Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Secret to pot soldering

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Dr.TeleD, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. 6x47

    6x47 Tele-Holic

    Mar 28, 2007
    Northern ON
    "When there a lot of grounds to go to one spot, I'll make a ground tab out of copper flashing. Before soldering it to the pot, I'll drill a small hole for each wire plus a couple extra just in case. This tab allows the wires to be attached one at a time with just a touch of the iron so the there is no chance of over heating the pot."

  2. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    If pot soldering is difficult ... don't solder everything to the back of the pots. It's not like it's essential! Electrons don't care. :D

  3. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    What works for me ...

    I use a 40w Weller, Radio Shack flux and 60/40 rosin core solder. I typically use the back of the vol pot as the common "star point" for all grounds (to eliminate any ground loops in the circuit).

    Clean the back of the pot with fine abrasive (220 grit or so, or just scrape it with a flat blade screwdriver), rub in a very tiny amount of flux to the entire pot back, heat the iron well and clean the tip, get the iron's tip "wet" with a bit of solder, touch all three together at the same time - the solder iron tip, the solder, the pot back - it takes just a few seconds to flow on a small pool of solder. Create as many small solder pool dots as needed.

    Strip, clean, flux and pre-tin a ground lead (from whatever: a pickup, a jack, a bridge ground, etc.), clean and "wet" the solder iron tip, lay the tinned wire anywhere on the tinned pot back and touch the iron tip to the wire - it will all flow together inside of 1 to 2 seconds.

    Key elements: a 40w (or somewhat more) soldering iron at full temperature and with a clean tip, clean and flux and tin all parts to be soldered, when the solder flows yer done so don't linger and remove the iron, allow the solder to cool down and shine up on its own.

    There now, that was super duper easy, eh?
    skypeace likes this.

  4. borismoore

    borismoore TDPRI Member

    Oct 27, 2008
    I keep the individual wires away from each other and never have a problem with one popping off while I'm soldering another.

  5. Wardpike

    Wardpike Friend of Leo's

    Feb 16, 2008
    St. John's, Newfoundland
    A 25watt iron is plenty./ Don't use more than 45W. Too much heat can fry some pots. YMMV, but that has been my experiences and findings.

    Best regards,

  6. BrianF

    BrianF Friend of Leo's

    Apr 11, 2003
    Carlsbad, Ca
    What you can do is hold down 1 or more wires the the front edge of a broad screwdriver....or better yet hold down the other wires with the edge of a popsicle stick or other wooden a barbecue skewer. The idea here is that it gives real positive staying power for the other wires while not being a heat sink (sucking away the heat). The wooden stick just acts as a third hand while your soldering another wire or wires. You can position the multiple wires right next to each other and solder them all down at once using the ice cream stick to hold them in place. Make sure you have each of the wires and the pot, pre-tinned with solder. It makes the job easy.

  7. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    I don't understand how the stick acts as a third hand when you have to use one of your hands to hold the stick in place. It seems to me all you've got is 2 hands and one of them is holding a popsicle stick.:D

    What I've done in the past is to use something heavy like needle nose pliers that have enough weight that it will sit on the wires without having to hold it. It can't work in all situations but it has helped me many times.

    There's been some good instruction in this post from some really knowledgeable folks that I plan to put into action next time around. I just got a new 25w Weller iron a couple of weeks ago. It's got plenty of juice to do any kind of guitar soldering.

    One thing that I've discovered is that the wattage of the iron isn't necessarily in a linear sort of relationship to how hot the tip of the iron gets. The 25w Weller will generate 750°F/400°C at the tip which is plenty for the light soldering on a guitar. Not all 25w irons will get that hot.

  8. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    I will confess to having unrolled a foot or so of solder and held the spool in my teeth for a third hand.
    There...I said I feel better.

  9. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    Don't the fumes feel good going in your eyes. I love that part.

  10. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    I breathe them in before they reach my eyes.
    Badass! :eek:

  11. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA

    I feel so silly for not thinking of that. You, sir, are a genius. A badass genius.:lol:

    I'll bet those soldering fumes would really help calm the chronic MDF dust cough that I've contracted.

    "It tastes awful but it works"

  12. Dave_Strat

    Dave_Strat TDPRI Member

    Sep 30, 2008
    Georgia, USA
    Unsoldering a group of twisted wires is easily done using solder wick after unsoldering the group from the pot. I agree that soldering the wires one at a time makes it easier to unsolder later, but you end up heating the pot 4 or 5 times to do that.

  13. TelZilla

    TelZilla Friend of Leo's

    Jan 21, 2007
    Cleveburg, USA
    I constantly use my teeth for all kinds of soldering related crap. I wish I was more flexible- I can think of lots of uses for toes as well.

    For one thing, nothing on God's green earth strips solid core wire like one upper incisor paired with it's mate. I will confess I've used the pearlies on shielded wire more than once as well (so sensitive that you never strip the shield). The fancy-pants gripping stripper I have gave up the ghost after one BFDR build. So it was back to the teeth.

    Nothing like a mouthful of plastic insulation and a solder high to mellow out an afternoon.

    Oh yeah, and a beer. None of this should be attempted without an adult beverage at hand and some good tunes on the box.

    What was the question again?
    Traitor Joe likes this.

  14. zoso1119

    zoso1119 TDPRI Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    I too am guilty of this very caveman like method =)

  15. blues for pablo

    blues for pablo TDPRI Member

    Jan 14, 2007
    san diego
    Has anyone soldered/desoldered on any of the newer 2007-2008 fender gear?

    It seems that the newer fender production guitars that are coming out are marked "RoHS", which is a directive generated by the EU concerning use of certain hazardous substances in electronic components/assemblies. Lead is one of those "hazardous" substances.

    So I believe tin/lead solder is not used in these guitars marked "RoHS". I'm not sure what type of solder fender uses but most of the RoHS compliant solder I've had experience with have a higher melting point than lead based solder.

    You may want to keep this in mind if working on newer fender gear.

  16. Dr.TeleD

    Dr.TeleD Banned

    Aug 29, 2008
    Thanks for all the suggestions. Just got myself a 40 W Weller and it made a big difference. Not that it gets hotter but it helps maintain the temp better than the lower watt iron. At least that's what the model railroad man told me at the hobby store. Now that's a different subculture in itself!

  17. BrianF

    BrianF Friend of Leo's

    Apr 11, 2003
    Carlsbad, Ca
    You only need 2 to hold the pre-tinned wires against the back of the pre-tinned pot (with the wooden stick) and the other to hold the soldering iron...

  18. cg73cmc

    cg73cmc Tele-Holic

    Jun 18, 2003
    New Orleans, LA
    I like real hot soldering irons :)

    A hot iron can actually spare your components a lot of heat stress by reducing "dwell" time. The key is there - get it hot, get it on, get it off and let it cool.

    Other than that - I try to tie it all together before I attempt to solder it on. I can't imagine that anyone could do a worse job of soldering in a guitar than Fender does. I've opened brand new Fenders that really looked like gross rat's nests - with burnt carbon and the whole shebang.
    skypeace likes this.

  19. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 1, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    i haven't read all the other replies so apologies if i repeat. Best thing i learnt was to sand the back of the pot where you want to solder to first. I tin all the wires and sometimes solder them all them on the pot and then put the iron on the pot, near to but not touching the solder and heat the pot until the solder runs.

  20. dugg

    dugg TDPRI Member

    Oct 23, 2008
    san clemente, CA
    Wow, I thought I knew how to solder to pots already! I love the method with the copper flashing tab. As someone (think it was Nick JD) pointed out, it's just convention that has most of us actually soldering grounds to the back of pots in the first place. I've known for some time that this wasn't necessary, but just haven't bothered to learn an alternate method. It occurrs to me that the extra capacitance of those pot backs added to one side of the circuit might not be all that good. Ok, so it's probably a small effect and can't be heard, but the voodoo of it is enough to make me want to change my method. Then I could browbeat folks who disagree ;)
    skypeace likes this.

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