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Why not more solderless pickups and pots

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by -Asdfgh-, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    This is based on JimmyM's discussion of the Geezer P pickups...

    In this modern day and age you'd expect that all pickups and pots would come in that solderless form. It would mean on a wet weekend you could go crazy and swap all your pickups and pots in all your bases around, just to see how they sounded, and then put them all back again.

    For example, I have a set of old Kent Armstrongs overwould jazz pickups (I bought the bass they were in 15 years ago but I think they are marked 1989, but I put a set of 64 Wizards in the bass to bring it back to a stock sound) in the parts box and I am tempted to swap those out into the backup fretless, replacing the somewhat 'meh' basic VM pickups but it's a hassle to desolder, solder, and then potentially desolder and resolder if I don't like the sound. If it was a case of just swaping some connectors I'd be done.

    It makes me wonder if it is possible to attach those molex connectors effectively to existing pickups as done once it would be a case of being able to chop and change as much as you'd like after that or pickups of compatible forms.
  2. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Connectors should be of flawless quality, preferably gold plated, to make sure they won't let you down at a gig.
  3. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Consumer electronics, cars, amplifiers, PAs, and the like today are replete with solderless connections which seem to work the vast majority of the time, so I think that the connectors staying together shouldn't be an issue unless you are very, very active on stage or regularly drive to a gig over cobbles. Molex-type connectors exist with clip tabs for very positive connection. Given my soldering skill I'd trust a Molex to hold more than my soldering anyway!

    I don't see that gold connections are a requirement. Is there a demonstrable benefit to audio quality at frequencies that bass covers over just a good, solid connection that is corrosion free, and the connections, which once made inside a base, should hopefully be free from finger dirt, water etc? If you sweat enough that you need non corrosive finishes inside the control system of your bass I'd be worried about you going near a plugged-in amplifier :)
  4. Isotonic

    Isotonic Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    A quality soldering kit is your friend. A quality soldered connection is not difficult at all. To solder to a pot, you have to heat a large piece of metal, which requires more heat. With the right tools (I paid $65 for my Hakko), soldering is not difficult at all. Solder connections are more reliable than connectors. Connectors will give pickup manufacturers another expense to pass on to the consumer.
  5. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I would love to see where this has been proven? and because soldering is easy for "you" doesn't mean everyone can do it. I think it's a great idea I had a custom preamp in a Jazz with quick connect and had zero problems with it and I can change pickups before the soldering iron is even hot enough to use.
  6. gpx1200

    gpx1200 Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2013
    spencer mass
    take yourself to a good well stocked hobby shop that sells suplys for building rc airplanes and youll find all the conectors you could want to convert all your electronics to solderless
    the emg conectors are the same ones used in all the rc raido conections for rc cars,boats and planes witch do a lot more bouncing around that any bass should.
    also if you have bare wires that you need to connect to a solderless plug (like if you want to wire a tw to a toggle switch) you can remove the pins from an extra red power buss and solder/shrinkwrap one to the end of a single wire and bam it's solderless

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  7. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Indeed, my dad could solder, weld, build cabinets, and so on. If I had to solder a pickup I'd need to leave enough time for five attempts plus enough time for the burns to heal before a gig. I seem to have insufficient numbers of hands, and that's even including the fact that I have a helping hands clamp with built-in magnifying glass!
  8. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Great tip! I will have to check that out.
  9. I guess there doesn't seem to be enough of a demand.
    Soldering is easy. Anyone can learn, it's easier than eating spaghetti! :p but I like it too when I can use screw terminals instead, as it saves hassle.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Cost and long term reliability are issues. What's more expensive a simple solderable tab that for all purposes has an infinite life span or a tiny machined part that can be very easily stripped in two places?....especially by a doofus muso who's too lazy or mechanically inept to learn something as simple as soldering.

    Size is a factor too. I made a couple of 2.1 to 2.5 power supply cables using some solderless parts (all that was available the day I needed them) and the solderless plugs are twice the size to accommodate the set screw connection.
  11. lancimouspitt


    Dec 10, 2008
    dayton Ohio
    I completely agree. I've been meaning to by a solder but don't really have the need for one...........Yet.
  12. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Remember that the pots in a bass are the same as used in a very wide variety of electronics. Solderless connectors are an added expense that would drive purchasers in much larger markets than musical instruments to buy from a competitor with lower prices.
  13. :D:p

    Ha ha, I can sympathise, about not having enough hands. I use small metal clamps now. It allows me to hold the cables together and it doesn't become a circus session.
  14. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    That's a fair point. With soldering machines I wonder if it is faster and cheaper to build pots that require solder and have the machine in the factory solder it an assembly for consumer electronics than have someone push connectors together?
  15. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    It also takes longer to add a connector to a wire then push them together than to solder the wire to a lug.
  16. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Terminal blocks and connectors are plenty reliable for a bass application, hell they are used in control circuits in a chemical plant. They are proven to be reliable. Its not like they will have to survive any type of weather so corrosion, wont be a factor, and they won't be subjected to any real stress.

    The real reason that it isn't as common is because the extra expense of the terminal blocks, connectors, and the fact that a set of pickups will also have to include pots, switches and output jacks to make it truly solder free will all be passed onto the customer. When all is said and done, there is no real advantage over a soldered connection.
  17. It's a simple fact. No matter how good you think your mechanical connection is, it is still only a mechanical connection, and it is going to corrode over time, unless you seal it in epoxy or something. A soldered connection will not corrode the way a mechanical one will.

    Not that it's a big deal to replace certain things every few decades.
  18. Cadfael


    Jan 4, 2013
    Germany, EU

    A soldered connection may corrode as well.
    But it only corrodes on the surface. The "main connection" is "embedded under the solder coat" (if you solder correct). The solder is the corrosion protection itself.

    A correctly soldered connection can also not be harmed by vibrations (during the lifetime of the bass player).

    Soldering is the best marriage ...
    Solderless is the best one-night stand ... :smug:
  19. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I've been repairing lab equipment for decades. By far most of the problems are caused by bad contact between connectors. Metal fatigue as well as corrosion are quite common. Of course there are reliable connectors that will serve the goal for decades. These connectors are or quite big, or very expensive. Gold plating, as I mentioned before, is one of the common measures against corrosion. Soldering is a very reliable and affordable technology, but requires some skill. Bad solder joints are number two on my list of causes for bad contact, but then it's a matter of poor workmanship.
  20. MoreBeer


    Jan 5, 2014
    I did a little soldering today adding a tone pot to a bass that didn't have one. I don't think soldering is too difficult although I did plenty of it years ago repairing equipment in my printing business so there ya go.

    The key to easy soldering is having the clips and tools to hold things in place. An illuminated magnifying lamp that clamps on to your workbench is nice too, which I have and only costs about $35. If you're doing small electrical work, its a must.

    I bought mine when I was repairing some of the the tinsels (which attach the voice coil to the soft dome) of midrange drivers in my vintage Infinity Quantum 2 speakers. That was almost like brain surgery. Wow, what a winded reply that drifted off the topic. LOL! :D