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Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:17 pm
by Andrew McSpadden
I have been using a 40W Weller for years with out a temperature gauge and doing fine. I am doing more effects stuff recently and want to get into amp work so I am upgrading to a variable temp iron.

Does anyone have a chart or recommendations for iron temps for the different components or circuits we all run into?

Thanks!

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:28 pm
by Brian Evans
My view is that the type of solder you are using is the most important thing about soldering iron temp. If you are building, then you can use what I think of as "normal" solder and a 35 or 40 watt Weller is fine. I have a 100 watt weller gun that gets hotter, but the real effect is it just heats up faster. When I need to solder something quite large (I recently was doing automotive alternator coils and diodes) I even pulled out my wife's stained glass iron - it gets very hot. But what I did find recently is that I could not melt the solder on a modern, wave-soldered circuit board. Nothing got hot enough to get a clean melt on that thing, I gave up and threw it out. All this to say use the minimum heat on anything solid state, on anything with a circuit board, particularly multi-layer with through plated holes. Wires to terminals, point to point tube amp work, doing cap jobs with posts and long wires to the component, turn it up and get the job done faster is usually the best.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:16 pm
by Halgeir Wold
I use 350-370C for most things.. slightly lower setting for ICs and small transistors, and small components... for larger parts, connectors etc 370-400.
A 40W iron is kind of smallish for larger stuff. When you have temp control, buy the larger iron you feel you can afford. I use 80W Wellers, both at work and at home... Proper tip size and form is also important, so get some different tips, too ..

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:52 am
by Mark Wybierala
If you got the bucks available or find a good deal on something, using a digital temp controlled soldering iron would be great. You probably could get tips to last much longer by keeping the iron only at the temps required. I'm totally for true temp control if you can do it so its not that I'm against such things. Also, a discussion like this one might yield some tips and tricks.

For 40 years I haven't needed any thought of temperature. My tools of choice are a Weller 40 watt iron and a Weller 100/150 Gun and I've been successful. ...as long as I have a spare tip or two available once a year when the one I'm using fails unexpectedly.

Something else... My soldering iron of choice is a Weller non-controlled 40W soldering iron. Parts are available and its been a solid performer despite often leaving it turned on for hours after a job -- Everything gets unplugged at the end of the work day. I also have a Weller WLC100. Its that less expensive Red/Orange variable temp soldering iron that come with the stand. Although rated at 40W it gets much hotter at the high temp position than my non-adjustable iron. Make me think that the wattage rating is not always and indicator or temp.

I've been doing this a long time and in a pinch usually have no problem using a 100/150W soldering gun for passive electronics if I pay attention to prep. I truly believe that the condition of your tip is probably more important than the actual temp. It could be easy to get distracted by a fancy iron from a company that doesn't make good quality replacement tips. If I'm having trouble working on a circuit board, the first suspect in my tip and/or that the tip is secure.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:57 pm
by David King
The mass of the tip is the third factor along with wattage and temperature. A massive tip stores more energy than a small one but a small one can get the job done if you get it extra hot to begin with. The mass of the parts along with the surface area of the parts will absorb energy and dissipate all that energy respectively. For very small components soldered to a single or double layered pcb you can safely run the iron at 50-100 degrees above the melting point of the solder (426º-460ºF). Damage comes from prolonged heating at excessively high temperatures.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:20 pm
by Barry Daniels
I don't do a lot of soldering and have gotten by for a long time with a 25 watt unregulated Weller. It works OK but starts off too cool, and eventually gets too hot. The sweet zone runs from about 10 minutes to 20 minutes after plugging it in. I would like to have better control but not sure what kind of rig to buy. StewMac only has the Solomon Brand but I hear a lot about Hakko irons. Any experience with these brands, or would I be better off going with a digital Weller?

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:42 pm
by Halgeir Wold
I think Hakko is OK, as far as I know. I've been using various Wellers for over 40 yrs, and have at least 4 versions, so personally I stick with those.
Weller also has some controlled stations which are more directed towards the hobby market, and should probably cost around 100-150 USD, as opposed to the pro series which probably are 200-250 and upwards..
If one works with beefier components, larger connectors and stuff like that, as welll as PCBs with large ground planes, I'd recommend getting the higher power versions. The heat capacity in these irons works wonders with large components, and temp control keeps control for the tiny stuff....
I used to teach short soldering courses for High School, - my "gospel" was that a "normal" solder joint in max 3 sec, given clean components and tools..
As part of the training, I had them make stick men from solder wire only... good training... ;)

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:58 pm
by David King
I've had a Hakko for the last 15 years and it's been very reliable -aside from the fact that the tips don't last very long until you add a shut-off timer to the rig. The hakko 901 has been cloned by numerous companies and the clones sell for as little as $20 but I've heard and seen where some clones don't hold up well. I'd really much rather have a 50W Weller WESD51 or the analogue WES51. Weller has a newer all digital version WE1010NA with sells for about half as much but me thinks there's a reason.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:28 am
by Barry Daniels
I ended up ordering one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006MQD7M4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Not the normal soldering station, but it had really good reviews and the price was low. If it doesn't work out I am not out that much.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:08 pm
by David King
Barry,

Specs list the voltage as 100VAC (Japan household voltage) with 50W power consumption. I'd expect the Amps and wattage to go up a bit with the input voltage at 120V.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:13 pm
by Barry Daniels
Yeah, I noticed the 100v too. I got the item yesterday and tried it out this morning. It got hot really fast which may confirm the higher voltage pumping through it. Will be interesting to see how it holds up to the 120 voltage. But one thing I can say, it seems to be a really solidly built unit, even though it is quite compact.

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 12:03 am
by Rob Kidd
I strongly recommend a temperature controlled iron. Even if you rarely move the dial, it will maintain the temp by way of feedback and quickly compensate for the drop that occurs in the tip when you use it on items such as jack lugs and pot casings.

Personally I still use a solder station I bought maybe 20 years ago. It was a relatively cheap Jaycar brand item. (Possibly a copy of a more recognised brand at the time, not sure.) It is now getting hard to find tips for it which is a shame because it works perfectly. Luckily I get several years from each tip. I'm not sure why tips last so long for me. I use it most days. I do use brass wool instead of a damp sponge. I've been using this for many years just through convenience, but I have been told that a damp sponge degrades tips a bit faster due to the thermal shock.

FWIW, I do tweak the temperature dial depending on what I'm soldering. I don't just do regular guitar pots and jacks, I also design and mod preamps, pedals etc. So I work on through-hole and occasionally SMT stuff.

I also strongly recommend heatsink clips, especially for pot lugs. It takes only seconds to pop them onto the little rivet, and you'd be amazed how warm they get!...

Re: Soldering iron temperature for guitar, amp and effects circuits

PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:32 am
by Barry Daniels
Rob, thanks for the idea on the heat sink clips. I didn't know such a thing exists.