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Soldering Technique for your Guitar Tags: soldering


Soldering isn't difficult if one knows the "tricks of the trade".

1.  Use the right soldering iron.  For guitar work a soldering iron of approximately 30 to 60 watts is best.  If your iron has a temperature indicator, about 400 to 425 degrees is perfect.  15 to 20 watt irons are not strong enough... 80+ watt irons are "industrial" use (home electronics) and can burn out components.  So as with all things, use the right tool for the job.

2. Use quality solder.  Most people prefer high-quality tech-use 60/40 lead-based rosin core solder.  Some prefer non-lead solder, but it can be a little more difficult to use.  Thin solder melts faster and applies better.  Thick solder is intended for household wiring, not guitar electronics.  You'll want solder applicable for digital electronics or music work.

3. Heat the solder, not the work.  It is often wrongly instructed to get the metal hot and then apply the solder.  However, doing so can damage the metal, melt associated heat-sensitive parts (such as rubber grommets or seals), and with guitar potentiometers (volume / tone controls) can easily burn out the pot. 

A BETTER WAY is to melt the solder and apply to the joint.  First   make sure your two items are properly aligned.  If joining wire to a tab, insert the wire through the hole (if there is one) and bend back to form a good connection.   If there is no hole or if you're putting the wire on a flat surface, make sure the wire is fully laying on the surface (no gap between the wire and surface).  You may need to use assisting items such as clamps or the popular "third hand" device to get the wire to lay properly on a flat surface.

Make sure your iron is preheated and ready to go.  Bring both solder and iron close to the joint... then A) Touch the solder to the item B) apply the iron to the solder (not the item)  C) Allow the molten solder to flow to the piece.

Solder conducts heat very well.  It will flow onto and through the joint, instantly transferring the heat from the iron and heating the metal to the proper degree.  When you see the solder flow properly and take on a silver-shiny surface, remove both the solder wire and soldering iron.  (You can practice this a few times on bare wire to get the knack.)

Summary.  By using the solder to transfer heat instead of the iron you cause the solder joint to form more quickly.  The solder helps prevent damage to the device, and the joint will then cool properly.

This technique is easy to learn, easy to apply, and pretty much works every time.  You are using the solder itself to act as both heat transference and buffer device between the soldering iron and the work.  This minimizes possible damage to components.



April 2020 (1)

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