How to Solder 
Soldering is a core skill in modifying guitar electronics.  No matter how imaginative your designs are, if you do a job improperly you are going to inevitably end up with at least a bad ground (buzzzzzz!) if you get any sound out of your guitar at all.  The following tips are to start you on the right track.

A lot of people (myself included!) make one very common mistake in soldering.  You would assume that, because the solder melts so nicely when you touch it to the iron, that's the way you go about it.  WRONG!!!  This is going to leave you with cold solder joints.

A cold solder joint is a phrase with a double meaning: 1) it describes a connection that no current flows through  (where "cold" = opposite of "hot") and 2) one that was formed by improperly applying the hot soldering iron.  Even if a connection is made, the solder tends to just appear "blob"-like, and it will likely break if any torque is applied.  That means that even a "working" connection may not be by the time you re-assemble your guitar let alone while you're in the middle of a solo at a gig!

The proper way to solder is counter-intuitive: You apply the soldering iron to the metal, then add the solder to that without touching it to the solder iron.  The solder will magically wrap around all the hot metal and form a conductive skin across the surface of every component it touches.

  • Tip: Purchase a proper stand for your soldering iron if it didn't come with one.  Stands like the one pictured here are sold for ~$6 at Radio Shack.  They are much safer than the little wire ring that many inexpensive irons come with and leave the tip exposed for you to burn your sleeves on (I did!).

  • Tip: Get a multimeter with a continuity test.  A continuity test is generally a continuous beep when you have a working connection.  This is indispensable when you are soldering as it lets you know that you are making good connections.  If you happen to have a cold joint somewhere, a multimeter will allow you to find and address it.  (I had an earlier version to the one at the left; This will set you back $30 unless you happen to catch it on sale, but you'll find a million uses for it!)
  • Tip: Another helpful tool is a small, adjustable vice like this one I found this one at Wal-mart.  The head pivots and locks in place to firmly hold small components at the angle you desire, freeing your hands to manipulate the soldering iron, solder, wire, and other tools.  Also, it has a suction base (activated by the lever) to keep you from knocking it over while you have a hot iron in hand. 

If I left anything out, please feel free to email me.

Copyright Alexplorer.