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(@kerbdog)
Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 43
Topic starter  

I simply want to be able to change my own pickups yet I know nothing about soldering...etc..

I've read in mags, on the internet etc....and they all conflict each other.

I want a list of what I need to buy just to unsolder then solder pickups into a guitar. That's it. (a guide to understanding the wiring would be nice too).

Point me to the "right" website or help?! heh Sucks having to pay so much $$$ to get someone else to do this.

-Ash


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

I'm no expert, but I'll tell you what I think anyway.
You'll need a good soldering iron, in the 30W-40W bracket. Any less and you'll spend too long heating the solder. This can easily cause damage to the components that you're trying to solder. Too powerful and you risk the same problem, just caused by taking an oxy-acetylene torch to light a cigarette, so to speak.
For very light work, you'll want a pencil tip. For general work, you'll want either a screwdriver or chisel tip.
I'm currently in the market for a new one, myself. The type that I've found, from experience, don't transfer heat well are those with a small screw on the side of the barrel, to hold the tip in place. The tip is usually a loose fit and does not have very good heat transfer, as only a small part of the tip's surface is in contact with the heating element.
You'll need a good quality flux and good quality solder.
It helps if you also get a solder remover - either the wick type or a suction "gun".
Get a decent stand, for the iron, if it doesn't come with one, and make sure that you have a small sponge to clean tip of the iron occasionally.
You'll also need some abrasive, such as a file or sandpaper, to clean and rough the surface of items to be soldered.

How to solder is not very difficult, if you follow some rules:
The two pieces to be soldered have to be clean. The flat tabs on pots, for example, can be cleaned by running a small file over the surface (this also roughens the surface and give better adhesion). I generally also dip the part to be soldered into flux and "wash" it with the hot iron.
The items to be soldered should be "tinned" before soldering. Tinning is just applying a thin layer of solder, so that, when you solder the pieces, they already have a head start. Tinning also proves that the piece is clean and rough enough to take a solder joint.
The tip of your soldering iron should be kept clean. You do this by removing dirt and excess solder on a small piece of damp sponge.
To solder apply some solder to the tip of your iron. Put the two, tinned items together and apply the iron. It should take no more than a second or two for the solder to start running onto the joint - remove the iron and hold the two pieces in place until the solder glazes over - it's now set. A good joint has a smooth bright surface.
Here are some resources that explain ot far better than I can:

http://www.elexp.com/t_solder.htm
http://www.platoproducts.com/howtotin.htm
http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/solderfaq.htm

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

It isn't that hard really. Do some practice first.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@bmancv-60)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 135
 

+1 to both replies. The biggest problem will be cold solder joints, where either the solder and connection did not get hot enough or the connection was disturbed before it had a chance to set. If you buy solder with flux inside make sure it is rosin core, not acid core which can damage electronics. A jar of flux is a good idea, and the wick generally is easier for beginners to work with than the suction devices.

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"


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(@sin-city-sid)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 737
 

I'm no expert, but I'll tell you what I think anyway.

Looks to me like you've done this once or twice before


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

I'm no expert, but I'll tell you what I think anyway.

Looks to me like you've done this once or twice before
What soldered or told you what I thought? :D :D

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

Click: Soldering thread with video links

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Greybeard covered about everything about technique and equipment.

Only thing I didn't see (maybe it's there) is to practice on some scrap wires and bits of metal before you try to do the real work on your valuable parts. You want to get the feel for how long to hold the iron there, what happens if you move the joint while it's cooling (bad to do to a real joint but important experiment to do so you'll recognize a joint you should do over), how much solder to apply, and what happens if the flux doesn't "wet" the surface but you still try to melt the solder there anyway.

Soldering wires and fairly durable parts like the tabs on pots is quite easy but you don't want to mess it up either.

(I built 10 Heathkit signal generators for my high school electronics shop class as well as 2 full featured Heathkit ham radios in my youth. I still repair my scanners and solder alligator clips to battery charger leads and that sort of thing. Soldering is a moderately useful skill to have.)

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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(@kerbdog)
Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 43
Topic starter  

Thank you everyone for the help!! Grey, you especially for taking that much time to type all that out.

yes, yes guys I know to "practice first" and I plan to

....just a couple unclear questions well actually one but what do you mean by "good quality" flux and "good quality" solder Greybeard? anyone? oh and how much do I need?

Willing to buy the best but...what is it?

Once I know this I'm ready to go.

Thanks again guys!

-Ash


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Thank you everyone for the help!! Grey, you especially for taking that much time to type all that out.

yes, yes guys I know to "practice first" and I plan to

....just a couple unclear questions well actually one but what do you mean by "good quality" flux and "good quality" solder Greybeard? anyone? oh and how much do I need?

Willing to buy the best but...what is it?

Once I know this I'm ready to go.

Thanks again guys!

-Ash

I'm not graybeard but I'll answer the question.
I think he put those adjectives in reflexively, forgetting that it's hard to come up with much in the way of solder selections unless you're in the manufacturing business.

The solder you'd buy at Radio Shack should do the job. It will be solder for electronics (rather than for plumbing).
Extra flux is the 100% tech's solution but quite honestly I've never used additional flux for electronics soldering. Rosin core solder (where the flux is inside a hollow tube in the solder wire) has served me well. Thinner diameter solder wire will work better for this than fat diameter stuff.

Just don't use plumber's solder. It has acid flux and will eat the connection unnecessarily.

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

You might consider using a HEAVY phillips head screwdriver...heating the end up with a gas torch. NEVER use the torch on your work, however!

Hope this helps...

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

You might consider using a HEAVY phillips head screwdriver...heating the end up with a gas torch. NEVER use the torch on your work, however!

Hope this helps...

Cat

Cat: That is desert island advice. Not only are the metals are wrong for the job, making it more difficult, but it very well may get someone unfamiliar with soldering a nasty burn.

Better to buy a cheapie soldering pencil at RS, practice soldering with it over its limited lifetime, then toss it out and drop another $15 for a second one to do the actual job. As mentioned in GN's other threads on this topic, effective soldering is about hygiene, not brute force thermals.

KerbDog: Adding to what Grey and Uni have said: It may be tempting to buy the cordless electric or butane soldering irons at RS, but don't. They are good for some jobs, but are compromised designs for that cordless convenience. Even experienced solderers don't always get good results from them. Go with "plug-in" soldering pencil as Grey suggests, and get a couple extra tips, as these are the first thing to go. If the tip is black and scaley and resists cleaning and fresh tinning, replace it.

-=tension & release=-


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

There is also an iron that is supposed to heat up in about a second and cool down just as quick. It runs off AA cells.
Leave them well alone, even experienced electricians have trouble getting the thing to work. The tip heats by being made out of 2 separate electrodes, through which a current passes. To heat up, it requires that the circuit is completed by the workpiece. The tendency is to press hard, to make contact, but this causes damage to the tip and may cause current to be passed through the components and destroy them.

As Gnease says, get a reasonable iron (there are some at throw-away prices on ebay) and practice, until you can make a good solder every time. Destroying a few practice pieces is cheaper than blowing an expensive component.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

There is also an iron that is supposed to heat up in about a second and cool down just as quick. It runs off AA cells.
Leave them well alone, even experienced electricians have trouble getting the thing to work. The tip heats by being made out of 2 separate electrodes, through which a current passes. To heat up, it requires that the circuit is completed by the workpiece. The tendency is to press hard, to make contact, but this causes damage to the tip and may cause current to be passed through the components and destroy them.

That's the cordless that "sparked" my posting. I bought one as a novelty, but that's mostly what it is. The butane versions are good, but are dangerous in the wrong hands. In daylight, it's very difficult to to see the blue flames that issue from the side apertures. It's pretty easy to set something on fire or burn oneself -- but boy do they work well for soldering 8 or 10 AWG copper!

-=tension & release=-


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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

There is also an iron that is supposed to heat up in about a second and cool down just as quick. It runs off AA cells.
Leave them well alone, even experienced electricians have trouble getting the thing to work. The tip heats by being made out of 2 separate electrodes, through which a current passes. To heat up, it requires that the circuit is completed by the workpiece. The tendency is to press hard, to make contact, but this causes damage to the tip and may cause current to be passed through the components and destroy them.

That's the cordless that "sparked" my posting. I bought one as a novelty, but that's mostly what it is. The butane versions are good, but are dangerous in the wrong hands. In daylight, it's very difficult to to see the blue flames that issue from the side apertures. It's pretty easy to set something on fire or burn oneself -- but boy do they work well for soldering 8 or 10 AWG copper!

I have both, and use neither for electronics.
A standard 35 watt (or thereabouts) is my iron of choice for electronics and guitars.

The butane iron, I use for automotive work, working at the top of ladders, fixing cables and other things where power isn't convenient - the sort of jobs I would use a 150 watt soldering gun for if there was a handy place to plug it in.
The battery powered resistance soldering unit is very seldom used (mine was a gift), and mostly for soldering bits of brass together.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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