Updates: May 2018
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More about the Guitar Control Panel Overlay

Introduction
Links
Photos
Videos
Roland G-77 Control Panel Overlay

Do-It-Yourself DIY Roland and Ibanez Guitar Synthesizer Control Panel Overlays

Introduction:

While the vintage Roland guitar synthesizer controllers have held up really well, the control panel overlays are often missing, tattered or torn. My goal was to come up with a modern replacement for the vintage overlays to give these vintage instruments a factory-fresh look. Over a period of years I was able to scan in most of the control panel overlays for the different model guitars. Once I had the images scanned in, I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to try to reproduce the overlay elements. Below are my notes on the process, plus images and links to pdfs you can download to work on creating your own.

Materials

After trying various materials for the overlays, I found the best material to be acetate, which I believe is the same material used to produce the original overlays. It looks like the originals were printed using a silk-screening process, but I had no way to reproduce this. Fortunately, the local "Fast Signs" print shop where I live has an "Edge Printer", which does a thermal transfer from a colored film to the acetate. This worked out really, really well, creating an overlay that looks like the original, with very durable printing. This is the same process I used for making control panels for my various processors. The pdfs that I provided to"Fast Signs" had to be imported and edited, removing my guidelines while keeping the text and critical graphics.

Trimming

I discovered that by far the toughest part was cutting the holes in the acetate. I tried at least a half dozen approaches. The acetate was too resilient to work with the automated cutting machines at the print shop, designed to work with paper, vinyl, etc. I tried various die-cutting processes, none of which worked well. The acetate tended to bend and deform before cutting. Finally, I just went to cutting the holes out by hand. You can watch the four brief videos below that show me working through the process. I used a razor knife, metal straight edge, and cuticle scissors.

Colors

The color selection is pretty simple: for the most part the overlays are made with either white, or black, printing on clear acetate. However, most notably with the Roland G-303, the overlay is printed with yellow. I tried just plain yellow, but the final product looked a little more gold than yellow. I had success by printing the same overlay twice, once with a white base, then printing immediately over the same piece of acetate with the yellow. The white base made for a much stronger yellow color.

Availability

Unfortunately, I am not longer making or selling these overlays, but I am providing links to the pdf files I used. I was printing these years ago, so perhaps there is a new process better than the "edge print acetate" process I used.

Photos:

DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification
DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification
DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification DIY Roland GR-300 LFO to Pitch and Filter Modification
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YouTube Playlist: Control Panel Overlay