Is this solder OK for guitar electronics?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by kingofrats, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. kingofrats

    kingofrats Member

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    Looking to get into the world of soldering and electronics. I know rosin core solder is recommended for guitar electronics, but look at this pic and let me know if this solder is good to use.

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  2. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    I have no idea. They don't list the actual composition anywhere nor can I find how reactive the flux is. It's awfully thick too. Personally, I would toss it in the trash. What you want is something like Kester 44, 63/37 (60/40 if that's all you can find, but 63/37 is superior). About .032" is right for general guitar work. That said, even a small tube of Radio Shack solder is probably superior to whatever mystery alloy that BernzOMatic crap is, and believe me I don't go around recommending Radio Shack solder all that often.
     
  3. CG lutherie

    CG lutherie Member

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    i use "ordinary" solder, this one is ok.
     
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  4. bluesjunior

    bluesjunior Member

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    It is a bit heavy for guitar work at 1.6mm. I use the same make but 0.7mm on my guitars and it is just fine. The problem with that thick stuff is the heat needed, it could be used on the pot backs on the grounds but you will more than likely do the pots a damage. Don't know about the USA but lead based solders are totally banned in Europe now for health reasons. The solder in the pic is what you can buy nowadays.
     
  5. Riscchip

    Riscchip Supporting Member

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    If lead solder is banned in Europe, why do they sell in on Amazon France, Amazon Italy, Amazon Spain, as well as eBay etc.? Seems like you can get it easily. I've always wondered about that. Hopefully Europeans aren't repairing vintage guitars and amplifiers with lead free solder...yuck.

    I'd suggest skipping that lead free solder and just go with regular 60-40 or 63-37 which is easy to find and easy to use.
     
  6. kingofrats

    kingofrats Member

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    Good to know.

    How about this Kester, is this what you're referring to?

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    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  7. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    That's what I'm referring to :)

    The "44" is the series (mostly referring to the kind of flux). That's pretty much industry standard for leaded solder. The "66" is the size of the flux core (66 is the one you want, the largest). 60/40 is the tin/lead mix. That's got to be an old roll, right? I don't think they even make a .75mm anymore, but that's a very good size that will work well for just about anything you'll encounter on a guitar.
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    but given the choice, you still want 63/37 instead of 60/40, right?; that way, you're dealing with solder that's either liquid or solid, with no in-between "ketchup" stage to leave you with bad joints.
     
  9. kingofrats

    kingofrats Member

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    Does the 60/40 leave an in-between stage?
     
  10. CG lutherie

    CG lutherie Member

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    oh yes, right, i haven't saw the diameter.
     
  11. bluesjunior

    bluesjunior Member

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    Here are the rules in regard to that over here.
    Lead-free solder

    Soldering copper pipes using a propane torch and lead-free solder
    On July 1, 2006 the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) came into effect prohibiting the inclusion of significant quantities of lead in most consumer electronics produced in the EU. In the US, manufacturers may receive tax benefits by reducing the use of lead-based solder. Lead-free solders in commercial use may contain tin, copper, silver, bismuth, indium, zinc, antimony, and traces of other metals. Most lead-free replacements for conventional Sn60/Pb40 and Sn63/Pb37 solder have melting points from 5 to 20 °C higher,[12] though there are also solders with much lower melting points.

    There are drop-in replacements for silkscreen with solder paste soldering operations.

    It may be desirable to use minor modification of the solder pots (e.g. titanium liners or impellers) used in wave-soldering, to reduce maintenance cost due to increased tin-scavenging of high-tin solder.

    Lead-free solder may be less desirable for critical applications, such as aerospace and medical projects, because its properties are less thoroughly known. "Tin whiskers" were a problem with early electronic solders, and lead was initially added to the alloy in part to eliminate them.

    Sn-Ag-Cu (Tin-Silver-Copper) solders are used by two-thirds of Japanese manufacturers for reflow and wave soldering, and by about 75% of companies for hand soldering. The widespread use of this popular lead-free solder alloy family is based on the reduced melting point of the Sn-Ag-Cu ternary eutectic behavior (217 ˚C), which is below the Sn-3.5Ag (wt.%) eutectic of 221 °C and the Sn-0.7Cu eutectic of 227 °C (recently revised by P. Snugovsky to Sn-0.9Cu). The ternary eutectic behavior of Sn-Ag-Cu and its application for electronics assembly was discovered (and patented) by a team of researchers from Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and from Sandia National Laboratories-Albuquerque.

    Much recent research has focused on selection of 4th element additions to Sn-Ag-Cu to provide compatibility for the reduced cooling rate of solder sphere reflow for assembly of ball grid arrays, e.g., Sn-3.5Ag-0.74Cu-0.21Zn (melting range of 217–220 ˚C) and Sn-3.5Ag-0.85Cu-0.10Mn (melting range of 211–215 ˚C).

    Tin-based solders readily dissolve gold, forming brittle intermetallics; for Sn-Pb alloys the critical concentration of gold to embrittle the joint is about 4%. Indium-rich solders (usually indium-lead) are more suitable for soldering thicker gold layer as the dissolution rate of gold in indium is much slower. Tin-rich solders also readily dissolve silver; for soldering silver metallization or surfaces, alloys with addition of silvers are suitable; tin-free alloys are also a choice, though their wettability is poorer. If the soldering time is long enough to form the intermetallics, the tin surface of a joint soldered to gold is very dull.[9]

    Lead-free solder has a higher Young's modulus than lead-based solder, making it more brittle when deformed. When the PCB on which the electronic components are mounted is subject to bending stress due to warping, the solder joint deteriorates and fractures can appear. This effect is called solder cracking.[13] Another fault is Kirkendall voids which are microscopic cavities in solder. When two different types of metal that are in contact are heated, dispersion occurs (see also Kirkendall effect). Repeated thermal cycling cause the formation of voids which tends to cause solder cracks. Lead-free solder can cause short life cycles of products, as well as planned obsolescence.[13]
     
  12. PGrant

    PGrant Member

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    You can get it easy, it's not an outright ban. It's OK to use for personal use, just not for commercial releases.
     
  13. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    63/37 is best for hand soldering, no doubt, but 60/40 will work fine. Just be extra special careful not to move the joint while it's cooling. Honestly, you need to do that anyway with 63/37 because even though it's a eutectic alloy, different parts of the joint still cool at different rates and you can still get a disturbed joint. It's just much harder to truly make a disturbed joint that will cause you problems. 60/40 was industry standard for a long time, and it's still used quite a bit for hand soldering (mostly, I think, because someone doesn't want to go and update a bunch of procedures, re-qualify, etc etc). All new work is 63/37, though. Kester has a more aggressive rosin flux they developed for lead-free hand soldering. It's Kester 48. The only lead alloy available in Kester 48 is 63/37...they didn't even bother with 60/40.
     
  14. kingofrats

    kingofrats Member

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    As someone who's learning the ins/outs of soldering, I find the steady hand to be a bit of a challenge. I'm sure I'll get better at it, but for some reason, my hands get "the shakes" sometimes.
     
  15. Otto Tune

    Otto Tune Member

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    The best thing I did was buy a pair of cheap reading glasses way stronger than I needed. It sounds goofy, but I was helping a friend build circuit boards and I was soldering chips onto the PC boards. I got 3.25's and I could focus on my fingerprint at 5". It made soldering so much easier, but be careful because you can't see anything far away. Practice makes the shakes go away. Remember, you're heating the work, not the solder. Also, clips and tools to hold the wire steady help a lot. I've been known to hold solder in my teeth to use both hands, probably not recommended.
     
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  16. Riscchip

    Riscchip Supporting Member

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    That makes a lot more sense. The notion of a "total ban" sounded pretty far fetched to me given all the European vendors selling the stuff.
     

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