i've re-wired a couple guitars, and i always thought that a solder joint was a solder joint.
aparently this isn't true.
i was wondering how you judge a proper soldering joint, and are there any video tutorials for proper soldering methods.

also, is it possible to ruin potentiometers by applying heat to them?

Guitar type pots are almost impossible to ruin. As far as the solder joint goes, the main thing to look for is that the solder joint is shiny. A dull gray is a sign of a cold joint, which is notorious for creating intermittent problems.
You want a nice shiny "volcano" shaped joint usually.

It is entirely possible to ruin a guitar potentiometer with heat, especially if its a carbon film type.

What I do for a potentiometer, if it has a metal casing, is take a dremel or some other type of file or sand paper and scrape the back of the pot till I get a nice rough area and then take a cloth and use some rubbing alcohol to clean the pot off.

As for soldering... I don't have a video, but I do have these tips

Tin the wire that is going to be soldered
Put the wire onto the scraped area on thepot and apply heat to the joint.
Allow the heated area to melt the solder - if you don't do it this way when soldering to metal your going to get a bad joint every time.
Remove the iron and allow the solder to solidify without blowing on it
nice, i was thinking of that same video, explains a lot.
To the core!
The vid and the suggestions about how the joint look hold true of you are using lead solder, but if you are using silver solder it's a different story. A bad joint and a good joint often times look the same so you are down to judging how good the joint is based on how things went when you were actually soldering. Did you have to hold the solder against the object you are soldering or gainst the soldering iron. If you had to hold it against the iron then you may have a bad joint. When the solder melted against the item you wanted to solder did it spead out like water on pavement? or did it form a bubble like a drop of water in a hot pan? If it was more like a bubble then you probably have a bad joint. Silver solder is a very different beast than lead solder and is tricky to get the hang of. I know a few great american pickup makers, one of which wrote the bible of pickup makers, which considered not selling to the EU when ROHS demanded the use of silver solder. That is how different this stuff is. I realize that you will probably be useing lead, but one the off chance that you do use silver, I thought I'd point this out to you.

Oh and one more thing... It is very easy to distry a guitar pot when soldering with lead or silver. You have to have the right irion for the job. To hot and you burn up your pot. Too cold and you slowly cook the pot when it's heating the serface enough to solder to. Either thing ruins the pot.
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What's your ideal iron wattage for guitar wiring, Cord?

Also, I tried wiring a guitar for the first time. My friend took a look at it and apologized beforehand, telling me I had a lot to learn. All of my joints were removable by hand. I didn't heat the component enough to get the solder to stick properly. Also, I didn't know how to use shielded wire.
Then there's this band called Slice The Cake...

Bunch of faggots putting random riffs together and calling it "progressive" deathcore.
Stupid name.
Probably picked "for teh lulz"

Mod in UG's Official Gain Whores
40 to 60 watts if you are using lead solder. 60 is a bit on the hot side if you are soldering to switches and lugs so be careful. On the other hand 40 is a bit cool to solder grounds to the back of pots. So it's a compromise but workable. 30 watt irons are simply too cool for soldering to the back of pots and 80 watt irons burn up switches and the lugs on pots pretty easy.

Because I use silver solder I use an iron that is 100 watts with temp control. The higher wattage keeps the iron from cooling when I touch it to the back of a pot so it brings the temp of the pot up much faster. My 100 watt iron keeps a temp of around 500 degrees celsius which is way too hot but I turn the heat down to 300. I wouldn't want to do electronics work with silver solder without using a temp controlled iron.
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I have found there is a wide variety of pots. Some easily take the solder on the body, some need a little help (scratching etc), and some are just miserable. Also, the other day I added a switch and the plastic body melted because I took too long warming up one of the pins.

Anyone used lead free solder? A friend gave me some, and I think it sucks, but maybe my iron isn't hot enough. It just doesn't flow like lead does.
Lead free solder is hard to use because it's melting temp is so much higher. I use it because I have to be ROHS compliant. It's supposedly a better conductor and used in "Hi end" audio equipment even before it was required. I don't know if this is true or not but because I work with a soldering iron in hand for about 5 hrs a day, I don't think I'd switch back to lead.
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No lead from solder actually ever vaporizes, so at no point in time are you inhaling lead. It is the rosin flux that is in the solder that vaporizes, still not all that good for you. Lead free solder has some stuff, that they are finding out may be worse for both the user and the environment than leaded solder.... seems like how it always works out with the environmental guys...

That being said, I work with lead free solder and leaded solder at work. I also use the same soldering iron for both, but have an interchangeable tip. I like using a higher wattage iron because it allows me to heat everything up faster, so I run less of a risk of burning things up.

As you said lead free solder requires a higher temp, so I tend to keep my station at work set around 750 F. The silver is supposed to make it easier to solder, but I have a hard time judging joints when using lead free just because any lead contamination in the solder suddenly makes it dull.

Once you get the hang of it lead free isn't really hard to work with though.
^it's not lead contamination making your joints dull. That's just what the silver solder does. ROHS compliance is a difficult thing to do and I actually had to pay people to come to my workshop just to make sure there was any lead in things like the paint in the walls. I only use silver solder in that room and anything that isn't ROHS compliant and/or is vintage gets worked on with a different iron in a different room. My silver solder joints still turn dull.
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Its possible to have shiny joints with lead free solder, but it is a whole lot more difficult. The total time of making the joint comes in to play. I have noticed though that any little bit of lead in "lead free solder" that contains silver causes the joint to dull immediately.

A shiny joint for lead free silver solder is the "ultimate joint" for silver lead free solder, but its a lot harder to decide when "dull" is a cold joint. I've noticed that if the joint is bad with the lead free stuff I can usually "peel" or pull the lead out of the solder.
Last edited by XgamerGt04 at Apr 27, 2011,