A WARNING BEFORE YOU TRY THIS: Doing this will almost certainly void your warranty. It’s also possible you might break your Switch or Joy-Cons entirely, so proceed with caution and at your own risk!
We got our hands on a variety of custom cases for the back of the Switch and the Joy-Cons, from plain white to shiny gold. It’s a bit tricky to pull off, but with the right tools (and letting us make some mistakes so you don’t have to) it’s not so hard.
Watch the video above to see an in-depth, hands-on tutorial on how to take apart your Switch and Joy-Cons, then put them back together with a fancy new look. You can also read on for written instructions, but I highly recommend you reference the video to see how things are done.
You can find all of the custom cases from Basstop we used on Amazon here, and the exact E.Durable toolkit we used on Amazon here, the important pieces of which are a pry tool, a pair of tweezers, a phillips head screwdriver, and special tri-wing screwdriver.
Taking the back off:
- To start, you’ll need to use the tri-wing screwdriver to take out four screws, one on each corner of the switch. These are the tightest screws in this entire process, and you’ll need to press very hard and turn slowly to get them started, being very careful not to strip the screw head.
- Next there are six phillips head screws around the edge of the switch to take off: Two on the bottom, one on the top, one under the kickstand, and one on either end in the Joy-Con tracks. There are actually five identical screws on either end of the Switch, but you only need to take out the center ones.
- Once all the screws are out, slip the pry tool under the edge of the case and gently twist and slide it along the side until the back becomes free.
Moving pieces over:
- From here, we’ll need to move the game card cover and kickstand mechanism over to the new back.
- First, unscrew the single phillips head screw from the card cover, move both pieces into the same position on the new case, and screw it back on.
- Next, unscrew the two phillips head screws on black part of the kickstand mechanism, then the larger tri-wing screw holding the bar down.
- Place the mechanism in the same position on the new case, making sure to push the metal bar into position, and put the screws back in place. The new kickstand will likely be stiff, and you may need to remove it and sand or file the edges of it down near the top if it doesn’t work at all.
- Now click the new backing back onto the switch and put the four tri-wing screws back into each corner.
- Finally, replace the six screws around the edges, making sure the largest two go on either end, the tiniest goes under the kickstand, and the last three go on the top and bottom of the Switch.
Taking it apart:
- Similar to the back of the Switch, unscrew the four tri-wing screws from each corner on the back of the Joy-Con.
- Use the pry tool to pop the back piece off, but don’t pull it too far apart as it’s attached with cables.
- Next you’ll want to remove the battery by sliding the pry tool under it and twisting until the double-stick tape holding it down pops off. Then gently pull the battery cable up away from the joy-con until it unplugs.
- You’ll have to unscrew these three phillips head screws to take out the inner piece, one in the corner by the bottom of the Joy-Con, and then two under where the battery was in the top-right and bottom-left positions.
- Now comes the tiny bits. With your tweezers, you’ll need to disconnect five different ribbon cables from the board: two attaching the back piece, one for the inner piece, one blue one for the joystick, and one coming from the Minus button near the top of the Joy-Con. To do that, lift the little black or grey flaps locking them in, the gently pull the cable out. This will free the back and inner case pieces, which you can set aside for now.
The board and buttons:
- The L button can be set aside now as well and comes out easily.
- Next, unscrew the two phillips head screws holding the joystick in place and remove it.
- Unscrew two more phillips heads holding the board onto the front piece of the joy-con, then gently pry the white block near the bottom off of its double-stick tape and lift it along with the entire board out.
- From this point on, don’t turn the piece upside down or the buttons will fall out.
- Unscrew the three remaining phillips head screws holding the wiring over the Minus button and set that aside.
- Now we need to move the buttons over to the new case. To do this, simply take off the rubber covers with your tweezers, then pick up the buttons and put them in their corresponding spots. Make sure the notches line up correctly in the holes, and that the buttons will fall out freely. If they are too tight or don’t sit correctly, you may need to sand or file the holes to give the buttons more room. If you’re using the colored buttons that come with Basstop’s custom Joy-Cons, be sure to put them in the right spots. Also remember to put the rubber covers back on.
- You’ll also want to use your tweezers to peel off the black ring around the joystick hole and put it in the new case, lining the two little holes in it up with the tiny pegs.
- Next screw the tiny wiring over the Minus button back in, and then carefully put the board and the white block in place as well.
- Screw the two screws back onto the board, but make sure not to tighten them too much or the buttons won’t press. At this point, it’s a good idea to flip the Joy-Con and test that all the buttons feel right, and make adjustments if not.
- If everything is good, push the joystick back through the hole and screw it back on, tightening each screw a little at a time to keep them even.
The ZL button and track:
- Now set the front case piece aside and take the back piece with track. You’ll just need to unscrew a single phillips head screw to remove the track, then move the release button over to the new case, put the track back on, and put the screw in the same position. Simple enough.
- Finally we move onto the inner case piece, which is a little bit trickier. To get the ZL button off, you’ll need to press the bottom of it down, then pry the top of it up and away from the case. Don’t pull it straight up or you could break it. When it pops off, make sure you don’t lose the two loose springs that are under it.
- Unscrew the single phillips head screw holding the wiring in place and move it over to the new case, screwing it back down in the same position.
- Getting the ZL button back on is similarly tricky. You’ll need to put each spring onto a little peg on the case, then line them up with similar pegs on the bottom of the button. Once they’re in place, carefully push the button and press it back into place in a motion opposite to taking it out.
- Now it’s time for reassembly. Put the L button back in place, then plug the five ribbon cables back into their respective spots, closing the clasps to lock them in.
- Put the inner case back over the board, making sure the ribbon cable stays under, and screw it back down without overtightening.
- Put the battery back in its spot, and use tweezers to plug it back into the board. You should be able to just place the end of the cable over the spot where it plugs in and push it down.
- Now snap the back of the case back on and give the controller a quick test, making sure the buttons feel right. If so, screw the four tri-wing screws into the back and you’re done!
The right Joy-Con is extremely similar to the left, but with a few key differences. You should refer to the instructions for the left for the most part, and I’ll make sure to point out when something is different.
Taking it apart:
- Undo the back of the case and take out the battery the same as you did with the left Joy-Con, but now you’ll also need to remove a little black square with a grey wire that sits alongside the battery. Similar to the battery cable, you can just gently pull the wire to disconnect it from the board.
- To take out the inner case there are still three screws, but now they’re in a different position, with two on the side by the ZR button. When you take them out, fold the inner piece over, but be extra careful this time as the ribbon cable attaching it is much shorter.
- The right Joy-Con only has four ribbon cables to detach instead of five, and you should start with the one holding the inner piece on, then the two that connect the back piece, and finally the blue joystick cable. There are two more ribbon cables that go under the board near the bottom, one black and one orange, but you can leave those connected.
- Take the the R shoulder button off and remove the joystick the same as you did before, then undo to two screws holding the board to the case.
The board, buttons, and other pieces:
- Now you’ll need to loosen a few different things that are stuck to the case. Pry the white block off its sticky tape and loosen the IR reader just below it. Then carefully lift the board, which has a flat black piece below it stuck to the case. Use the pry tool to unstick it and take all of those piece out, still connected to each other.
- Now you can move the buttons and black joystick ring over like normal, but note that the Plus button doesn’t have its own wiring piece like the Minus did. Make sure the buttons aren’t stuck here as well, and loosen the holes if they are.
- Once the buttons are in and covered, put the board (along with the flat black piece, IR reader, and white block) back into position and screw the board back down making sure not to overtighten.
- Then it’s business as usual, replacing the joystick, swapping the track and release button on the back piece and the ZR button and wiring on the inner piece. These steps are essentially identical to the left Joy-Con.
- Don’t forget to put the R button back in place, then reattach all the ribbon cables and screw the inner piece back on over the board, also making sure not to overtighten.
- Put the battery back in and connect the cable with tweezers, then put the black square in place and push it’s wire into the gold connector on the board in a similar manner. Close up the case and give it a test to make sure everything is working correctly. You may have to adjust hole sizes or loosen board screws if your buttons aren’t acting properly.
- If everything is alright, screw the four tri-wing screws back in and you’re done!
Once again, if anything isn’t clear, you should absolutely watch the video at the top of the page. I walk through every step and show you what you need to do.
Tom Marks is an Associate Editor focusing on PC gaming at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.
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