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Help. Does proper soldering make a difference ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by qervo, Feb 21, 2013.


  1. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    Here's the deal, I took apart my bass to paint it and I took a pic of the electronics so I would be sure to put each wire back where it should be , but I'm no expert in using a solder gun ,only took a electronic class in high school where I learned how to use one. I bought some general solder from Home Depot and put the connections back like the picture I took. They all seem to be solid . when I plugged it in my amp it all the controls worked as they should but for some reason it seems to lack a little in sound. Almost as if it worked 100 % before and now sounds about 75% . I don't know how else to describe it except it seems like the sound is just having a little trouble getting out now. Am I crazy or does types of solder and solder placement make a difference?
     
  2. fbny71

    fbny71

    May 28, 2010
    West Hempstead, NY
    Hope you used electric solder versus plumbing solder. There is a difference. Electric is usually leaded rosin core.
     
  3. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2008
    Michigan
    soldering does make a difference. but if its working, grounded and wired properly it might not be the connections. pickup height, how close they are to the strings makes a difference. maybe when you put it back together the pickups are lower now?

    +1 on rosin core solder
     
  4. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have soldered allot of bass and guitars and never has the solder itself made any diff in the sound or tone. The placement of the solder, proper soldering and if it was wired right will effect tone and sound that is for sure. Recheck all your wiring, soldering joints and grounds.
     
  5. It's pretty easy to make a solder joint that holds the wires together but doesn't conduct current (a "cold joint"). But, I would think if you had a cold joint in there you'd be getting 0%, not 75%. Can you borrow a multimeter and test each connection?
     
  6. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    The pickups are in the right place , so it's not that . There is a slight buzz that I really only hear if my amp is cranked . When I touch my stings or the end of the cable in the jack , the buzz goes away , so I know that's a ground issue, I may have to take off the bridge and see what the ground wire is doing underneath .
     
  7. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    If you didn't do the job properly and ended up with a poor soldered connection. what we call a cold solder joint, yes it can perfect performance. But usually it results in crackling or complete failure, not a 25% reduction of performance as you describe. If you replace one of the pots doing this work, and the resistance of the pot is not correct, then that could cause a reduction in volume.
     
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Actually you have a shielding issue, if you had a grounding issue the buzz would get louder. That buzz is outside interference.

    If you give the bass a proper shielding job the buzz will go away.
     
  9. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    OK. Just saw your new post.

    Did the buzz happen before you made the change? If not, I'm betting that either one of the ground solder joints is a cold solder joint, or one of them came loose when you were putting things back together.
     
  10. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    I have another bass that is pretty much silent when being played but if I turn the treble boost up it buzzes. The low and mid controls don't buzz .
     
  11. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    I just checked the solder that I used and the label says -Electrical Lead Bearing. Is that the right kind ?
     
  12. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    Did you notice the buzz before you took it apart? Of course, that might have been there before, but you are just now really paying attention and noticed it.
     
  13. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    It's possible , but I just don't remember it buzzing . It's a 1983 Yamaha BB 3000 if that helps. With a passive P/J setup VVT knobs. Honestly it all works but it just sounds a little less in my head. It could be just me. But I do have another bass that I installed a preamp in and the treble knob lets out a considerable amount of buzz that I know for sure was not there before. Any thoughts on why a treble boost knob would do that?
     
  14. Jammin Johneboy

    Jammin Johneboy Guest

    Dec 23, 2011
    Ontario
    Solder for electronics has a rosin flux core ( a cleaning agent ) . Solder for plumbing and metal work uses ACID . Also the flux you can buy separately in a container should never be acid based if you using it for electronic or electical work . The acid can corrode your connections . Your solder joints should look kinda shiny not a dull grey colour . How much power does your solering iron have ? Cheap soldering irons may not put out enough heat to do the job properly . The bigger the connection is, the more heat you need to use . Cheap soldering irons can be as low as 15 watts of power . I think you should be using about a 30 watt soldering iron . When there is enough heat to liquify the solder and really let it flow almost like water the joint will be shiny . If the soldering iron is not hot enough and just barely melts the solder the joint will look a dull grey indicating a possible COLD solder joint . Cold solder joints are mechanically bad joints and may cause resistance or even intermittent connections or no electrical connection at all . If your soldering iron was a low wattage iron that just barely melted the solder try buying or borrowing a higher wattage soldering iron ( 30 to 40 watts ) and remelting the solder on the connections . Do not use a soldering iron of too high a wattage on circuit boards ( around 50 watts and up unless it has some type of temperature control ) , they can overheat the circuit board so much that the metal circuit traces on the board can come unglued and lift off the surface of the board . If that happens you may have to install jumper wires to repair the damaged circuit board . Also when you are soldering a connection you should heat the joint area first by making good contact with the surface of the soldering iron . Once the area is heated ( usually a few seconds ) then you apply the solder to the joint after the joint is heated . Appying a small amount of solder to the tip first before heating the joint can help transfer the heat to the joint faster and better . Keep the tip of your soldering iron CLEAN , corroded tips don't tranfer heat well and cause difficulties in doing the job because the solder will ball up and resist being on the tip. Cheap soldering irons usually have copper tips that are difficult to keep clean , better soldering irons have tips that are coated with the metal iron ( iron clad tip ) . Iron clad tips are easy to clean , just let the soldering iron heat up fully and wipe it on a damp sponge or damp piece of rag or even a folded up damp piece of paper towel will work ( damp not soaking wet ) . If the tip is a cheap copper tip you may have to heat it up , wipe it on a damp material then let it cool sand paper it clean then heat it up again and add just enough solder to coat the tip . When you are done soldering always apply some solder on the tip to protect it from corrosion during storage of the soldering iron when not in use . If the tip seams to corrode during use , melt some solder on the tip and wipe it on a damp surface to clean it then do your soldering, the flux in the solder will help clean your tip.

    If you have a cold solder joint with resistance in it, it could be holding back the flow of electricity and reducing your volume .
     
  15. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    The joints do look like a grey color . And I'm not sure what wattage the gun is but I do know its a very cheap 8 dollar gun. I bet what you described is probably what I'm experiencing . I will buy a better gun and proper solder and do it all over again to see if it works. Thanks to all for your help.
     
  16. qervo

    qervo

    May 18, 2011
    But what about the treble knob creating a buzz on my Steinberger? I have a Steinberger that was passive VVT before and I installed a Bartolini preamp in it . The new bass and mid pots work great but my treble gives me a buzz if it goes past the halfway mark.
     
  17. Pots need more heat (bigger gun) than the small leads of caps and resistors. The metal case absorbs the heat making it harder for the the wire AND the case hot enough to properly attract the solder. With a small pencil iron you can get the wire hot enough to take the solder but the case isn't hot enough so while the wire is "glued" to the case, in reality you have a high resistance connection. The ideal for soldering is to work hot enough that you can get on and off the connection (with the gun) in just a few seconds. Don't touch the solder to the tip to "get it started". put the solder in the little joint where the wire and the case meet and wait for the solder to be sucked onto the wire and case. Again if that takes more than 5 or so seconds, you should be using a higher wattage iron.

    Google has tons of images of what both bad and good solder joints look like. Make sure yours looks like the good ones.

    Mugre
     
  18. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    I had a problem with one of my strat PU's. When I took the pick guard off, this is what I found on the 5 way switch. This is maybe the worst example of a cold soldering joint I've ever seen.

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes the PU would work. Sometimes, it wouldn't.
     
  19. Jammin Johneboy

    Jammin Johneboy Guest

    Dec 23, 2011
    Ontario
    All soldering irons that I have ever seen have the wattage marked on them someplace . Look at it all over sometimes the wattage number is stamped on the metal parts someplace near where the metal attaches to the handle , it should be marked someplace . Most likely an eight dollar soldering iron is going to be low wattage with a copper tip .

    I think the first thing you should do with your Steinberger is re-do your solder connections, did you use the same soldering iron on that job too ? . Make sure your grounds are all good .

    Also if you bought your solder at Home Depot , hopefully it did not come from the plumbing department. That will be ACID core solder for joining copper pipe . The solder spool or container should say right on it that it is either ROSIN core or ACID core , or SOLID . Solid solder does not have any FLUX inside the solder and needs an external FLUX applied to the joint. Trying to solder a joint with SOLID solder without the proper flux will most likely be a disaster . If a joint is not properly cleaned with a flux the solder will resist from flowing freely on the joint and try to ball up . Once again the two types of externally applied FLUX are ACID BASED or ROSIN based , use only ROSIN flux on electrical things . Also if you do not have enough heat on the joint itself the solder will ball up , the joint needs to be clean . The FLUX cleans the joint of any microscopic corrosion . Also there should not be any visible dirtyness on the joint before soldering such as grunge from melted plastic wire insulation or anyting else foreign on it . If the joint looks dirty try to clean it with a small piece of sandpaper .

    For removing connections you can buy DESOLDERING BRAIDED WICK , that is usually copper ( sometimes a different metal , I prefer copper braid ). To remove solder for disconnecting things or to clean up old solder to clean up a joint , just hold the braid to the connection and put the soldering iron firmly on top of the braid . The braided wick will heat up and melt the solder under it and be soaked up into the braid like a sponge . Electronic stores such as Radio Shack ( The Source in Canada ) or electronic repair/hobby shops will have DESOLDERING BRAID . Desoldering braid/wick is cheap and usually comes in a small plastic container . Once an area of the braid/wick is soaked in solder it will harden , you just cut off that part of the wick/braid with scissors or whatever and throw it away.

    You can also buy inexpensive spring loaded vacuum solder " sucker " tools for removing solder but I don't like them much .

    The best type of soldering iron to use is the "pencil" type , not the Weller type that look sort of like a gun . For eight dollars it sounds like you have the "pencil" type , just maybe not enough heat (wattage) .
     
  20. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    OP, here is how to diagnose buzz from your pickups.

    If you touch metal/strings/bridge and the buzz goes away, you have a shielding issue. The bass need a proper shielding job to prevent outside interference.

    If you touch metal/strings/bridge and the noise gets louder, you have a grounding issue. Check your ground wire in this instance. This is clearly not your problem though, and is far less common on these forums than shielding issues.

    The buzz is not coming from your wiring/soldering job.
     

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