Soldering iron recommendations, please

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by clay49, Jan 13, 2018 at 11:17 AM.


  1. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,254
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Hi folks, I need a recommendation for a reliable soldering iron. I’ve been using the standard Weller offerings from Home Depot, but the standard version doesn’t really get hot enough, or gets cold periodically while I’m right in the middle of using it, and the one with more power seems to fry all my soldering projects, just gets way too hot.

    I don’t mind investing a decent price for a good, reliable tool. Would love to hear what you full-time luthiers use.

    Thanks!
     
  2. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,633
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Hills of WV
    I have used a Weller WLC100 for many years with no problems. It is not a pro production tool but the temp adjustments work fine to tune it to the task at hand and the price is good. The cheaper non adjustable ones (is that what you are using?) are way down the scale for usability.
     
    Mark Robinson likes this.
  3. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,961
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I'd look at a soldering station with a variable temperature as you need the right temperature for the job at hand. Pot shell grounds require a hotter temperature than regular connections. Both a too hot or not hot enough iron can damage what your soldering.
     
  4. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,254
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Any particular brand of soldering station?
     
  5. RLD

    RLD Member

    Messages:
    6,096
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    SeaTown
    I recently bought this...my first solder station after years of using single iron and guns.
    Wow...what a difference.
    Cost was $44
    [​IMG]
     
  6. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

    Messages:
    1,402
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2009
    Location:
    Metro Detroit Area
    That looks like a helluva deal for $44.

    Personally, I'm a huge fan of American Beauty's irons. No gimcrackery, just a solid unit that will stand up under rigorous use for a very long time. It's what production shops use. I like this 40 watt unit for most work.

    You don't need temperature control if the iron/tip has enough mass to it that temperatures don't fluctuate much. Solder melts at between 360°F-380°F, so having an iron you can crank up to 600°F+ is only necessary if the tip is gonna lose heat too fast. So, stay away from pointed tips. You want a narrow screwdriver tip...
    [​IMG]
    ...with about a 1/4" back to it. Touch that to a prospective joint, and the tip won't cool down, the joint will get hot. Then solder can melt/flow, which is the object of the exercise. A tip like that in the iron mentioned above can solder to pot/switch terminals just as well as to spring claws and pot housings.

    They ain't cheap, but they're likely the last soldering iron you'll ever buy.
     
    GA20T likes this.
  7. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,633
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Hills of WV
    That looks pretty amazing for the price. I checked specs on their stuff and there are great features. No info on long term durability but serious bang for the buck.
     
  8. JoePass

    JoePass Member

    Messages:
    568
    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2015
  9. Elantric

    Elantric Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,964
    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo
    Really depends on what exactly are you intending to solder.

    There's a separate tool for each specific soldering job

    the soldering iron I use to repair surface mount technology is very different from the soldering iron I use to repair the separated ground wire from a Fender Twin chassis

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    746
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
  11. sitedrifter

    sitedrifter Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    853
    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Location:
    New Jersey
  12. Lobotomie

    Lobotomie Member

    Messages:
    643
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2016
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I use the Weller WES51 and it’s great.

    A fat flat tip, 63/37 solder and a flux pen and you’re good to go.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 5:26 PM
    K-Line and JefeMaximo like this.
  13. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,254
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
     
  14. malachi1313

    malachi1313 Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2017
    Anything except a butane one. DO NOT waste money on a butane soldering iron.
     
  15. JefeMaximo

    JefeMaximo Huge Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,311
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    Another vote for the Weller WES51.
     
  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    .

    If you are only soldering guitar innerds, you don't need a fancy iron. Soldering is all technique.

    tin the tip of the iron with solder.

    Sand the back of the pots and pre-tin that spot plus tin the ends of the wire, then put them together and heat with a little extra solder to transfer the heat. Hold with a pencil tip until the solder cools, it should look shiny not dull.

    $4 Harbor Freight soldering iron.
    https://www.harborfreight.com/welding/soldering/30-watt-lightweight-soldering-iron-69060.html

    .. If you are messing with surface mount components then you might want to get a fancy soldering station.

    .
     
  17. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    746
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    You don't need to sand the back of the pots. All you need is a clean surface (alcohol) and flux.
    Pure rubbing alcohol and flux would cure most problems people have with soldering.
     
    walterw and Mark Robinson like this.
  18. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,254
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Think I’ll invest a tad more than $4 in an iron, given that my last two Wellers were about $25, one woild go cold and the other burned the crap out of my projects...solder would literally disintegrate.

    I’m good on soldering technique (about 20 years of experience), just had some crappy luck with marginal irons over the last year or so.
     
    JefeMaximo likes this.
  19. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,254
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    THanks for the recommendations guys, I just placed an order for the wlc100.
     
    Ayrton and 9fingers like this.

Share This Page