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Soldering wire to pot terminal: Mechanical connection?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Lobster11, Sep 27, 2008.


  1. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I'm teaching myself to solder to replace pickups, pots, etc., and have read lots of threads here and elsewhere for tips. One thing about which there seems to be much disagreement, though, is whether a mechanical connection should be created before soldering a wire to a pot terminal. Most folks seem to just lay the wire against the terminal and solder it in place, but others suggest wrapping the wire around the terminal and through the little hole in the terminal to create a mechanical connection before soldering. This makes senes to me -- i.e., for a strong mechanical as well as electrical connection -- and doesn't seem difficult to do. Besides, what else is the little hole in the terminal for?

    So, which way should I do it? And particularly, what is the argument for NOT doing a wrap-and-twist first?
     
  2. Thangfish

    Thangfish ...overly qualified for janitorical deployment...

    It's not necessary for a strong connection, but it usually makes getting a good solder joint easier, because you don't have to hold the wire in position.

    The only "con" I can imagine would be that it makes the connection slightly more difficult to remove when swapping pots, or whatever.

    I don't wrap and twist. I just make a little hook in the wire to go through the hole in the terminal
     
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The argument against it is if you need to desolder it (say you got the pot's wiring backwards, for example, very common) then wrap/twist is extremely difficult to undo without damaging things. Me personally, I just make a tiny hook in the end of the wire- enough to hold it in the hole, but not so much that desoldering is any trouble.

    Edit: jinx!
     
  4. Thangfish

    Thangfish ...overly qualified for janitorical deployment...

    Uh, what he said!
     
  5. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Wow -- two TBers in agreement! :ninja:

    The hook idea seems like a good compromise (and provides the poor little hole with a function). I definitely see the downside of wrapping if you have to undo the connection at some point later. On the other hand, I was thinking that an advantage of wrapping is that you could get a good-enough temporary connection to test out the bass before soldering, thus eliminating the possibility of having to re-do it immediately because you got wires switched or something. But I guess it isn't that much different if you avoid wrapping in the first place, so that if you do discover an error it's no big deal to wick up the solder and do it again.
     
  6. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I'm now persuaded to adopt the technique that you guys are using, but I have one more little follow-up question regarding your soldering technique. Once you have the wire in place -- laying, I presume, from the end of the terminal to the terminal hole into which your little hook disappears -- where do you apply the tip of the soldering iron and then where the solder? That is, would you apply the heat where the wire disappears into the hole, and then the solder near the end of the terminal, or the other way around? Thanks!
     
  7. quigg

    quigg

    Jul 27, 2008
    Norfolk, VA
    When I solder wires onto terminals at work I use the hook method too. I always apply heat to the side of the terminal opposite the wire (when it is a spade terminal) that I am soldering, and then wick away any excess. This way you keep the heat as far away from the insulation as possible so there is minimal chance of melting it. It helps if you have a "third hand" (a paperweight with two alligator clips). Good luck and I hope you burn yourself a lot less than I did when I was learning! :bassist:
     
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Also, don't allow the wire to move while the solder is cooling. If it does, resolder it. Make sure to tin the end of the wire before you solder it to the lug.
     
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Check, and check. Thanks.
     
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I try to lay the edge of the tip of the soldering iron against both the wire and the terminal (or pad) at the same time- that way they both heat up as quickly as possible. Then I feed the solder into the edge/nook where the wire touches the terminal/pad. When both components are hot enough, the solder will flow freely across both parts; if one part is not hot enough, the solder will not stick to it.

    Another tip: use sandpaper, steel wool, or a file to abrade the surface of the terminals; this removes any coatings that might inhibit the solder from sticking.
     
  11. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Also very helpful, thanks! Anyone else have tips to share?
     
  12. Don't solder with shorts on. ;)
     
  13. stflbn

    stflbn

    May 10, 2007
    Nashville
    +1 Always the way I go about it for the same reasons.
     
  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    So I should solder naked?! Well, okay, if you say so: You guys are the experts....
     

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