What kind of soldering iron?


Homebrew1709
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Homebrew1709
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12/19/2005 1:02 am
What kind of soldering iron and solder do i need for some basic pickup wiring?
# 1
ibo2
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ibo2
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12/19/2005 2:35 am
Originally Posted by: PonyOneIt was the cheap laser-gun looking thing at Radio Shack.


One of the kind that heat up and cool down REALLY fast? Those things are sweet...
# 2
pogohead
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pogohead
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12/19/2005 1:04 pm
some people have told me to get either a 30W or a 45W so you dont fry the component (obviously the lower the power output, the lower the temperature :) )
# 3
aschleman
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aschleman
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12/21/2005 4:59 pm
using a low wattage is the best choice... i personally use a 5w mini soldering iron... it gets into tight places. i have to let it heat up but it will never fry a pot. anything around 20-40 is pretty good. they heat up fast and allows you to apply the solder quickly. if you're not use to using a soldering iron they can make a pretty big mess though. i like my work to be nice and clean.
# 4
Blade RH4
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Blade RH4
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12/26/2005 1:12 am
Anything with adjustable temperature (solder station) will do fine. If you can, try to get something with interchangable tips too.
# 5
RobSm
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RobSm
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12/26/2005 1:33 am
I found the flatter tip easier to work with than the conical tip so get one with both types of tip supplied.

Also buy a small soldering jig or a little swivel vise or both or make one up from alligator clips because you need at least four hands!!. ;)
Robbo
# 6
markc2005
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markc2005
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12/27/2005 2:55 pm
i got a kit for like £15 with soldering iron soldering gun solder a poking thing (dont know what its for really) one of thos holder things n solder n a magnifing glass in it well worth it
humans aren't imortal
but rock and roll will never die
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my soundclick page nothing very impressive though
# 7
Homebrew1709
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Homebrew1709
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12/27/2005 10:29 pm
okay, i've done the soldering and the new pickup is installed but there's a problem: The humbucker is now very noisey. I wired red to hot and black grounded to the back of the pot as the instructions stated. Any ideas?
# 8
irg7620
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irg7620
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01/08/2006 4:57 am
is it humming? crackling? if it's humming, you are getting electrical interference from something close by. best bet is to make sure your solder looks shiny, not a dull gray. another thing could be that you need to shield the inside of the control cavity. and the back of the pickguard if its a strat. check all your connections. stew mac sells shielded wire to wire up your guitar if you need more wire. that stuff really rocks. used it in an old guitar that i don't have anymore and it really helped with noise. an too, if a pickup hasn't been fully potted (dipped in 150 degree wax), it will get noise too. and one more thing, this might sound trivial, but check the tightness of the pickup in the ring. this may or may not cause anything, but a rattling pickup may cause some unwanted noise.
# 9
stahlhart
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stahlhart
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01/08/2006 5:20 am
Originally Posted by: Homebrew1709okay, i've done the soldering and the new pickup is installed but there's a problem: The humbucker is now very noisey. I wired red to hot and black grounded to the back of the pot as the instructions stated. Any ideas?


What kind of humbucking pickup, and how many conductors in the wiring, not including the shielding? Is this the usual Gibson-style setup, with a toggle switch to select bridge or neck or both pickups?

In the old days (it's been at least a couple of decades since I've done any installation work with pickups), you soldered the braided shield of the pickup lead to the case of the volume control pot, and the center conductor to the non-grounded side of the pot's resistance element.

C.K.
# 10
Lordathestrings
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Lordathestrings
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01/08/2006 5:51 am
Go to the >DiMarzio< website and drill down to the wiring diagrams for one of the humbucking pickups. Unless you have DiMarzio pickups, the colours of the wires may be different, or may not be used in the same way. But you can see how the connections should be made, and which part of the pickup should be wired to which part of the controls.

And while you're at it, visit >GuitarNuts< to see how the controls should be connected in order to keep your rig quiet. Hint: That means [u]not[/u] using the back of the control pots as a ground connection!
Lordathestrings
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# 11
Lordathestrings
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Lordathestrings
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01/08/2006 6:16 am
Originally Posted by: Homebrew1709What kind of soldering iron and solder do i need for some basic pickup wiring?


>This< will do pretty much any job you can ask of it. Shop around. You might be able to do even better locally.

You can get >different tips< for it to suit the size of the work you're soldering. I like a fairly large tip for things like controls and general wiring work, so I can get the terminal up to temperature fast, and get out before the heat has time to spread to the rest of the pot. Using too low a wattage, or too small a tip can mean having to apply heat to the joint for far too long, and the heat gets drained off into places that shouldn't be heated.
Lordathestrings
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# 12
stahlhart
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stahlhart
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01/08/2006 5:59 pm
Originally Posted by: LordathestringsThat means [u]not[/u] using the back of the control pots as a ground connection!


If it's done correctly, and they all tie to a common ground point (the guitar's output jack), I don't see what the problem is. It's been done that way for decades, and I've never had a grounding problem on any instument I've had wired like this.

If you use an iron with insufficient wattage, and the shield ends up being more tacked on with the solder's flux than actually making a good conducting connection -- or the potentiometer's case has some sort of coating that isn't conducive to soldering -- then I could see where problems could occur.

Anchoring the cable in this manner has the advantage of taking stress off the signal lead connections to the potentiometer lugs (which are usually stranded wire, that can eventually fail if stressed repeatedly from movement).

I agree that a potentiometer case really isn't acting as any sort of a "shield" for anything -- but inside of a wooden guitar control cavity you typically don't have much else to work with.

Unless things have changed over the past couple of decades. I admit I haven't been worked on guitar internals in a long time now.

C.K. (donning asbestos underwear) :)
# 13
Lordathestrings
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01/08/2006 6:22 pm
Spend some time browsing the Wiring & Shielding section of the >GuitarNuts< website.

Briefly, any time you have more than one ground path, you have the potential to pick up noise. When the case of a pot is used as a convenient place to solder ground connections, and then the pot cases are linked together, you end up with ground loops (multiple paths). This is made worse by some builders who put a piece of foil on the control mounting surface of the cavity.

Done properly, the entire guitar should have only one ground point: the shell of the jack. In the "Quieting The Beast" article at GuitarNuts, he shows a slick way to add anti-shock protection by capacitively coupling this single ground point. I've used these techniques for years. They not only significantly reduce noise, but they can save your life!
Lordathestrings
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# 14
Lordathestrings
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Lordathestrings
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01/08/2006 6:49 pm
The problem caused by using a low-power soldering iron, or a tip that's too small, is that the iron [u]must[/u] be able to deliver heat to the connection faster than the wires and terminals can drain the heat away. Otherwise, instead of just heating the connection, you're also heating the wire, the entire terminal, the internals of the pot, and any components you're connecting to.

For working with guitar controls, you need a temperature-controlled iron with a clean tip that has a working surface about the same size as the connection you're making. Without temperature control, something on the order of 20 or 30 Watts is good.

  • Melt a dab of electronic-grade, flux-core solder onto the tip. This will fill any small air gaps between the tip and the connection, making much quicker heat transfer.


  • Feed the solder into the connection, [u]not[/u] onto the tip of the iron.


  • As soon as the connection is thoroughly 'wetted' with solder, remove the solder and then the iron. In that order. You don't need to flood the joint to get a good connection. And after you suffer the embarassment of having your solder stick to the connection as you pull the iron out of the way, you'll understand why you back away with the solder first. :o


  • Do not blow on the hot connection to cool it down! This can crystalize the solder, making a 'cold joint' which can actually pick up radio signals sometimes. If you're worried about overheating components, use some heat-sink clips to protect them.




Once you get the hang of getting the heat into the connection quickly, feeding in some solder, and getting out quickly, you'll find you can consistently make neat, shiny, reliable solder joints.
Lordathestrings
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# 15
Homebrew1709
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01/08/2006 9:51 pm
The guitar was a S-S-S setup. I changed the pickguard to one that would fit a humbucker in the bridge. All of the wires are connected properly (and no, it's not wired for split capabilities) its just the humming that's annoying. I grounded the black and the un shielded wires to the back of the pot, because that's what Carvin said on their website. It sounds fine other than the noise, but i dont think i'm qualified to f*** with it anymore...might just take it to a repair shop.
# 16
Dr_simon
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Dr_simon
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01/08/2006 11:58 pm
another nice tip is using crocodile clips as heat sinks to protect thermally delicate components !!


oh yeeeer !
My instructors page and www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
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# 17
stahlhart
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stahlhart
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01/09/2006 1:17 am
Originally Posted by: LordathestringsSpend some time browsing the Wiring & Shielding section of the >GuitarNuts< website.

Briefly, any time you have more than one ground path, you have the potential to pick up noise. When the case of a pot is used as a convenient place to solder ground connections, and then the pot cases are linked together, you end up with ground loops (multiple paths). This is made worse by some builders who put a piece of foil on the control mounting surface of the cavity.

Done properly, the entire guitar should have only one ground point: the shell of the jack. In the "Quieting The Beast" article at GuitarNuts, he shows a slick way to add anti-shock protection by capacitively coupling this single ground point. I've used these techniques for years. They not only significantly reduce noise, but they can save your life!


Thanks much for pointing that site out; I'll do some remedial reading... :)

I've been away from this for a very long time, and back then all pickups came wired with cables that had a stranded signal lead, woven cloth insulation, and a heavily braided shield -- and really, when you get down to it, it was all star grounding, as the shields all touched one another and led to the ring of the output jack. You tacked the shields to the backs of the pots, but it was more for anchoring than anything else. The ground never really "left" the shield, travelled through the potentiometer case, and then went back to ground wiring and then out the guitar. Easy to see how that could result in potential difference between grounds.

If pickups today come wired with PVC-coated leads, and the shielding is underneath that, then you're right, you'd probably have to take a different approach to prevent the wire from damage due to soldering heat -- that kind of cable isn't as resilient for heavy soldering as the old stuff.

edit: Back then I also primarily owned Gibson or Gibson-styled guitars with humbucking pickups. The GuitarNuts site seems to focus more on Stratocaster and Telecaster wiring, and I'm guessing that single-coil pickup leads still aren't shielded?

C.K.
# 18
Lordathestrings
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Lordathestrings
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01/09/2006 2:23 am
Originally Posted by: stahlhart... edit: Back then I also primarily owned Gibson or Gibson-styled guitars with humbucking pickups. The GuitarNuts site seems to focus more on Stratocaster and Telecaster wiring, and I'm guessing that single-coil pickup leads still aren't shielded?

C.K.


Actually, the humbucking pickups are the only thing that saves old Giiby's from making a lot of noise. They often have a piece of foil on the mounting surface of the control cavity, plus using the pot shells as grounding points for the pickup wires.

Ground loops!

To see what those circuits really look like, draw a complete schematic, showing where the 'ground' wires are actually terminated, instead of just drawing a ground symbol at the attachment points. If there is a ground foil, show the connection it makes between the pot shells and the jack. A very illuminating exercise.
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# 19

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