soldering question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by tommer, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. tommer


    Aug 11, 2003
    New York City
    I'm installing new input jack, volume/tone pots, and pick-ups on my Fender MIM P bass. Is there a certain type of solder to use (or NOT to use)? Is there a ceratin wattage of soldering iron I should use?

    I did a search in the forums, but didin't see anything on this.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    Use rosin core solder and at least a 30 watt soldering iron.
  3. tommer


    Aug 11, 2003
    New York City
    that's what I was using last night, but had some trouble with the ground connections sticking to the back of the pots. Any tips to making those stick?

  4. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    The main thing that you need for that is more heat. You may have to go to 40 watt iron for this. Make sure you heat up the pot casing first then try to solder to it. Also, this may sound stupid but, make sure you don't have any kind of breeze such as an open window or a fan. Solder cools pretty fast! Hope this helps.
  5. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    also make sure all connections are very clean. Use sandpaper to clean them.
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    all good suggestions so far.

    I generally take a pocket knife and scrape the back of the pot to remove the coating until I get a patch of all 'shiny' metal. The solder takes better to this.
  7. tommer


    Aug 11, 2003
    New York City
    Thanks for the tips! I'll try 'em.

  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I know it's common practice to solder grounds to the backs of pots, but what about star grounding? Some luthiers recommend bringing all grounds to a single point, as close to the jack as possible, to minimise noise. Any thoughts?
  9. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
  10. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    100% correct.

    i wasn't very good at soldering at first so i had my buddy do it for me at first and kinda got a little coaching on it. then i practiced some with some wire-to-wire, wire-to-stem, wire-to-copper plate connections...
  11. Star grounding minimizes ground loop problems (ie. it removes noise)
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I know it's how recording studios are wired (I've done it) and it would seem to make sense for other situations.
  13. Yeah, ideally it should be used in any audio application.
  14. I'm proud of my soldering heritage. I was taught by my father - a TID "Technician in Depth" with the FAA. As long as I've been remembering, he's shunned the low watt guns and opted for the 100/140 watt Weller Universal type gun. The first caution with high watt guns is putting too much heat into a component. But with proper technique, a high watt gun can be used on any component that isn't too small for the tip to fit. When you are soldering pots, that high heat is great for getting your solder blob to have a deep mirror finish.
  15. i spend a good 3 or 4 hours soldering a day at work. Everything from surface mount stuff to cabling.

    Best wattage: 25 watts.

    Solder: 60/40 resin core solder at 0.8mm

    When it comes to pots and soldering to them. Grab a small file. File the tops of each until it becomes slightly rough and a different shade of silver. Solder onto this first before you solder the wire. What this does is "tin" the pot.

    Any wires you need to use, strip back the ends about 5mm then twist the end to form nice tight braid. Tin this first too. Then you only have to heat the joint for about 2 seconds when u bring the wire to the back of the pot.

    If you need a hand when it comes to electronics, drop me a line.

    Star grounding is good, but probably not that necessary in a bass guitar. The inside cavity is usually shielded, but if not the amount of wire is minimal, usually shielded, and is of short runs. Often than not there is one to two grounds anyway. The bridge and the electronics. As the pots are all linked together and then if its active there is a ground plane on the circuit board that is tied back to battery negative.

    Ahh too tired after work to go into it further right now. Spent all day installing a projector system. Thats ma new job. Its fun!



  16. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    Get the end of the wire and put it straight, then heat it up with your iron and then move your solder into it. This is called tinning. It makes it uch easier to solder a wire to a component
  17. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    nice posts, especially merls. also check out the soldering 101 tutorial at david king's website, (that's the homepage, search around a bit) for more tips
  18. I soldered for 3 and a half hours today. I'm gonna be seeing wiring diagrams in my sleep! heelllp meeeeee :p


  19. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    I like this pholosophy. A buddy of mine I used to work with used a 60w Weller for everything, even circuit board stuff. We thought he was nuts. but his idea was that with the high wattage, you could get on it and off of it quicker, thus reducing the chance of overheating something. He and I worked together a lot. We each would use whoever's iron was out and hot. I had a 25w Weller. As time went on, I got where I hardly ever got mine out. I prefered his 60. That's probably what I'll buy next.

    Tin the back of the pot and the wire as others have suggested. That way, less heat and very little solder will be needed when you go to stick them.

    I always touch the solder to the tip of the iron before I try to heat anything. This wets the tip and lets it transfer heat better.
  20. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Like everyone has said-
    1- clean both surfaces (sometimes an old wire may have some oxidation on the copper)
    2- tin both surfaces
    3- work with a wet tip to transfer the heat
    4- use rosin core solder

    Theoretically, except for wetting the iron, the solder should never have to touch the iron. The iron should touch the wire and heat it, and the solder should melt when it is touched to the wire. This usually works well for me. I'm sure the "pros" do it every time, though.