Welp, I bought a soldering iron. Time to ruin some guitars!

_MementoMori_

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Nice try, Big Brother.
This is something that's been gnawing at me for years. I hate taking my guitars to repair shops for pickup swaps and other electrical/wiring work when I know that soldering is not rocket science. I even built my first partscaster with an Obsidianwire harness because I was so afraid of soldering.

Well, no more of that. I've got a Weller kit on the way. The 40 watt model. Anybody know some good exercises to get familiar with it? I was thinking just desoldering and resoldering the pickups on one of my cheapo guitars. I don't actually have any upgrades in mind at the moment and I don't have any replacement parts sitting around.

EDIT - My new Lee Malia LP has full size Alpha pots. I wonder if it's even worth swapping those out for CTS.
 

micpoc

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Anybody know some good exercises to get familiar with it? I was thinking just desoldering and resoldering the pickups on one of my cheapo guitars.
Depending on the nature of the "cheapo guitars", be very careful: some old crummy guitars (I am thinking some 60s/70s budget brands) have very fragile wiring that can break quite easily. If they are more recent, though, have at it!

Get some hookup wire and wire strippers and practice making solid physical connections before soldering.

Also, while you're learning/experimenting, try wiring a two-pickup guitar out of phase, just to hear what the real thing really sounds like... it's not at all like the middle positions many of us call "out-of-phase".
 

bgmacaw

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Anybody know some good exercises to get familiar with it?

Amazon has several relatively interesting soldering learning kits...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08H872XCR/?tag=tdpri-20

pianosolderingkit.JPG
 
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_MementoMori_

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Nice try, Big Brother.
Only advice I’ll add other than practice on scrap at first is please don’t hold your iron the way they do in advertisements!

Uh oh. I guess I'd better go look at some advertisements. FWIW, I soldered in college 10 years ago, but it was in a metalsmithing class and not at all like electronics soldering.
 

MarkieMark

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In my experience, soldering wires together, or to the little tabs, isnt hard at all to master. Most any moderately decent soldering iron will do that and the technique isnt difficult. A little practice and most people are quickly flowing some nice clean connections. Unless they are trying to do it with some little iron that just doesnt get hot enough. Then they often suffer from "cold joints" or those ugly and unreliable "bubble gum joints"

Where it gets tricky IMO and really relies on a decent iron, is getting those grounds soldered to the back of the pots. This will quickly reveal the problem with an inferior iron, because the pot wicks away the heat quickly. And it is best IMO to be able to very quickly achieve a good flow there so as to not spend too much time heating the pot case.

I have used many irons, and found that an old one made by a company named Ungar is far superior for this kind of soldering. It gets very hot with the heat highly focused at the tip. It almost instantly flows a little tinning puddle to the case and then just as quickly can solder a wire there.
(I dont know if these are still made, but I treasure mine!)

Practice. Practice attaching wires together. Tinning lead tabs. Learn how to keep your iron tip clean and tinned. The more you use it, the easier it will seem. Desolder, resolder. Get a feel for how little solder is enough and makes a clean secure joint.
And if you then still find the ground soldering doesnt seem to work, you might try a different iron. Its probably not you, but the tool. IMO.
 

modavis99

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Not that hard. I learned a few years ago. Best thing I ever did, wish I had done it sooner. I can now fix my friends’ guitars when something weird happens, like a pickup shorts etc

I ruined some volume pots along the way. No biggie. They are $5.

My advice

(a) have some extra pots on hand in the event you ruin one - you’ll know because the pot won’t function entirely correctly.

(b) use good solder. This is what I use: Kester 44 Solder Wire, 63/37 0.031-in, RMA Rosin, 1-ounce Tube

(C) apply a little solder to the tip before soldering anything

(d) have some good cloth wire handy in the event you want to or need to make a new wire. This is what I bought: Gavitt Guitar Wire Cloth-covered Vintage-style Pushback - 22awg 7-strand Tinned - 20 feet (10 ft Black, 10 ft White)

good luck !
 

jumpnblues

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It's not very difficult. Use some ventilation. Even if it's just a fan. But don't aim the fan at your soldering iron or soldering area.
 

1stpitch

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Clean your tip after EVERY join. I use a wet sponge AND copper wool, like a Chore Boy. But figure out what works for you. Get Kester 44 solder, either 60/40 or 63/37, period. Get a can of paste flux. Tin your wires or lugs or pots in a separate step before you make the join. Clean your tip after every step. Practice joining 2 ends of a piece of stranded wire together, tinning each end first. Then cut it, strip it, and do it again. Oh, and clean your tip. Don't burn your fingers, but you will. Have fun.
 

aFewGoodTaters

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It takes a bit of practice but you’ll get it. It’s a pretty rewarding skill, IMO.

do not buy the cheap tips on Amazon - they are garbage and will burn out quickly. Buy OEM Weller tips - they are more expensive but will save you frustration and replacement costs in the end. Keep you tips clean and tinned, and don’t leave the iron on higher settings too long if you’re not using it.
 




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