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Soldering for effects pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Basehead, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Basehead

    Basehead Now with even more synthy goodness... Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    New York NY
    Hey all,

    I was thinking about starting a thread (possible sticky) on soldering best practices for pedals, wiring, cables, etc.

    I plan on learning in the next couple weeks but I have lots of preliminary questions:

    1. Traditional Soldering kit or resistance (cold) soldering kit? Any advantage/disadvantage going with one or the other?

    2. Soldering station "must haves". Any info on things experienced solderers (is that a word?) have at their work stations that help the process.

    3. Best type of solder? Rosin core, lead-free, or silver solder? Any recommended thickness for working with effects and/or cables?

    There are many video tutorials and sites on how to solder, so any info on which are best would be appreciated. Also, any info on where to get the best parts/prices (I'm in the North East) would be great as well.

    My planned projects are modding an expression pedal, upgrading some stomp switches, and building my own MIDI/TRS cables.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. for me lead free solder from now on and working in a well ventilated areas. The fumes and smoke give me headaches, and probably are not the best for my health.
  3. MilkyMcMilkMilk


    Dec 17, 2008
    I just finished my 1st fuzz kit, so i'm far from an expert.

    But for a soldering iron the Weller WLC 100 is great. costs about $40.
    Comes with the station and has a temperature control.
    You can get a cheap auto range volt meter on Ebay, $15 bucks or so.

    Now i'm using 60/40 tin lead combo, after I finish that off i'm gonna try the silver solder.

    I had never even touched a soldering iron before beginning to build that kit.
    I watched a few youtube videos to figure how and how not to solder.
    It's dead simple really.

    Definitely a great hobby, I've got 3 more pedal builds lined up already.
  4. mgalat


    Dec 5, 2011
    I solder my own cables...and am a cheap guy.

    Absolute Basics:
    1) soldering iron from Harbor Freight ($8)
    2) roll of rosin core solder ($2 ... might even come with the iron)
    3) damp sponge for cleaning your iron tip

    Watch youtube vids for tips on "tinning" wires and you're set for making your own instrument cable

    Things that are nice to have:
    1) A vice or something similar to hold stuff while you are soldering it
    2) A fan to keep you from breathing in too many fumes
  5. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
    God, the replacement tip for the Weller station that I borrow from work cost $40 to replace when it burnt out.
  6. MilkyMcMilkMilk


    Dec 17, 2008
    They make high end stuff. The one I mentioned however is not.
    It's more of a hobby grade iron, but does the job for a few pedal builds, repairs or pickup swap outs.
  7. Spencer!


    Jun 25, 2006
    Owner, Pike Amplification & 3Leaf Audio
  8. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    Get the Hakko 936 replacement they make now.
    Get the 60/40 roll from Small Bear. I like Mammoth, but their solder is terrible.

    Don't cheap out on soldering gear. More trouble in the long run, especially of you want to keep soldering.
  9. gumtown


    May 7, 2007
    New Zealand
    use a reasonably fine tip soldering iron 40~60 watts for the small component/circuit board stuff.
    i don't like the lead free stuff, it doesn,t flow/stick as good as lead/tin - must be rosin cored too.
    for leads - tin both the wire and plug first, then sweat them together.
    keep the tip clean, wipe and tin the tip regularly. if the tip keeps loosing it's tinning, the iron is probably too hot.
    difficult plug solder tags may require an abrasive rub.
    don't inhale the fumes. keep the room ventilated.
    don't melt plastic with your iron.
  10. Basehead

    Basehead Now with even more synthy goodness... Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    New York NY
    This is awesome stuff guys...keep 'em coming

    Thanks so much!!
  11. Collect several different "third hand" gadgets and tools to hold your project while soldering/building. Good lighting. Magnifier.
  12. +1
    I have a titanium drill bit set AND an Irwin Unibit. After trying to get buy with just the set, I realized that it's much easier to have a step bit. No regrets.

    +1 to this too
    I use an Ott light that I stole from my mom. It's a full spectrum CFL bulb. Main reason for that is it's very bright and covers a large area. Plus, its a CFL so it generates very little heat. This I've found is important for soldering, especially with a difficult build. The last thing when you're wielding a hot iron is MORE heat from an incandescent or halogen bulb(what I use to use). This decreases frustration and keeps you cool :cool:

    I tend to agree with this. Lead-free solder has the tendency to sprout unwanted solder wiskers, potentially causing problems in the circuit you're trying to build. When using regular (non-lead free) solder, make sure you're in a well ventilated area and that you wash your hands after handling the solder. Also, make sure not to leave any solder around where children and/or pets can ingest it.

    +1 Time and time again, I find this to be true. My first iron was a cheap-o and ended up slowly dieing on me. Since I didn't know this was happening, it ended up making me very frustrated with my builds because I couldn't get the solder to flow properly. This is the iron I've been using for the past year or so now. While it isn't the most expensive iron, by any means, it's adequate for building pedals for you and your friends.