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Best guitar cables 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated May 1, 2020
Best guitar cables of 2018
Like choosing clothes or cosmetics, choosing guitar cables should be based on your purpose, favorite style, and financial condition. Customers need to be careful on how they spend their money on these products.
There are dozens of choices for an guitar cables these days. These are composed of modern styling with modern technology to match it. Here are some good examples. After carefully examining the reviews and ratings of the people who have used them earlier this listicle has been made.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this guitar cables win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
№2 – Cable Matters
Why did this guitar cables come in second place?
The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this guitar cables take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.
guitar cables Buyer’s Guide
Performance Series Instrument Cables by Fender are really on an another level. Fender is known for years for delivering the best in instruments and their accessories.
These cables are designed to provide best the performance in live concerts. Likewise, they are engineered for avoiding twisting, kinking and having any physical static current in between them to deliver the best sound.
These cables are available in four designs straight, patch, microphone and right angle. The size is available from feet and all the way up to 2feet.
To reduce handling noise extra thick PVC jacket is used to knock off unwanted clicks and pop. Similarly, to minimize noise interferences a 90% copper coverage shield is used for cutting electronic buzz especially in electronic guitars.
These cables are designed by 23AWG Oxygen-free copper conductors for providing the best performance out. Ultra low capacitance levels provide superb tone and shielding from unwanted magnetic fields and sounds. Apart from it, you are backed up with a lifetime warranty so you don’t have to about that especial care.
Fender cables are top-notch when it comes to design and performance.
With 23AWG Oxygen-free copper conductor, lifetime warranty and a wide range of sizes this product is great value for the money.
There are some factors, if looked upon carefully you will not end up buying a fussy cable for your guitar and these factors are length of the cable, the conductor design, conductor material, quality of the connector, shielding and electrostatic shielding and last but certainly not the least is the insulation material used in the cable.
If all these factors are taken into proper consideration the chances are you will find a pretty nice cable for your guitar that will not bring down the quality of the sound that your guitar has on offer and not make you feel ashamed in front of a huge crowd at a stage performance or a couple of people in your jamming room.
Conducting means to transmit energy by conduction. So basically most of the cords use the copper as a conductor, providing a cleaner signal.
But the tables are surely turned as there is a whole lot debate about Oxygen-free copper or linear-crystal copper materials. These two materials tend to provide a better conductivity and cleaner signal.
No such theory is assigned but the difference can be felt in real situations.
Moving on the conductor design, so there are basically two basic center conductor designs, Solid conductor or Stranded conductors.
Solid conductors are cheaper and can be simply soldered. Likewise, they can break easily.
Stranded conductors are stronger and flexible. Similarly, they are relatively more expensive than the solid ones.
AWG unit is used to measure the gauge of copper strands, a bigger number indicates a smaller size – view our top ukes here.
Usually, there are around types of cables, a solid conductor, individual strand and premium strand.
Many small strands and high AWG numbers result in stronger and flexible cable. Usually, the premium strands have more strands and a higher AWG number resulting in expensive yet best cable.
To improve the performance game at a more bigger level some companies add a tin coating over each strand which prevents oxidation for longevity and makes them easier to solder. Likewise, the drawback of this coating is that it causes a skin-effect which tends to switch high-frequencies signal towards the outer surface of the conductor, causing to alter the frequency response of the signal.
So many manufacturers prefer silver coating over tin as it doesn’t produce this effect.
Guitar cables only transfer the signals and they are vulnerable to frequencies around. Unlike microphones, they don’t have any noise cancellation features. So radio frequencies and magnetic field can cause you lack in quality.
It is the cheapest option; durability and protection from interferences are not promised anyhow.
Likewise, many manufacturers claim that Braided Shielding also provides a protecting layer for avoiding ground-loop hum but the truth is nowhere near. They don’t. You can simply cut off the ground-lumping factor by avoiding the cable running parallel to an extension cord or AC power cables and avoiding storing your excess cable length next to the amp.
It’s a newer technology as compared to Dacron tapes and is widely used among many cords.
C-PVC provides flexibility, thinness, and better conductivity when compared to Dacron tapes. Likewise, it provides minimal friction with consistent thickness.
Some companies have replaced braided copper shields with conductive PVC as it provides more blocks towards interferences.
Before we really get into insulation matters, we must cover capacitance and how it affects the sound quality.
Whenever two materials (carrying a current) are separated by an insulation a capacitor is created.
In guitar cables, the capacitance should be as low as possible because it results in better high-frequency responses and minimizes the clacking sound when the cable is struck or stepped over.
Dielectric constant is used to measure the capacitance, which assigns the numbers to the materials. Remember that lower the value better the cable insulation.
For an instance, Rubber has a rating of 6.5, whereas Polyethylene has a rating of 2.which means that Polyethylene has a lower capacitance.
Polyethylene is commonly used in cable insulation as they are cheaper and good.
Some old-school companies provide redefined experience by using special polymers for high-end cables to lower the capacitances as much as possible.
So now as you have in-depth knowledge about the parts and factors affecting them you can easily pick up one for yourself by referring to the information that we have crafted.
Electronics 101: metal conducts electricity, plastic doesn’t. So look for metal head shells surrounding the plugs. These cables are a little more expensive than ones that use injected molding around their plugs, but they sound way better. A/B a couple one day and you’ll notice the difference. Also, look for two or four-conductor cables, as opposed to single conductors. If the packaging doesn’t tell you what you’re buying, ask a salesperson.
Go With The Flow
Because most guitar cable manufacturers don’t pay any attention to this matter, you’re on your own. But don’t panic, this is another easy one to figure out. All you have to do is plug your guitar in one way, then try it the other way. A/B your tone – chances are you’ll find a difference if you listen carefully – and voila! problem solved. Oh, but only try this with a cable of conservative length; that fifty foot monster is going to sound like dirt no matter what.
If there is one electric guitar accessory that is often overlooked, it has got to be the cables.
Even though it is the only link you have between your instrument, effect pedals, and the amplifier, so many guitar players just get the cheapest thing they can find.
There are a lot of issues with doing things that way. Least of which is the quality of the signal you are feeding to the amp.
Cheap cables also tend to feature very weak insulation, meaning that you are getting a whole lot of radio and electromagnetic interference.
The first cable on the list comes from Monster.
The M-Rock actually offers one of the best designs possible for guitar cables.
They have combined every quality component out there to form an extremely capable and durable piece of instrument cabling.
Starting from the connectors, we are looking at custom made units that utilize 24k gold plated contacts.
Connectors are soldered to the cable in a way that reduces the risk of connection breaking at this portion of the cable, quite significantly.
The cable itself comes in the form of a solid center core conductor that is wrapped in a polymer insulation and then thick braiding. These two layers aren’t only offering protection from physical damage, but they also greatly reduce the impact of interference on your signal.
With all that said, the Monster’s M Rock is not the cheapest thing out there, however, you definitely get what you paid for.
GLS Audio 20 Foot Guitar Instrument Cable
Moving down the line we see a great 20 footer from GLS Audio.
This is a more standardized version of a braided cable that might lack some of the features of the Monster model I have shown you above. However, it is still more than capable of providing you with great performance all around.
The cable features standard metal connectors packed in a metal casing.
On top of that, the cable features multiple layers of insulation. The conductive core is wrapped into an OFC protective PVC shield that is conductive.
Also, GLS audio added a thick layer of tweed cloth braiding, making the entire cable more than durable. That’s a good thing considering how much abuse 20-foot cables tend to take, both on and off the stage.
KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable
The braided cable from KLIQ’s custom series is by far one of the best bang-for-the-buck options you have at the moment.
This is a 10-foot cable, meaning that it will work just fine in most environments, but may not be all that suitable for serious stage use. However, the quality of the cable is definitely on point.
We are looking at a braided cable that comes with professional grade connectors and a pretty decent amount of insulation.
Connectors are housed in a half metal and half plastic casing.
The main thing many guitar players worry about with this type of design is the wear on the cable where it enters the connector housing. For the most part, all those doubts are more than reasonable.
Should you worry about this specific cable? Not at all.
On the contrary, you can be certain that it will stay in one piece and in work mode thanks to its quality braiding.
Neewer Durable Guitar Cable
Moving into more standard cable designs, we find the Neewer Durable guitar cable.
When we say “standard”, we mean a classic rubber jacket and no braiding. If you are looking for a budget friendly 10-footer, this is the one you will want to check out.
For one, the connectors are pure quality and one of them is angled at 90 degrees. This means that you can plug the cable into your guitar and exert no stress on that portion of the rubber jacket.
Connectors themselves are all metal with a metal spring acting as a bend guard.
The level of insulation you can expect from one of these is fairly decent but not as good as our previous mentions.
With that said, bang for the buck, this thing is a great choice.
ChromaCast Pro Series Cables CC-PSCBLSS-10VC
The last cable on our list comes from ChromaCast and represents their solution for a standard instrument cable.
We are talking that same old naked jacket, only this time it is made of quality PVC.
The way they have designed the connectors on this cable is pure awesomeness.
Instead of having a short plastic strain relief, they have actually moulded that into the connector casing. This way you get a lot of support at the part of the cable which is most likely to give way first.
For a classic cable design, ChromaCast Pro Series Cable definitely brings a decent amount of insulation and protective features.
Instrument cables connect a guitar, bass, keyboard or other electronic instrument to an amp, preamp or direct box. They carry low-voltage signals and generally have 1/4” connectors. They are considered unbalanced cables, which means they are susceptible to noise and should be kept as short as possible (certainly under 2feet).
An instrument cable should never be used as speaker cable. If used as a speaker cable, the quality of sound will suffer and the cable may get hot enough to melt the jacket.
Microphone cables are generally understood correctly, mainly because of their unique XLR connector. They are shielded and balanced which effectively keeps unwanted noise at a minimum (especially for long cable runs). They are used to connect microphones, direct boxes and other low-impedance signals to the mixer.
A speaker cable is an unbalanced cable that has a much heavier gauge (more wire) than most other audio cables. The reason they need heavier wire is because they carry a much higher voltage than microphone or instrument cables.
The dreadnought body shape is the most popular for acoustic guitars, with a larger body that lends to more volume and a full, rich sound. Dreadnought guitars are versatile, and though they sound great for strumming, many players use them for fingerpicking as well. These are great for playing with groups, as dreadnoughts tend to be better at cutting through the mix than smaller styles.
As the name suggests, jumbo guitars can be quite large, with bottoms that are more rounded than those found on dreadnought guitars. Having more space in the instrument for sound to resonate translates to more volume, sustain, and bass tones. These are commonly usually used for strumming.
Save Big with Bundles
Acoustic Guitar Bundle which includes essential accessories like picks, strings, and digital tuners at little to no extra cost. That way you save yourself time and hassle and get everything you need to start playing at once. Check out some of our recommended acoustic bundles below.
Acoustic-Electric Guitar with a built-in pickup/preamp system. These allow you to easily plug into an amplifier or PA system like you would with an electric guitar. Pickup/preamp systems on electric acoustic guitars also typically have built-in tuners which is much more convenient than having to buy an external digital tuner.
Aside from being gig-friendly, another benefit of acoustic-electric guitars is that the attached preamps allow you to plug your guitar directly into an audio interface for home recording. This enables you to quickly and easily record your music without having to worry about investing in or setting up microphones.
As a general rule of thumb heavier strings will give you a thicker, fuller sound, but the trade off is that they are harder to bend due to the added tension. Thinner strings are easier to bend and sound a little brighter, but they are also more likely to break. Because you never know when a string is going to break, it is advisable to have a spare set around at all times.
Stick with well known brands and you will be well served. Check out this link for some best-selling string sets complete with player reviews.
A tool no guitarist should be without! The ability to practice an exercise at a slower, more easily manageable tempo, and gradually increase the speed is an absolute necessity when it comes to developing good clean technique. Again, your amp or effects unit may come with one installed, but if not just use one of the many free metronomes available on the internet. Smartphone users will be able to find a plethora of metronome and drum-machine apps available.
What Tools Do You Need
Soldering Iron — It is important that you use a soldering iron of at least 2watts for electric guitar components. The reason for this is that with a lower powered iron, the time needed to heat a component for solder application is longer — especially when dealing with grounding wires on volume and tone pots. This extra time allows for heat to radiate away from the iron contact point and through components, potentially causing damage. If you are new to soldering, however, I do not recommend using an iron much above 25w. This will allow for connections to be made without the speed that is needed with a high-powered iron. My advice for beginners would be to stick within 2to 50 watts and to keep in mind that the contact time should generally be shorter for higher powers.
Solder — The most common and recommended solder for guitar work is the rosin-core, 60/40. The 60/40 describes the ratio of tin to lead, respectively. The rosin (flux) core facilitates the bonding process of the metals and solder.
Pliers — Due to the way heat transfers through thin wires and components quickly, it is best to use pliers when needing to grab a hold while at the same time applying heat nearby.
Tinning the Tip
After wiping the tip of the soldering iron with the solder, you should notice a thin silver layer over the tip. If so, you have successfully tinned the tip.
Please note: It is sometimes thought that you apply solder to the iron tip and then bring the tip into contact with the components you want to join. This is incorrect. In fact, the only time that solder should really be placed on the tip is in the tinning process. The proper method is to use the soldering iron only as a source for heat.
Practice Makes Perfect
Soldering is a skill more than anything. You need to practice it if you intend to do a good job. In fact, I highly recommend that you practice on something invaluable first — even just some plain used wire — before moving on to a guitar or other instrument. You can cut some scrap wire into several pieces and practice creating joints with them. Try to create a shiny joint as that is usually the sign of a good connection. If you have a resistance meter that can measure small resistances, you can use that to test your connections. A quick tip to getting better connections is to first tin the ends of wires to be connected. This is done much like the tinning of an iron tip; however, you do not wipe away any solder after coating. You simply coat the ends of the wire with a bead of solder that will later be used to form a joint.
There’s a pretty good argument today that cable quality makes no difference to audio or picture quality, but with one major caveat – this only applies to digital cables.
Of course, your vinyl record player is not a digital source, although if you have one with a analog-to-digital converter that outputs via USB, this rule would apply to that USB cable.
A cable is actually a pretty complex thing. Depending on the type of cable, it may have a metal core that carries the main signal and a layer of shielding that isolates that signal so that it neither receives nor causes interference.
Speaker wires, for example, can be bought in shielded and unshielded versions. It may seem logical to shield these wires, but the low frequency and power that run through speaker wires makes noise from interference a non-issue in general. There are, however, some situations, such as when bundles of wire run through a wall cavity or when coupled with some other electronics, that interference may crop up. However, speaker wire is cheap, so you might as well start with the unshielded stuff and see if there are issues. In the vast majority of cases, more expensive shielded cabling is not needed.
Apart from normal twisted pair speaker wire, the other cable you’ll likely encounter is the humble RCA cable. This is a standard that has been around since the 1940s and was also known as “phono” connectors, so these actually share history with vinyl record players.
When you buy stereo RCA cables to connect the preamp to the amp, or sometimes even the turntable to the preamp, you need to make sure you get cables that are going to give you a good experience.
While most RCA cables use copper throughout, you may also find some that have gold or silver-plated connectors. Silver is the best conductor, followed by copper and then gold. The main reason to use gold is that it doesn’t oxidize, the process we most commonly refer to as “rusting”. When a metal rusts, it loses its conductivity, which will severely affect the sound quality.
Copper tends to rust at the connector end, so plating the connector in gold or silver helps. Gold lowers the conductivity, though, so it represents a compromise between a lower maximum conductivity level in exchange for a guarantee against rust. Unless you live in sea air, silver is probably the best compromise, since it increases oxidation resistance while leaving conductivity no worse than that of copper.
Also pay attention to the plating on the connector on the device. You might as well match gold with gold or silver with silver, since the lowest common denominator will affect the whole chain.
However, if you aren’t living in a place where oxidation is a huge issue, just go with plain copper. You can also get relatively reasonably-priced zinc, tin, and nickel-plated RCA connectors that do better than copper when it comes to oxidation. Silver and gold are therefore not really worth the extra money unless you have a very specific reason to have them – like living on a houseboat, I guess.
RCAs can also be bought with shielding, as I mentioned above. The same rule applies – go with the cheapest option and then only upgrade if you actually have interference problems.
The other thing you should take into account is length. Cables should be no longer than absolutely necessary. This is not only neater, but means there is less signal strength drop. If you need cables to be very long you may even need some sort of repeater device, although for most home users this will never be an issue. So before you spend money on cabling, measure the distance between your components in their permanent positions and buy RCA cables as close to that length as possible.
When it comes to speaker wire, you can have them made in any length, so try to get them at a length that does not result in unused cable coiling somewhere. It also makes financial sense, since you pay for every inch of cable you get.
Wired for Sound
In the end, it is just not worth spending money on fancy cables but, at the same time, you should not buy the very cheapest cables you can find. Many off-brand or generic cables from far-flung parts of the world can be of such poor quality that the insulation disintegrates or the thin wire inside breaks within the cable. When we buy cables we should care more about features that affect the build-quality rather than the sound quality. A cheap cable can sound about the same as an expensive one, but break and rust in very short order.
So aim for the middle and try to buy cables that are from a reputable brand. Use your ears to listen for any noise issues and only buy fancier cables if you know it will make a difference. The money you save is better spent on higher-quality components.
There are digital and analogue interconnects, often with the same RCA phono connector, but you only need one cable for a digital signal. Digital can be sent electrically via a coaxial cable or optically with a Toslink cable, neither of which are relevant to turntables of course. The other digital option is USB and there are some turntables that have a USB output so that you can record your vinyl with a computer. Many people find it hard to believe that digital cables can sound different, but as inconvenient as it is, they do; just have a listen to see if it’s a big enough difference for you.
The vast majority of cables use copper as a signal conductor because it is the best material for the job. Silver is used in some high end cables because it is a marginally better conductor, however it tarnishes when exposed to oxygen and that affects performance, so it’s debatable whether it warrants the extra cost. A good compromise is silver plated copper which is used in a lot of the better cables, usually insulated in PTFE or Teflon which keeps out the oxygen and ‘sounds’ better than rubber or plastic.
The RCA cable is also used for connecting audio or stereo devices to transmit sound signals. In this case, the cable only transmits audio signals. It is usually of very high quality and should be like that for the signal to be of high quality. It can be combined with video RCA like component to achieve both HD video and audio transfer.
One of the most important considerations when buying an RCA is the connectors at the end. The connectors are virtually the same in terms of shape and size. However, it is the material that varies and determines the quality and life of the cable. It is important to note that the conducting capabilities vary from one material to another and that can affect the signal greatly. The materials used in connectors on these cables are gold, silver, copper and nickel.
In terms of conductivity, silver has the highest rate and gold has the lowest. However, the latter is commonly used for plating the connector. This is because it is strongly immune to corrosion and rusting. It does not oxidize and therefore is best to protect even the other two materials. So when buying RCA you will see a lot of wires plated with gold which is a good indicator of their longevity. If such plating is absent, the connector becomes vulnerable to oxidization which causes problems in the signal. Silver although great at conducting can still get oxidized over time. So it is a good idea to choose a connector with gold plating.
Other materials used for plating include nickel and zinc which do outperform silver but are less strong against oxidization as compared with gold. These tend to be a lot cheaper than gold plated ones and are very commonly used therefore.
Note: It is important to take into consideration the other end of the connection i.e. the port on the device. Some material combinations can be a bit problematic for the signals. The connections should not be of materials that are prone to cause an electrolytic reaction for example tin and gold.
The lengths of the cables vary and you can easily find one that suits your needs. The lengths usually range from feet to 1feet. The latter is more than enough for most setup whether you are using it in your house or a studio. For instance, iXCC dual RCA Audio Y Cable is one of the longest cables you can find online. However, there is a little effect of the length of the signal. Generally, it is considered that the longer the cable the less quality there is in the signal. So if you have the choice to use a shorter length, you should. Nonetheless, the manufacturers are producing high-quality wires with great insulation. You should measure the length using a measuring tape from the devices you need to connect. Make sure to add some extra length to it.
If a cable can pass video signals over long distances with no problems, it will easily handle any line level audio signal.
We’re here to help
Audio cables can seem like a simple thing in concept, until you set out to buy one and realize you didn’t know how much you didn’t know. Although they may be the least exciting components in your stage rig or studio setup, they are some of the most important.
So here is what you need to know, in plain English, to make sure you’re getting the best cable for your gear and your purpose.
The Livewire Elite Speakon Cable offers a secure connection, twist- and tangle-resistant design, and high-quality conductors that keep your signal noise-free.
XLR connectors have three pins for the positive, negative, and ground. They are most commonly used on microphone cables, but you will also see them used on balanced patch cables and with DMX-enabled lighting equipment.
The Monster Cable Studio Pro 2000 XLR Microphone cable uses Time Correct technology for the ultimate in detail and soundstage imaging.
Digital Audio Connectors
Below are some of the most common digital audio cables and connectors required for linking digital mixers, recorders, preamps, and DAWs (digital audio workstations).
A word of caution: In many cases, digital gear uses cables that resemble their analog XLR or RCA counterparts. While these connectors may look the same, the cables are often designed for different resistances, and are not interchangeable with their analog look-alikes.
Browse Musician’s Friend’s entire selection of digital cables and connectors.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface cables allow electronic instruments to communicate with peripheral devices. They don’t transmit actual audio, but by signaling every aspect of a musical performance—the note, how long it is held, the velocity of the attack, etc.—MIDI technology defines the sound in the receiving module.
MIDI cables can also communicate control functions to software and synthesizers, so you can control sound and tones with a remote control surface.
The Rocktron RMM900 Cable carries MIDI commands from a footcontroller to any MIDI-compatible gear via a 7-pin MIDI jack.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) cables have become standard for connecting everything from printers to digital audio gear. USB cables have Type A, Type B, Mini-A, Micro-A, Mini-B, Micro-B, or Type C connectors at one end, and a device-specific connector at the other. USB cables can also be used as a power source for some devices. The latest version, USB 3.0, is significantly faster than USB 2.0 and can make a difference in minimizing lag during performances and studio playback of complex material.
For critical audio applications such as recording and DJ work, a premium-quality connector like the Oyaide Neo d+ Series Class B USB Cable ensures stable performance.
There are three types of FireWire connectors: 4-pin, 6-pin and 9-pin. The 4-pin connector, or FW400, transfers data at 400 Mbps (megabytes per second). The slightly larger 6-pin connector has the same transfer rate, but also supplies DC power. The 9-pin connector, or FW800, transfers data twice as fast and also supplies power.
The METRIC HALO Firewire Cable has a standard 6-pin connector on each end, so it can transfer data and also supply power.
Optical Cables and Connectors
Optical cables transmit digital audio as pulses of light, which make them almost completely immune to interference. They are surround-sound capable, but can’t handle higher-resolution formats such as those on Blu-Ray discs.
ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) Optical Interface, more commonly known as ADAT Lightpipe, is the widely accepted standard for digital audio transfer on optical cables. It transfers eight channels of digital audio on a special cable with an Alesis-specific ADAT connector.
The Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) outputs audio over shorter distances. These connectors use either optical or coaxial cables. Coaxial cables are similar in quality to optical cables, but less common. They use RCA connectors, but these cables are not interchangeable with analog RCA cables.
Bayonet Neill-Concelman connectors were originally designed for military use, but are now commonly used on video and audio testing equipment. The bayonet-style connector is used with miniature and subminiature coaxial cables in radio-frequency equipment and video gear.
This Hosa RG 5Cable has a male BNC connector on each end for video or Ethernet connections.
The Tascam Digital Interconnect Format is an unbalanced proprietary format connector that sends and/or receives up to eight channels of digital audio. The bidirectional connection means that only one cable is required to connect the eight ins and outs of one compatible device to another.
The most common is the braided shield. Small wire strands are braided to form a sheath around the insulation of the signal-conducting wire. This type of shielding is flexible and durable. Onstage mic and instrument cables are constantly being bent, pulled, and stepped on, and braided shielding holds up best under these conditions.
Serve or Spiral-Wrapped Shield
Another type of shielding is the spiral-wrapped or serve shield. This sheath is formed by wrapping a flat strip of wire strands around the center wires in a spiral. The serve shield, while it lacks the tensile strength of a braided shield, is more flexible than a braided shield because it stretches when the cable is bent. It is less resistant to radio frequency (RF) interference, because it is actually a coil and has inductance. It is also easier to manufacture so cables using serve shielding are usually less expensive.
The foil shield is a Mylar-backed aluminum tube that terminates at a copper drain wire. It provides 100% coverage, but since aluminum is a poor conductor of electricity, it also interferes with signal transfer. Foil shielding is inexpensive and easy to make, but it is also fragile and breaks down easily with repeated flexing. It is best used in small patch cables and stereo cables that don’t move much once they are connected.
Snakes are essentially bundled sets of cables. Stage snakes may contain microphone, patch, or speaker cables and are used for two-way connection between the stage and mixers and other PA equipment. They have a fan of connectors on one end, and a box on the stage end that houses a panel of connectors. In shopping for a snake, the length and the type of connections are the main considerations. There are also audio snakes for studios that bundle various cables needed for connecting studio components.
Very ruggedly built with Neutrik D connectors and serious strain relief on all cables, the Pro Co StageMASTER 12-Channel Snake has 1sends and returns.
Explore the complete selection of audio cable snakes at Musician’s Friend.
Refer to the table below for an overview of the standard sound formats and recommended interconnect cables.
Analog audio cables transmit sound as a continually fluctuating electronic signal. Analog cable can’t handle the audio channels in a digital 5.surround sound signal, and are more susceptible to interference, in the form of electromagnetic and radio frequency waves, than digital cables.
It’s best to use digital audio cables if you have digital connections on your equipment, since these cables will deliver the optimal sound experience. However, analog cables will work as well, even with a digital TV or video source, such as a Blu-ray player.
Start by figuring out how much cable you are going to need. It is a lot easier to make the length of the cable before you put ends on them. The beauty of making your own cables is you can make them any length you want, so plan a head.
Take the RCA connector and slid it down till you feel the cap lightly snap into the connector. The bottom part of the connector is going in between the installation and shielding.
Take the first piece of the connector that was slid on to the cable way back before it was stripped and slide it over the shielding and connector. It should be firm at this point.
For all shielded cables, the shield must only be connected to the ground at the source side, except for coaxial where this is not possible. Otherwise the foil becomes a return ground like in the case of coaxial. Though this may not matter in some applications e.g. balanced but take note with unbalanced/pseudo-balanced* connections.
Shielded twisted pair
Canare L-2B2AT deserves honorable mention as it is (was) used for a commercial 3.5mm stereo interconnect here.
There are many plugs out there, not all plugs are made equal.
I have personally held cheapo and well made plugs in my hand.
But well made plugs make a difference, esp. for those who have experience with them. well made plugs are pleasing to the eyes, but apart from the eye candy better plugs accept more range of cables as the opening diameter for termination is bigger.
Again it is all within context, and of course your budget.
How many strands per channel and why is not important right now, the thing to note is that the fatter the wire the bigger plug you need.
The bigger the plug, the more expensive it is but there are affordable options, just need to source.
The more common connection here is by Neutrik and paliccs which are pretty decent, however it is quite small diameter to fit your cables in if its thick.
While a range of colors have been used over the years, typically Red is used for the right channel and White for the left audio channel.
The above photo shows both female and male ends of an RCA cable. The top cable shows female ends and the bottom shows male. All combinations are available to match your needs.
The one that started it all. Made from our best-selling PolyPro material, these straps are machine stitched to quality black leather ends (EB logo stamped in gold print) for absolute maximum strength and longevity, with a black Delrin adjustable buckle and connector to further enhance durability and good looks. Available in black, navy, white, rainbow, burgundy, red, olive, gray, brown, forest green and purple.
This Monster Standard cable has a reasonable price because of its quality. This is usually go-to for many musicians including bassists. For me, it has a top-of-the-line heavy duty connector that withstands long hours of rigorous playing.
I prefer to use this when in gigs because it is easy to plug and unplug. It has a robust construction and extremely reliable. It also has just the right length, so it transmits adequate signal into your audio interface.
Spectraflex Original Series
This is the only woven fabric coated cable in this review, and I am telling you, this is one of the high performers in the market today.
The Spectraflex is tailored for the professional guitar player – the kind who plays guitar for a living in gigs night after night after night.
This is a heavy duty solid cable with low capacitance. Its shielding is Polymer, and its internal is made of 100% copper.
Provides Proper Capacitance
One of the essential functions of a guitar cable is capacitance. Furthermore, when two electrical conductors are close to one another, a capacitor is formed. This allows for a low-pass filter, which allows for a low impedance transfer to the ground.
Proper Insulation For Protection
It is important that the copper conductor of the cable is insulated. This preserves signal quality and most importantly, protects the guitar player from electrocution.
Also, a properly insulated wire is usually thick. Thickness also determines the flexibility of the cable but is not an indicator of signal quality.
Anti-corrosion Connector Ends
Although the type of connector does not completely affect signal quality, the right choice should prevent corrosion. A gold-plated plug is highly recommended because of its anti-corrosion property. Not to mention, a gold-plated connector looks attractive, too.
Key Features of a Guitar Cable
A high-quality guitar cable should have the key features to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. There are expensive brands that claim a lot of extra bonuses, but they may not be suited for an average everyday guitar player.
Some of these cables may just be right for the show. Meaning that they only look good physically, but the functions and key features are the same as the affordable ones. Arm yourself with the right knowledge so that you will arrive at the best purchasing decision.
The longer the cable, the more likely will you get progressive noise. Also, too long cables disrupt the signal from your instrument to your audio interface or amp. You may notice that some guitar players coil the excess length of their cables to maintain a length that does not disrupt the signal transfer.
Traditionally, the required length is around 2feet maximum, but there are already brands that offer cables with premium parts that guarantee quieter and cleaner sound quality.
Electrostatic shield prevents static build-up whenever friction occurs between the copper shield and insulation.
Materials such as Dacron and Conductive PVC should be present in the cable’s shielding. The Dacron is a type of tape that reduces noise while the conductive PVC provides a shield from friction because of its thickness.
DigiTech BP90 Bass Guitar Multi-Effects Processor
Fortunately, I am not just a guitar teacher but also an experienced guitar technician and the only one in Paris who is wiling to travel to you! I charge 50€ per hour (min fee of €20) for string changes, cleaning, setups, and small repairs—in short, everything you need to keep your guitars in top playing condition.
Connectors on the ends of your guitar cables are important not because they change anything to do with the sound of your instrument, but because of the wear and tear that they will have to endure.
However, if you are gigging frequently and are plugging in multiple times a day gold may not be best choice for you. This is because gold is a softer material meaning that it is likely to wear down quicker than your standard nickel plated connector.
Unlike existing wireless devices, Jack doesn’t use Bluetooth or radio technology, which can be slow and might even cause a loss in fidelity. Crawford’s technology can be used with any musical instrument or microphone to make it a Wi-Fi device.
While cables may not be the sexiest part of your setup, understanding how they work and what to look for when shopping will eliminate hassles and ensure you get the best possible sound. This guide will get you up to speed on all the in and outs of audio cabling to help you choose the correct cables for your purpose.
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Nearly All Electric Guitars are High-Impedance Devices
This simple fact probably affects tone more than just about anything else. Impedance is a measure of electronic resistance: the longer the signal path, the more resistance there is in it. With a high-impedance guitar output, the more distance there is between your guitar and your amp, the more your tone will be affected by the resistance in the cable connecting the two together.
It’s commonly accepted that at about 18.feet you can both clearly hear and easily measure the sound changes in an electric guitar’s tone—typically a loss of highs—caused by running a high-impedance signal over that cable length. And the longer the cable, the more the tone is affected in a negative way. The design and quality of the cable influences this tonal change as well (sometimes even at shorter lengths than 18.feet), which is why there’s a lot of voodoo out there about different types of guitar cables.
How do you know if your electric guitar has a high-impedance output? If it’s equipped with passive pickups (ones that don’t require an onboard battery to run), then it will have a high-impedance output. If your guitar has active pickups, which means that it has battery-powered preamp onboard, then your guitar most likely has a low-impedance output that is not as susceptible to tone degradation with long cable lengths.
Passive pickup systems with high-impedance outputs are by far the norm in the electric guitar world, and make up the vast majority of instruments out there. So, in all likelihood, your electric guitar probably has a high-impedance output.
Buffered Pedals in Use
Many players that use true bypass pedals have found that using a BOSS pedal either at the beginning or end of the pedal chain mitigates the unintended effect that true bypass pedals have on a high-impedance signal path. This may be one of the many reasons that the BOSS TU-3 is so popular; besides providing a great tuner, using a TU-at the front of a pedalboard buffers the signal to the subsequent pedals, and eliminates the negative effect on tone that’s caused by turning true bypass pedals on/off in a high-impedance signal path.
Some pedals can be finicky (particularly vintage-style fuzz pedals that use germanium transistors), and sound their best when your guitar is plugged into them first. In these situations, you can simply place a BOSS pedal somewhere in the middle or end of the stompbox chain to get its beneficial signal-buffering effect—just remember to keep your cable length before the BOSS pedal as short as possible (18.feet or less).
Keep Your Tone Intact
We’re not here to debate the sound quality of true bypass vs. buffered effects, but the simple facts are these: if your rig consists of more than 18.feet of total signal path, you’re going to lose tone (mostly high frequencies) in the cable, and using true bypass pedals will not alter this fact. Using buffered pedals in the signal path solves this problem, which is why most top pedalboard designers include buffering in their pro boards, and is why all BOSS pedals are buffered.
Check out the following video, where we demonstrate the negative effects of long cable length and how using a BOSS pedal with buffering retains your tone.
The term “patch cable” generically describes any cable that links various components together. They often are quite short in length and may be used in a PA or recording setups to interconnect gear, or to link effects pedals to each other in a signal chain. They may have balanced or unbalanced conductors (discussed above) depending on their purpose, and can have various kinds of connectors including XLR, 1/4″ phone, TRS, or RCA.
The right-angle 1/4″ connectors on these Six-inch Livewire patch cables makes them perfect for connecting effects pedals in a signal chain.
Even the best cable will eventually fail, and the more you use your sound equipment, the faster you will go through them – especially if you’re taking it on the road. A cable tester is a simple tool that verifies intended signals are working, and no unintended signals are being carried. If you have a problem with your system, a cable tester can quickly help you determine what and where the problem is.
The Galaxy Audio Cable Tester quickly and easily tests XLR, 1/4″, 1/8″, Speakon, stereo RCA, and DIN (MIDI) cables, making it an essential tool for musicians and sound engineers.
Browse the Musician’s Friend selection of cable testers and other audio test equipment.
First things first, you probably want to decide on what amp wattage will best suit your needs. Tube amps sound best when pushed to a certain degree, so while a 100-watt behemoth might look insanely cool in your room, it’s not going to do you much good. If you’ll be using your new tube amp primarily for at home practice and DON’T want to anger the neighbors, a small 5-watt will fit your needs.
It’s worth noting here that a 100-watt tube amp is not twice as loud as a 50-watt tube amp—the difference between the two is only about dB. Twice the wattage really comes down to more headroom. And let’s not forget the aspect of portability, since a 100-watt head will have some weight to it. Unless you can afford roadies, you need to make sure you are up for carrying it from gig to gig with the cabinet.
GROOVE TUBE GT6550-CS
Tube type is another important consideration. The different types of power tubes each have a particular sound based on their characteristics. Generally speaking, a 6Lpower tube offers nice roundness, clarity, and punch compared to an EL34, which commonly has tight lows, sparkling highs, and a nice mid-range. EL84s have much lower output, but offer a smoothness and harmonic distortion similar to a 6V6, which is bluesy with nice low frequency fullness. The big and powerful 6550s and KT88s are very clean sounding with a lot of low end.
Having covered the basics of the power amp, it is time to consider the preamp. The power amp considerations are important since the power tubes affect the overall output in terms of headroom and breakup, but it’s the preamp that really does most of the tonal shaping of the amp. What we are concerned with is the preamp circuit type and what features it possesses—such as reverb, effects loops, or multiple channels.
A player that needs to rely on one amp that is able to provide varying degrees of distortion may want to consider an amp with multiple channels. Typically, there may be anywhere from one to four channels on a guitar amp. Tube amps with multiple channels offer flexibility by allowing the player to rely less on pedals for overdrive, and more on utilizing the independent gain controls for each channel of the tube amp. Most high gain amps have at least two channels—clean and gain—where the player can turn up the preamp gain and leave the master volume set at a lower level. This will allow higher distortion at a much lower volume level. Keep in mind that preamp tube break up sounds different than power tube break up, and is less touch sensitive.
While multi-channel tube amps offer built-in flexibility, a player looking for purity of tone may be better off with a single channel amplifier. It is important to bear in mind that you will color your tone by running your guitar through springs in a reverb pan, multiple channels, or jacks and cables in and out of an effects loop. Simply put, the more components in the signal chain, the more the signal purity will be altered. And when a tube amp has three preamps, a reverb circuit, effects loop, buffers, and additional gain stages—but is the same price as a less complex model—costs were probably cut somewhere.
You can tell the difference between Mini-B and Micro-B from the shape of the connector. The Micro is slimmer while the Micro has square ridges on either side.
Aaron Matthies is a guitar teacher living in Australia. This website is his way of providing gear reviews, guides and lessons to guitarists around the world.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your guitar cables wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of guitar cables