I need Soldering training

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Gillespie1983, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. Gillespie1983

    Gillespie1983 Member

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    I have had no training or work experience with soldering. So: I can make large solder joints that don't hold two wires together and I can melt wire insulation even before the solder begins to flow. Help!
    Recommend some soldering videos, please.
    Recommend a beginner iron, etc for general cable soldering and pickup swapping.

    Thanks in advance from a long-time novice.
     
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  2. HotBluePlates

    HotBluePlates Member

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    How to Solder

    1960 NASA Soldering Movie

    Expert Level Soldering - Training series from NASA-affiliated folks. Many cleaning steps, but shows all the proper steps for no-fail solder joints including steps required by NASA and FAA for aviation soldering (where people's lives depend on good solder joints).
     
  3. paulg

    paulg Supporting Member

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    15 watt iron is good for guitar and amp work. I have a 80watter for tinning pots and chassis grounds
     
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  4. tonegangster

    tonegangster Silver Supporting Member

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    What's a recommended brand for beginners? I just want to do pickups and speakers. Thanks
     
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  5. stahlhart

    stahlhart Member

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    Make a good mechanical connection prior to soldering
    Heat the parts, not the solder
    Find an inexpensive electronic kit or two to build first
    Practice, practice, practice
     
  6. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Member

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    Please don't cheap out on a iron. I did so with a Rat Shack & it was a bigg mistake.
    Buy a good quality one & it will last you a lifetime & will make soldering jobs so
    much easier. :cool:
     
  7. stahlhart

    stahlhart Member

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    No need to really overthink it -- if this will be all you're doing , you'll do just fine with something like a Weller 40W pencil for about $20. Might want to add a cage stand to keep it safe.
     
  8. pdf64

    pdf64 Member

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    Don't use lead free solder wire.
     
  9. HotBluePlates

    HotBluePlates Member

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    I respectfully, but completely disagree. See below

    There's no such thing as a "beginner iron" although there are professional/industrial soldering stations way beyond your requirements. You should get at least a 30-40 watt iron with an assortment of tips if you're gonna solder guitar/amp stuff. Weller & Hakko (and probably others) are decent brands, and you might consider this 40w Weller iron.

    15w doesn't have enough power for chores bigger than soldering small (e.g., 24ga PVC-coated) wire and maybe p.c. board traces. I prefer ~80w irons with big chisel tips for soldering onto the back of pots, assuming I have the room to access the pot. For soldering to an amp chassis, 100-120w is better, or as big as is feasible (less power creates a solder joint that never heated the chassis enough, and the solder will pop off if pried).

    More than one video said "big tips where you need a lot of heat, small tips where you need less heat & more control."

    You might get away with a 15w iron for pickup soldering, but it might also not be hot enough to solder a cable shield to the plug sleeve. It will definitely take you much more time (and risk melted insulation) as you wait for the iron to heat the work. 80w is overkill for most chores, but soldering to a pot case is only feasible with a 40w iron when it's mounted in a guitar (even then it takes waaaay long at times). As soon as that pot is mounted on an amp chassis, the chassis sinks the heat away from the pot case & a 40w iron is often insufficient.

    Buy the right tool the first time, and you won't have to re-buy the same thing later. I'm not pushing you towards $300+ soldering/desoldering stations, but good tools make the work easier.
     
  10. Dan40

    Dan40 Supporting Member

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    I really like the Hakko 888 for guitar and amp building work. I have a smaller pencil tip for guitar work and a slightly larger bevel tip for soldering to pot backs and turrets. One trick that helped me out years ago was to melt plenty of fresh solder onto the tip before placing it on the part I was heating. This helps to transfer the heat to the part quickly and prevent's melted wires and burnt components. The entire process should only take a few seconds from start to finish.
     
  11. Oatie

    Oatie Member

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  12. Yamariv

    Yamariv Member

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    Look up Jonesey Blues on Youtube and follow his advice, it's hard to find people who can solder well on Youtube.. Tin the tip, heat the joint "FIRST" then flow in the solder. Don't blow on it, let it cool without moving the joint for at least 5 seconds. The joint should be shiny! Oh, and for tiny little wires, a 25w Iron is perfect, for soldering the back of Pots then use a 40 Watt.
     
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  13. PushedGlass

    PushedGlass Member

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  14. RandyFackler

    RandyFackler Member

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    I would recommend a 40W Weller - they have a nice kit for around 30 bucks which has an adjustable wattage model, cage stand, and sponge holder. Use rosin core solder and get thin gauge stuff which is more "accurate" to work with on small areas like guitar electronics.

    Here is an excellent video

    .

    Pay special attention to the parts where he explains how the solder will always want to flow towards the heat source. This helps you guide the solder toward the joints and away from things like insulation.
     
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  15. pup tentacle

    pup tentacle Supporting Member

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    I really like the Weller WES51 I bought a few years ago. It's great at keeping a consistent temp, and the flashing light tells when it's warming up or fully-heated.

    I'm a hack compared to most here, only building dozens of cables, installing one set of pickups, and fixing a couple of minor things so far, but I would recommend starting with cables. If you screw it up, just snip the end and start again, no big deal.
     
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  16. Kyle B

    Kyle B Supporting Member

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    Hakko Fx88 or Weller WES51... either will be perfectly suitable and have plenty of power. One thing those cheap 'pencils' don't give you is temperature control. That's kind of a big deal if you want to be able to solder well.
     
  17. Gillespie1983

    Gillespie1983 Member

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    I am a beginner's beginner. I have a Weller 40 watt pencil. And the tip has turned black; now the solder won't melt as easily and it won't stick to the iron--at all. Is the tip a goner? If no, how should I "fix" it? How do I keep this from happening again?
    Beginner-level, almost-embarrassing questions:
    1. Keeping the iron clean: are all sponges created equal?
    2. NASA videos show using Alcohol to clean the solder, wires, etc. Is that basic Isopropyl "medical" alcohol, or some other kind?
    3. NASA talks about Kim wipes, are these special? Will paper towels do?
    4. I have some Water Soluble Paste Flux (Oatey), but not sure if it's for plumbing or for electrical.
    5. My on-hand solder is Sn99.3 Cu0.7 Rosin Core; is that the right stuff?
     
  18. stahlhart

    stahlhart Member

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    1. Yes, provided they are all kept damp. Did you "tin" the tip with solder when it was first heated? If it is properly clean, it should be the color of melted solder when hot.
    2. With as little water as possible -- pure isopropyl alcohol is best, but the 91% stuff you can get at the drug store will also work okay.
    3. I use cotton swabs with (2).
    4. NO -- don't use that. It's acidic flux for plumbing. There is enough rosin in the solder for fluxing, if you've got the correct stuff for electronic work.
    5. Never heard of that type myself; I use 60/40 or 63/37 Sn/Pb.
     
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  19. Gillespie1983

    Gillespie1983 Member

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    Thanks for your response.

    1. I probably did a poor job of tinning the tip. :(
    ...
    5. Sn99.3 Cu0.7 is a Lead-free alloy.
     
  20. Dan40

    Dan40 Supporting Member

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    That lead free stuff may be half your problem. Get yourself some standard 60/40...https://www.parts-express.com/kester-kwik-draw-solder-60-40-0050-13-oz-tube--370-052 solder for electronic work and if you feel you need a little extra flux, these flux pens work great for applying a tiny amount right on the joint.. It sounds as if you may need to start with a new tip at this point though. Always keep melted solder on your tip whether it's just sitting in the stand in between joints or when you are putting it away for the day. Leaving the tip dry will end up ruining it. If the components leads are dirty, I will use a little denatured alcohol and then possibly a scotchbrite pad to clean them before soldering.
     
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