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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / re advice w/ first time soldering (pickups/ pots)

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juliocesar

USA/ Miami, Florida

May 19th, 2018 04:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

I am getting ready to install a new set of pickups/ pots to a new pickguard and then to my guitar for the first time.

I've watched a few videos to learn just what I have to do but one thing I have not found a video on is just what particular soldering iron and wire I should use. If anyone can chime in w/ any information re the above, it is appreciated. Any tips and/ or list of necessary tools as well as directing me to any instructional sites/ videos is also appreciated. Thank you.

vomer
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Broke Down

in the Brassicas
May 19th, 2018 05:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

Main thing I would suggest is don't get a cheap soldering iron. Even slightly pricier ones with LCD displays on 'solder stations' and 40W outputs may not hold the heat in the tip when you are doing larger pieces like the backs of pots and strat ground wires to trem claws. I struggled for years with what I thought was a reasonable station until it died and I went to a simple iron, but from a reputable brand, big difference. I don't know if that brand is available in the US so I'll leave it for someone else to suggest something from over there.

Peegoo
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trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 09:04 AM   Edit   Profile  

The standard Weller soldering stick, available at Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace, True Value, etc., is plenty adequate for these sorts of jobs.

The pistol-type soldering tool might look like a better option, but these put out too much heat for delicate jobs with small-gauge wire and little components. You'll end up melting the insulation off the wire and possibly cooking the components.

The reason many 40-watt sticks don't drop heat onto the work fast enough is because the tip is not firmly attached to the tool. Make sure the tip and tool's mating surfaces are clean, and then assemble then together and firmly tighten the connection. They loosen through use (heat/cool cycles), so check the tip's connection every time you use it.

It's important to use the correct solder. "60/40" lead/tin solder with a rosin flux core is the best because the flux is contained in the solder wire.

Solid 60/40 works too, but you have to use a flux pen or liquid flux with it for the solder to perform correctly.

Acid-core solder is a no-no; strictly for plumbing. The acid can damage electronics over time. *Never use it* unless it's a temporary emergency repair on electronic gear.

Keep the stick's tip tinned and clean as you work. Before making every connection, tin the tip and swipe it on a wet sponge or paper towel to clean it.

Don't carry solder on the stick's tip to make the connection. Always tin both items you want to connect.

Proper tinning looks like silver plating; the saying, "the bigger the blob, the better the job" is a joke in the business. The idea is to have a thin solder coating on both terminals. When you join the terminals, all that remains is to heat the connection and the solder fuses the joint together. It's the metal version of a hot glue gun.

Have the components affixed to something (pickguard, piece of cardboard, etc.) as you work. There are few things in life more frustrating than chasing a small part across your workbench with the tip of a soldering stick.

A very cool and cheep-as-chips tool you can make is a 3" x 3" piece of 3/4" plywood with a 1/4" hole drilled through the center. You can stick a pot into it and it stays put as you work on it. Drill a 1/4" hole about an inch into the side of it and you can work on 1/4" plugs without them rolling around. The common tool for holding things when soldering is called a 'helping hands' (see link below).

The absolute best thing you can do is practice first on some short pieces of scrap wire. 10 minutes of practice with a hot iron does pay off, because the learning curve is very steep when learning to solder. It's better to learn on scrap than on components that cost $$.

Helping hands

Leftee
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VA

May 19th, 2018 09:08 AM   Edit   Profile  

Ditto the comment about cheap soldering gear. For years I lived with a Radio Shack soldering iron and I had to change the tip frequently.

Over a year ago I ordered the Weller unit linked below. It was a nice upgrade. And I'm still on the original tip and it shows no signs of going bad.

I usually have it set to 3 for circuit board work and 4 for soldering grounds to the backs of pots, etc.

So you don't have to spend a lot to get in the game. I would consider this the entry level station that's worthwhile.

From a FDP Advertiser

Peegoo
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trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 09:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

Another thing that's a huge help when soldering to the back of a pot is to first scrub the metal with a pencil eraser. The one on the end of a pencil is ideal for this.

If the eraser is old and hardened, it won't work. Scrub a pea-sized area on the metal and look at the eraser. If it turned black, it worked.

This little extra step cleans oxidation from the metal and also removes any oils left by the stamping equipment used to make the pot case. If you skip this step, the solder sometimes turns to little BBs on the pot and won't flow out onto the metal and "wet" it like it should.

Which reminds me...have clean hands when soldering. If you eat a piece of fried chicken and then twist wires together for soldering, the solder won't stick. It will make you crazy.

Peegoo
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Always

trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 09:18 AM   Edit   Profile  

Leftee, that is the same station I used for more than 25 years before I got the Hakko. It's a good one.

It still works, and is the one I loan to friends that want to try their hand at it.

Leftee
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VA

May 19th, 2018 09:19 AM   Edit   Profile  

I use plain white printer paper to clean off oxidation, etc. No rubber residue.

Learned that when I got a gov't check and wore funny clothes to work.

wrnchbndr

New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
May 19th, 2018 09:34 AM   Edit   Profile  

My good friend Peegoo has said just about everything that needs to be said. Use the proper solder which is rosin core 60/40. I like the .032 thickness solder for guitar work. A good solder joint should take less than 2 seconds to complete and that is a technical 2 seconds without exaggeration. If it takes any longer, something is wrong in your method. There is nothing better than a hands-on instruction by someone who is good at it. Its super easy to do once you "get it".

I use a 40watt Weller soldering iron which is good for just about everything except soldering a wire to the trem claw on a stratocaster. For that, I use a 150watt soldering gun. The gun is also good for soldering the ground wire to the backs of pots when there is a solid 18 gauge copper wire as seen on some Les Pauls and SGs. Its good to have both a 40watt soldering iron and a 150watt soldering gun.

Peegoo
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Always

trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 11:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

When you solder, the flux sometimes pops and spits when exposed to heat, so the following is *required* for safety:

1. Wear safety glasses. Your face may be two feet from your work, but molten hot flux and solder can easily fly that far. Even a small dot that hits your eyeball will be quite memorable a year later.

2. Have a fan lightly blowing across your work surface, as well as good ventilation, to prevent inhaling the fumes. There's no lead in the fumes and the flux smoke is not poisonous, but it is a particulate and you don't want it in your lungs.

3. If you're working over or near a guitar's finished surface, cover it completely with paper (tape it in place), cloth, or paper towels. A flying dot of molten flux or solder that lands on nitro, polyurethane, or plastic parts will leave a small crater after knocking off the blob with a fingernail.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 19th, 2018 03:45 PM   Edit   Profile  

Where's Piney???

One rule of thumb (to quote the Master) "heat the work, not the solder"

edit to add:
I rarely display my soldering work here (or anywhere) for fear of embarrassment.
Sometimes it looks good & tidy, other times it looks like a a monkey did it :^(

(This message was last edited by Mick Reid at 05:48 PM, May 19th, 2018)

Peegoo
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Always

trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 05:21 PM   Edit   Profile  

Here's a pic of Mick on one of his

not-so-good days :o)

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
*****

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 19th, 2018 05:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

LOL!!!!!

Thanks P! That was *literally* LOL when I opened it.

Sad thing is, the resemblance is uncanny!


Mick Reid
Contributing Member
*****

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 19th, 2018 05:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

I just clicked on it again, and it *still* made me laugh!!!

Peegoo
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Always

trust your cape
May 19th, 2018 05:35 PM   Edit   Profile  

That was my intention, brother. It's not a slam!

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
*****

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 19th, 2018 08:41 PM   Edit   Profile  

Nah, I’ve got thicker skin that that mate!

juliocesar

USA/ Miami, Florida

May 20th, 2018 02:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

First, thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread; I now know what basic items I will be getting...

I have one question (for now): do I absolutely need the solder gun (as opposed to just the 40w iron) for the strat trem claw?

I ask because the cost of all this is going up and up and if I can do this w/ the iron alone it would help.

Oh, and another question: how much does the monkey charge per hour? Looks reliable...

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

May 20th, 2018 04:43 AM   Edit   Profile  

If I understand, the ground wire to the trem claw is already there, correct? So you won’t need to solder that.

You could forego the purchase of the soldering gun this time around.

(This message was last edited by Leftee at 07:30 AM, May 20th, 2018)

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Always

trust your cape
May 20th, 2018 06:28 AM   Edit   Profile  

Precisely. If you ever need to disconnect one of these, you can unsolder it at the controls end rather than at the claw end.

juliocesar

USA/ Miami, Florida

May 20th, 2018 11:55 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thank you again to all who contributed w/ their advice (and wit)...

I am ordering the following items:

a) the above mentioned 40w station
b) 60/40 rosin core leaded solder (it is a 1/2 lb. spool made by MG Chemicals; it states that it is RA/ 2.2% flux and .032" diameter/ 22 gauge)
c) a solder sucker desoldering bulb

Is there anything I have left off of my checklist? I noticed an item called a solder wick/ desoldering braid; will I need one of those? Anything else I am missing?

In answer to the above re trem claw: yes, it is currently attached so, per your advice, I can forego the solder gun (for now).

Again, thank you to any and all who may continue to help me on this journey.

twangdoodles

michigan usa

May 21st, 2018 04:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

The desoldering braid is more useful than the bulb in my experience.

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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / re advice w/ first time soldering (pickups/ pots)




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