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Stupid soldering iron!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Gnarlynewman, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. Gnarlynewman


    Apr 10, 2014
    New jersey
    So I've wanted to switch to bass from guitar for quiet some time now. I searched craigslist for a while in hopes to find a good enough deal for me to jump on. Finally! A squier vintage modified jazz popped up for 150. The owner says the input jack is disconnected and that's the only problem. I went there that day to buy. I took off the control plate and found what looks like a mess of wiring and points that were no longer soldered. I have a background in automotive wiring so this doesn't bother me at all.

    I get it home and grab my soldering gun. The stupid this doesn't put out enough power to melt the solder on the pots. It just gets kinda tacky and won't hold anything. I just wanna plug in my new baby and play!

    Could the gun be at fault? Or maybe the original owner used the wrong solder?
  2. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    The pot works like a heat sink. Make sure everything is clean.

    Next holding the iron in place causes the part of the iron in contact with the pot/jack to cool down. Slightly moving the tip will allow a fresh part of the tip to come in contact with the pot/jack. This part of the tip should be warmer. A bit of practice helps with this.

    A higher power iron will help. I have a Weller TC 201. I can change the tips to whatever I need.

    For instance you could use a bit more power now. Using a larger tip will give me more power when I need it. Contra a smaller tip will give me less power when that's what I need.

    If you plan on doing a lot of soldering an investment like this is more than a good idea. It's common sense.

    I bet I paid something like 50 bucks for this unit. Forty years ago. And it's one of the best investments I've made.

  3. Gnarlynewman


    Apr 10, 2014
    New jersey
    Nice! Thank you friend! I'll have to stop at radioshack later on and get this thing resolved
  4. Lefty923

    Lefty923 Commercial User

    Dec 7, 2009
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Forum Admin/Owner: Dr. Z Amplification
    Weller is the brand you want, get a variable wattage, the one with the dial. Also take some sand paper and rough up the back of the pot. This will help it adhere and remove any corrosion or patina that could hinder the solder to flow.
  5. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    Make sure the soldering tip end is clean. Just before use, rubbing it on a damp sponge will remove all the residue and get the tip shiny clean. A dirty tip transfers almost no heat.
  6. Gnarlynewman


    Apr 10, 2014
    New jersey
    You guys are all great! Bass players are so much nicer than guitarists hahaha
  7. tmdazed


    Sep 29, 2012
    not sandpaper, fine silica cast off will permeate the aluminum on the back of the pot , you want to use a 3m fiber pad, use a little denatured alcohol to clean after then put a little flux to it after the alcohol evaps , then solder
  8. TheFantod

    TheFantod #5 of the Pentaverate. Took Col. Sanders' spot.

    Aug 7, 2009
    Eastern N.C.
    I don't know what kind of solder Fender uses, but it has often proved invulnerable to my Weller Iron. When all else fails, simply snip the wires and create new soldering points!

    Good luck and happy bass playing!
  9. Soldering guns should not be used for bass wiring. What you want is a pencil iron. Though, ironically, one of the issues with guns is that they usually produce far too much heat, rather than too little. The other issue, in any case, is possible pickup damage caused by the magnetic field of the gun, depending on how careful you are when working.
  10. I have never once damaged any part of a bass or guitar with my Weller gun, even soldering to pots. It's the 2-point trigger model that does 140 and 100 watts of power. I do melt wire insulation occasionally, but that's just me being clumsy ;)
  11. Are you tinning the tip properly?

    This may sound patronising, but I absolutely don't mean it to; I dove right into soldering without any real help and made this exact mistake. I think I was using a gun back then as well (and have since used a gas iron and a pencil iron all to similar effect), and felt like even on its highest setting it just felt like I was pressing the tip against joints, or trying to make connections, and getting nowhere. Once I realised I wasn't tinning properly, everything was fine.

    EDIT: Also, I too have come to prefer lower-wattage irons now, but have never had an issue using more powerful ones or gas. I just find that the accidental burns are a lot less severe using weaker ones >.>
  12. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    That seems way over powered for small wiring jobs. I think the biggest risk is degaussing the pickup, but if it works for you, go for it. I use a pencil tip Weller because its just more practical and easier to maneuver in small spaces. As far as scuffing the pot surface, I was advised against it because some companies apply some type of substance to the pot that promotes solder flow and helps with the heat exchange. Scuffing the surface isn't necessary when done correctly anyway.
  13. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member


    Probably one of the most important things is keeping the tip clean and tinned.
  14. Even if it doesn't seem to be doing much to the solder, try not to hold the soldering iron there too long, you don't want to damage the pot!
  15. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    My TC 201 work station allows for a bit of distance from the work and the transformer.

    I can use a pencil tip or a larger tip if I need more pony power.
  16. Jim C

    Jim C Spector#496:More curves than Sophia + better sound Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    + to all of the above
    Use good flux
    Iron - clean tip and tined
    Wire - clean and tinned
    Pot case - sand small area with sandpaper to remove the plating; I like to tin this section and then apply wire
    Make sure the iron is ready before you start; sometimes it seems forever when you're anxious
    That said, I have a Weller station with an adjustable temp with indicator, non magnetic, and a variety of tips
    Back in the day it was a Weller soldering iron
  17. Gnarlynewman


    Apr 10, 2014
    New jersey
    You all are so wise in the way of wiring. Of course i tinned the tip I solder at work all the time (BMW master tech). It was just a weak gun I had laying around. I think it was on rated at like 11 watts or something. Bass sounds great now though!

    Still shocked how much squier has improved since the last time I've held one.
  18. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Lots of great info/ tips already-
    one to add:
    be sure the gun/ tip is fully hot before applying it to the pot, as then the work area will heat quicker, and the job will be done sooner before the heat migrates to heat up the entire pot.
    Same thing with wires- get the tip fully hot, get the job done and the tip back off the work sooner.
  19. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    If you screw anything up, I have the pots from a Squier VM sitting here on my desk from one that I upgraded. All it needs is ground wires attached, but it's complete otherwise.

    I, too, use a Weller gun and haven't burnt anything out. But a good pencil iron would be way easier to use.
  20. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    It helps to melt a little solder on the iron's tip before you start to solder, It give a larger area for heat transfer. A gun will certainly work, but you have to be very careful not to overheat the item being soldered. Just make sure the solder flows and looks smooth and shiny. If it looks like a ball - that means that it is not properly soldered.

    P.S. - it is the OUTPUT jack on the bass. The input is on your amp.