With all the kit audio projects available, i’ve decided that I would really like to invest in some good equipment and learn how to solder. Was wondering if anyone else has been down this path and could offer any friendly advice? I haven’t done any soldering work before, so i’m starting off as a complete newbie. After some initial research, i’m looking at the Weller WESD51 in the link below.

I’m also looking at purchasing some basic tools in the link below.

Could anyone advise if this is the right equipment for the kind of projects (synth kits) i’m looking at doing? I’m also a bit confused about the ideal pen tip size and solder to use.

I’m also interested to know the best way in which I could practice soldering and get good before I do any real projects…


Weller stuff is great. My dad had one very similar to that for many years before upgrading to something more high-end. It’s a really good idea to get one of those if you can afford it. I went through several crappy cheap soldering irons before getting something temperature controlled, now I can’t go back.

That list is pretty good, you don’t need everything there but a lot of it will be useful. I think as long as you have good wire cutters/strippers, something to hold your circuit boards and a multimeter you’ll be fine. Oh, and an extractor fan, very important! Solder fumes are intense.

I’d suggest you start with very small kits or just making cables at first. Get comfortable with small cheap stuff before you launch into big projects. It doesn’t take long to pick up some soldering skill though. I’m not very good at it but I can make cables and basic circuits pretty easily; if I actually made anything beyond that I’m sure my skills would improve.

As for tip size, generally the one that would come with that Weller iron should be sufficient for most things—as long as it’s not so fat that you can’t actually solder an individual component without melting all of the others around it, it should be fine.
I’ve never really had a choice in solder, I just bought some from the electronics store, probably one of the cheaper ones. I guess it’s better to go for lead-free solder!

Hakko is another good brand, my hakko 936 (~$80 when I bought it, discontinued now, I don’t know what the current equivalent is off the top of my head) has been going strong for like 8 years or whatever. Original tip even.

just a suggestion if you don’t quite want to pay $180 for the iron—half that will still get you a good soldering iron.

I’ve done stuff down to 32-TQFP surface mount stuff with a 2mm chisel tip (the one that came with my iron). I’m guessing any iron is likely to come with one that small or smaller, so probably no reason to get any extra tiny tips at first.
Lead-free vs. leaded solder, some say that leaded is easier to use, I don’t notice an appreciable difference. Safety-wise, leaded is still okay, as long as you wash your hands after you’re done soldering (which you should do anyway). It’s not an acutely harmful substance, just long-term exposure that’s dangerous. (assuming you’re not like swallowing lead pellets…)

Take the time to really learn to properly solder; some people just slap on some solder and call it done, but a bad soldering joint can look identical to a good one and still not function.

Also, don’t bother with the mechanical solder sucker tools for desoldering; learn to use desoldering braid, it’s much more effective.

This recent discussion at the Lines forum has tips on equipment etc:

Also, a recent thread at the Axoloti forum on how to start:

Also, don't bother with the mechanical solder sucker tools for desoldering; learn to use desoldering braid, it's much more effective.


In many cases i prefer to use liquid “no clean” flux in syringe instead of rosin flux. I get more cleaner and easier results with it. Just sidenote:-)

Helpful thread. My DX7 battery will arrive soon!!!

I have a very simple 18€ solid soldering iron.

It’s more than enough if you’re just begining.
No need for the big stuff if you’re soldering twice a year ^^

I understand the excitation to buy new gear, but really all you have to have is a soldering iron that is powerful enough.
In many cases i prefer to use liquid "no clean" flux in syringe instead of rosin flux. I get more cleaner and easier results with it. Just sidenote:-)

I never use flux when soldering. That said, my soldering projects have been pretty basic. What’s the benefit of using it?


a lot of the time you don’t need it, because solder usually has a rosin flux core anyway.

you just use it whenever you’re having a hard time getting solder to flow and stick to what you’re trying to solder.
I use it most commonly on small surface mount stuff, helps get the solder to neatly apply to each of the tiny pads separately.

it’s mostly a weak-ish acid that eats at the very surface of the metal you’re soldering to, and the resulting rough surface accepts solder much more easily.

Ah, makes sense, thanks for the explanation!

My first projects : Techniguitare’s mono guitar pedals.
You can build your own distortions pedal (excellent quality + options)
I hadn’t managed to build the analog delay at that time but I’ll try again…
They have a compressor too…

Synths : Shruthi-1 and PreenFM 2 are two excellent kits, I’m so proud I could assemble it…

Soldering is much fun. You just have to start with small and do it when you’re not tired.
The kits I’m talking about take about 4 hours to create.