Guitar Soldering For Beginners WiredGuitarist June 4, 2016 Articles, Reviews, Tutorials, Uncategorized Soldering is very useful skill for guitarists to have. A lot of guitarists choose to do soldering work themselves because it can actually save you a lot of money and time! Our guide to guitar soldering for beginners can help you get started safely! Clean Your Workspace You will be working with small parts and a lot of heat. For safety and efficiency reasons, make sure your workspace is clean and has enough room for you to work on! I recommend having a little box or tray on the side to put little bolts and screws in to avoid losing them. Padding and a neck support for your guitar is highly recommended as well. Get Your Guitar Ready Take the strings off your guitar and put it face down on your work space if it has a rear control cavity. If your guitar routed from the top like a strat, you can leave it face up. Unscrew the control plates. I highly recommend taking a detailed picture of your guitars current wiring in case you screw up or want to go back to the original wiring! I take detailed notes on wiring schemes too, because I’m very forgetful. Select Your Soldering Iron Soldering irons come in plenty of different wattages, from 20 watts to higher wattages like 120 watts. If you’re just learning to solder, I recommend using a mid-range wattage iron like a 40 watt. However, I personally prefer 60 watts because they give off a good amount of heat and do not take too long to heat up. Heat is key when soldering. The more heat you have, the better your solder and wires stay on, and you can spend less time at each joint (which can save your pots from getting burnt!) Choose your Solder This isn’t the most critical of aspects to pay attention to, but having good solder will improve the overall quality of your soldering work. I recommend using silver-bearing or resin core solder. The advantage of these over regular solder is that they have flux inside the wire itself. Flux simply makes soldering easier. Not only will this job be faster, you’ll have better joints that will be easier to manipulate in the future. Get A Diagram! It’s very simple to find manufacturer wiring diagrams for pickups. Just follow those diagrams to know exactly what wires go where. If you are wiring Seymour Duncan pickups, you can find their diagrams here! Pay attention to the color codes on your brand of pickups as well. It’s not essential, but if you pay attention to the leads, grounds, etc. you can actually learn a lot about how circuits work! Conversely… connect the red wire and yellow wire and hope it doesn’t blow up? Take Note of the Grounds Pay attention to where your ground wires are! Ground wires are typically black or bare. However, be absolutely sure where your grounds are, in the case of Seymour Duncan pickups, there is a green wire which is a ground as well. They are soldered onto the flat bottom of the pots, your bridge (or the claw of your tremolo), the pickup toggle switch, and the jack. 90% of issues you’ll have with wiring will be ground problems, so get it right the first time! Start Soldering! Start by disconnecting your pickups, and knowing which wires are from the neck pickup and which wires are for the bridge (let’s face it, you’re probably doing a pickup swap aren’t you? We know you need that JB in your life). When it comes to disconnecting make sure to get the right wires and don’t accidentally take off a wire that you didn’t have to. If that happens, just reconnect it carefully and in the same spot it was disconnected. Keep in mind that you don’t need to use too much solder in your wires. Too much solder can make your pots harder to work with in future scenarios. Clean your tip! Keep your soldering tip clean! Have a damp sponge nearby to wipe off any remaining flux off your soldering iron between soldering. If you don’t clean it, this will cause heat issues with your iron and it will take longer to heat up and will not heat up evenly! This is very important! Test your wiring After you’ve completed your wiring, don’t rush to put your strings on! Plug your guitar into your amplifier and make sure there is no foreign buzzing or humming. Tap on your pickup bolts to make sure they work. I use a thin screwdriver to tap them. Pay attention to the sound they make. Sure, if they make sound, that’s good. However, if you’re hearing 60 cycle you may have accidentally split it, maybe when the switch is in the bride position the neck is making sound, or it’s very thin (which could be many things, but….. Check your grounds). Don’t forget that youneed to adjust pickup height afterwards to achieve optimal sound. Too low can sound weak, too high can kill sustain. Get a guitar and get started! Soldering can be intimidating, but you can only get better through experience! Please note, though, to always take your guitar to a qualified technician if you run into any trouble. They can show you where you went wrong, and keep you from damaging your guitar! This article written by Mike Azernov, our editor located in New York.