#1
I have been looking into replacing some of my cables. I need 25-30 feet, two of them. I've been looking at musicians friend and eBay.

Does it matter if I pay 15$ or 45$ For one cable?

Are they really all that different?

Gauge? How much difference can this make?

I'm playing a strat through a pedal board with a few effects and Wah, then out to amp.

Thanks
#2
it's normally worth going above the bargain basement stuff and getting into the more cost-effective pro stuff. i'm not sure it's worth paying much more than that.

I know what the good quality but decent value stuff is in europe (van damme, klotz, sommer, normally with neutrik or switchcraft jacks), but the good value stuff in america is normally different (since that european stuff is actually quite expensive there), so hopefully someone else can give you some advice regarding what to look into.

what effects do you have? (specific brands and models, if they have buffers the quality of the cabling coming after them matters a lot less)
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#3
Quote by gravitycure
I have been looking into replacing some of my cables. I need 25-30 feet, two of them. I've been looking at musicians friend and eBay.

Does it matter if I pay 15$ or 45$ For one cable?

Are they really all that different?

Gauge? How much difference can this make?

I'm playing a strat through a pedal board with a few effects and Wah, then out to amp.

Thanks


Gauge isn't an issue for guitar cables, but it can be for speaker cables (and remember NOT to use a guitar cable between your amp and speaker cabinet). 14-16 AWG speaker cable will be good for up to 50' between your amp and speaker cabinet.

Once you get past a certain minimal quality level, you're pretty much good to go where guitar cables are concerned. Your patch cords and internal pedal wiring will affect your overall tone much more than your guitar cables at that point. If your local store carries "lifetime warranty" cables, you may find it convenient to pick up a few of those and then bring them back when they crap out.

I build my own from bulk Canare or Mogami cable and Neutrik ends and the resultant cables are easily the equal of the lifetime warranty bunch, but a third the price. Simple and quick to do (I usually fill a gym bag full of cables in an evening of cable assembly) and you can select sizes according to your needs.
#4
Quote by gravitycure
Does it matter if I pay 15$ or 45$ For one cable?
Yes.

If you're gonna use them to transmit a guitar signal tho, unless the quality is veeery low it won't make any difference you will notice.
Quote by gravitycure
Are they really all that different?
Well they're still single-core shielded coax cables, largely made of the same materials.

Again, unless you're using the cables for stuff that involves critical listening applications you likely won't hear a difference if you A/B the two, let alone if you hear them hours apart.
Quote by gravitycure
Gauge? How much difference can this make?
A lot if you're thinking HF signals and stuff.

You're not tho.

In short, unless you need cables with a lifetime warranty the $15 cables will work good enough.
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#5
I used the middle grade Monster cable stuff when I was gigging. I still use most of that, but i also have been getting the Planet Waves stuff. I stopped buying the no-name crap cable with the braided wrapping (The stuff they have bundled up on a mic stand for $10 at Guitar Center) they always died after about a year.
Pay a few bucks more, and your cables will probably last a little longer.
Like said above, if it says "Lifetime warranty" on the package, go for it.
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#6
i use planetwaves cables for my guitars and between effects. the guitar shops around me sell Roadhog branded cables and they offer the lifetime warrently. cant say how mant times ive gon to exchanges them or had to resolder the ends. got sick of doing that so i bought the panet waves cables and havent had to exchange them since, been 4 or 5 years since ive bought a new guitar cord


for the mini cables between effects i use planetwaves as well, tho you have to remove some of the rubber plastic stuff on the mini cable for effects cuz the jacks don't sit fully in the sockets on some pedals.. just take an exacto knife and remove about 1/8" of material around the jack and your good..

in short, planet waves are great cables
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#7
I would stay away from the cheap stuff - they never last more than a year or so for me.
I have a monster cable that's going on 10 years old.

I notice a little high end drop off with cheap cables too.

longer cables can also kill a little signal too, but a line driver or a buffered pedal I think solves that
#8
Capacitance is what affects your tone with passive pickups especially running 20-30ft lengths.

Guitar Cable Capacitance and Resonant Frequency

Then you want good shielding (braided is best) with secondary shielding for microphonics (handling noise)

Quality connectors such as Switchcraft/G&H/Neutrik.

After that most cable makers don't properly strain relief, the only way to do that really well is glued heat shrink.

Some cables don't handle at all well if they have solid PE insulation for example.

Lots of marketing snake oil to watch out for such as gold plated jack plugs which actually risk galvanic corrosion, silver plated signal wire which is only used in aviation/space exploration for radio frequencies, single signal wire which is really stiff and breaks easily etc.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by SHOOTOUT! at Jul 14, 2015,
#9
Quote by dspellman
...
Once you get past a certain minimal quality level, you're pretty much good to go where guitar cables are concerned. Your patch cords and internal pedal wiring will affect your overall tone much more than your guitar cables at that point. If your local store carries "lifetime warranty" cables, you may find it convenient to pick up a few of those and then bring them back when they crap out.

I build my own from bulk Canare or Mogami cable and Neutrik ends and the resultant cables are easily the equal of the lifetime warranty bunch, but a third the price. Simple and quick to do (I usually fill a gym bag full of cables in an evening of cable assembly) and you can select sizes according to your needs.


+1 if you aren't the type to solder things, lifetime cables are the way to go, drop them off for a quick exchange.

back probably near 7-8 years ago, i bought the monster 'rock' cables from a guy who was dumping them at CL. he was selling them for 50% price new. they are pretty nice and durable as all hell. not the best though, but they were cheap from him. i wouldn't pay $60 for a monster, (at $30 i really think it is worth it. it is very convenient to get them swapped, i can sit my ass in my car, drive 10 minutes down the road, and have a brand new cable in box. hard to beat it. saying that monster may not be the best for you, but the advice i think is best is to pick up a warranty cable that you can get replaced locally.

+1 i use bulk cable i get from here (http://btpa.com/) that specs above moogami gold and switchraft jacks and that is what i use for all pedal board cable and soon to be most of my main stuff on my active rigs. i can buy it for (as despellman said) a third of the price, and if one ****s up, all it takes is enough time to heat up a soldering iron, and you are good.
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#10
I use planet waves because I'm lazy and they work and last a long time. Used to buy the cheaper no-name cables but then you're going back in a year because itheyre a PoS
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#11
tehcnically thicker cores will help quality a bit more. you say see "higher" end cables begin to have thicker cores. but as stated, most people really like a cable that doesnt kink (material), jacks that dont break (quality HW, reinforced / strain relief) and in general are made in a way where tehy dont crap out, 99% of the time that results in one of the ends being pulled to hard and breaking solder or, the cable just gets old and the little copper lead in side gets weak and cracks / severs.

for harry homeowner around the house stuff, GFS cables (the higher end ones) re doing quite well. couple years of use on em. infrequent jams and band gigs but very few. generally in teh house, being stepped on in my bedroom. their 2nd best cable even has neutrik jacks. thier Best cable is crapo gold jacks but a HUGE internal lead. i wish they were give the huge lead cable with the neutrik jacks and call it ultimate or something.
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#12
You can check your own instrument cables for 2 types of noise by doing the following and then choose the best cable for use with your guitar since that is the most critical cable in your audio chain.

First, choose a high gain setting on your amp and turn up the gain with any cable plugged in until you start to hear noise (but not squealing which can happen) You may have to turn up the master or volume also but most important is high input gain (I use a Marshall MG 15 for this test with the over-drive button pressed in). You need a cable plugged in since many amps ground out the input when no cable is plugged in. The other end of the cable is not connected.

Second, lay all your cables across the floor with a couple inches between them and one end near the amp so you can plug them in one at a time.

3rd (hum/noise pickup): plug each cable in and listen for the amount of 60hz hum and noise hiss increase. Cables have different shielding coverage, common mode rejection, capacitance, and resonance frequency and will sound different. Note, if you have cables with shorting/grounding ends, you'll have to defeat/disable this feature with a plain 1/4 jack at the far end so the center conductor isn't connected to the return (or shield). Don't let the connector ends touch metal or a concrete floor or you'll pick up unrelated noise. The 'ideal' cable would have the same noise as the amplifier, i.e. no change in noise when you plug the cable into the amp compared to a plug only. Resistance to hum is particularly important when under fluorescent lights, instrument cables are run near AC power feeds, or near wall wart power cubes with internal transformers, all sources of hum.

4th (microphonic test): plug in one of the cables and make a few 6 inch diameter loops you can hold in you hand, don't touch the plug. Now tap the cable with the knuckles of your other hand and listen for 'thumps' coming out of the amp. Also tap each connector end also staying away from the live tip. Next, scratch down the cable with your fingernails and listen for scratching sounds coming from the amp. Lastly, shake and flex the cable and listen for crackly/static noise. The 'ideal' cable would remain silent during these microphonic tests. A cable that allows the center conductor to change physical spacing to the return/shield acts like a condenser microphone by varying the capacitance and inducing voltage. Change in the braid weave with tapping, flexing, and movement also varies capacitance as well as shielding creating noise. When a cable is microphonic, it generates noise when you move while playing, drag it across the floor, bump it, or play in front of a monitor speaker. If only the connector ends are microphonic, you can 'pot' them with gluegun glue to keep any wires from vibrating if the connectors can be disassembled.

Choose your best cable and plug in your guitar. You can repeat the hum and microphonic tests and see how it reacts. With the cable 'loaded' by the pickups, the frequency response of the system will change and the lower impedance will reduce the noise voltage. However, now you have the guitar electronics and shielding that you have to deal with. But, if you know the cable is pretty good by itself (since you tested it), then any increase in hum or microphonics is due to the guitar (a much more complex discussion for another day). As suggested in other posts, shorter is better. Brand names are good but the tests don't lie, I have a noisy Planet Waves cable and a very quiet Rapco cable and I never would have guessed the Rapco would be a good as it is.

You can do these tests at the guitar store before you buy a cable so you aren't disappointed at home, or worse, at the gig you are going to.

Low noise cables are most important for guitarists playing through a high gain signal path at the beginning stages, most notably, the guitar cable. Once the signal is amplified past the high gain stages, lesser quality cables can be used without adding noticeable noise.

Comments, other cable check tricks, and test results are welcome.
Last edited by Weathergeekee at Aug 4, 2015,
#14
Two 30 foot cables may be end up being an issue. 60 feet of cable between your guitar and your amp (not to mention your pedal board connections) gives your system a pretty good opportunity to pick up stray noise and hum and that much cable may affect your tone. You might want to reconsider that length. Maybe?
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#15
With time I have learned three things...

1- Cheap cables are not an option, they die really quick.

2. You do not need to spend a fortune on cables. I have used 20-40 USD range cables and I cant't really complain, signal is clear and they are VERY reliable. Right now I'm using Spectraflex, Fulltone and Kirlin, all of them pretty nice cables if you ask me. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other great cables in the market.

3. For many people the best option is soldering their own cables, they can pick the cable and jacks they want. Mogami and Canare makes great cable and, as already has been stated, Switchcraft, Neutrik and G&H are some of the best choices for getting jacks.

The best cable I have tried in my life is a Lava Clear Connect, but damn that is an expensive cable. And yeah, there are cables above 100 USD...

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Last edited by Perverockstar69 at Aug 5, 2015,
#16
I have been using Breitwire cables for a little while and I love them. A professional musician turned me on to them. He said he only uses them and nothing else. The one I bought is constructed with Van Damme Cable and Neutrik connectors. These things are bulletproof. The cables are very well made with quality components and are durable and flexible. The flexibility was important to me, other than sound, so that I could pack them up easy. I think they do custom cables as well but I haven't looked into that option yet. Here is a link to the one I bought.
http://www.breitwire.com/Neutrik-Silentplug-Straight-Right-Angle-Combo-p/gc-006-pr-ss-ga.htm