Trouble desoldering an SE

Ovibos

Naughty Wood Librarian
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
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Wilmette, IL
Trying to replace the unreliable switch on my Zach Myers, and I can’t get the darn thing desoldered!

What the heck do they use? I’ve got a 400°F iron (this Solomon from StewMac) and am trying to wick the solder off to no avail.

I’d cut the wires but there’s zero slack, and I’d have to rewire the whole shebang if I did.

Thoughts?
 

Em7

deus ex machina
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Apr 27, 2012
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LSD (Lower Slower Delaware)
If the iron is not transferring enough heat, you either have a defective iron or you forgot to "tin" the tip of the iron with solder first. If the tip is dirty or oxidized, you will have to apply solder and then wipe it off on a wet sponge before retinning the iron.

With that said, you get what you pay for when it comes to soldering irons, buy once, cry once. The best journeyman soldering iron for the practicing guitarist is the Weller WP35 with a chisel tip. It has enough heat to handle all of the soldering chores a guitarist will encounter and many tip shapes are available for different jobs. The WP35 is not ESD safe, but one will have to step up to a more expensive soldering station for that requirement. The WP35 that I used to build the EF86/EL84 amp that I recently gave away is still in use today. That amp was built 25 years ago.


Now, here is what I use for those pesky blackface and silverface chassis grounds:


Melting chassis solder joints requires a soldering iron that is able to generate a lot heat and has significant thermal mass. A soldering gun can generate a lot of heat, but it has almost no thermal mass.
 
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Erick_S

New Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
106
Trying to replace the unreliable switch on my Zach Myers, and I can’t get the darn thing desoldered!

What the heck do they use? I’ve got a 400°F iron (this Solomon from StewMac) and am trying to wick the solder off to no avail.

I’d cut the wires but there’s zero slack, and I’d have to rewire the whole shebang if I did.

Thoughts
If the iron is not transferring enough heat, you either have a defective iron or you forgot to "tin" the tip of the iron with solder first. If the tip is dirty or oxidized, you will have to apply solder and then wipe it off on a wet sponge before retinning the iron.

With that said, you get what you pay for when it comes to soldering irons, buy once, cry once. The best journeyman soldering iron for the practicing guitarist is the Weller WP35 with a chisel tip. It has enough heat to handle all of the soldering chores a guitarist will encounter and many tip shapes are available for different jobs. The WP35 is not ESD safe, but one will have to step up to a more expensive soldering station for that requirement. The WP35 that I used to build the EF86/EL84 amp that I recently gave away is still in use today. That amp was built 25 years ago.


Now, here is what I use for those pesky blackface and silverface chassis grounds:


Melting chassis solder joints requires a soldering iron that is able to generate a lot heat and has significant thermal mass. A soldering gun can generate a lot of heat, but it has almost not thermal mass.
100% what is said above. You need a solder station with adjustable heat. You’ll need to set to 550 minimum, but some folks prefer 650-700 degrees. Heat it fast and use the sucker to pull it up.

Solder wick is only useful in a few situations. The solder sucker is the best for cleaning solder lugs and boards. Plus, the wick requires so much time, you are likely to torch the piece.
 

Em7

deus ex machina
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…and use copper cleaning ball instead of a wet sponge. The sponge holds contaminants.
I use a brass ball as well, but it is an additional expense for someone who does occasional soldering. That being said, I used a soldering sponge for decades before switching to using a brass ball. The key is to use distilled water, not tap water. One uses distilled water in one's solder sponge for the same reason one should use distilled water in a clothes iron. Tap water contains minerals whereas distilled water does not. All of the work from that time period of time is still functional, well, at least the amps, guitars, and other pieces of gear that I know are still in use. The main advantage a brass ball provides is that it does not cool off the tip of a soldering iron as much as does a wet sponge, which is important in a production shop because time is money. I have never had a tip crack from thermal shock while using a soldering sponge. However, the downsides to using a brass ball are that it is more abrasive than a solder sponge, a sponge removes flux better than a brass ball, and flux is easier to clean from a sponge than a brass ball. As long as the tip is silver after tinning, it is clean enough to solder. If the solder has dark spots, wipe it off on the sponge or brass ball and re-tin. If the tip constantly turns black after tinning, unplug the iron and let it cool a bit before proceeding. If I am planning to use my WP35 for a period of time, I hook it up to my shop-made VARIAC and lower the voltage, which lowers the tip temperature. I always clean and re-tin the tip after removing the plug from the receptacle, but before it cools down too much to be re-tinned. I store the iron with the tip tinned. If I am going to be soldering for an extended period of time, I switch to using my temperature-controlled soldering station.
 
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InTooDeep

Out Lobstering...
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
157
I did my first pickup swaps with a cheap 30 watt iron from radio shack. I found that the key when working on some of the factory solder joints is to oddly enough add solder to the joint first if tinning the tip isn't enough. I found it transfers the heat well and will get the old stuff melted. I do use a nicer soldering station now though.
 

landscrah

New Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2022
Messages
4
The key is to use distilled water, not tap water. One uses distilled water in one's solder sponge for the same reason one should use distilled water in a clothes iron. Tap water contains minerals whereas distilled water does not.
Unfortunately, water from the taps is also very polluted, so it's not usable. During this process, my father filters the water in 3 ways, and only after that distills it. It's terrible to know that the water from your tap is like poison. I have learned about it here much for my papers for the university. Must tell that we need to think about this problem.

Sorry, I’m a little off topic
 
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Erick_S

New Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
106
The wet sponge can trap contaminants, even if you use distilled water. The brass soldering tip cleaner is better at cleaning the iron tip. Use the brass to clean and follow it with tinning compound to tin the iron (ex: Thermaltronics TMT-TC-2 is great).

You'll notice in the PRS tour videos showing electronics or pickups assembly that none of the PRS folks use wet sponges. They use brass wire balls to clean their soldering iron tips.
 

aphantomvaper

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Sep 26, 2020
Messages
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Illinois
Unfortunately, water from the taps is also very polluted, so it's not usable. During this process, my father filters the water in 3 ways, and only after that he distills it. It's terrible to know that the water from your tap is like poison. I have learned about it here much for my papers for the university. Must tell that we need to think about this problem.

Sorry, I’m a little off topic
Fluoride is toxic waste...and bad for Soldering Iron tip cleaning!
 
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