Recommend a soldering iron!

kakerlak

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So, I have pickups coming and just remembered my old, cheap soldering iron was barely hanging on last time I used it. I have a good standalone holder and a sponge, so I could go for one that's just a wand, if that's worthwhile. My buddy @WolfeMacleod recommended a Weller WESD51, but it looks like that's been discontinued and replaced by a model WE1010.

The thing is, it looks like reviews are kind of mixed on the 1010, with a fair number of "they used to make good stuff" -style comments, plus it isn't exactly cheap at $110-ish.

So, who's got a recommendation? There's a dizzying array of slightly cheaper Chinese nonsense-name brand variable wattage stations on Amazon with pretty good reviews, but I'm hesitant... Poking around the internet, I mainly see mentions of Weller and Hakko units.

I don't do a lot of soldering -- maybe a few jobs a year -- but I need something hot enough to quickly get pot casings to temperature without being too bulky to get in and around chassis components in amps, guitar switches, etc.
 

redking

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I use this. It is OK for light duty, infrequent work - but I would like to get something that gets a bit hotter more quickly, as I often have to wait for it to heat up to temperature from time to time.

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jvin248

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.

$10 Harbor Freight/Amazon stick iron is all you need. Any 15/25/30 watts.
The rest is technique.

Sand a spot on the back of a pot to cut through oil/tarnish, heat and add a little solder.
Heat the freshly stripped wire and add a little solder.
Press the wire to the pot and add a little more solder to help the heat flow if needed.
Remove the iron and hold the wire down with a stick or pencil until it cools enough to hold it down on its own.
Easy peasy.


.
 

northernguitarguy

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I just use a simple pencil iron. Same as this one at StewMac. I reckon if I was going to be doing a lot, I'd get a better one. However, for making up a simple cable or other small jobs, it's perfect. I can't recommend enough to grab a stand for it. A 'helping hand' is also useful.

 

kakerlak

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I just use a simple pencil iron. Same as this one at StewMac. I reckon if I was going to be doing a lot, I'd get a better one. However, for making up a simple cable or other small jobs, it's perfect. I can't recommend enough to grab a stand for it. A 'helping hand' is also useful.

Yeah, I've got a decent stand.
 

kakerlak

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I'm kind of okay buying a "forever" tool for occasional use, as I'm sure the occasional need will always be there. I just want to be able to reliably knock out things like tremolo claw and pot casing grounds, pickup covers, etc.
 

ThePanda

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Butane?
I have a Steinel butane soldering iron as my only iron for a while. Used it for an Amp and 50s wiring but ended up going through too much butane to refill.

No regrets tho... I bought the iron in a kit with a really cool blow torch. I was also 24 at the time lol
 
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cooljuk

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I'm kind of okay buying a "forever" tool for occasional use, as I'm sure the occasional need will always be there. I just want to be able to reliably knock out things like tremolo claw and pot casing grounds, pickup covers, etc.
I'll second Wolfe's recommendation on the WESD51. I've bought several and outfitted a few benches with those. They cover just about everything in guitar/amp/music gear work. The replacement irons and tips are abundant, have many options for size and shape, and great quality (if you don't buy fakes, which exist).

Your trem claw is doable. So is the steel baseplate of a Tele bridge pickup. When you get into the steel chassis ground of an amp with multiple grounds connected to one spot, that's pushing it. You might be able to do one, if you had to, but I'd reach for a gun or a bigger iron, at that point. Anything else, and that Weller is perfect. Just like guitar amps, Watts doesn't say everything. It's how well that power is transferred to the tip and how well that tip holds temperature under work and recovers to temperature after work. The Weller does great at all of that and is comfortable. I'm on this thing basically all day every day for a decade.

Though I don't have a WE1010, and I do prefer the LED lights over the LCD screen, I wouldn't sweat the reviews. People said the very same thing about the WESD51, which also had mixed reviews.
 

ThePanda

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I'll second Wolfe's recommendation on the WESD51. I've bought several and outfitted a few benches with those. They cover just about everything in guitar/amp/music gear work. The replacement irons and tips are abundant, have many options for size and shape, and great quality (if you don't buy fakes, which exist).

Your trem claw is doable. So is the steel baseplate of a Tele bridge pickup. When you get into the steel chassis ground of an amp with multiple grounds connected to one spot, that's pushing it. You might be able to do one, if you had to, but I'd reach for a gun or a bigger iron, at that point. Anything else, and that Weller is perfect. Just like guitar amps, Watts doesn't say everything. It's how well that power is transferred to the tip and how well that tip holds temperature under work and recovers to temperature after work. The Weller does great at all of that and is comfortable. I'm on this thing basically all day every day for a decade.

Though I don't have a WE1010, and I do prefer the LED lights over the LCD screen, I wouldn't sweat the reviews. People said the very same thing about the WESD51, which also had mixed reviews.
Classic! I cut my teeth on that soldering iron!
 

fumblefinger

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+1 on the WES51. When I was at Learjet, every station in the avionics lab had one of these. They were turned on at the start of the day and turned off prior to going home. It's an absolute workhorse.

I tried to get by with a smaller iron and finally just stepped up to the plate with one of these. It improved my soldering dramatically.
 

kakerlak

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+1 on the WES51. When I was at Learjet, every station in the avionics lab had one of these. They were turned on at the start of the day and turned off prior to going home. It's an absolute workhorse.

I tried to get by with a smaller iron and finally just stepped up to the plate with one of these. It improved my soldering dramatically.
Yeah, I 100% trust the recommendation on that model; it's just no longer on the market. Was kind of thrown off to see the "these aren't as good as the old ones" comments on the model that replaced it. But if you guys are pretty confident that WE1010 will be a quality unit, that's good enough for me. I just didn't want to spend $110-120 on something that would be prone to failing or erratic performance.
 

redking

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I hear ya! Internet reviews are useless nowadays. It's either the greatest thing in the world or the worst thing in the world in the review for the same product. And many times the reviewers are using the product wrong or had unrealistic expectations. Then there is the Amazon review payola issue too.
 

kakerlak

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I hear ya! Internet reviews are useless nowadays. It's either the greatest thing in the world or the worst thing in the world in the review for the same product. And many times the reviewers are using the product wrong or had unrealistic expectations. Then there is the Amazon review payola issue too.
A lot of times you can suss out what's going on. What sometimes gives me pause is when I see multiple complaints of a common fault/failure, one of which one the 1010 was the handle splitting in two mid-use, which sounds like a nightmare scenario. Those products where there's overwhelming positive reviews and then a good dozen or two making the same complaint... I'm always at a loss when I see that.
 

none2low

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Another vote for the Hakko FX-888D. I have a couple soldering irons for different purposes, but the ability to dial in the temp I need is a godsend.
 


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