Volume pot failure

Joeydego

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So, wondering who does their own LIGHT electrical work on their guitars? (I don’t think on a guitar there are life risking wiring jobs anyway). Buying a soldering iron and have a volume pot coming in the mail. I had a failure at a gig and really need to keep up on maintenance. Some tips would be appreciated. Like everything else in 2018, I’m YouTube educated on the issue and think I should be ok (how bad can this job really be ruined anyway? I mean I’m sure I can somehow manage to light the guitar on fire but that’d take quite the comedy of mishaps). Wondering the ratio of “I send this to my guy” to “I do this while watching TV”.
 

fry

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It’s pretty easy stuff, I’ve done my own for a while now. I wouldn’t say that I am great at it, but good enough that I would never pay somebody to do it again. My work is not pretty, I need to get better at that part, but I can get the job done. I have a buddy that lets me do all his stuff too, but I’m not brave enough to ever think about working on a stranger’s guitar for money or anything like that. The hardest part you’re going to deal with on a volume pot is getting the wiring grounded on the back. You have to get it pretty hot, and if you get it too hot, you’ll damage it.
 

Boss 302

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So, wondering who does their own LIGHT electrical work on their guitars? (I don’t think on a guitar there are life risking wiring jobs anyway). Buying a soldering iron and have a volume pot coming in the mail. I had a failure at a gig and really need to keep up on maintenance. Some tips would be appreciated. Like everything else in 2018, I’m YouTube educated on the issue and think I should be ok (how bad can this job really be ruined anyway? I mean I’m sure I can somehow manage to light the guitar on fire but that’d take quite the comedy of mishaps). Wondering the ratio of “I send this to my guy” to “I do this while watching TV”.
Hopefully, this helps.
Oh a safety tip, guitar cavities, fingers & soldering irons.
Don't go well together, be careful.
Don't ask how, I found that out. :laugh2:
 
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Stinky Kitty

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Once I learned to solder, it was a whole new world. It's pretty easy after mastering a few simple skills. Try doing as much as possible outside the cavity. Quite a few tasks have to be done inside, so be careful of the wood. Get more than one helping hand. Typically I spend more time setting up to solder, than actually doing it. Tinning both parts goes a long way to making solid connections. GL with your journey!
 

James R

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I do my own soldering, it’s not super difficult at all. Maybe a bit of a learning curve but I’m sure you’ll do just fine.
The worst thing that’s ever happened to me was that I burnt out a brand new pot by overheating it during the soldering process, which surprised me, but it does happen.
 

Ed B

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Super easy. You may burn yourself. Or the wood in and around the cavity, but nothing significant to fear.

Make a template for the pots to rest in. I use cardboard. Solder them outsite the cavity. Then drop them in an make the last couple of connections.

The key is letting the pot get hot so the solder melts well. Use a 40w iron and you won’t need to worry about damage.
 

Freddy G

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I see burn marks inside of control cavities all the time. Here's some advice....before sticking the iron in there make sure everything is arranged and ready to go. Are the rogue wires tucked out of the way? Remember that the shaft of the iron is hot, not just the tip. You want to have clearance so you can go in there with the iron and tip it to different angles if you need to and nothing is in your way. You can use paper clips/clamps to secure stuff out of the way.
I hope you got a powerful enough iron....a 25 watt or less iron will have a hard time heating up a larger mass of metal like the casing of a pot where you need to make your ground connections. Get a 30-40 watter. But that also means that you have to be quicker on the more delicate connections.
You want to develop great skills in keeping your control cavity and wires free of burns and melts? Buy one of these and play it for a while :)

 

Lungo

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Pick up a spare volume pot just in case you overheat the one you're installing.

Other than that...nothing much to advise you on. It's a simple job and you should be able to figure it out with help here and YouTube.

Edit: One thing I thought of that's not soldering related but a common mistake. Are the knobs on this guitar the press on type? You may already know this, but make sure you don't pry the knob off by sticking a screwdriver or something underneath to lift it off. You'll crack it. Wrap a shoestring underneath the pot and use that to get a straight pull. Rock slightly if you need to.
 

ehb

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I've posted about soldering elsewhere on the Mule so won't repeat myself on that...

I strongly suggest getting a roll of blue tape at the hardware store, a bottle of liquid flux with the brush cap from radio shack.... I also have pieces of fake leather and I tape it around the cavity to protect the guitar back... I also take old Levi's worn out and cut entire leg fronts and backs out. You could cut that in sections to tape around cavity... Old Levi's strips are great for buffing frets on string change and also buffing the neck back to clean the hand kack off and smoof it down... Good for wiping down guitar with too...

Always remember, Murphy is an asshole... You could lock down a situation with every possibility of a dickup locked out of any % or probability, wear full body armor and a football helmet, be inside an armored car, and Murphy's Law will kick in and the Space Station will fall out of the sky and flapjack your ass....

Tape the area up....


Also, get some rubber bands... Rubber bands around the handles of needlenose or linemans pliers work great as parts holders when soldering... Can also sink heat too.....
 

Ermghoti

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Yes to making sure you have adequate power. New pots are usually easier than old work, but they can be a pain to get heated properly.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES HEAT UP A BLOB OF SOLDER AND TRY TO USE IT LIKE GLUE.

Yes, I was yelling that.

Cleanliness is a huge deal. Sand your contact points.

Use flux. You can also use fluxcore solder, then disregard me mentioning it.

So, for a pot, get it clamped down or installed, sand the back of it. Wipe a bit of flux on the pot and the wire. Apply the iron to the pot, pinning the bare wire you plan to connect. Touch the end of the solder near, but not contacting, the iron. When it's hot, the solder will suddenly turn liquid, and wick up into the wire, then form a small bead. Remove the iron, while holding the wire still. After a few seconds, you will note a minor visual change when the bead solidifies.

Tug pretty enthusiastically, there should be no movement. The bead should be smooth and fairly shiny.

The new lead free solder is way worse than the old stuff, but it won't kill everybody. Oh well.
 

Chicago John

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You should practice before you do it to get the hang of it. Good technique involves heating the part, not the solder wire, and pushing the solder into it very gently. Don't melt solder onto a cold part, then the joint could be bad. Also, don't use a lot, use a little bit. One last thing, don't park the soldering iron on your part so that it overheats , just touch it on there momentarily for a few seconds and flow the solder in. It's not too hard :thumb:
 

OHIOSTEVE

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The main thing I found is that tinning (pre soldering) the wire helps a lot. And do not mistake the iron for the screwdriver out of tje corner of your eye...... trust me on that one.
 

ErictheRed

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I do everything on all of my guitars and amps, but I'm an electrical engineer and was a technician in the military before that. Still, soldering is a simple skill that literally anyone can learn. Plus, a guitar's electronics are all passive and very simple. Even if you mess something up, no component costs more than $10 or so.

Just watch some soldering tutorials and practice some. Or even better, sign up for a soldering class at your local adult ed school or junior college, I know that my local junior college has a one day soldering class. Honestly it's an incredibly simple skill that everyone should learn.

The only other tip I have is that you will need less solder than you probably will think at first.
 
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