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Giving Up Soldering


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Hi there guys. I've been doing a lot of research lately, trying to make my guitar "be all it can be."

I came upon a diagram of the Jimmy Page wiring scheme, and thought I would add to it. Basically, what I am trying to do to my 2 humbucker, 2 knob guitar (schecter c1 classic) is:

-one ON/ON/ON switch to put the neck pickup (a seymour duncan jazz) in series/split/parallel

-one ON/ON/ON switch to do the same to the bridge (a seymour duncan JB)

-change neck volume out with push/pull to wire both pickups together in series/parallel

-change tone to bridge volume, push/pull, reverses phase of bridge pickup

-one ON/OFF/ON switch to add the "strawberry ice" mod to the guitar

I am also doing treble bleed mods to both volumes and I am changing the stock 5-way blade switch to a 3-way blade.

Now, after doing some extreme research, and head-scratching, I came up with a wiring scheme for all this. The only problem I am having there is I don't know how to wire the 3-way blade, but that doesn't even matter.

Sooooo, I take my wiring schematic to the local guitar store (I live in Kansas City), which is basically the ONLY guitar store around, and ask to talk to the guitar tech, thinking he could maybe "proofread" my schematic, and give me some pointers. Well, he told me that there was no such thing as an on/on/on switch, he didn't know what a push/pull pot was, and he told me that the strawberry ice would never work. I wish I'd taken the push/pull pots with me, I could've blown his mind......anyways,

That guy is useless.

So I went to radio shack, bought a soldering iron, some solder, some spare wire, thinking what the hell, I'll do it myself........right........

I cannot solder worth anything. My hands are too big, too shaky, my eyesight it too bad.....blahblahblah.......suffice it to say I will never be able to do this myself.

Well, I've had my guitar all torn apart for about a week now, and that is my only guitar, so I am sick of the whole thing....I still want to do it, cause it'll be cool, but I want someone else to do it......which brings me to the point.

If I can find a decent guitar tech to do all the wiring/soldering for me, how much do you think they would charge, considering I have all the parts.


If I can't find anyone around here to do it, do you think I could send it somewhere and have them do it?

Anyone on here live near Kansas?

Thanks for reading my long post, hope someone can help me!


by the way, I don't know if everyone knows what the Jimmy Page wiring is, but basically it takes two humbuckers and lets you get 21 tones from them. Sure, most of them are very similar. Well, my way of doing it would give you 40 different tones, or 120 if you count the strawberry ice settings. Sure, most of them will be similar, but how awesome is that?! 120 sounds from two humbuckers........now if only I could wire the damn thing. Anybody want the schematic?

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If your hand are too big try prewiring all the pots, switch and jack outside of the guitar. I use a shoe box with holes punched in it, wire all that up and then just drop it in... You might even get away with wiring the pickups with the control stuff sitting on the back of the guitar just outside the cavity (protecting the paint with something of course)if you have enough slack from the pickup wires......

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I have been doing it all outside of the guitar.....it never even occured to me it could be done inside the guitar. That just seems freakin impossible to me.

I might go to radio shack tomorrow and get one of those cordless, "cold heat" soldering irons. Maybe that and a magnifing glass will help me :D

Thanks for the input.


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by the way, I don't know if everyone knows what the Jimmy Page wiring is, but basically it takes two humbuckers and lets you get 21 tones from them.  Sure, most of them are very similar.  Well, my way of doing it would give you 40 different tones, or 120 if you count the strawberry ice settings.  Sure, most of them will be similar, but how awesome is that?!  120 sounds from two humbuckers........now if only I could wire the damn thing.  Anybody want the schematic?

All right, let me get this straight...you've gone a week without playing the guitar because you want to rewire it in order to get 120 sounds that all sound kind of like the same thing?

Have you thought this out? :D

Anyway, get a soldering gun, not a soldering iron. You'll have much better control of what you're doing.

You can practice first , maybe even get a second set up to try to do what you want.

A second pair of hands can be very helpful too!

Another question...how is it possible to have only ONE guitar?

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I might go to radio shack tomorrow and get one of those cordless, "cold heat" soldering irons.

i hear good things about those.i plan to get one myself

Anyway, get a soldering gun, not a soldering iron.

are you sure that is what you meant to say?an iron is the way to go in a small space such as a control cavity.just make sure it has about 35 watts.

soldering takes practice.and forget about THAT tech.that guy is clueless

you need a magnifying lens that you can put on your head...not just a glass

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Hey, I live in the KC area when I'm not in school up here in Omaha. I'll probably be back during spring break in about three weeks if you can't get it sorted out. Which store did you take your guitar to? There's a few good and a bunch of bad ones in that area. I'm assuming you live on the Johnson County side, too, since you said Kansas.

Also, go to the Sears hardware department and buy some of their rosin core solder. It's worlds better than the crap Radio Shack sells. I also like the Weller soldering station I purchased there a lot more than my old RS 15/30 soldering iron. Better tips and more control over temperature go a long way.

Edited by crafty
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This might sound silly and obvious, but can I ask where you do your soldering? Maybe the bench you are working on is too high/low (making it difficult to hold the soldering iron at the correct angle- making your hands seem shaky). I had this problem- it is so obvious when you think about it, but the bench I was working on when I started was too high to comfortably work on.

Another mistake I used to make was to sit up till all hours trying to 'get it right'- and drinking cup after cup of coffee (as you can guess, even more shakey).

My asthma medication doesnt help much, either.

Light is another one- is the light where you work to bright/ too dark? When you work, does your shadow fall over your work?

I found that a combination of all these practical things caused me alot of problems when I started soldering- they may not seem like much, but they do compound the issue.

Hang in there man- once you have the skills down, they will be invaluable for so many things.

Hope it all goes well for you,


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man, i've got some big ole meaty hands on me as well and i wear bi-focals and i learned how to solder so i'm betting that you can too. it just takes a little practice to get the feel of it. one thing that has really helped me is a flip up visor with a magnifying lens.. i think i got mine from stewart mcdonald but most hardware stores carry them. when you're working on small things like mini switches they really, really help.

so don't give up..the very worse that can happen if you don't do it right the first time is that you try again until you do get it right.

good luck!

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i use solder from sears B)

i have one of those cold heat soldering irons, awesome tool, but i wouldnt suggest it to someone who isnt familiar with soldering already. the tip has 2 little prongs that must get electrically connected for it to turn on, and the tip is very brittle and if you have shaky/heavy hands then you will ruin the tips fast. for the longest time i used a 10 dollar iron from sears that suited me fine, although it ate tips like a mother. i only decided to get a cold heat iron when i started building pedals, as its much more convenient and i have alot more use for it now.

i think you should try throwing your compenents into the guitar to solder them, i always find it difficult to hold a part in place, hold the iron on it, keep the component/wire to be soldered in in place, and apply the solder at the same time. if its mounted in the guitar you can stick your wire in, let it sit, and then have the iron in one hand and solder in the other without anything moving around that youre working on. i do the same when i make pedals, i put allmy jacks/switches/pots in and then wire them up then i wire them to the circuit board.

whats the strawberry ice? is that like the black ice od that stewmac sells? just this morning i installed a makeshift black ice od in my sg by placing 2 schottky diodes from the volume pot to ground. i wired them up to a little on/on switch so i can switch between the normal capacitor on the tone control and then bypass that for the diodes. best of all, i got the diodes as free samples from central semiconductors and the switch free from e-switch as a sample. i love the internet :D

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Alright, thanks everybody for the advice. First, I only have one guitar because I'm poor (and married). Secondly, yes the spot I do my soldering in sucks, no room, no light......

And no, idch, I guess I really didn't think it out. Seemed easy at first, but it wasn't.

I think I'm just gonna go with one push/pull to split the coils, and one to put the two pickups in series/out of phase.

Maybe that I can handle......

Thanks everyone!


ps Crafty, I went to Guitar Source in Overland Park. Since Mars closed I don't even know of any other stores.

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So much involved in building and modifying guitars. A lot of practice is needed beforehand to get things right the first time. I would suggest you get a manual or book with tips and tricks about soldering. Learn what flux and rosin core actually does and how it is used. Learn about "tinning" your wires before attaching. You want to use the heat generated by the iron to your best advantage so a knowledge of "heat sinks" is important.

When I solder my components together I use a pre-drilled "mockup" board, just a piece of mdf with holes in the same alignment and positon as the those in the guitar for all the pots and switches. I insert all my components and solder everything together. Then I pull the whole works out as one unit and install in the body. The only things needed to be soldered in the body are pickups, major ground wires (bridge and output jack) and hot wire to output jack.

Sometimes you feel that you need a couple more hands to get this done. Figure out ways to temporarily clamp wires down, maybe a little piece of tape near the area to be soldered. I sometimes use a tiny bench vice to hold components that want to roll around.

I might be needing bifocals myself, I find I have to take my glasses off now for the upclose work. My father has been messing with electronics all his life. A few years back he suffered a detached retina so soldering with one eye during that time has been a total loss, no depth perception. But his eye is getting better and he now uses a a large magnifying glass (6" dia.) mounted on a retractable light stand. He is currently building me a remote transmitter/receiver for my guitar to amp. Gonna be fun, will run on a preset FM frequency with a range of about 50 yds. Should be interesting to tune in the radio and hear me playing, lol. Anyway, not bad for a guy pushing 76 yrs old I would say.

Edited by Southpa
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Soldering takes practice. Lots and LOTS of practice.

Like others have suggested, some sort of magnifying setup (either a large desk-mounted glass type), or a headband setup like this:


$27...not bad, and cheaper than StewMac's version. :D

There are craft and hobby stores that sell "Extra Hands"-type vises. Those are very helpful when you find yourself in some kooky yoga position trying to get that last wire grounded....burned toe nail....ouch!

I agree with the others about the ColdHeat being for soldering veterans. It's actually a different way to solder than the old school method. I really do like it's precision and cleanliness. Yes- the tips are fragile, but if you do chip them, you can file them down "even" again, and they will work fine.

I like Southpa's template idea, esp. when doing completely new wiring. It'll help you get the right lengths cut, keeping the elec. cavity looking clean.

Don't forget safety! Keep a fan running, blowing the solder fumes away from you. Some light gloves will keep your hands burn-free, and ALWAYS wear eye protection. Unlike that lady who ordered the coffee from McDonalds, we all know that solder (molten metal) is HOT. Be smart around it, and you'll be fine.

The other cool part about learning to solder is that you can then go and build your own cables- instrument, spreakens, rack cables, etc.

George L. eat your heart out. B)

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And something to add. When soldering around or in cavities use some PROTECTION for the guitar body. Ever had a dollop of liquified solder drop onto your nice, freshly polished laquer clearcoat? Treat it like major heart surgery where they cover up everything leaving only the open wound visible.

I recently got the cold solder gizmo and did some monkeying around with it ( I really like the wire stripper they've included too!). In order for the cold solder to work properly you need fairly fresh batteries. I'd say you start to lose heat potential when the batteries are about half depleted. But it IS the cat's ass for doing up your guitar. Still haven't tried it out on soldering to potentiometers tho.

Edited by Southpa
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Southpa- GOOD ADIVCE! Masking tape is your friend when it comes to soldering. Use 2 or 3 layers as protection. It's a little time consuming, but it sure beats having a "fry spot" on your finish.

If you like the automatic wire strippers that came with your ColdHeat, check out the uber-badass set that PartsExpress has. It's fine tune-able. Pretty slick.

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I just lay an old towel on top of the guitar. Solder isn't hot enough to burn thru and it won't "bounce" or splatter. An insulating layer is best because , even if it won't actually burn, heat can still transfer to the finish. I also keep some steel wool in an old tuna can handy to periodically wipe off the soldering iron tip.

Edited by Southpa
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You know, I've been kind of intrigued by the ColdHeat setup. I've used workstations before that have foot controllers for the tip temperature. The problem is once you've heated up the metal so many times it gets brittle and eventually breaks off. I'd just be hesitant about the ColdHeat just because of that.

For anyone who's serious about soldering, though, I do recommend getting a nice little Weller soldering station. I bought mine for about $40 from Sears and it's the best consumer-level unit I've ever used. The temperature control is stable and accurate and the tips are very high-quality.

Wes--I've had a few bad rolls of solder from RatShack, that's why I really don't recommend buying it. It's just a little too fat and doesn't flow as well as I would like. I like Kester when I feel like ordering from Jensen, but for cheap stuff I like the solder they sell at Sears. It just works for me.

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If you decide to try soldering it yourself again, you could read through this thread about soldering.

There's some good advice there that may help ya (I hope).

A good book that could also help with soldering advice, wiring mods and set-ups is

Guitar Player Repair Guide by Dan Erlewine.

ISBN 0-87930-291-7 & it's published by Backbeat Books.

Stew-mac sells it but I found it at Borders Books & Music store.

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soldering is a skill an artform, nothing but practicing good techniques will help.

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I'd like to add something.

I aways got by with a cheapo iron. It was cheaper to replace the whole thing than to replace the tip!!

When I started to work with pickups I thought I'd get serious and get a soldering station. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Mine is a duratech:


As you can see it's got a LCD readout of the exact temperature, the temperature is programmable and the "pencil" is light and has a fine tip. You can program in 3 different settings. It heats up really fast and it has really made some of the ultra-fine and SMD soldering I've been doing on the Sustainer Project possible.

But I have to say, the best thing is that I have it programmed for half an hour at 300 degrees, 15 minutes at 150 degrees then turn off. It's saved my bacon many a time. It's so easy to leave these things running. Not only do tips wear out from long periods of heat without being "wet" by the solder, but it gives peace of mind that you aren't going to burn the house down if you leave in a hurry.

For about A$139 (US$100ish)...ok, so it was on special (A$169) but there are cheaper ones...you can't go wrong with something like this German made wonder!

But, don't be fooled, only practice...just like playing the guitar..will make you good at it, I still burn my fingers occasionally.

And by BTW soldering fumes are no good for anyone. I'm even thinking of rigging up an old computer fan to a bit of vacuum hose out the window...and I'm a smoker and I'm not even pregnant!

Anyway, just thought I'd add this...if your serious, perhaps you should get serious, you'd pay this for a good drill or other tool, why skimp on the soldering iron.

my 2 cents (1.4 cents Australian)


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Now, that is the kind of iron you can do some quality work with! We use digital irons for PCB rework and they are INCREDIBLE! You set the tip temp according to how big the joint is going to be (the temp drops instantly) and come up with perfect results, after practice. If you have a large chisel in it, the temp won't drop as much so you run a lower temp. If you are soldering the back of a pot, start at 740 degrees and it will drop to 540 in a heartbeat. WAY cool! If you are doing wire to foil or foil to foil, set it at 560 with a smaller tip and you won't hurt the board.

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