A Beginner's Guide to Custom Sabers

Hello There.
Welcome to the world of custom lightsabers! You have taken your first steps into a much larger world. (Say hello to the custom saber rabbit-hole).
Now that the quintessential introductory sentences are out of the way, lets talk seriously for a moment:
Custom lightsabers are an incredibly fun way to express yourself creatively. There is no greater feeling than powering on your very first custom build and enjoying the fruits of your labor. I want this guide to serve as a viable resource for anybody who has been on the fence about taking those firsts steps into this wonderful hobby. This is for those of us who grew up making the lightsaber sounds with our mouths while holding a broomstick or paper towel roll, and for those of us who aspired to be a real life Jedi (or Sith). It may seem daunting at first, but I can assure you, anybody can do it. Trust in yourself, have an open mind, be ready & willing to learn, but most importantly: HAVE FUN!


Ready to get started?


DISCLAIMER*** This is by no means a step-by-step guide, tutorial, “how-to” or whatever you wish to call it for installing a soundboard.

Rather, view this as a good reference guide to get you comfortable with the journey you are about to take. You will only learn by DOING and by RTFM (Read The F****** Manual) for whatever soundboard you are installing. Cool? Cool.

I will be breaking this down into a few sections:

  • Project overview and goals.
  • Picking your first saber
  • Essential Tools
  • Parts
  • Manuals and Resources


Project Overview and Goals

When starting out it’s a good idea to figure out what you wish to gain from your saber.  Do you want single color? RGB? Neopixel? Are you planning on dueling with your saber? Removable battery? Do you want any parts of your saber etched? Etc.

One thing I would recommend is that if you want to go all out for your first build; DO IT. If you feel more comfortable keeping it simple; that’s cool too! Just keep these things in mind;

  • Acid etching/Powder Coating can only be done on sabers that are EMPTY with no electronics. If that is the look you are going for, be sure to plan ahead and speak with one of the many acid etchers/powder coaters in the community. ***Exception: if the saber accommodates a FULLY REMOVABLE CHASSIS, or has removable shrouds that do not impact the functionality of an install, you may proceed to install then get hilt etched at a later date


  • Tri-Cree and Neopixel Builds are wired differently and use different batteries/parts. This applies for basically all boards. So make sure to purchase parts that work with your desired setup. If you are debating on going neopixel or in-hilt LED, it would be a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of each. Battery life, blade brightness, blade effects, RGB color options, resale value, etc. are all things to consider. Pick what suits you the best, and have fun with it! 


  • Drill/Tap any holes for switches, screws, or accent LED’s BEFORE you start installing. This should go without saying but inspect whatever saber you plan on installing and take note of any necessary screws needed for auxiliary switches, LED/pixel connector retention, blade retention, chassis retention (if needed), or similar. If you need to drill any holes, find the appropriate drill/tap set and take your time. I recommend using a center punch and cutting fluid to ensure the hole is drilled properly. (you also reduce the risk of any drill bits or taps getting stuck in the hilt)


  • Figure out how much install space you have to work with. I’ll be honest with you…some hilts are a PITA to install properly. You or a chassis designer might need to get creative or compromise on some things to get the saber installed. Some hilts have as little as 3” of space for electronics, so things can turn into a cram-fu really fast. Come up with a game plan and then jump into it. The more installs you do, the more creative solutions you’ll come up with and each install will only become easier.


  • Make sure you create a list of parts needed for your build. There is no worse feeling than hyping yourself up throughout the day to dive into your build only to find out you’re missing a critical component or purchased the wrong part. Check compatibility between parts, make a list and you should be good to go.

 Example of Saber with Acid Etching

 Example of saber with Powder Coating

Neopixel (Left) vs Tri-Cree (Right) Photo Credit: JR Tyler of Acolyte Armory

Picking your first saber

The custom saber community is huge and there are plenty of options out there. As mentioned above, some hilts might be a better for a first install than others. Internal diameters typically range from 1 inch to as big as 2” with installable lengths ranging from as little as 3” to as big as 9+”. The larger the install space, the more forgiving…usually. Research the saber you want and find out what chassis solutions are readily available and ask around to gain insight from people who have done that install before. However, if you like a challenge, you should pick whatever saber/hilt you want and go with the flow.

Not all sabers are meant for dueling/sparring. Sabers with large claws, spikes, protruding shrouds, exposed "crystal chambers", thin necks, or sabers held together with set screws can often become damaged in a fight or cause damage to the opponent’s blade (or fingers…OUCH). If dueling is something you plan to do regularly, plan on removing obstructive objects or be ok with the possibility of things breaking.

High-end hilts are an interesting gray area. These hilts are typically very well constructed and often times include the benefit of being as close to screen accurate as possible for the price point but are more often used as “shelf queens” (sabers that are built for the sole purpose of display). Low end hilts can cost as little as $80-$150 empty, Mid-range hilts run around $250-$350 empty, and some higher end sabers can go upwards of $600-$1000+ empty. The choice is ultimately up to you. Can you duel with a high-end hilt? Sure you can! Should you? If you are ok with the possibility of drops, dings, and scratches go right ahead.

Personally for me; I’d do any sort of dueling with an inexpensive hilt so I don’t feel like I’d need to hold back. But again, the choice is yours

 Example of an inexpensive dueling saber

 Example of a more expensive hilt. Take note of the thin-neck design and shallow blade depth.

Essential Tools and Materials:

Below you will find a list of tools and material that are absolute necessities. The initial purchase of these items might deter some people but look at it this way; you only need to buy these things once unless it breaks or runs out. Then you have it ready for you next custom saber install.

 Personal Favorite and the iron I use on a daily basis; Hakko FX888D-23BY

Amazon is good source for all of these items, or if you have an electronics store nearby (like I do) you can always go and get your stuff from there.

If this is your first time soldering, I also recommend purchasing a practice kit and watching a tutorial video before diving into a soundboard. I personally like this video for beginners:


Practice Kit:




Every single lightsaber install has a basic framework of parts to follow:

  • Soundboard
  • Speaker
  • Momentary Buttons
  • Chassis
  • Battery and power solution
  • Lighting system (LED or Neopixel)

Golden Harvest v3 Soundboard Photo Credit: Fredric Folz

All you really need to do is pick soundboard and start buying parts. There is a really great selection of current-generation soundboards for you to pick from.

The most popular boards in the industry right now are the Plecter Labs Crystal Focus X, SaberTec Golden Harvest V3, KR Sabers Verso, and the Proffieboard v2/3.9

 Each board has its own quirks, some a bit more involved than others, but if you take your time and follow the diagrams in each soundboard’s respective manual, you’ll be fine. All these are great options so pick a board and have fun with it.

There are plenty of places where you can buy your parts from. Shop around and pick the parts YOU want. 

Below is an average cost of parts for a simple install:

Soundboard - $48-$84

Speakers - $8-$12 

Battery - $15-$17

Recharge Port - $5

Buttons - $3-$7 each (usually 2)

Chassis - $15 - $100+

Pixel Connector - $14-$25

Pixel Connector Holder - $4-$5

**High Powered LED - $25

**Heatsink - $9.50

**Thermal Tape - $1

Neopixel Blade – $$$ (Price varies by vendor)

Charger - $8-$15

 **Parts associated with Tri-Cree installs**

As you can see, these things all added up can end up being a couple hundred bucks just on parts, which is why I stress the importance of practicing in the previous section. Better to be safe than sorry!


Manuals and Resources

Instruction manuals are an amazing (and surprisingly under-utilized) resource. More often than not, a lot of the questions you have are answered in the manual. Use it! There are lots of great diagrams and information regarding functionality and settings. RTFM!

For those questions you can’t find the answer to; utilize the amazing community of people who all share a passion for custom sabers. Facebook groups like Universal Lightsaber Community and Saber Builders Academy are great resources for help and insight on building, installing and selling custom sabers.

But again, you learn by doing. I recommend trying things out first, troubleshooting on your own, and THEN asking for help. Be accepting of constructive criticism, be willing to post pictures of your wiring (don’t be embarrassed, your wiring will look nicer in time with more practice) and apply the advice given to your build.





Golden Harvest v3:




KR Sabers Verso:



Facebook Groups:

Universal Lightsaber Community (ULC):


Saber Builders Academy:


Proffieboard Support Group:



Hope this helps get you started! I am more than willing to help answer any questions you may have. Just reach out to me on the contact tab on the homepage.  Good luck and have fun! MTFBWY.

Carlos Hernandez

Kessel Custom Sabers LLC