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Soldering Tips

Soldering is an art, it’s important to get a “feel” for the technice to be good at it. And practice is the best way to gain this "feel." You’ll find that it’s 85% technique; 15% materials and equipment.

Here are a ten soldering tips:

Tip #1Don’t blow on the solder joint to make it harden faster. This can cause air pockets within the joint that can corrode or loosen it over time—a “cold solder joint.”

Tip #2 — Don’t strip too much insulation from a wire. Just expose enough wire for soldering, usually 1/16″ to 1/8″. Too much exposed wire can contact ground wires, shielded pickup wires, or “hot” wires.

Tip #3 — Use rosin-core solder. Standard 60/40 rosin-core is best, and you might prefer smaller .032″-.062″ diameters for guitar wiring.

Tip #4 — “Tin” the wire and the soldering points prior to soldering the joint. Just a very thin pre-coating will do.

Tip #5 — Apply heat to the connection first, then apply the solder and let it flow over the joint. This also helps prevent cold solder joints.

Tip #6 — “Tin” a new soldering iron tip. When “breaking in” a new soldering iron or tip, tin the tip as soon as it gets hot enough to melt the solder for the first time. Flow the solder over the contact surfaces of the tip, and let it set for about ten seconds or so. Wipe the excess onto a damp sponge and apply more solder. Repeat this process several times during the first few minutes of its life, and your soldering tip will last longer and conduct heat better.

Tip #7Use a soldering stand to hold your soldering iron, so you won’t burn yourself or your guitar. Many soldering stands have a sponge holder for cleaning the tip.

Tip #8 — Don’t spend a bunch of money on soldering equipment. High-priced soldering pencils are designed for professionals who use them daily. An inexpensive 40-watt soldering pencil will do just fine. The more experienced you are with your soldering pencil, the better your wiring project will turn out.

Tip #9 — Plan your wiring process ahead of time, to avoid soldering under an existing wire. Be sure the wires are long enough to allow removal of the pickguard or control plate for inspection without desoldering.

Tip #10 — Practice your soldering technique before working on your expensive guitar or amplifier. Find a junk piece of electonics and practice desoldering the parts and then solder everything back together. You’ll be much more comfortable handling the soldering pencil and you’ll have a better feel for working with the materials.

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8 Responses to “Soldering Tips”
  1. stingray_65 stingray_65 says:

    Tape cardboard to ANY part of the body you could accidentaly touch with a soldering iron.

    Nothing scorches a guitar finish faster or more permantly.

  2. mcknigs says:

    I have an old beer stein I keep as a dedicated solder pencil holder. It’s heavy and hard to knock over. It disapates heat well.

  3. Bolide says:

    The old-timers who said “Well cleaned is half-soldered” were right. Judicious use of elbow grease, emory cloth, and alcohol make for an easier and cleaner solder joint.

  4. MrJo says:

    Tip #9 is correct. I plan my wiring and do the “fiddley bits ” first, such soldering to and between the pots, then, usually the switches and the earthing to pots, jack, bridge and so on; especially if youré wiring twin humbuckers.

  5. El Reclusa says:

    Worth noting that desoldering braid is your friend!

  6. I’ve googled Welch guitars to death and I still can’t find their HQ!!
    Does anybody know where they are based? Are they somewhere in Boston? Gotta buy a TWANG SLINGER DELUXE!!

  7. Alaskabobc Alaskabobc says:

    I installed very tiny “bullet” connectors for the pickup, now I can change and/or replace it without having to solder at all, they slide easly through the hole.

  8. nsbjeff says:

    I have a Squire Tele with two P90 the input jack was very intermittent . I tightened it now the hum is louder than the string sound. Where should it be grounded? Does anyone have a wiring diagram?

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