From the Department of "where the heck has this been all my life!" comes thee soldering accessory from Austin DIY Ribbon Microphones. It's a purple block of dense silicon that can hold components in place, freeing up your hands for the iron and solder. Designed especially for audio electronics, pre-molded holding slots accept most connectors, Strat or Les Paul switches, and even potentiometers. To anyone who has ever soldered and wished for an extra hand or two, the Hot Holder is as close as you can get to having that extra appendage.

In use, the block is pretty stable. It weighs more than it appears to. The bottom is flat and can act as a suction base, holding firmly to smooth surfaces. Things don't slip or slide the way they can with those little metal clamp helpers. Speaking of those other holders – Hot Holder will not act as a heatsink (reducing the chance of creating cold solder joints) and won't scratch components. My favorite feature is the wire holding slots. This is just perfect for repairs or building cables. The companion piece, named The Cheese, resembles a purple wedge of dairy. The Cheese offers up more generic geometric shapes for general use, and offers a channel that can hold PC boards vertically.

If you solder, repair, or build electronic gear, put down this magazine and order a Hot Holder before you do anything else. Go ahead and recycle those cheap clip-type holders that have been making us crazy for all these years. While Hot Holder may look like a chew toy, petrified slime block, or giant pencil eraser, it's actually a must-have addition to any soldering station.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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