Hi everyone,

I've made a couple of induction pickups like the ones in the first set of images in this discussion:


They seem to work well, but it's difficult to solder the parts together.  I'm finding that I have to hold my soldering iron onto the thick copper wire and the prongs of the transformer for a surprisingly long time before I can get solder to melt onto them.  I assume that the thick wire and the coil inside the transformer are acting as heat sinks.  Even when I do get the solder to melt, it never seems to flow as easily as it does when soldering smaller wires and pots and the like, and the resulting joints are prone to breaking.  Has anyone else had this problem?  My soldering iron is a pretty cheap one from Radio Shack, so I wonder if it's a bit underpowered.  Should I consider getting a nicer soldering iron, or is this just the nature of the beast?


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Maybe pre-heating the copper wire with a torch would help?

I've thought about that, although it does seem a little sketchy.  Do you think that would be a safety/fire hazard?

Higher wattage soldering iron, or mini torch?

I'm leaning towards a higher wattage iron.  From what I've read, it seems like a good investment.

The high heat soldering irons can cook what your soldering if held on too long. Some heavy duty soldering irons have 2 settings and 1 being a quick high heat setting that will heat up fast to avoid damage, but they are often big and hard to do small parts. The mini torch types are great for large wire.

Soldering takes some time to develop the "skill", the "how to's" and the "do's and don'ts".

You're definitely right about that.  I've done enough soldering to be reasonably comfortable with it, but I'm certainly not an expert.  I'll just have to keep at it.

Mark, you might find it helps to "tin" the large wire with solder before you bring it to the lugs, a good layer of solder, also tin the lugs prior as well, then you just need to heat the 2 tinned items enough for the solder to flow between them, the parent metal is only a medium to hold and share the solder with the next item

I've actually been doing that (I probably should've mentioned that initially).  It definitely helps, but it still takes a while to heat the parts enough to tin them.  I think I might just need to spring for a better-quality soldering iron.

Yes , it sounds like you’re lacking wattage, I always recommend getting a temperature controlled unit if you’re doing a lot of different soldering. They could be a lifesaver 

I used to solder wiring and PC boards for a living.,.,a good soldering Iron helps, and I like the 700 to 850 degree range temp wise.,.,.I used to use a 40 watt non-adjustable type with good results.,.,tinning is a good idea.,.,they also have liquid and paste solder flux, and its job is to help with heat transfer.,.,not sure what a small bottle of flux costs.,.,never had to buy it.,.,sounds like your getting the hang of it.,.,

Just spent last summer re-learning soldering after, like, 30 years. One of the reasons instructors and guides are constantly repeating the advice about heating the contacts is because it's so damn tempting to cheat a little and put heat directly on the solder to melt it faster at some point. And sometimes you get get away with doing this to some degree. I haven't done a pickup yet, but there are also situations where you have to worry about damaging certain components with higher heat, as well as your fingers. Also, when you're getting higher powered irons, you're also getting more, sometimes many more, safety and convenience features. So there's a surprising jump in price between the cheapest and higher-powered irons. If you're not planning on using it more than once or twice on one or two CBGs..., if you are taking up the hobby, it's totally worth it. Also don't pay too much attention to people in other forums who advised against "cheap Chinese" soldering irons. While it's certainly true a lot of bad cheap knockoffs originated in China, now reliable brands are there, too. For better or worse, all things electronic now have a presence in China.

I used to get TV/Electronics Rosin Core Solder back in the 90's that had a bit more rosin in it than what you get these days and it was super easy to solder things.

EPA rules came into play and now the % of rosin is less.


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