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Old March 2nd, 2013, 08:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Pots dont turn after resolder

G'day folks,


Just hoping for a quick bit of help. I resoldered the pots on my build, I'd taken them out of the guitar and onto a piece of cardboard before soldering then reattached them. Now that they're back on, neither of them turn at all.

Thoughts?

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Old March 2nd, 2013, 08:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Wow.
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 08:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Can you show some pics of the work? if you take them out of the guitar body will the pots turn?
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 08:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Do they turn with the knobs off?
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 09:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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several things happened, none good… don't try to fix 'em… that will result in them crapping out right exactly when you need them the most…

Either the rosin flowed into the mechanism, hardened and is now gluing it solid, or too much solder did the same…. or, probably… it got too hot, the plastic parts inside distorted and is now locking it….

The rosin COULD be cleaned, but, like I said, it will "get ya" just when you need it to perform perfectly the most..

Replace them..

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Old March 2nd, 2013, 10:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yup, sadly. "Fried" was the first thing that came to my mind too.
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 10:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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What size solder are you using ? I use a .032 Rosin Core 60/40. ( radio shack 64-005B) I also use a small pencil tip soldering iron when it comes to the lugs on the pots I really try not to overheat them. I also pre tin the wires. When I first started soldering pots I burned up my fair share nothing like those big Weller soldering irons.
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 11:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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several things happened, none good… ........

Replace them..

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Very good way of putting it.
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 11:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Did you hold your iron against the back of the pots for a long time when soldering the grounds? As Ron said, this could have melted parts inside. I'm always worried about this but never had a problem.
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 11:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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note to y'all that aren't part of "black ops" soldering squads… i. e. very experienced. ... before you blindly attack a perfectly innocent guitar, probably with results similar to those experienced above….

Go find some kind of old electronic junk, the old power supply from that 486 Windows 3.l computer ya bought in '95 is perfect… it has solder joints in it about the same as those you will encounter during your journey into the innards of your guitar…. gut the sucker and solder away until your heart's content, the room smells like rosin and you have a clue about what you are doing…

Get a "feel" for soldering… it'll take ya ten minutes and will prevent ya from melting the plastic parts inside your pots…

Also. do NOT use the solder found in the plumbing departments…. it's for plumbing… that's why it's in the plumbing department…. Plumbing is to electronics as cootie races are to make-up . .. If you can figure that one out… whoa doggie….

anyway… over in the tools department around "welding" you MIGHT find soldering guns and electronic solder in Lowes, and Home Depot, Ace Hard Ware has it too… but if in doubt, head to radio shack, they don't carry any plumbing schidt, so it's entirely possible if you find the solder, it's for electronics… although you will have to explain to the guy working there exactly what electronics and soldering is.

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Old March 2nd, 2013, 12:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I can't tell you guys how in love with my Weller WLC100 I am. The right tool for the job makes life so much easier. For years I struggled with a crappy huge soldering gun, never messed anything up but the joints were ugly and it was always a struggle. Now I just use that big gun to install string ferrules and it works great for that! BTW the Radio Shack solder is great stuff! Just my 2 cents...
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Old March 2nd, 2013, 06:26 PM   #12 (permalink)
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but if in doubt, head to radio shack, they don't carry any plumbing schidt, so it's entirely possible if you find the solder, it's for electronics… although you will have to explain to the guy working there exactly what electronics and soldering is.

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Old March 2nd, 2013, 10:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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several things happened, none good… don't try to fix 'em… that will result in them crapping out right exactly when you need them the most…

Either the rosin flowed into the mechanism, hardened and is now gluing it solid, or too much solder did the same…. or, probably… it got too hot, the plastic parts inside distorted and is now locking it….

The rosin COULD be cleaned, but, like I said, it will "get ya" just when you need it to perform perfectly the most..

Replace them..

Ron Kirn
Yep, I'd wondered whether I'd fried them. Thanks for all the ideas, folks. I'll let you know how I go replacing them.

Soldering gear is from Dick Smith (RS equivalent), so it should be ok and it's worked fine for all my other guitar stuff, this is the first time I've been really wailing on the back of the pots to get solder on there for the ground connections though.

Is there a quicker/better way to get that initial glob of solder on the pots other than holding it on there for a minute or so? Does sanding section help it melt on there faster?
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 01:05 AM   #14 (permalink)
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one of the problems is many use a soldering tool that is too "light duty"… a 20 - 40 w "pencil" is just too light duty.

I use a Weller 8200 Solder gun 100/150 watts if i recall… I save the light duty stuff for Printed Circuits and very small components.

The reason . .to solder correctly the pot's case and/or solder lug must be "at temperature", usually around 400 degrees for 60/40 solder..

The wrong way to do it is to take a cold tool apply it to the spot and wait for it to heat everything to the correct temperature. . or take a hot tool that is too wimpy, and force it to heat the thing to temperature… In both cases the heat is "sucked" off, and heats the whole thing, often too hot, and causes things to melt..

A heavy duty, like my Weller… gets the spot hot enough, so the solder can "flow" correctly, so you can remove the solder tool, and do it so fast, the rest of the pot's case never gets much more than warm.

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Old March 3rd, 2013, 01:15 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks, Ron!
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 01:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mark Grant View Post
I can't tell you guys how in love with my Weller WLC100 I am. The right tool for the job makes life so much easier. For years I struggled with a crappy huge soldering gun, never messed anything up but the joints were ugly and it was always a struggle. Now I just use that big gun to install string ferrules and it works great for that! BTW the Radio Shack solder is great stuff! Just my 2 cents...
^^^ What he says. I love mine. With the pointed tip and low setting, I can solder SMD's--well almost. With full power and a chisel tip, pots are never a problem.


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Yep, I'd wondered whether I'd fried them. Thanks for all the ideas, folks. I'll let you know how I go replacing them.

Soldering gear is from Dick Smith (RS equivalent), so it should be ok and it's worked fine for all my other guitar stuff, this is the first time I've been really wailing on the back of the pots to get solder on there for the ground connections though.

Is there a quicker/better way to get that initial glob of solder on the pots other than holding it on there for a minute or so? Does sanding section help it melt on there faster?

Definitely clean a spot on the back of the pot with some sandpaper. Brush off the abrasive and metal dust with a paper towel or cloth etc. Some people like to use liquid flux. Shouldn't need it, the solder has flux in the core, but more flux won't hurt. If you want to use it, dab it sparingly on the clean spot you just made.

It may seem counterintuitive, but turn your soldering rig up as high as it will go (assuming a typical electronics soldering station.) Clean your soldering tip on a damp sponge or cloth. Let it reheat for a few seconds, then "tin" it by a touch of solder.

Then press the solder tip into the middle of the clean spot you just made, getting as much contact as possible between the soldering iron tip and the pot case. Lightly touch the end of the solder into the iron right where the junction between the pot and the iron is--the melted solder drop will help conduct heat into the pot case.

Hold the solder touching the clean or fluxed spot immediately next to the iron, but not touching the iron. As soon as a small blob of solder floods out from the solder tip--melted from heat of the pot can, not the iron, IMMEDIATELY take away the iron. If the solder is a blob, and not a flat "pool", it was not hot enough, and will probably break away with a little twist of some needlenose pliers. Remove the blob, and start again.

Strip the wire, and tin it with a bit of solder. Let the solder melt by contacting the wire, not the iron tip. (but again, it helps to have a small dab of molten solder on the end of the tip, to enhance heat transfer).

Lay the tinned portion of the wire over the little spot of solder you left on the back of the pot. Apply the iron so the tip contacts both the wire and the solder pool on the back of the pot. It should melt quickly--take away the iron, holding the wire still for a few seconds until the solder cools and hardens.

Final note: I have run across pots with aluminum cases. They are extremely difficult to solder, in my experience, they cannot be soldered, the alloys are wrong for adhesion to aluminum. You can easily test with a magnet.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 02:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My only input... The solder does matter! I've used crappy solder and good solder.. one works well one doesn't. Keep your tip clean- makes it easy. If the joint is taking quite long- you're probably doing it wrong. Don't muck around with the solder for long-you can melt away all the flux and then the solder won't "wick" into the joint. Tinning your wires makes it easier and quicker.

Just my input from my experience- I actually love wiring and think it's the best way to customize a guitar for cheap.

Oh, and one last thing, please, don't breath the fumes- the fumes from the flux are quite bad for you.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:44 AM   #18 (permalink)
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couple of considerations… quality pots, and/or other electronic devices do not require sanding to facilitate the solder's adhesion. They are generally, as with CTS pots, made with a steel case then pre tinned to facilitate soldering, Kind of like electro-plating, just with a film that is easily soldered.

Sanding removes the external plating (tined) exposing the raw steel, which is more difficult to solder than the tin plating. Thus, sanding actually makes soldering correctly more difficult.

There are plenty of "cheep" components made with cases that are not particularly conducive to soldering… usually they will have a case that appears to be a slightly yellow metal… it is NOT brass, easy to solder, it is some kinda plating they coat 'em with that is impossible to solder to, you MUST sand that schidt away to the base metal, steel, and proceed that way, or make a mechanical connection.

The exception would be high-end components designed for "hostile environments" where the pot's case would necessarily be made from a resistant metal, such as Stainless steel… You cannot "solder" stainless steel, under home duty situations.

Aluminum cased pots cannot be soldered at all… Electrical solder will not adhere in a molecular bond to any Aluminum. If you have tried, and you have electrical continuity, it is because a glob of metal, Solder, is resting on a piece of metal, the aluminum case, and making the contact that way, mechanically.. IT WILL FAIL.

If you have a component that cannot be soldered, the correct way to complete the connection is through a mechanical connection. A "lug" is positioned around the shaft, when the pots mounting nut is tightened, the pressure completes the mechanical connection, you then solder to the lug' solder tab. This method is reasonably reliable, but the potential of the pot loosening, also makes the reliability of the mechanical connection questionable.

Other things that cannot be soldered, Chrome and Nickel plating… except in rare cases… so do not count on it.

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Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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i actually did this once before, what happened was the solder flowed down into the pot and killed it. I would agree you cant use a pencil 40 watt and get it done right. Believe me I have tried. Next on my list to purchase is a better Iron.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 02:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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About the 40 watt pencil soldering iron.. I find that it is possible, it may not be the best way, but I can SOMETIMES get a good solder joint on the pot case, but typically I'll use my big weller soldering gun to do that.
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