The Sanwa and Seimitsu FAQ

Okay, this has been a long time coming. A lot of people new and old to joystick building/modding have questions about Sanwa and Seimitsu parts. Maybe they?re just new to Japanese parts or new to specific parts from either of these companies. Either way this FAQ is intended to be the one-stop thread for answering these questions so that I don?t have to see new threads asking the same questions : ) Let?s get to it then!

Let?s start with the VERY basics and go with some terminology:

Sanwa: The largest and most popular Japanese arcade parts manufacturer. Best known for their flagship JLF-TP-8Yjoysticks and OBSF/OBSN buttons. You can download their latest catalogue here (courtesty of TheRealNeoGeo and Akihabara Shop):
Seimitsu: The second largest and most popular Japanese arcade parts manufacturer. Best known for their LS-32/LS-32-01 joystick and their PS-14-G/PS-14-GN buttons. You can download their latest catalogue here (courtesy of TheRealNeoGeo):


Happ: The largest and most popular US arcade parts manufacturer. Best known for their Competition joystick and Competition buttons.

Joystick and Button Parts:
Microswitch: An electronic component found in both joysticks and buttons that when activated complete a circuit between the ground and signal connection.
PCB: An acronym for printed circuit board. Some joysticks have microswitches connected to a PCB and used pinned output instead of tabs or direct soldering to microswitches.
Mounting plate: Metal plate attached to the base of the joystick. This is mounted to the control panel with the use of screw or nuts and bolts.
Wire harness: A molex connector that is used on certain joystick PCBs. Sanwa manufactures JLF-Hand Seimitsu manufactures H5-PIN.
Restrictor/gate: Device that restricts the movement of the joystick to a specific pattern or shape.
Square restrictor/gate: The standard for joysticks. This has corner/notches in the up-right, up-left, down-left, and down-right directions only. Being a square, the distance from the center of the gate to the corners is longer than the distance from the center to up, down, left, and right directions.
Octagon restrictor/gate: This has defined corner/notches in all 8 directions. Each notched direction is equidistant from the center. Sanwa’s octagon restrictor for the JLF series is the GT-Y.
Circular restrictor: This has no defined notches making a perfect circle path. Every possible direction is equidistant from the center; however, this does not mean that the stick recognizes all possible directions. Sanwa’s circular restrictor for the JLW series is the GT-0.
Snap-in push buttons: The most common type of buttons that secure to a control panel with tabs that ?grip? onto certain material thicknesses. Examples are the Sanwa OBSF and the Seimistu PS-14-G.
Screw-in push buttons: These types of buttons are threaded and are secured onto control panels with a threaded nut for a stronger more versatile hold. Examples are the Sanwa OBSN and Seimitsu PS-14-GN.

Ground: The common electrical signal that must be connected to a signal connection for a switch to activate.
Signal: The electrical signal specific to each input.
Quick disconnect: A terminal that is crimped onto the ends of wires. These terminals then plug onto the tabs on a microswitch.

2-way: Movement that allows inputs of either left or right (also up or down).
4-way: Movement that allows inputs of up, down, left, or right. Many classic games like Pac-Man use 4-way joysticks. Many people equate 4-way movement with square gates, but this is INCORRECT as they are talking about two different principles/properties of joysticks.
8-way: Movement that allows inputs of up-right, up, up-left, left, down-left, down, down-right, right. Most modern games use 8-way joysticks. Many people equate 8-way movement with octagon gates, but this is INCORRECT as they are talking about two different principles/properties of joysticks.
Throw: A term used to describe the maximum distance/angle a joystick lever can be moved from the neutral position.
Engage: A term used to describe the distance a joystick lever must be moved before a switch is activated.
Deadzone: A term used to describe the area surrounding the neutral position where the joystick can be moved but not yet activate a switch. The maximum distance from the neutral position is obviously less than the engage.

With that out of the way, let?s move on to some common questions first!

Q: What?s the big deal about Japanese parts? What?s the real difference between US (Happ) and Japanese parts (Sanwa/Seimitsu)?
A: Japanese parts are a different style and type of parts for different types of players. There are a number of differences in the construction and feel for both the joysticks and the buttons. In the end, it?s all a matter of preference, but to help you along the way this guide will outline the general differences in order to help form your own opinions/preferences.

Q: Can you compare and contrast Happ joysticks with Sanwa and Seimitsu joysticks?
A: Sure, I?ll help you out! The first difference people notice is the look. Happ parts are fitted with a bat top (sometimes called tear drop) while Sanwa and Seimitsu come standard with a ball top (sometimes called gumball). Let it be known that Sanwa sells a bat top (LB-30N) accessory that can be fitted to any Sanwa or Seimitsu joystick.

In terms of feel, Happ have a harder spring causing stronger tension leading to more resistance. Aside from the Perfect 360s, both US and Japanese parts are restricted to square movements. Japanese parts typically have easy switching to 4-way operation (Seimitsu often come with 2-way option in their gates as well). Sanwa sells extra restrictor gates for circular (JLW models only), octagon (JLF models only), and 2-way (both JLF and JLW models).

Q: Can you compare and contrast Happ push buttons with Sanwa and Seimitsu push buttons?
A: The biggest difference between the two is the ?clicking? feel that is associated with Happ buttons. When depressed, the buttons will click indicating the button is activated. Japanese parts do not have this sounds/feel. Japanese buttons require much less force to activate the switch.

In terms of construction, both use spring as the basis of resistance. Happ parts are much longer than both Sanwa and Seimitsu parts. Happ makes both concave and convex buttons. Sanwa and Seimitsu make buttons that are convex only although Seimitsu snap-in buttons have very little to no convex shape.

Q: Which company is better? Sanwa or Seimitsu?
A: Depending on what you?re looking for in your joysticks and buttons, the answer is different. Although Sanwa is the more popular brand in Japan, Seimitsu is also very popular. It?s almost like asking Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Each camp can boast a large hardcore following but then there are a large amount of people who honestly find both to be great with no strong preference to either. When it comes to comparable parts, Sanwa is more expensive and is often regarded as being more ruggedly built with finer materials.

Q: Which Sanwa or Seimitsu joystick is the best for fighting games?
A: I know it?s getting redundant but once again it all comes down to preference. The two most popular joysticks for fighters are the Sanwa JLF series and the Seimitsu LS-32 series, but then there?s a lot of support for the Sanwa JLW series as well as the other Seimitsu series like the LS-40 or LS-55 series.

Although I will not make a definitive statement on which stick is better or the best, I will outline the differences between the two companies? flagship joysticks.

The Sanwa JLF is the most popular Japanese style joystick. It goes against the standard levered microswitches found in nearly every other joystick manufactured by any company. The JLF microswitches are connected to a PCB with a 5-pin output. Comes stock with a square gate for 8-way operation but can be turned 45 degrees for 4-way operation.

The Seimitsu LS-32/LS-32-01 is the second most popular Japanese style joystick. It has traditional levered microswitches that either have tabs for .187? quick disconnects (LS-32) or are connected to a PCB with a 5-pin output (LS-32-01). The LS-32 series has a harder spring for greater tension and resistance as well as a shorter throw and smaller deadzone. Comes stock with a restrictor plate that can be adjusted to 2-way, 4-way, or 8-way operation. In terms of price, the LS-32/LS-32-01 is around half the price give or take.

For detailed measurements on Sanwa and Seimitsu sticks, see here (courtesy of kowal):

Q: Which Sanwa or Seimitsu button is the best?
A: Haha, you guessed correctly. It?s opinion again. And once again instead of taking sides, I?ll just note the major differences.

In terms of operation, each comparable button will last about the same. The Sanwa RG and Seimitsu GX series both use higher end microswitches which last 5 times longer than the normal microswitches from either company. Sanwa are reputed to be more sensitive than Seimitsu. Seimitsu offers a larger variety of colors, color combinations, and finishes (pearl-like and transparent finishes) than Sanwa. Seimitsu buttons cost a little less than Sanwa.

Note that in terms of performance and feel there is no difference between the Sanwa snap-ins and screw-ins. For the Seimitsu snap-ins and screw-ins, the only difference is the curvature of the button. As stated previously, the Seimitsu snap-ins are nearly flat with little to no curve while the screw-ins have more curve that is comparable to the Sanwa buttons.

With those general questions out of the way, we?ll move onto questions that will help with building/modding.

Button installation:
24mm (OBSF-24/OBSN-24 and PS-14-D/PS-14-DN) and 30mm (OBSF-30/OBSN-30 and PS-14-G/PS-14-GN) buttons from Sanwa and Seimitsu refer to the diameter of the holes that they will fit into. Snap-in buttons from both companies grip to 2-4mm material thicknesses while screw-ins from both companies hold on to upwards of 8mm.

All the buttons from Sanwa and Seimitsu have .110? tabs for their microswitches. .110? quick disconnects plug onto these tabs perfectly.

Lastly, keep in mind that each button needs a minimum internal clearance to fit; however, this clearance is usually less than the clearance needed for the joystick. The Sanwa RG and Seimitsu GX buttons are extra long and would need the extra internal clearance.

Joystick installation:
The standard mounting height for Japanese joysticks is to have 23-24mm of shaft above the control panel to the bottom of the balltop. Depending on the stick and the mounting plates being installed, you will have to calculate how deep you will have to install the stick.

For Japanese sticks, it is highly recommended that you top mount the joystick unless your top panel is metal. In some cases, it is essential to top mount. To top mount joysticks, you will need to use a tool that can create a recessed area the size of your mounting plate at the correct depth. (For mounting plate dimensions please go to and thank TheRealNeoGeo for providing these measurements and Japanese parts!). Additionally, you will need to have a tool that will create a hole in the control panel so that the base of the stick can fit through and attach to the mounting plate from beneath the control panel.

If you use a layer of acrylic (plexi) or polycarbonate (lexan) you will need to drill a 24mm hole for the shaft to fit through. This hole is large enough so that the joystick will move in all directions freely.

To remove the balltop from the shaft, use a flathead screwdriver and hold the bottom of the shaft in place while turning the balltop counter-clockwise. To replace the balltop perform the same task in reverse.

All the joysticks from Sanwa and Seimitsu that do not have a 5-pin output have .187? tabs for their microswitches. .187? quick disconnects plug onto these tabs perfectly.

For the mapping of 5-pin for the JLF see this diagram (once again made by TheRealNeoGeo):

And one for the LS-32-01 (again by TheRealNeoGeo):

Lastly, keep in mind that each stick needs a minimum internal clearance to fit. Generally, a minimum internal clearance should be 1.6? but 1.75? would be a safer bet.

And that’s that for now! Feel free to post away. I’ll make edits when I see fit!


Well done mate. Sticky time.

Sanwa Catalog (Thanks to TheRealNeoGeo)

Seimitsu Catalog (Thanks to TheRealNeoGeo)

Sanwa/Seimitsu Comparision Chart (Thanks to kowal)

This thread deserves a sticky :party:

from my experience, it’s not that seimitsu buttons are less sensitive than sanwa’s, I feel they just have an harder spring.

great thread btw, sticky plz! :clap:

Excellent, thanks!

Great work as usual Paik.

Now someone stick this shiz!

Alot of good info!
Thanks Paik! :tup:

Mincing words here, but…
<Microswitch: An electronic component found in both joysticks and buttons that when activated create a circuit between the ground and live connection.>
Technically the circuit is already there. When actuated, the switch closes the circuit.

Thanks Raku, I was too lazy to find the links for the catalogues that TRNG hosted on his sites. I’ve edited them in.

Green, thanks for the correction. I rreally meant “complete the circuit” instead of creating one. Heh. Edited!


Should’ve made a pdf file with info Paik.

quick question:

does this apply to Seimitsu PS-14-K (skeletons / transparent) buttons? I was planning to use them + some Seimitsu standard screw-ins (PS-14-GN) on my next stick, and already ordered them… hope the feeling of the buttons isn’t very different :sad:

(didn’t ordered the PS-14-G snap-ins since their bezel seems very different from others)

nice stuff man:tup:

this definition describes engagement. Throw this maximum trwavel/angle of joystick from plumb - line.

Turning it 90 would still result in an 8-way square, 45 on the other hand would give you a 4-way rhombus. Other than that very good work. I actually wrote a similar guide just a couple of days ago for a Swedish beat 'em up community.

Thanks to both kowal and Mayhem for corrections to my mistakes : )


lol beat me to posting… bout time and yes this needs sticky…

you can add the definitions of engagement under definition of throw, this is important parameter


Might be a good idea to add to add a definition for deadzone as well, i.e. the area in the center of the stick where no switch is activated yet. Also mention that as well as having a shorter throw the LS-32 has a smaller deadzone as well.