Best Solder For Building DIY Guitar Effects Pedals

When starting out, it can be tough to understand why to choose one thing over another. As many types of solder are very similar to each other it’s easy to get confused as to which route to go down.

If you’re completely new to this and don’t yet know how to solder, take a look at my guide to learn the basics of soldering for DIY guitar effects pedals.

What Is Solder?

Solder is the glue that holds all of our components together and allows the signal from your guitar to pass through the components in the effects pedal circuit. Without solder, our components would either fall out of the circuit board or they would be so loose that they’re unable to make a connection to the circuit preventing our signal from passing through.

Technically, solder is a metal alloy that has been designed to be conductive but has a low enough melting point to make it malleable in electronic circuits. The composition of the solder depends on the type of solder you’re choosing to work with. We’ll discuss this further on in the article when looking at the specific types of solder available.

What To Look For When Choosing A Solder?

As with most things, there isn’t just a single type of solder available for purchase. Before you head over to Amazon and pick up the first spool of solder you find, there are a few things to be aware of. Solder isn’t a one size fits all component so let’s take a look at the things you need to be aware of.

Types Of Solder

For years, the standard composition of solder contained a large amount of lead. However, as we learned what lead does to our bodies with prolonged exposure, laws and legislations have been put in place in many countries to ensure that lead-free solder alternatives are used.

Lead-Based Solder

Lead-based solder was the industry standard as it had a low melting point making it much easier to work with. With this lower melting point comes other benefits. For example, it flows into solder pads much easier and has fewer internal flaws once cured.

The most common compositions for lead-based solder are 63/37 and 60/40. These numbers essentially mean 63 parts tin to 37 parts lead or 60 parts tin to 40 parts lead. 

When it comes to building effects pedals, many builders prefer 63/37 solder as they claim it’s easier to work with. You can pick some of this 63/37 solder here:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

Lead Free Solder

If you’re looking to sell your effects pedals in Europe, you’ll need to ensure that you use lead-free solder as it’s a standard requirement. It may require a higher temperature to work with than leaded solder. However, after years of working with it, I’m yet to have any specific issues with it.

One of the most common compositions for lead-free solder is 99.3/0.7. This relates to 99.3 parts tin to 0.7 parts copper. The melting point of this solder is around 50 degrees higher than that of the lead-based alternative but it will still do what you need it to. You can pick some of this 99.3/0.7 solder up here:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

Solder Diameter

Solder comes in a variety of different diameters or thicknesses and each of these has its place on your workbench.

Thinner solder is great for detailed work and working in small and confined spaces. I personally prefer to use a thinner solder when adding components to my boards as it allows for greater control. This is especially true when working on stripboard where the smallest bridge between strips could short the entire circuit.  For this detailed work, I would recommend something like a 0.5mm solder as it finds the balance between being fine enough to handle the detailed work but thick enough to cover the component pads.

Thicker solder isn’t ideal for detailed component work but is perfect for wiring your hardware. When you need to solder jumper cables to input jacks and power jacks, thicker solder is the best way to create these solid connections. You can add lots of solder to a joint really quickly and when you don’t need to be too precise about it, something like a 0.8mm or higher is fantastic.

Solder Composition

When it comes to solder composition, you have two main avenues to go down.

If you’re looking for lead-free solder, I would recommend a standard tin-copper composition. The split between these is 99.3% tin and 0.7% copper. You shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding this type of solder but here’s an option for you to look at:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

However, if you’d prefer a lead-based solder, anything between a 63% tin & 37% lead and 60% tind & 40% lead will be fine for what you need. Lead-based solder is getting harder to come by as working with it does come with some health risks. However, if you have a good fume extractor, work in a ventilated space and wash your hands after soldering, you can find some leaded solder here:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

Which Solder Is Best For Building Guitar Pedals?

As with most things, there isn’t a one size fits all solution and solder is no exception to this. I would suggest having a couple of different solder widths on hand to fit the correct application. The two distinctions would be a solder for general components and another for hardware. 

Whilst the basic premise of soldering these two types of components is the same, the actual implementation is a little different. Hardware requires much more solder than components and the diameter of your solder can make this process easier or harder.

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Best General Component Solder

When working directly on a PCB, Vero board or similar, you’ll want a much finer solder than what you would potentially use for hardware components. This thinner solder will allow you to make much cleaner connections in the close confines of the circuit. For this, I would recommend something like an 0.5mm solder like the below:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

Pro’s of this solder

Thinner solder allows for a much lower melting point making this one of the easier types of solder to work with. You also have much more control when applying the solder which can really come in handy on compact PCBs.

Con’s of this solder

As this is only really ideal for soldering components, if you were to choose this for soldering hardware it would take a substantial amount of solder in order to make the necessary connections. 

Best Solder For Hardware

When you’re working with hardware components (input jacks, power jacks etc), you may want a thicker solder to help cover a larger surface area. For this, I would recommend something like an 0.8mm solder like the below:

Amazon UK Link –

Amazon US Link –

Pro’s of this solder

Thicker solder allows for easier coverage of the components and greater connection to the wires running from the components to your board.

Con’s of this solder

As the solder is much thicker, it can take a little longer to get it up to the necessary temperature to melt it. It’s always best to use a digital soldering iron station when swapping out different solder diameters.

Hopefully, this gives you a bit more information on solder, what it is and how to choose the correct solder for the task at hand. 

If you’re completely new to this, check out my beginners guide to building guitar pedals here. Alternatively, if you have any questions on anything related to solder or anything else, get in touch. I always enjoy chatting about DIY guitar pedals and general electronics projects.

Hi, I'm Pete!

I have been a guitar and effects pedal enthusiast since 2005 and electronics tinkerer since 2017.

I’m here to help you begin your journey with building DIY guitar effects pedals. Get in touch with me if you have any questions.

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