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I am a cable making failure...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by pbass6811, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    Ok, so I'm doing my darndest to become a bit more self sufficient when it comes to the upkeep and construction of my gear. I'm doing my own setups, I'll change my own tubes(when they go bad), and I'll replace my own speakers when they blow(if they're out of warranty). For the life of me, I canNOT make a frickin' working cable!! A while back, I did manage to successfully make a few George L's cables, after several failed attempts, I did get them all to work. So, after revamping my board, I wanted to satisfy my pedalboard OCD and put together all matching cables. I ordered one of the Lava Solderless Mini ELC kits. Looks cool and should satisfy my PB OCD. I got it yesterday and I sat down tonight to start making cables. I've made 3 cables so far, none of them work...I am tired of making cables, especially bad ones.

    I have read the directions, watched the YT vids, and searched through a few forums and I am quickly coming to the conclusion that I am not meant to cut, strip, or assemble cables...:banghead:

    Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated...Thanks.
  2. adi77

    adi77 Banned

    Mar 15, 2007
    either go to a soldering school (do they have something like that?) or buy ready made cables
  3. willbassyeah


    Oct 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
    pbass6811 likes this.
  4. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    I'd love to go to soldering school, but I probably can't afford the tuition after buying this stupid kit, LOL! I may hit up my father-in-law and see of he'll drop some soldering knowledge on me, but I'm kinda over making cables..

    That does make me feel better, sorta', LOL! I'm probably gonna try to dump this kit and move on. If my Father-in-law can get my soldering skills up to jedi level, I'll go to soldered cables, otherwise, I think I'm done with solder less kits...
    adi77 likes this.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't feel bad. I still have a hard time soldering and can't do cables worth a crap. I did, however, manage to solder a new battery cap onto the PCB of one of my wirelesses last week, and nobody was more surprised than me when it worked.
    adi77 and pbass6811 like this.
  6. LSMFT6

    LSMFT6 We brake for nobody Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    Did you see this one?

  7. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    That was the first one I checked out...

    I do have a multimeter, well, It's my son's, but it is a multimeter. Unfortunately, it's one of those Harbor Freight deals, I'm not even sure it actually works...
  8. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    George L's!! ;)
  9. ThemBones


    May 2, 2014
    Make sure you have really good solder and a decent iron.
    I use just a radio shack iron and radio shack solder, bad solder can ruin the day.
    nshuman likes this.
  10. nshuman

    nshuman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2012
    Montreal, Qc, Canada
    This is very true. I tend to avoid soldering whenever I can because I have this knack of injuring myself when I solder. I don't know why, I am a fairly handy person, I am a comp sci grad and had to do my fair share of soldering at school and at various jobs I had when I was still at uni. But, for some reason, I always burn myself or do something stupid with soldering. I once grabbed the iron from the hot end and basically saw all the skin from my thumb just get left behind on he iron.

    That being said, cheapo irons will make everything suck more. The temp will not be god, it will not be constant, it will make you swear. I actually gave away my good iron and bought a 9$ one to make sure I would be tempted to solder as little as possible. However, my kids keep pulling me back in the soldering game with their broken toys!
  11. ThemBones


    May 2, 2014
    Oh man I hate to hear that :(

    I just got rid of all my George L cables and went with pancakes and EA monorail.
    I am not an expert solderer (is that even a word) but I can do ok, and I was having a rough go.
    I had some cheap solder that came with some old soldering iron. Went to the shack got some new stuff and it was night and day, instant difference.
    Melted instantly, hardened almost instantly etc.
  12. nshuman

    nshuman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2012
    Montreal, Qc, Canada
    Yeah, good solder and a good iron are very important. At the end of the day, good tools are always important.
  13. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I HATE solderless cables kits. Never again for me. I have soldered up a bunch and they work fine. But lately I've become hooked on the EBS patch cables. Cheap as heck, come in four lengths, super flexible, and the plugs have the sleekest form factor I've seen.
    Adamixoye likes this.
  14. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    You just need to get some better skills soldering. Just go to YouTube and search "how to solder guitar cables", or something similar. There are a bunch of videos that will help you out. I'd say that one of the biggest problems that inexperienced people have is they don't realize that they need to tin the ends of the cables that they want to solder. Make sure you are using solder for electronics, NOT plumber's solder. It's an easy skill to learn. Check out the videos.
    Mosfed likes this.
  15. nshuman

    nshuman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2012
    Montreal, Qc, Canada
    Hey, on the Lava Kits, which I love, one question: Did you get the old style ones or the tightrope solid core ones? If you got the tightrope ones, they are very hard to make and very unreliable.

    On the classic lava ones, the trick is really to not leave a lot of centre come out of the sleeve or some of the outer conductor. The most common mistakes with the lava cables is leaving enough conductor so that they short circuit. That and not putting inserting it in the connector straight enough to make a good contact.
  16. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    My pedal board is in a small state of flux, as soon as that is worked out I am making a big order of these.
  17. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
  18. People who can solder never believe those who can't. However, it's a particularly tricky form of dexterity that is needed, and good eyesight. Now I'm a certain age I use a small magnifying glass on a little gooseneck - it makes all the difference. You need to be accurate, quick and above all, neat. Stray strands you can hardly see are what kills many solder jobs. Either that or melted insulation where you kept the heat on the joint too long, and the insulation fails. The most common fault is in assuming solder is electrical glue, and it's job is to stick things together. It isn't!

    The secret is to get the two surfaces that need soldering together in a way that the solder will flow quickly, so this means tinning the cable first - just a light flow of solder on the twisted strands you are about to attach to the little tag in the centre of the jack. If the wire, with it's tinned end is small enough to go through a little hole, do it, and bend the end back and squeeze - so the joint is already made strong. Then a quick touch of the iron and some solder will flow over the wire and the jack plug tag - remove the iron, let it cool, and don't blow. That's a decent joint. If the actual joint is under strain, or apart - solder isn't going to work properly. Practice is the key!
    pebo likes this.
  19. You might need a little more power in the iron. Copper is really fast at pulling heat down the cable before it can get hot enough to properly wick solder. Another thing. Even poor soldering usually passes signal. It's just not reliable. I'd guess the problem is more about stray wires or the hot side grounding to the shell.
  20. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    I'm pretty sure it's the old style. I remembered what you had said about the tightrope stuff, so I wanted to go with the mini ELC kit. I may have left too much center, but I did try it both ways(Leaving the shield and cutting it off). I may try one more time...

    Thanks much!

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