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  • Writer's pictureDavid


Let's talk about the tools used to make effects pedals.

Thankfully, only a few tools are absolutely needed to get started building electronic circuits, and they can be cheap tools when you're starting out. However, if you're going to be putting together circuits in the long term, you're going to benefit from having some good tools. I started out with a basic cheap soldering iron, some solder, and used the cutting part of a pliers - all from Radio Shack (pour one out for Radio Shack.) With repeated uses, the tip of the soldering iron either burned out or got covered with solder and wouldn't work properly. There was also no way to control the temperature or the iron, so it tended to get hotter and hotter the longer it was on, or it wasn't hot enough, meaning that heat had to be applied to components for a long time - both dangerous for heat-sensitive parts.

When I got my first soldering iron with temperature control, and a nice wire cutter, my work - and life - improved dramatically. I could tell you which tools work for me, but if you ask a dozen other builders what they use, you'll probably get a dozen different answers.

In the interest of giving a broad range of tool options, I will link to some resources below for a wide range of decent tools that will last a long time.

A soldering iron, solder, and a wire cutter are basically all that you must have to put circuits together. There are a number of other tools that then make things easier, but they're not a necessity. For the soldering iron, having temperature control and replaceable tips are the way to go. Thankfully, there are some relatively inexpensive but good irons out there these days. As far as wire cutters go, the go-to cutter is the Hakko CHP 170. Finding this cutter was a game changer for me, and they seem to be the one thing that most builders can agree on. Getting precise cuts really helps with making a neat circuit and cuts down on having extra contact points that can cause shorts.

The Hakko CHP 170 wire cutter

Here then, in no particular order are some links to what other builders recommend.

Do you agree with these recommendations? What tools do you use and recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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