Let’s get one thing straight. Not every guitar virtuoso is also a master of tools or has a desire to learn the inner workings of a guitar. Just because one shreds like Yngwie doesn’t mean that he or she knows how to fix a guitar or fine tune it to sound better.
That being said, if you're a serious guitar player, having one of the best soldering irons for guitars is just as essential as having a pick, a premium cable, or a capable guitar stool. It’s something that you will end up using once you have it because there’s always room for repair work or modifications.
5 Best Solders for Guitar Repairs and Mods
What’s great about this unit is that it features variable power control (5 to 40 watts). This lets you choose the appropriate heat output for different solders and points, depending on your task at hand.
It can heat up to 900 degrees which is more than enough for standard solders and any guitar repair work. The pointed tip is quite versatile and easy to control. It also benefits from the ergonomic foam grip which lets you work comfortably and with maximum accuracy.
You also get a soldering iron holder and a cleaning sponge. You may think that’s not a big deal, but trust me, it is. Not all soldering irons come with accessories and once you start working with one, you will find yourself in need of other things fast.
This is a nice little repair tool because it has a small footprint and a very high output. It takes around 35 seconds to heat up to 900 degrees. And by the way, this is an 18W soldering iron, but the manufacturer claims it performs like a 60W iron.
The grip on the Weller WPS18MP is one to envy. For other manufacturers I mean. It’s molded for your hand. The design is self-standing which means it won’t need a holder. But, some of you may still prefer the extra safety of a holder.
One of the other features I really enjoy seeing is the LED lighting. It makes it easier to solder in tight spaces where one wrong move can cost you greatly.
If you don’t feel comfortable working with very high temperatures or your repair work doesn’t require super-hot tips, then the Hakko FX-901/P soldering iron may be more your speed.
This is a wireless soldering iron which can reach a maximum temperature of 600 degrees. It can sustain it for a long time. If you switch it on and off between solder joints, you may get over an hour of use in one charge. That should be more than enough for many tasks if you know what you’re doing.
To get the most out of it, you’ll need Alkaline batteries. Or Ni-MH batteries if you prefer rechargeable. You won’t get enough heat with standard batteries that are best used in remote controllers.
The cone tip is small and the shape lets you access very tight places. It may not be ideal for larger components but its main draw is cordless operation and portability.
4. Vaster AC222
Here’s another large kit which has all accessories you can think of, useful for working with delicate guitar components. The AC22 comes with 16 pieces and 60W of soldering power.
The temperature is adjustable from 392 to 842 degrees. The heat sustain is not the best but once you get the hang of it, the Vaster AC222 won’t disappoint.
Among the accessories are a cleaning sponge, a stand, and all the good stuff like five tips, anti-static tweezers, and a carry case.
It only takes a few minutes to reach the maximum temperature and thanks to the holder, you don’t have to just sit there and wait. You can carry on with the prep work as you’re waiting.
This is a complete kit that should help with almost all your guitar repair work. It too has a variable control function which lets you adjust the output to between 392 and 842 degrees. That’s good to have if you want to use a single tool for both light and complex components.
The package contains 14 accessories, which might seem overwhelming for those who are new to guitar repairs. But, setting that aside, you do get all types of tips, enough solder wire, a bag, and a soldering iron stand, as well as a wire stripper and cutter and more.
There’s little you won’t be able to tackle with this, whether you’re working on capacitors or fusing large cables. It’s all about precision and this soldering iron delivers.
Soldering Iron Elements
Whenever you’re considering buying a soldering iron, the first thing you should think about is the element. There are nichrome and ceramic elements to choose from. Each type comes in a variety of sizes, of course.
Here’s the story on their differences so that you can pick what’s right for you. Nichrome elements can heat up larger components faster and have better temperature sustain at the tip.
Ceramic elements provide faster heating times but may struggle with tasks that involve sustaining heat. So, is one better than the other? – No. Not overall at least. Each type is better suited for specific repair work.
Not All Tips Are Designed for the Same Task
Soldering irons may come with conical, pointed, chisel, or angled tips. Each one shines in its own area but there’s one tip in particular that’s a lot more versatile than others. Call it a jack of all trades if you will. The pointed tip is the best at switch contacts and also performs admirably around cables and wire soldering.
Of course, if the latter is your only concern, then maybe a chisel tip is better for you. Just know that it won’t help too much with other tasks, if you’re also a stickler for aesthetics.
There’s More to them than Wattage
When it comes to soldering irons, the wattage simply gives you an idea of how hot it can get and how quickly it can get there.
Remember how I’ve mentioned that heat retention is influenced by the elements? – Well, the wattage might not show you how long it can sustain that temperature.
That being said, adjustable output can be very useful with a high power soldering iron. You don’t want too much heat when working on capacitors or transistors. But you do when you need lots of solder and for working on cables and braided wires.
Look for an electronic soldering iron if you want to work on transistors, capacitors, pots, and other electronic components. Or, just opt for a soldering iron with variable temperature control to cover all your bases.
Guitar Repair Work – It’s a Beautiful Thing Once You Know What to Do
As you can see, this article has something for everything and everyone.
Each soldering iron on this list is good in its own way. Some may be more versatile than others, some are cheaper than others, and some come with all the accessories you can dream of.
It’s really hard to go wrong either way, as the learning curve to using a soldering iron may be more challenging than actually buying one.