lo-fi & hi-fi fix with no success, I scoured the net for more answers, and I found it! I came across someone that had used isopropyl alcohol to clean the contacts. I didn’t have any, so instead I lightly scrathed the contacts on the neck with the tip of a knife. HEY, HEY! I now have a fully functioning guitar!

  17. McCrea says:

    we have a wireless guitar for the wii and when i was playing I got really frustrated because it wasn’t registering when I pressed the buttons. Several people in my family have played and we’ve all come to the conclusion that the beat is off. we have to press the buttons before they actually should be pressed. maybe it’s just a defect with ours. i dunno. ahh but it’s soo annoying.

  18. Amber says:

    I have just gotten a brand-new Guitar Hero III bundle for my birthday, (seeming that i just turned only 13) and my guitar just isn’t responsive. None of the buttons are working, the wireless connection between my guitar and my PS2 is just not working. In the beginning it just asks you to press the green button to continue on, and my guitar just isn’t working. If i plug in my standard controller it works, but my guitar isn’t working. and it’s BRAND NEW. i just don’t understand -_-

  19. OniKawazu says:

    I have a problem with my yellow button not registering. I would take it back and swap it with a wired guitar cos I don’t mind what I have but we can’t buy separate guitars over here in the uk. So I see that as a problem on top of a problem lol.

    By the way, does anyone know why we have an effects pedal slot on the controllers? Does the effects pedal exist?


  20. azureflame says:

    Hey I had the same problem too, all but the blue registered on my guitar. I dipped a q-tip in some rubbing alcohol and swabbed the chip and needles in the detachable neck and base where it connected and let ot sit for 5 minutes. It got my guitar to work now, I got a bit of lag every so often now but at least the buttons work almost all the time now. lol

  21. Josh says:

    I just got my Wii for christ 1 day later I got the gh3 bundle I played through about 14 songs and my whammy bar wouldn’t work so I got it working again but now it’s broke again.It realy pissed me off that it didn’t work so I got a new guitar it had the same problem so I’m wondering if it’s my Wii.

  22. October says:

    Had trouble with all the buttons but green. I had my doubts, but the alcohol dang did the trick! Thanks for the tip.

  23. Stefan says:

    I used WD40.. worked good! I also have the sensitive tilt problem.. but oh well.

  24. Nick says:

    I didn’t have my guitar controller freak until i had beaten easy, medium, and gotten halfway through hard mode. The green button works the best for me, but the way i hold the guitar constantly pulls the neck out and disengages the rest of the frets.

    Gonna trade it in for a controller that has a solid neck. 😡

    It was an excellent, SOLID idea, but the creation/execution of the touch-point between the connectors allows the neck to be slid out WAY too easily.

    I called one of my friends while I was writing this and he told me that it he fixed the problem by taking an industrial-strength rubber band and wrapping one end around the pin-strap on the neck and the rest around the curves in the center of the body.

  25. adam says:

    i am having the same conection problem with my ps2 wireless gh guitar. i find the red button not registering on the screen, and the detachable neck has lossness to it. i found that putting a piece of paper around the neck when sliding it togerther will take away the slack in the controller. simply snap together and tear off the excess paper. 1 or 2 ply will work; construction paper is too thick.
    also, i have the psyclone wireless guitar and the wammy bar doesnt work. the plastic clip holding the spring in place broke. does anyone know of replacement parts for the psyclone?

  26. Travis says:

    Yeah i have a psyclone controller too and it is currently sitting apart in my living room floor. i also need a replacement wammy bar because the part where the spring connects to on it broke off from extensive use. does anyone know where to get spare parts for it or how to fix it?!

  27. XT-8147 says:

    My guitar’s tilt sensor had been behaving strangely for a while. In normal songs it was fine, but in battles it would sometimes refuse to register, even after just having sent a powerup.

    Today the yellow button stopped working fully. I found that holding the neck in such a manner that I’m pushing it into the bottom part of the controller will make it more reliable, but I can’t really play songs like this.

    The only time my guitar’s neck was ever detached was when I opened the box.

    A friend of mine is having similar problems with his green button, and occasionally (usually after finishing a song), it will drop its association with the wireless receiver.

  28. scoffman says:

    Experiencing problems with your GH III Controller? I am an investigator with the law firm of Meyer & Associates. Our firm is currently investigating a potential class action regarding an alleged defect resulting in premature failure of these controllers during normal use. If you are experiencing this problem, and are willing to assist with our investigation, please contact me at 1-866-827-6537 or

  29. i think i have figured out y the wireless guitar has problems with the frets flickering on and off. there is a small electronic board at the end of the neck with 8 gold contact points, in the space that it slides into there are 8 prongs. over a period of time, taking the neck off and reinserting it, and many hours of play the contact points on the neck start to get pushed in from the prongs. i have looked at a few of the wireless guitars and have seen the same thing, and they have the same problems. when i bought my guitar, the contact points were still flat. but now 6 months later, those contact points have begun to get pushed in and i have started to have alot of problems with the frets not working. i cant return my guitar because i threw the receit away so im going to try anf find a solution to the problem. when i do find a solution i will post it.

  30. Zach Norwood says:

    The rubber band is the way to go. I don’t know why the alcohol even works—the problem is that the gold pins don’t even connect without the extra force (provided by the rubber bands) pushing the neck into the base of the guitar.

  31. sly says:

    The neck issue is generally down to the hardness of the pins in the guitar body being much harder than the contacts on the small PBC (printed circuit board) at the end of the neck. If you look at the PCB you’ll see big dents in some of the contacts. For a while it’s possible to improve things by rubbing the PCB contacts with a soft rubber but ultimately the only thing to so is very carefully put small blobs of solder onto each contact. This allows the pins in the body to remain in contact all the time.

    The other problem I had was that the PCB under the frets caused problems with sustained notes as it bends slightly. Take the neck apart and put thin slips of card behind the supporting plastic to pack it out and stop the PCB bending. You might have to very gently file out the screw holes in the PCB just enough to allow it to sit flat when screwed back in place.

  32. Darren5088 says:

    My Guitar hero 3 controller worked fine at first but after a while I got the same problem with buttons not working. This is definately caused by the contact pins between the neck & the base of the guitar. I eventually glued the neck in (glued the plastic not the contact pins), ensuring a solid contact & holding it in place till the glue set. This fixed the problem & the guitar was like new again. However, after a while some buttons began failing again – I re-glued it but still get problems intermittently. Unfortunately, it eventually annoyed me so much I snapped the guitar in half! I now need a new one – I want to know if the guitar hero world tour guitar is more reliable – I’ll probably just get that instead.

  33. brad says:

    i am having the same problem, it made me fail a song on easy (i’ve beat through the fire and flames on expert, so im good) i think they should make a recall

  34. Nick Andrew says:

    Woh! Man It’s such a long blog but some how I went through it. I just wanna know that from were you got all these information. I really admire your hard work. Thanks for sharing all these.

    Nick Andrew

  35. Tom Fontana says:

    Yep, me too (bought in Europe), but for me, the red button hardly works, independent of the difficulty level. I’m gonna take it back and get a normal neck guitar version.

    Tom @

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