What Stick To Buy

The "what stick/controller should I get" Guide.

Admin Note: I will come back and edit and update this thread as needed.

Keep in mind I am purposely leaving out limited edition collectors sticks.
At no time I will rate Sanwa or Seimitsu with each other or IL and Happs, or Japanese vs US/European vs Korean style parts.

Planning on buying a stick

Before I start with the cool part of this guide, we will first cover three more important objectives.
And what you need to consider above all else.

Needs
Wants
Budget

Needs. This covers what you absolutely have to have, strip down and basic. With any purchase this is what you should think of first. When it comes to Video Game controls this is usually covered by the Default game pad, only a few games require specialized controls or controls modified for those who have special needs. Example a One handed controller for a gamer who only have one useable arm.
I am assuming most people reading this guide now are hardcore fighter or arcade game fans who the regular d-pad is not cutting it for you, as we all hear complaints over the Xbox 360 or PS3 D-pad.

Wants. This is what you have your heart set for. For most people this is your end results.

Budget. This is how much money you have to spend. Budget is the more realistic and sobering part of the purchase process. Typically a stick will run you 60 to 250 dollars U.S. retail this figure will change with what the normal market price is in your region of the world.
Any stick you find less than $50 is not worth your money and breaks easy. Sticks more than $200 are no longer considered Beginner Sticks.

Keep in mind if you are broke (Budget), and the default game pad works fine enough for you (Need) that these 2 will and should over ride your Wants.

Now I am also going to cover other features of each stick/ controller here. These factors are also important to cover but goes secondary to the above. I be using this on almost every stick I list here.

Quality
Reliability
Ease of Modification
Purpose or special use

Check the Arcade Stick Retail Listing for a listing of various commercial sticks

Unless otherwise noted, each sticks are for the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

Difficulty Scale for Modding

From a scale of 1 to 5. This will factor in installing Buttons, Joysticks and replacement panels, and to a lesser extend PCB replacement.
This will not factor actual Dual-mods, replacement art or any painting.

  1. Easy: Standard parts drops right into place, reasonable access to all parts.
  2. Medium Easy: Still uses standard parts, access can be difficult/ time consuming
  3. Moderate Difficulty: Requires minor case modding or appropriate mount plates
  4. Medium hard: Requires some physical tool use to fit parts into place.
  5. Hard: Requires Heavy modding using tools to cut, grind or drill to fit replacement parts.

Last but not least I ask our readers to go outside of this thread and do your research. Read reviews on SRK and reviews on online stores and in magazines. Weigh the Pros and Cons before deciding which stick to get.