Question and Answer
I’ve been reading your post on how to make a keyboard quieter, but I want to make sure I do it currently the first time. I definitely want to make my stabilizers less rattly and noisy. The space bar and right shift are what annoys me the most. Are there things that I should know before I go on this wild adventure of clipping, lubing, and band-aid modding my stabilizers on my mechanical keyboard?
There are many things that you should consider before modding your stabilizers. First, what kind of stabilizers do you have? That’ll be a good thing to know to do research prior to taking your keyboard apart and then realizing that you don’t know how to modify that specific kind of stabilizers. Second, make sure that you can take off the stabilizers from your keyboard. Without doing that, you cannot clip your stabilizers or do the band-aid mod. You can still lube, but it won’t be a thorough job. Third, make sure to take a picture of your keycap legends prior to take it apart, the same with your stabilizers. Understand that there is a right and wrong way to putting them back together. Fourth is to find a good and clean workstation so that you back and body don’t end up regretting it. Fifth is to test your switches and stabilizers prior to putting everything back together. Let’s get into it.
Mistake #1: Not Know What Kind of Stabilizer You Have
There are three different kinds of stabilizers. We wrote an article about the common ones before. They are Cherry stabilizers, Costar stabilizers, and ZealPC stabilizers. I myself have never used ZealPC stabilizers, but they’re already very high quality and may not need mods at all.
The most common kind of keyboard stabilizer is the Cherry stabilizers. I’ve attempted to do mods on my Razer’s Costar stabilizers with no such luck. Those stabilizers clicked into the k keyboard, and they have the wire that connects to an insert that goes into the keycap. They’re super annoying to use.
If you have Costar stabilizers, you can choose to lube these. You cannot clip the Costar stabilizers because there are no moving feet to clip unlike the Cherry stabilizers, that have a housing, stem, and a wire. In our article on how to make a keyboard more quiet, we link to different resources that show you have to lube your Costar and Cherry stabilizers.
Usually, the Cherry stabilizers are most commonly modded. They are very cheap to obtain at about $2 per stabilizer. In their native form, they are not the best stabilizers. However, after performing the modifications to them such as clipping, lubing, and band-aid modding, they have a much better sound and feel to them as well as a huge decrease in rattle and noise.
Mistake #2: Know What Kind of Mounting Your Stabilizers Use
There are different kinds of mounting systems for stabilzers. On some, you may need to desolder the switches prior to gaining access to the stabilizer to take them out of the keyboard.
On hot-swappable PCBs, you can easily pull out each switch and then take off the plate to access the stabilizers.
Some stabilizers are PCB snap-in, PCB screw-in, plate-mounted, or hook in.
PCB snap-in stabilizers are easy to take off. All you have to do is to open up your keyboard to reveal the PCB, turn the PCB around so that you can see the back side and pop the stabilizers out using your fingers or pliers.
PCB screw-in stabilizers require a screwdriver to take out. They are the most secure stabilizers that have the least rattle. For Costar stabilizers, just pull them out of the plate. Make sure not to lose the inserts that are attached to the keycaps.
The Massdrop CTRL has plate-mounted stabilizers.
These are the exact steps I took to modify my Cherry stabilizers on my Drop CTRL keyboard.
- Unplug the keyboard from the power source.
- Turn the keyboard to its backside and take out all the screws that you see. Keep those somewhere safe.
- Take off the keycaps and switches. Keep those safe too.
- Take the PCB out and separate the plate from the PCB.
- Pop out the stabilizers by pushing them up and then maneuvering them out.
- Pull the wire out of each one by popping them out.
- Proceed to lube each part, clip the stems, and band-aid mod the PCB.
- Put back together.
Make sure you have the supplies you need prior to take a part your keyboard. These can include a screwdriver, keycap puller, switch puller, dielectric grease, paintbrush, band-aid, scissors, and a flush cutter. I use pliers and twisted the little legs off. It worked well.
Here is an awesome guide for modding your stabilizers if you have Cherry ones.
Mistake #3: Not Taking a Picture of Your Keyboard Prior to Taking it Apart
You take your keyboard apart, everything goes perfectly, and then you start putting it back together. Oh wait, where di this Alt key go? What about the + key? Hmm…where can I find a picture?
One great thing to do prior to take anything apart is to take a picture of it from multiple angles. I took a picture of my Massdrop CTRL and Razer Blackwidow prior to take apart both keyboards. It helped tremendously in putting them back. Some keyboards have non-standard layouts.
It’s easy to think, Oh I know where the B key goes. But do you? It’s easy to misplace keys because you think you know where it goes. Why not take a picture and be 100% sure that they’re in the correct spots.
The same thing goes for your stabilizers. If you’ve never done this before, take a picture of the stabilizers prior to taking them apart. Make sure the wires are facing the same way at the end as where they started. That could mess with being able to putting them back together or with the feel and alignment of them.
It does matter which side the wire is on, especially on the Costar stabilizers and Cherry. I’ve put in the Cherry ones back on wrong many times, having to take it back out, and try again. It’s a huge pain in the butt. Make sure you do it right the first time.
Mistake #4: Working in a Messy Place on the Floor
Because this might be a time-consuming process, especially for beginners, make sure you do this at a large diskspace such as the dining table or your computer desk. Clear it out and lay out some paper towels.
Grease can get everywhere. Have some paper towels handy to wipe your fingers on. Something else that would be wonderful to have would be a pair of tweezers or thin tongs to hold onto the stabilizers when you’re lubing them to avoid getting them on your fingers.
Also make sure your chair is comfortable, you do not want to be leaning and or bending your neck down for that long amount of time. There will be too much pressure on your neck muscles. It took me approximately 3 hours my first time because I had to take it apart after putting it back together because my Left Shift key wasn’t working correctly because I put the stems back in wrong.
Mistake #5: Not Testing Before Putting It All Back Together
After you put your stabilizers back into your PCB or plate, put in a switch and test it. Make sure it goes down and back up.
Sometimes when messing with stabilizers, it may be possible that the stems are turned the wrong way or there is a kink in the hole somewhere. It could cause the stabilizer to get stuck and not bounce back up.
Another thing when putting your switches back in is to make sure none of the wire bits are bent or stuck. You want them to be extended to go back into the holes of your PCB prior to soldering.
Before putting back the keycaps on, make sure the switches work. Plug it in and test it. If any don’t work, pull the switch out, fix it, then try it again.
It is trial and error, but you want to decrease the amount of work done as much as possible. That means don’t do anything twice that could be done only once.
I must take apart my entire keyboard again because of my left shift key being stuck. Then I had to take off individual keycaps and switches because they weren’t working properly.
Make sure your band-aid mod is what you want it to be. If not, take it off and maybe try again or you forgot to put lube on the band-aid. Make a checklist of things to do and things to check prior to piecing it back together.
In summary, modding your stabilizers can be a rewarding process to improve the feels and sounds of your mechanical keyboard stabilizers. For many people, it may be their first time doing this, and it’s scary.
It’s exciting, but there is some anxiety. What if I mess up my keyboard? What if it doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t make my stabilizers better?
It’ll be okay because now you won’t make many of the mistakes that I did. And even if you do, you won’t make those same mistakes again next time.
Every time you do it, you’ll get better and better.
We talked about the top five mistakes someone can make when modding their keyboard stabilizers. To iterate, those mistakes are not knowing what kind of stabilizer you have, not knowing how your stabilizers are mounted, not taking pictures of your keyboard legends and stabilizers when you’re taking it apart, not having a large ergonomic working station, and not testing the parts such as stabilizers and switches when putting it back together.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have an awesome time modding your stabilizers.
Question of the article: What were some mistakes you made when you first modded your stabilizers? What’s the biggest mistake you learned from?