Must Have Tools For Modding and B.Y.O Kits

Posted 22 Jun 2008 in Hardware, Technique

More and more people are getting into B.Y.O (Build Your Own) pedal kits, modifying a pedal or two, or even working on the electronics of their own guitars. So you’re looking at starting out building or modifying a pedal or two, or switching the pickups out on your guitar? What gear should you have to get the job done?

When starting out, there are a few essential tools that you should have in your arsenal. Read on to find out not only what you should have in your toolkit, but also why.

  1. Soldering Iron – For basic kit assembly a standard soldering iron will suffice.
    Soldering Iron

    These are relatively cheap and can be purchased from any electronics store. Try and avoid going above a 25 Watt iron, as too hot an iron can damage components easily. If you are planning on doing more advanced work, or building many pedals, it is worth investing in a soldering station.

    Soldering Station

    A soldering station will allow you to vary and maintain a set temperature at the tip of the iron. The main benefit is also when working with different types of components and solder. Many pedals are now coming out with ‘lead free’ solder, which has a higher melting point. If your soldering iron is not hot enough, it will result in a higher dwell time, as you wait for the solder to heat up sufficiently to melt. This can result in damaged components and damage to PCB boards with lifted traces etc. By using a soldering station, you can ramp the temperature up a little to work with lead free solder and bring the temperature down for more delicate work.
  2. Solder sucker & De-solder braid – To remove solder from a joint so you can swap components out. I usually use the solder sucker a couple of times to remove most of the solder, then use the solder braid to clean up the joint properly.

  3. Multimeter – These tools are essential for troubleshooting your circuit, if any problems should arise. They are relatively inexpensive from your local electronics shop. I would recommend trying to find one that has a function called a ‘beep test.’ This feature is useful for testing continuity throughout the circuit to ensure you have good connections. When continuity is detected the multimeter will beep, which means you don’t have to keep looking at the screen to check for continuity.
  4. Misc Tools – This just means your normal tools that you may probably already have such as screwdrivers, pliers etc. It’s good to have a screw driver set that has a good assortment of different types and sizes of heads, as you may encounter the odd shaped head every now and then. Most pedals will require phillips head #1 or #2, but many amp chassis require a phillips head #3.

These tools should get you well on your way to finishing a pedal kit, or performing a mod or two. As you start doing more and more work you can build up your tool bag even more.


  1. Ian Tan (24 Jun 2008, 7:36)

    I’ve been in a few gigging situations where I could have done with a good screwdriver, so having a mini tool kit on hand is sound advice.

  2. David Buntsma (24 Jun 2008, 10:40)

    yeah. I normally carry a tool bag in the boot of my car, so I’ve got tools on hand for any emergency repair jobs.

    Saved me many times having those tools around!!!

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