Soldering Irons

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by Supersonic, Jun 8, 2020.

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  1. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    So I've been thinking about finally teaching myself to solder properly so I can work on my own guitars myself and not pay someone else to do it.

    I've been looking around for what to buy but I'm not really sure what I need. I've seen this one recommended a few times in various places:

    https://www.amazon.com/Weller-WLC10...000AS28UC/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

    There's all kinds of cheaper kits on Amazon that come with a zillion accessories but I don't know if I need all of that.

    I doubt I'd be doing it on a regular basis but it'd be cool to be able to change out pickups, put in a new harness or switch, ect.

    I know a lot of you folks are into this sorta thing so if you have any advice, suggestions, or recommendations that you can give me then please fire away. :thumb:
     
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  2. soulman969

    soulman969 Active Member

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    A 40w iron is what I would call a minimum wattage for the kind of wiring we do on our guitars. A 60w or 80w version will give you more of an edge when soldering to the back of pots and with certain alloy solders that require more heat in order to flow. But that's rare.

    So basically that one looks good to me as well. It's a Weller which is a good brand for which you easily obtain spare tips should you need them and it's comes with a chisel tip which I find to be the most useful for stuff I do. If I was buying new I'd probably buy at least a 60w version but a 40w will get the job done 90% of the time as far as wiring in pickups and other electronics.
     
  3. Lancpudn

    Lancpudn Well-Known Member

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    I bought one of those cheap as chips soldering stations with everything you need in them, It was under £20 I think!, It has a variable temp control dial up to 50w on it & it worked OK doing some guitar repairs. I only wanted to do a couple of jobs with it but it's still going strong after two years.
     
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  4. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    @Lancpudn Do you have a link to the one you have?
     
  5. Lancpudn

    Lancpudn Well-Known Member

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  6. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    The weller should do the trick. It won't be hot enough for metal pickup covers, but you'll seldom need to do that. Get a solder sucker and/or a braided wick for removing solder when you're re-wiring pots and switches. The spring-loaded solder suckers work fine.
     
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  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Active Member

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    The heat of the sun itself may not be hot enough for at least two of those I know of. :mad: :rofl:
     
  8. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    That's the one I have. Works good, I don't take it over a tick past "3" for most things.

    Suggestions sticking to things that haven't been mentioned:
    • Tip cleaner- There's any number of the brass scrubby holders on Amazon. They work good and don't drop your temp like a sponge
    • You want flux- A little dab will do you. Makes the solder flow nicer. Also helpful when undoing joints. Yes, even with flux core solder. SRA #135 paste is good.
    • A lighted Helping Hands tool with Magnifier. I have a NOS Radio Shack model that is a godsend compared to the tiny little unlit POS Chinesium unit I had previously.
    • Radio Shack Desoldering Iron (The one with the red squeezy bulb)- Didn't think I needed one, thought my braid and my syringe sucker was good enough, then buddy gnu dropped a busted pedal in my lap. I learned the error of my foolish ways. Thing can't be beat on through hole, and it's pretty darn good elsewhere.
    • Radio Shack soldering tools in general - worth it. They're still selling off assets so NOS stuff exists.
    • The one thing I suggest above everything else? 63/37 solder. It's eutectic, meaning that it's mixture of Tin / lead melts and solidifies at a single temperature that is lower than the melting points of either or of any other mixture of them. Because it cools at the same rate, there isn't the same "plastic" phase which is where stuff moves and you get cold joints. 60/40 only exists because lead is cheaper than tin, spend the extra coin. I'm using up a roll of BNTECHGO (their spelling) that's pretty decent for Chinesium and good on a budget, but Kester is the stuff you want. I find 0.8mm / 0.031 inch is my happy spot size wise.
    Feel free to ask questions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  9. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff so far guys, I appreciate it.

    I'm definitely leaning towards the Weller now. I did notice that it only comes with one tip. Is it worth buying a few more tips that are different shapes/sizes? I'm still not 100% sure which tip is best for which job.
     
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  10. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    I've got a (stock?) chisel point, and a pointy point. 98.7% of everything I do can be done with the chisel. Some of that is technique.
     
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  11. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    I went in and added a couple links to my suggestions.

    The shipping on the Helping Hands seems high, but it's still the lowest price + shipping on the 'bay. Plus it's actually sold by "radioshack-usa" out of Fort Worth which was corporate headquarters back when I worked for them. They're working through reclaimed store stock so the box might not be minty, but it's still worth it over a used one that some jabroni left the batteries in.
     
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  12. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    Nice. That Helping Hands looks better than the ones I was seeing on Amazon and even with the shipping, it's still roughly the same price. I'm putting that on the list.
     
  13. soulman969

    soulman969 Active Member

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    For wiring on a guitar IMHO the chisel tip it comes with is probably the most useful for getting enough heat were you need it on switch and pot lugs and for soldering to the back of a pot where you don't want to linger too long and fry the pot. It's what I use 95% of the time.

    A pointed pencil tip works better for fine wiring on circuit boards and such. It doesn't sound like that's in your plans at the moment but it never hurts to have one for when a chisel tip won't work well. Other than that the kit you linked should work fine for anyone working on a guitar.
     
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  14. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    I love mine. It was such a dramatic upgrade from my old one that I kick myself for not getting it sooner.
    3AAA batteries run the LED lights on the dual magnification lens. I don't use the iron holder on mine, it's not in the best position for me, but that's such a minor thing I don't even worry about it.
    The vast bulk of RadioShack equipment like this is good stuff, back when I worked there we were still Q.C.'ing the crap out of anything we put our name on when it came to hobby electronics, chargers, etc.
     
  15. fumblefinger

    fumblefinger New Member

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    I think if you can find a good used Weller WES51 or the replacement WE1010 you'll be happier. More heat, better control, and it comes with a separate stand and sponge. This allows you to place the controller out of the way when working.
     
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  16. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Overkill for the home gamer.
     
  17. fumblefinger

    fumblefinger New Member

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    Kind of depends on how old the "home gamer" is, and how serious he thinks he'll get. The cheaper version is really at it's limit with pots and switches. The WES51 stood up to daily use in our avionics lab for decades. I tried to get by with a cheapie and wound up going the good unit. "If you buy quality, you only have to buy it once."
     
  18. fumblefinger

    fumblefinger New Member

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  19. MrJay

    MrJay New Member

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    If you want to push the boat out check Hakko solder stations, a lot of amp techs i know use that brand. Distinctive blue and yellow look
     
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  20. Dennis Lee

    Dennis Lee New Member

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