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Solder WON'T stick to pot body!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by billoetjen, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Hi,

    Looking for some sanity here.
    I've been at this for awhile, and I usually can get it to work. But the very smooth concentric pots sent to me by Warmoth just won't take the solder. I even tried sanding a spot, but nothing. The joints just keep popping off. :bawl:
    Any suggestions? Work-arounds?

  2. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Is your soldering iron out enough ?

    When I encountered this problem on my last pot switch, I pinned the wire to the pot with the tip of the iron for 20-25 seconds and then brought the solder. If you're careful about not making a huge blob, it should work.

    If not, have you tried scarring the surface with something like a screwdriver and then steelwooling it ?
  3. excane

    excane Banned

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Make sure the iron is hot enough and try using quality rosin-core or silver solder.
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    like someone said, scuff up the back of the pot with some sandpaper or steel wool....that'll do it for you.
  5. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    This seems to come up a lot and it is really a simple process.
    The pot cases are plated so they won't rust; depending on the plating, soldering will either be poor or impossible.
    You must first sand through the plating (100 grit paper works well), use a soldering gun or large iron (not some little 12 watt job for PC boards).

    Apply some flux to the case, heat, and tin the case with solder; do the same to the wire; heat case, apply wire, and allow to cool.

    Clean the flux from the case and wire to avoid corrosion.
  6. knarleybass

    knarleybass Commercial User

    Apr 6, 2005
    Tustin, CA
    Owner of Ulyate Instruments
    I used to use my belt sander to really sand off the top layer of what every they coat those pots with
  7. That sounds like the diggety.
    I'll be off to Radio Shack in the morning.


  8. Per above posts-sand or file or dremel or whatever, to bare metal. Sometimes takes quite a bit of grinding to get there.
  9. xk49w


    Apr 13, 2008
    Though I have done it, I've always thought soldering to the pot body to get a ground was kind of... cheesy. There I've said it. :bag:

    -- Mr Cheese
  10. Heads up though...sanding is the right thing to do but remember your removing a substance with the sandpaper and creating a dust (minute or not) that can get into the pot. Take some time and care and yes get decent solder. You don't want the Super thick stuff (take a lot of heat) nor the Super thin (too runny). You may want to practice on a spare...radio shack may even have one cheap.
  11. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    You need to use some paste flux when trying to solder on the flat metal surfaces.
    Just get a simple can of flux from any auto parts or I think radio shack too, sometimes it even comes with a tiny brush so you can apply it.

    I never do solder jobs without flux. It makes the solder etch to the metal sooooo much better than solder alone, and it makes the solder wick onto the strands of wire much easier. The joints come out much cleaner looking like factory jobs too.

    And no, with flux, you don't need to sand away the plating.
  12. Mad Russian

    Mad Russian

    Aug 25, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    Most solder has flux-core. You may also try a little isopropyl alcohol on the pot. Rub this will remove any oils that are on the pot. You should then be able to solder.
  13. This looks good to me too... I always use a 40-watter with a well-tinned, CLEAN tip when working on pots. Also, as stated before:. ."silver solder and soldering flux".... those minor tweaks should put your project back on track.

  14. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD

    Absolutely incorrect, whether soldering with standard 60/40 (tin/lead), silver solder, or welding with brass or steel, the base metal must be free of plating.

    Certainly galvanizing or galvaneal coatings are the worst, but clear zinc or gold zinc is also not appropriate to solder to for a decent, low impedance connection.

    As far as brands go, I prefer La-co flux paste and either Ersin multi-core or standard Kester solder.

    I would think that anyting in the electronics aisle at radio Shack would be fine.
  15. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Of all the factory solders I've seen on instruments (Fender, Ibanez, etc), it doesn't look like they remove the plating from the pot before soldering - and their solders look great and last. Frequently there is a brown ring around the solder on the pot, which indicates they use a big blob of flux.
  16. Bluesbob


    Mar 13, 2000
    Springfield, TN
    The pots ground to the metal plate on a jazz. My All-Parts P-bass pickguard has a piece of foil where the pots go, but I grounded everything anyway. I like good grounds, you see, and I don't know about that foil. But I have seen some pickguards without the conductive foil. It would be necessary to ground the pots by soldering wire from the backs, one to the other (and to all grounds on pups, bridge, etc.) if this is the case.
  17. JackANSI


    Sep 12, 2006
    Sounds like you're just not getting enough heat into the pot. Let your iron warm up for more than 5 minutes.

    You can solder pots even with a dirty 25W cheapo iron thats been in a box in a basement for 3 years.

    Flux-core solder (doesn't matter about composition) in 0.8mm is going to be your best bet. Any smaller and there isn't enough flux on the inside. Any larger and you suck out too much heat too fast to get a good joint.
  18. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    Try some wire wool to clean the surface (wet n dry works too) and use flux.
  19. rcarraher


    Dec 21, 2008
    Ditto, and remember, heat the pot body and apply the solder to the pot body, not the iron.. If that fails, scratch up the pot body, get some solder flux (radio shack will have a small tin pretty cheap) brush some on and repeat the above.

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