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

Soldering ground wire to mini-pots w/o frying them?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by V Silly, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. V Silly

    V Silly Tele-Meister

    Nov 14, 2011
    Santa Barbara CA
    I am using the sponge that came with the soldering iron. When I clean the tip with the sponge and try to put solder on it the solder balls up. The solder does not flow over the tip. I am using Kester 60/40 rosin core.
  2. V Silly

    V Silly Tele-Meister

    Nov 14, 2011
    Santa Barbara CA
    >>>You shouldn't be sanding the tip. They are plated and you've probably sanded through it. Time for a new tip.<<<

    Oh well, that's what it said to do on one of the YouTube videos I watched. They are seriously all over the map in terms of the advice. Sounds like it's time for a trip to the hardware store…
  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    To reinforce what the others said:
    -sand a spot on the back of the pot, heat while pushing solder to it, you'll have a thin little puddle.
    -heat the ends of all the wires and push solder to them.
    -hold the wires down to the pot with the iron on them and push a little more solder at the iron contact to the wires.
    -use a stick of wood to hold where the iron is as you pull the iron away.

    Solder should look smooth and have a shine. If rough and chunky you need to heat again.

    schmee likes this.
  4. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    Even if you're sanding the plating off the tip, it shouldn't be oxidizing in a few seconds. You're not using some kind of paste flux, are you?
  5. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    This is critical.

    That said I don't solder to the back of the pot I use the lug.

    If the solder is balling the surface is not clean or it's not hot enough or both.
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.
  6. V Silly

    V Silly Tele-Meister

    Nov 14, 2011
    Santa Barbara CA
    I'm using Kester solder that has flux in it, I am not using any other kind of flux. Maybe I should be?
    Yes, I really don't understand why the solder does not really seem to coat the tip of the iron and tense to ball up. It's a pretty new soldering iron. More wattage than my old one but doesn't really seem that much more effective.

    Had to mail order the tips they didn't have at the hardware store, so this will go on the back burner for a week or 10 days. Thanks to everyone for the input.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Many soldering iron tips have a coating at the end that burns off. I've had that happen at work when I used cheapo irons from China with my 8th grader electronics project ( think thousands of kids who never soldered before). I'd have a supply of tips to change to. When the coating burned off, the soldering iron had difficulty. I used Kester solder 60/40 when available. For guitar work, I eventually struggled with pot backs so long that I went for a weller gun from Walmart. That made all the difference in the world on the pot backs from a cheap 25 watt pencil. Like night and day. For the record I use full size pots though.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  8. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2014
    Behind my beard.
    This seems like more work than is necessary.

    Definitely scuff the back of the pot with sandpaper / a file / something abrasive.
    This will provide a 'key' for the solder to fix to.

    When wiring guitars, I leave the ground wires to last - then I can crank the iron up without risking forgetting to turn it down, and burning a switch out of whatever.

    Hot iron.
    Fast joint.

    It's the way forwards - practice on some scrap pots if you can.
  9. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia
    Before you start soldering, make sure the tip of the iron is tinned, don't try to solder a large "blob" you only need about 1/16th of an inch to connect a wire properly. A 40 watt iron should be sufficiently hot enough for the job. I like to scrape the metal surface with a scalpel or pocket knife in case the plating used on the pot case is somehow resistant to being soldered though they usually aren't. 60/40 resin core solder don't use the so called "silver solder" it has a much higher melt temperature.
    Before I retired I was an area tech manager for the largest hearing aid company in Aus. and we were directed to use this stupid bloody silver solder (to save the planet I think). When you have to solder up to six wires onto a 1/4" x 1/4" circuit board without stuffing it is difficult enough but the added heat actually destroyed a great number of very expensive aids.

    I directed my techs not to use it ( most had worked that out themselves) and I got into quite a bit of trouble from those all knowing office gurus on high. After they got their first monthly costings on replacing these killed off aids the big wigs made the same directive I gave my blokes.

    To solder a pot case, be quick, be clean,tin the wire and iron tip and hold it on the case edge count to about ten and dab a bit of 60/40 on the spot where the tip and case meet, and Bob will be your Uncle.

    When you have made the connection DO NOT MOVE THE CONNECTING WIRE until it is set, or you will make a "dry joint " to harass you years from now!

    Humble Pie likes this.
  10. mistermikev

    mistermikev Tele-Meister

    Feb 20, 2018
    personally, i think "letting the pot melt the solder" is not accurate and perhaps misleading, IMHO. I would say scuff the pot with a screwdriver, set the iron on it but touch the solder to the iron and let that melt the solder onto the pot. Works for me anyway.
    shouldn't have to hold it there for more than 1.5sec(my iron is at 550 for silver solder so your result may vary). I often hold it there a little longer - just long enough to reach over and grab a flathead screwdriver to hold the wire as I pull off the iron. I find it works to helps me get good contact.
    maybe 3 sec total. any more than that: yer doin' it wrong.
  11. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2014
    Behind my beard.
    There's another 'cheat', too...

    If you're attaching to an already grounded pot, carefully trim some of the existing ground wire's insulation, and solder to that wire.

    Not the best of solutions, but a quick and dirty solution if you're caught without a decent iron, and you need to fix things quickly.
  12. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    40 watts not under buying. Just remember, just as with cooking.. More heat means less time. I get it done with low watt pencils irons. At 40 you shoud get to flow temp 1/5 the time. Clean clean clean, you see/get black before it flows, stop and clean clean clean.
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.
  13. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    -Clean surface
    -You may have to scratch it up some on some pots, steel wool or fine sandpaper. (I just use the Dremel)
    -I just use a 35-40 watt iron. Solder a glob on the pot first. Then solder the wire. Easy peasy with soldering paste. You dont need the iron on the pot more than maybe 3 seconds max to make the original puddle.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  14. V Silly

    V Silly Tele-Meister

    Nov 14, 2011
    Santa Barbara CA
    Noted, However when you read about soldering or watch YouTube videos about soldering people are always saying that the solder should never touch the soldering iron. If I'm trying to tin wires does the same rule apply? Yesterday I was trying to hold soldering iron to the wire and then hold the solder to the wire until the wire itself would melt solder, not the soldering iron touching the solder. However in this case the plastic casing around the wire started melting even though I had an alligator clip on there to act as a heat sink.
    This is a source of confusion, that you are never supposed to touch the solder to the actual soldering iron but then everyone is saying that yes you do…
  15. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I put the solder where the tip meets the wire...don't know about the idea it shouldn't touch especially with a low watt gun/pencil but I'm no soldering expert like some folks. For tinning wire sometimes I'll put a couple wraps of solder around it and heat it too. I use the real small diameter solder.
  16. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Also if not flux core solder, apply flux topically.
  17. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Holic

    May 2, 2013
    Lots of good tips in all the posts here.

    Just to add, check and see if the little threaded nut thing that is usrd to tighten the tip in is tight, if it is loose the heat wont hardly transfer.

    Also it is difficult to tranfer the heat to a pot using just the pinpoint shaped iron tip,

    Lay the iron tip flater to try and get as much of the tip touching the pot as possible for max speed heat transfer
  18. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

    Practice first, and get yourself a solder sucker from Amazon.
  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    The pot needs to be hot enough for the solder to stick to it, but the melted solder will transfer the heat more efficiently than the tip alone.
    Awhile ago I was trying to remove solder from something large that was sinking the heat from the iron away too quickly for the solder to melt. I actually had to add solder to distribute the heat, everything melted and I could suck it out.
    reddy2300 likes this.
  20. reddy2300

    reddy2300 Tele-Meister

    Aug 25, 2017
    Dublin, Ohio
    In my experience, the best time to tin the tip of the soldering iron is when it is heating up for the very first time. Seems to oxidize and cause a lot of problems if you don't get that sweet spot.

    I use a Weller 25 watt pencil type iron. I've never had trouble with pots. The trick with a pointed tip is to lay it down a little so more of the tip is touching the pot.

    As far as not touching the tip with the solder, that's something I've never understood either. My technique is to hold the wire down for a second or so with the tip of the iron and touch the tip with the solder. It melts the solder and gravity does the rest.
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