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Hi -

If you go through the trouble of reading this and answering, I'd be very grateful. The important questions are bolded so you can cut to the quick.

1. SOLDERING

I'd like to buy an iron and learn to solder, with hopes of avoiding repair shop costs / waiting times and of learning to do something new. My present problem is simple enough for a beginner: the ground wire on my Strat's jack has snapped off its joint.

Can anyone recommend good brands of iron and solder? Erlewine uses a 45-watt with 0.032" diameter solder, 60/40 resin core.

My soldering odyssey so far, for those with time to waste:

I had some fun with Circuit City's products. Their $14 Nexxtel iron began melting on my desk within a few minutes of plugging it in. To their credit (and mine, nyuck-nyuck) I got a full refund on the product and all the Nexxtel accoutrements I bought with it. The manufacturer of Nexxtel irons, by the way, appears to be a guarded secret (distributed by a mysterious company called Optyx.)

I've been to one Canadian Tire store, but they didn't have the gauge of solder I was looking for, so I opted to buy my iron from someplace with a wider range of products. Home Depot's customer service doesn't know what soldering is, basically. Knowing what brand/model to look for should help my search. Then I could just order it online, I suppose.

2. STRAT NECK REPLACEMENT

For the second time in six years I'm replacing the neck on my Strat. (Now that I know the hidden costs of playing with heavy-gauge strings, I'm reluctantly switching to 0.009's or 0.010's. Hendrix played with 0.007's, as I understand it, so that's some consolation.) After about seven or eight hours of online forums research, I've opted to spend the most for the best with the fewest frills, and order from USA Custom Guitars in Washington state.

Here are my specs:

maple one-piece
25-1/2" scale
U shape contour, 1" ($50 extra)
pegheads shape US-3
frets 6125
radius 9-1/2"

Any experienced yays or nays on my choice before I go ahead with it?

I'd prefer to buy a neck of Canadian build, but I haven't found a reputedly good one yet. Guitar Parts Canada, I was disappointed to learn, does not manufacture its necks but distributes necks built by AllParts and WD Music, which are American-built.

I always wanted a baseball bat-like neck, and USACG gives me that option. The jumbo frets on my second neck were a little bit too much, and those that came with my Fender neck too little. USACG'S new 6125 frets are somewhere in between, so I'm looking forward to playing on those.

My second neck was from Allparts, and it was a good neck. I'd like to see if USACG is any better.

A final question: should I trust my neck's installation only to a good local repair shop? Or with adequate care and preparation can a first-timer like myself avoid any risk of botching it up? At least I'm used to unbolting mine to adjust the truss rod (I heard you snicker).
 
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Can anyone recommend good brands of iron and solder? Erlewine uses a 45-watt with 0.032" diameter solder, 60/40 resin core.
I have always used Weller stations of varying degrees of fancy, from university on through my career as an Electrical Engineer, and at home. I've always recommended a basic Weller station like the WLC100. Variable power is nice. You can start at low power and as you get more practiced you can move up. And it's a good sturdy stand with a built in tray for a sponge. These things are important if you plan on spending a lot of time working with an iron at a bench. A few hours hunched over, squinting at electronics and you'd be surprised how easy it is to accidentally grab the wrong end of an iron or put an iron down on a makeshift rest and not notice when it rolls off. You can get different tips for that Weller as well. I use a pencil tip for circuit boards and most spot soldering. For bigger jobs like soldering ground wire to pot casings I'll switch in a blade tip. And if things break (the power supply or the iron) you can buy replacement parts. 60/40 (60% tin, 40% lead) is a great solder mix. I prefer solder with a resin core, not flux. Kester 44 has never failed me. The diameter of the solder I use depends on what I'm soldering.
 

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i have a 60 watt weller pen with the variable heat knob- only cost about $30, still works good after a few years. same solder here, rosen core 60/40.
those weller stations are awesome- if all you want to do is repair a few broken leads etc, you might want to go to canadian tire- they have a 35 watt pen, i think its 10$- i cant find solder there either tho- weird.
the circuit city, nextech stuff is truely crappy- but you can use a 3$ roll of theyre rosin core 60/40 i would think- i know they carry it.

heres a likn yu might find of value- http://www.mediacollege.com/misc/solder/

as to the neck- i imagine the usacg stuff is as good as it gets, warmoth may be equal, but i never used usacg- some other guys here have, hopefully theyll chime in-
i had an allparts neck that warped to uselessness in a few years.
going to thinner strings may be a case of diminishing returns- i break 9s and 10s like crazy- stainless steel frets would be good if you can get them, and you can greatly increase your fret life if you level and dress them properly when it starts to need it-
as to installing your neck, if you do your own truss rod adjustments then id say your well capable of it- dry fit it gently, hope the holes line up, if not i plug them and redrill- before tightening completely put strings on and make sure the strings lie correctly across the nack- yu may need to shim the side or sides of the pocket to get it at the right angle- i use sandpaper for shims, it grabs a bit and helps to prevent movement in the pocket.

is the usacg neck finished? if you need to finish its really easy to do with an oil finish, just wiping on and levelling.

good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #5
iaresee:
"I've always recommended a basic Weller station like the WLC100.... Kester 44 has never failed me."
Those features are right up my alley. Exactly the sort of recommendation I was looking for. Thank you + for the link.

fraser:
"heres a likn yu might find of value- http://www.mediacollege.com/misc/solder/"
A helpful link. You've making me think thrice re: lowering my string gauges. We'll see how strings breaking changes things. My ambitions may someday extend to dressing frets, and that spare Allparts neck may be just the carcass to practice my medicine on.

I'll measure the placement of the holes in my Strat's body as precisely as possible and send that to the shop too, which I hope will improve my odds against needing to shim the neck or redrill.

No, I didn't think of the finish. I had assumed a basic finish came with it, but I was wrong. D'oh. Thanks for pointing that out before the moment of truth.

And thanks all three of you for affirming Weller's superiority. I much prefer to buy tools that last.
 

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hi-
i know the warmoth or allparts necks cost extra if theyre finished- maybe usacg is the same- if you want to finish it, like i say, oil finish is really easy, i like tru-oil gunstock finish, easy easy easy to apply- you just need 000 steel wool and a few hours of time.
 

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i know the warmoth or allparts necks cost extra if theyre finished- maybe usacg is the same....
Yes, it does cost more - $80+. But the climate in my apartment changes so much year-round that the risk of warping is considerable. Plus I sweat a lot when I'm f-ing up "Scuttle Buttin'" for the fortieth time. So I've decided to go with their cheapest finish (satin) as an insurance policy.

BTW, the cost for this neck order looks like it's going to be 360 USD before taxes and shipping. That's $230 for the one-piece neck, $50 for the extra mass, and $80 for the finish. As averse as I usually am to spending money, not a drop of it is being wasted on frills.
 

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that makes good sense- you probbly want to get playing it, and 80.00 is worth it. hope you have a hassle free install-
 

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Allparts necks are excellent. Someone here said they were American but they are made in Japan. The same facility that makes the best guitars in Japan actually. They are a mass market product and they are very good.

USGA is good stuff too.

From my experience I'd say you need to balance your string tension. THis will feel much better and calm your adversion to light strings. My balanced sets of .008's for instance go from .008 to .046, my 9's .009 - .048.

The tensions goes up a few pounds per string treble to bass. The wound strings are much more "tone" effecting than plain. I do not sell these in sets yet. That market is killer. I buy in bulk and make my own sets when I send guitars out. Just one of the reason my guitar play themselves. (shameless plug)

Modern string sets are ridiculous. I do not understand why people do not complain. With the standard sets you get some string that are tight as heck and others that flap away. But they are "standard" and people like standards.
 

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YJMUJRSRV- i recalled mine even said made in japan, and there are other guys that love them. i thought as much but didnt bother to look into it for these postings. mine was good, but i finshed it in nitro, when that wore off, and after a refret it warped.- but then it wasnt looked after either, just thrashed around. can you make a balanced set in higher gauges, id like to try one some time. your point about tension makes perfect sense- it had occured to me in the past but i shrugged it off.
i see that allparts has chunky neck profiles and stainless fret options discussting- ifn yu want to look-
at the bottom of link
http://www.allparts.com/store/necks-guitar-necks,Category.asp
 
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