The Truth Behind Instrument Cables

A variety of guitar cables are available on the market, but are the top-of-the-line, $200 cables really worth the price tag?

Ultimate Guitar
Every instrumentalist is faced with a variety of supplies to buy, and of course advertising plays a large role in consumer mentalities. In the world of instrument cables, this is no exception.

Many brands produce cables ranging from the lower $20 ranges up to $200 a cable. Why is it, though, that many brands charge so much more for their cables? Can they really make or break your tone? The best weapon that a consumer can walk into a store with is knowledge. While this article is not going to convey one cable as bad and another as good, it will offer an unbiased explanation of cables, why they are priced as such, and will help you to make better purchasing decisions.

I believe it's important to note than instrument cables are, for the most part, analog cables. There are numerous discussions about unfairness in advertising among specific brands regarding digital cables; because these forms of signal are carried differently, the arguments and counter-arguments against said brands are not going to be accounted for in this article.

So what's in a guitar cable? This is the face that quite often shocks consumers who swear that one brand of cable provides better sound quality than another. Quite simply, a guitar cable is a shielded piece of copper wire, with a core diameter of .265". All standard 1/4" instrument cables are this thickness, and therefore have the same resistance and signal impedance.

I'll throw the big shocker in right now. What does this mean? Any two cables made of the same copper components and of the same length will deliver the same signal quality in the end. So yes, the $100 Monster "Rock" Cable, and the $20 LiveWire cable of equal lengths are essentially equal.

The proof is in the laws of resistance: the equation (R=p*l/A) states that resistance (in Ohms) is proportional to the length and resistivity of the wire, and inversely proportional to the cross-sectional area of the wire. In layman's terms, that means that a short, thick wire provides the best signal quality. And because the cross sectional area is the same, the resistivity of copper doesn't change (16.78 Ωm), and the length of the wire is determined by the consumer, we come to the astounding conclusion that all these cables do in fact provide the same tone quality.

So we now know that the claim of an expensive cable being "better" cannot be attributed to signal quality. So what can they offer? While the signal quality is the same, what other aspects can be improved upon? Here's a list of other cable aspects to look for which are often advertised:
  • Shielding: To keep interference from reaching the "hot" center conductor where the signal is passing, the copper "shield" covers the conductive core. The shield is usually formed of braided copper, and a low transfer impedance to the ground is the sought-after quality.
  • Insulation: The copper conductor must be insulated to preserve signal quality, and of course to protect the user. Most insulation is made from thermoset (rubber and neoprene) or thermoplastic (polyethylene and polypropylene) materials spread over the conductor, then vulcanized. Insulation doesn't affect signal quality and is usually standardized across cables. The thickness does, however, determine cable flexibility.
  • Protection against 60-cycle hum: Many cables, especially higher-priced ones, advertise a strong protection against electrical hum. The sad truth though is that this hum (sourced from 60 and 120Hz frequencies from power sources) are usually low enough in frequency to be stopped by anything but a ferrous metal component. The best defense against hum is to keep coiled-up excess cable stored away from power sources such as amplifiers and power splitters.
  • Connecting Ends: We've all seen the attractive gold-plated connectors on some big-name brands. And of course, if it's gold, it's better... right? While many people believe that gold-plated connectors are "better", they don't know why. Gold is an attractive anti-corrosion element, but signal-wise, there is no benefit of having one connector over the other at the frequency range for instruments.
So if there isn't a huge difference between the upper and lower priced cables, why is there such a gap? Why do some brands charge almost twice as much as the lower end cables, when they can't offer much more? The answer is mark-up. Consumer reports have shown that many top-of-the-line cable manufacturers sell products at retailers for up to 200% price increase. It's important for consumers to consider all brands of cables before buying, because while the higher-priced brands to offer nice little bonuses, in the end, they usually aren't worth the money to the everyday person.

So go forth and buy new cables, but arm yourself with knowledge and be aware of your own needs and what different cables offer you. In the end, you can save yourself a lot of money with a little thought.

Works Cited

Pro Co Sound. "Understanding Instrument Cables." Pro Co Sound. Web. 5 Aug. 2009. "Resources: Standards & Properties - Properties of Wrought and Cast Copper Alloys Search." Web. 05 Aug. 2009.

A big word of thanks to my father, who's experience in electrical science has helped me to not only better understand how I play, but to also appreciate it. Without him, large amounts of my articles would be missing, and my struggle to discover truths wouldn't be half as large.

By Kevin Heiland.

102 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think there's a lot of truth in this article. But in the end, how you treat your cables is also important.
    The Mailman 666 wrote: There is absolutely NO difference in sound quality from a 10 dollar cable and a 200 dollar cable. Period!!!! The difference comes in the form of "esthetic" durability (how long the cable looks new), flexibility and the "feel" of the jack, also the packaging and branding of the cable. You pay mostly for the cables advertisement costs. Essentially your paying them to sell there cables to you! Very sad.
    Riiiight. Just like there's no difference between Regular Unleaded and High-Octane gasoline Maybe your Toyota Corrolla doesn't see a difference, but I guarantee your boss' turbocharged Audi does. While it is true that the markup on these things gets higher as the price goes up, so do the materials and craftsmanship. There is an equilibrium point where you see the most value for your money though. Personally, I find that point to be Fender's $50 Platinum cables for 12' lengths (no better than similar Monsters, but more stupid durable, if a bit inflexible), Monster's $12 performer 500s for pedal connections, and Monster's Studio Pro cables for amp to speaker connections. I think those are about $30 for a foot. I can't hear a difference there between that and their cable at $20, but for the $10 difference, what the hell? Being that I work in a store that sells a lot of high-end audio systems like McIntosh, Thiel, and B&W, I understand how the markup works. There is about $5 worth of materials and labour in a $10 cable. There is about $10 worth of materials in a $50 cable. There is about $15 worth of stuff in a $200 cable, and about $20 in a $300 cable. This is straight from the mouth of both my Monster and Yamaha reps, although the numbers are slightly different from each. Both reps have made it perfectly clear (and after hours of hearing $80,000 loudspeakers and $10,000 amps I agree) that the higher-end cables make a large, audible difference. I can also tell you that unless you've got a crazy high-end system, the most expensive cables are pointless. Even with a Matchless running Alnico Blues, your signal isn't pure enough to bother with any cables over $100 or so. Generally the really high-end stuff is designed for people with too much money, and only makes a difference when listening to acoustic music - preferably something recorded with a vintage German mic. This is for recording, of course. When playing live, just get something better-than-average and you'll be fine. Like I said, I like Fender's Platinum cables the best, as they withstand a boatload of abuse. But there is a difference. Just because YOUR rig isn't pure enough to hear a difference, that doesn't give you the right to be ignorant and yell at people that do. If someone can hear a difference in cables with their rig, they should buy better cables. You buy nice strings, right? I'll bet 98% of the people at the bar where you play can't tell. But you still pony up the extra $3 a pack, even though they only cost 50 cents more to make. Now if somebody wants to overspend without doing the research, and buys cables that are 'purer' than his guitar or amp can make use of, then yes - he's being an idiot. But he's an idiot with lots of money, so he still wins.
    This article has several and serious misleading information. First - it is theoretical that the same length copper wire cables has the same resistance. In practice, the manufacturers can not make cables 100% copper-clean, they always get impurities. Even copper has different kinds (red, yellow, etc...) and they have different resistance, and electrical constants, so the signal can get quite noisy/lost/bad if you use a cable with bad and polluted material. In addition, just to let you know: NOT EVERY CABLE IS MADE OF COPPER. It might surprise you but there are low-resistance cables made of silver completely for professionals.... look it up! Second - The coating on the wire can make a difference. It does really matter, if you fold your cable, and when you pick it up again, it will go back to its normal position, or it will break at the first time you want to fold it up... The latter means quite bad, if you don't have a spare wire on a gig. Third - The most vulnarable point of the cable is the jack connector. There are several distinct solutions how to connect the cable itself to the jack connector, including simple attaching and glueing to building them as one element. The latter case means that it can barely fall off, and the signal can survive the connection at 100% quality. If it is just put there, it will be lossy, the signal will lack frequencies, or may even become noisy and disturbing. And these are just a few ideas that came to my mind ... So this article is really, really careless and ... well useless. (mean no offense for the writer...) However for he is right about sometimes, e.g. about golden connectors. that's just some design element.
    I'm glad someone else said it. I have been involved in high end audio equipment my whole life and this argument comes up alot with regards to speaker wire and component interconnects. All science and theory aside, prove it to yourself. Get someone else to plug you in with a 20 dollar cable and with a 100 dollar cable. Give your ears some time with each cable and make a decision based on a real world environment test. Personally I don't care what a book or a price tag says I'll pay whatever for whatever my ears say is the best.
    Good work, man, keep it up.
    kennethdave wrote: My experience so far.... Cheap cables : I've changed them 10 times a year... "Marked up" Cables : I've never changed it in 3 years... Do the math.....
    However I do believe this statement is right... More expensive cables are higher quality in the sense that they last longer. BUT... There ARE cheap cables out there that last a very long time... I've been using the same $25 Radioshack cable for God knows how long.
    Let me ask, do you really treat your cheap cables half as well as the ones you spend a ton of money on? Obviously the ten dollar ones suck, but that's from poor construction. Ive actually re-soldered the ends onto thick shielded automotive wire before to solid results (I worked in an Auto Shop at the time).
    Kevy Absolution wrote: jean_genie*snip* And someone sees the point of my article. I'm not going to lie, there is a crafstmanship difference, but in the end, for many buyers it's not worth the price.
    While a true statement, it's not what was implied in the article. You could have started by saying, "This article is written for people with average-or-lower quality guitars and amplifiers," and avoided all the flames. Instead you wrote it as if to cover all musicians, and that's a liar liar pants on fire situation. Also, you didn't mention that rewiring your guitar makes a big difference with cables too. I had a friend (who is a well-respected amp and guitar tech) rewire my Gibson Les Paul. He crammed braided copper speaker wire in there, in place of the stock thin wires. Doesn't make my guitar any more high-end or pure, but now there's a lot more signal leaving through the output jack.
    I agree with all that you have stated, however, when I switched from my $10 Rapco cable to my $45 Monster cable, I noticed a huge sound difference, it was crazy, my tone sounded so much better and true. And don't say that my old Rapco was in bad condition or something because I always take care of my cables like crazy, and I would always wind it up after use and at that point I had only had it for a couple of months anyways.
    There was a blind test on the forums a while back. 3 cables (all other equipment being equal), a cheap one, a home made one with decent specs and a supposedly high end one. 2 riffs were played. one dirty one clean. Surprisingly most people preferred the cheap one to the high end one (for both clips) and the homemade one was about the same as the cheap cable. there was definitely an audible difference between the clips but the whole 'tone is subjective' beast raised its ugly head.
    kennethdave wrote: My experience so far.... Cheap cables : I've changed them 10 times a year... "Marked up" Cables : I've never changed it in 3 years... Do the math.....
    The more expensive cables typically last longer, but there is no diffrence in sound quality.
    Rakoro wrote: Learn to solder and make your own cables, it's so much cheaper and they will last forever once you learn how to do it right (which should only take 2 or 3 times on a very short piece of cable) And should a cable ever go bad, you can fix it because most of the time it's the connections at the jacks that come undone, or short, and a simple re-soldering fixes them right up.
    I could not agree more. In my experience, cheaper cables usually have a little less stringent quality control standards. One must also realize that while copper purity standards are in place, not all manufacturers test every strand at a molecular level. Therefore, you WILL get some cables with a lower purity value, even if it comes from the same spool of high grade wire originating from the same batch of ore, from the same foundry. I will not even begin to get into how the cables are handles BEFORE you even see them on the store shelves. Not to mention that mass-produced cheaper cables often have less than stellar solder connections. Then when each cable is tested (if the manufacturer tests EVERY cable as opposed to every 100th cable like some do) they usually are hooked up to a meter that has a high margin of error anyway. The higher priced "guaranteed" cables usually have more testing, better factory floor conditions, and more skilled tradesmen producing them in lower quantity per diem. this means more attention can be paid to quality assurance. Price fluctuation in the market is a simple matter of price of materials. If the price of copper goes up per pound, you can rest assured that the price of cables will increase to compensate. The same applies to OIL which is used to make insulators. But to keep from sidetracking too much here; I must reiterate Rakoro's statement that EVERY guitarist should at least learn to solder and splice wire. It will serve to save you money, and will also teach you a useful skill that seems to be on the decline in a lot of areas. Something that you could always do to make a little extra bread to buy more nifty toys with... Just a thought or two...
    Then what was that whole rant in the "Understanding instrument cables" pdf about insulation materials and how using polyethylene instead of rubber allows you to to have a much lower capacitance cable when using the same thickness of insulation? Ive compared (cheap) cables insulated with polypropylene to (cheap) cables insulated with rubber, and there is an audible difference in clarity.
    Thank you airliner! i have been reading down this article wondering when someone was going to mention capacitance! For those of you who don't know, capacitance happens when you get 2 conducting materials with an insulating material sandwiched in between. You can't pass dc through it. So if you hooked up a battery to a circuit through a capacitor it won't conduct. However, It will pass ac. Like the signal from your guitar. The amount of capacitance affects the frequencies allowed through. If we go to an inline series arrangement you can see that a very small capacitor will let less lower frequencies through as it will 'fill up' sooner and block the signal. If its very big you can get lower frequencies to be passed. This is essentially a very crude high pass filter. With our guitar cable the capacitance is between the signal cable and ground (shield). This is now a parallel connection. So low frequencies are still blocked but they are being blocked to ground. This would be the case whether the cable had capacitance or not. The bass response is more dependent on quality/type of conductor. However, high frequencies are likely to be passed to ground. So poor quality conductor plus high capacitance plus long cable could make a quite dull sounding cable. The type and thickness of insulating material and the construction of the conductor and shield. So is it foil shield, braided shield, Percentage coverage etc all make a difference to this property. This isn't hype its actual physics. This is also not straight forward either because the resistance, inductance and capacitance of your guitar and the input of your amp will all affect this filter arrangement as well. So, at what point does it become a better cable? I refer to the blind test that someone here did and the cheaper cables were preferred. Supposing that the amp or guitar had a slightly brittle sounding top end. A cable that rolls off some of the high frequencies could well sound favourable. I certainly have found this when playing about with hifi. A cheaper cd player can be made to sound worse by better cable as more of the HF shortcomings are then amplified in much more detail whereas a cheaper cable may hide some of this favourably. Really cheap cable is also likey to have higher oxygen content and will oxidise and deteriorate quicker. Ever gone to replace a connector and found the copper really dull and nasty looking? Onto the connectors. Gold plating offers a lower contact resistance. Presumably to it being quite inert and not forming an oxide layer on its surface. However, chances are that what ever you plug it into isn't gold plated and probably quite oxidised. I recommend CAIGs Deoxit. This stuff is brilliant, it works like switch cleaner is supposed to. What i think is more important in a connector is the way the tip is connected. I have a had a few cheaper plugs fail where the contacts are riveted via a spigot on the inside of the plug. These seem to be a real weakness. I've had switchcraft fail and some cheaper ones fail but the standard neutrik seem to be bomb proof. I personally do not and wont buy budget cables. They really don't sound as good and I know that some are thinking well i can just replace them etc. When you're on stage the last thing you want is an unreliable cable. What i would suggest though is going to studiospares or wherever and buy quality cable and neutrik plugs and make your own. You can have the exact lengths you require and will save yourself a fortune especially if you need several. I have found sommer sprit cable to be pretty good. I was using klotz but the last batch i got i found the insulator was a bit loose .So 6 on the plugs and 2.20 per metre on the cable and you get a decent professional grade durable cable. I think the only time an expensive cable is justified is if you have highend kit and are pluging straight into your amp. If you are going via pedals i suspect that any benefit will be lost. My guitar definitely seems to sound best with a short cable direct into the front.
    Hmm, very interesting article. While this sounds good, I find that sometimes different brands do make a difference. While at the same time it may be nothing special, I am more likely to buy a name-brand (I currently use a DiMarzio cable) that could last longer and take a stronger beating.
    I can appreciate the scientific reasoning regarding the materials involved in cables having the same properties etc. But I was in a music shop demo booth recently (nice and quiet) trying out a Vox AC15 for half an hour, using a PRS 22 and used two cables in the room, one a run of the mill 3 metre cable and a 2 metre Vovox cable: there was no doubt that the Vovox had more clean highs, more solid core tone with fast and tight bass response. More than just cable length surely? I bought that amp but it has not sounded quite as good since (no Vovox cable!) I've always used decent enough cables with Neutrik connectors, never the cheapest and this was a real eye opener, as I am always looking for the best value in all I buy ie. won't buy the most expensive thinking it to be better. But I am now looking to buy such a cable if only for recording where the difference really counts, as on stage you want longer leads and once it's pumped through a PA the subtleties are lost. I play for fun now but used to record and toured the world as a hired gun so I know the difference when I encounter the extraordinary, and this was one of those occasions. So how would you explain why two cables, 'normal' priced vs expensive, sound different? It must be that better materials and production methods produce better products and they're not all the same after all.
    Why is gold better? Well it has slightly better conductive properties than copper or steel, but not enough that you'd be able to tell the differance. However most (most, not all) companies make gold plated products to a higher standard meaning you also get a better, more secure fit. Planet waves have that awesome barrel effect on them that gets you a really secure connection.
    radioshack cable has lasted me the better part of 7 years. the monster cable now is somewhat patchy and produces so much hum youd think that i had a nest of honey bees in my amp. ill stick with cost effective, thanks
    You can get leads which have protected ends with a kind of bend proof holder so the contacts can't be broken if you don't look after your cables with the care you'd give to say... your guitar. It only cost 10 and it's lasted the 2 1/2 years I've played and still works fine.
    Kevy Absolution
    Let me add that this is the same for all aspects in life, including guitr wood, steel, car components ,medicine, food...all products are regulated and have standards, and while there can be minute differences, the AVERAGE CONSUMER can rest assured that the approximate values of these qualities are equal.
    Kevy Absolution
    Blas3, I had a feeling someone would pose an abstract remark, yet I don't really understand how this is "useless". First and foremost, this article is comparing copper to copper cables, not those using other metals. Second, the cable manufacturers order the cable from suppliers; they don't refine it themselves. As someone who has ordered copper before, I can assure you that there is a standard and copper sellers won't sell below a set standard purity rating. Yes, I did not compare every aspect of cables, because the list of things that could possibly make a difference are infinite and at the whim of the gods. However, I did my best to list the factors that an average consumer will notice.
    This is a purely theoretical argument. While the resistance of copper is identical regardless of price, the thickness of the copper wire does not determine sound quality itself. More tiny copper wires will sound better than fewer thicker wires, but cost more to create. Imagine a group of messengers. If you give twenty people a letter to deliver, as opposed to ten people, you're twice as likely to have the letter received on time and in flawless condition. The fashion in which the cable is wound of wrapped also makes a difference. Monster (and some other brands) use other materials or wind the copper wires in such a way as to emphasize certain frequencies. I didn't get more volume with better cables (because the impedance was the same), but I did get a little more headroom and a little better dynamic range. Small differences, but noticable nonetheless. As you mention, length plays a big difference. For short cables, there's a much smaller difference. While I can tell a difference between some cables between the guitar and the amp, any good-quality cables I use for my pedalboard, or from amp to speaker, sound similar. This is why even though Monster makes like 8 different 12' cables, they only make a couple 6" cables. Seems like if the cable is fairly short, you need to jump WAY up in price to hear a difference. Lastly, your rig is only as strong as its weakest link. Using my Orange amp with my Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, I can hear a noticible difference between my Fender Platinum 'acoustic' cable and my 'bass' cable. Using the same cables with my Epiphone Valve Jr., I can't hear a difference. Same goes for guitars. On my pro-wired Gibson Les Paul, the cables make a difference. On my project guitar with EMG knockoffs, they sound the same. So yeah. This article should be very abbreviated. It should read, "Buy good product, but don't fall into the hype. Don't spend more then $30 on a cable unless the rest of your rig is really good."
    I'm glad I'm not the first person to critisize this article. While he's tried to prove everything is the same, its not. What he's failed to include here is alot of the time it's not what you HAVE in a cable that makes it good or bad, but often what it DOESN'T have. IE Impurities. If you have other 'gunk' in your main line, ofcourse its going to effect signal quality. Furthermore, I'd bet pound to penny that a $200 cable is built with materials that can take more abuse, be it day to day or being coiled up wrong, that a $20 cable. I feel this article is misleading at its base, and is more based on opinion than fact. - For the record I have had countless 'cheap' cables over the years, and to this day my DiMarzio braided cable still rings true. I believe this is because of superior build quality, but also when I bought it, it was a few weeks allowance, so I treat it like the holy grail Come on UG, Objective information please, not editorial crap. cw
    Kevy Absolution wrote: Let me add that this is the same for all aspects in life, including guitr wood, steel, car components ,medicine, food...all products are regulated and have standards, and while there can be minute differences, the AVERAGE CONSUMER can rest assured that the approximate values of these qualities are equal.
    I agree on that, but ever try to use a high-end guitar with a low-end cheap cable you will hear it sound dull, and bad. Read jean_genie's comment on this, I basically say the same. Anyway, I just wanted to emphasize that you should write a litle bit more on this subject with lots of more research. You should have looked up practical experiences, anomalies, and see a cable from other aspects too, like how the coating can be made, what the manufacturers can do to make it more durable, etc... If you had put these down in there I wouldn't be arguing with you Anyway, a cable can make a difference, but never so much that it will be noticeable from the viewpoint (erm... hearpoint? ) of an everyday listener. (if yes, then that cable must REALLY suck... ) So basically you are right, but there are more to be written and said about this.
    My experience so far.... Cheap cables : I've changed them 10 times a year... "Marked up" Cables : I've never changed it in 3 years... Do the math.....
    The Mailman 666
    There is absolutely NO difference in sound quality from a 10 dollar cable and a 200 dollar cable. Period!!!! The difference comes in the form of "esthetic" durability (how long the cable looks new), flexibility and the "feel" of the jack, also the packaging and branding of the cable. You pay mostly for the cables advertisement costs. Essentially your paying them to sell there cables to you! Very sad.
    Kevy Absolution
    As stated before, there are of course a number of variables that can affect quality, but in the industry there is a set standard which was created for the purpose of quality control. Vermillion, I concur with you, but as an electrician you must know as well as I do that industry standards are there to protect consumers. I myself own a collection of cables, ranging from Monster Cables to cheap local store cables, to a couple cables I made myself. Of course money can buy quality, but the purpose of the article is to show the weight of these qualities and help consumers purchase what is necessary for them, because not every person needs an indestructable patch cable. And just like MIA and MIM Fenders, price can buy security in the construction and manufacturing of a part. I appreciate the comments and the interest in the article.
    Kevy Absolution wrote: jean_genie*snip* And someone sees the point of my article. I'm not going to lie, there is a crafstmanship difference, but in the end, for many buyers it's not worth the price.
    Beside the fact that some of the cheaper cable companies offer to replace your cable for life if it goes bad. Livewire does this, they sell you one cable and you never need another.
    Wow this article made me laugh! Someone should compile all the good responses (flames!) into another article about cables!
    you guys are stupid if you think the sound quality is the same for all cables, why dont you actually test them out and you will see that their clearly is...especially when you have so many cables through your pedal boards
    so we're saying all copper wire in instrument cables is of the same quality from the same source.. with the same strand thickness (which you didn't mention in the physics bit, it does affect the signal carying properties)..? and i know ive seen several different methods of shielding. and hundreds of different jacks made from...? not to mention anything from the far east or europe will be a different size due to metric measurements. the equivilant us measurement is not the same..
    Kevy Absolution
    jean_genie *snip*
    And someone sees the point of my article. I'm not going to lie, there is a crafstmanship difference, but in the end, for many buyers it's not worth the price.
    The OP and everyone's comments are very interesting and everyone seems to be "on point". My main issue is the solder connections, and microphonics (I don't know what causes cable microphonics). My only experiences with sound quality are: I have a thick 20' headphone extension cable that sounds noticeably better with my Senn 280's than my pencil-lead-thin Radio Shack ones, and a friend of mine and I were standing around waiting to practice, and we compared the sound of a "normal" "cheap" instrument cable with a Mogami Gold or whatever TOTL cable of the same length, with his Gibson Explorer plugged straight into his Hughes&Kettner TriAmp. The sonic difference was astonishing. I couldn't believe it. Me, I am a tone insanity person as far as modding/building guitars and setting amps, but I just want the cable to be, as mentioned previously, at that "plateau" point where I'm not worried about it failing after 3 weeks and yes I interned at a $200/hr "regional" studio and know how to treat and wrap cable. Thanks to the OP for creating this discussion.
    I'm always going to buy medium expensive cables. Why would you want to go with a cheap, and possibly unreliable cable. Sure they sound the same but some of them don't last any time at all. And if a speaker cable isn't working right (2cab setup) chances are your ohms are going to be mismatched which could lead to potential damage to your head. I've had really good luck with Dimarzio, planet waves, and monsters cheaper cables. I've really liked my local stores speaker cables. I believe they're Speakon cables with some really heavy duty connectors.
    Mogami Platinum, Vovox, Evidence Sound Quality =B+ B+ B+ Materials and Cosmetics=B- B B Anti Tangle =C C+ C Corrosion Free / Longevity=C A C Conductor Deformation=B- B- C Easy Glide=C A A Elongation=B- B- B Price point=B B- B *Good Value $119 $200 $149 for 10ft guitar. TYPICAL CHEAP CABLE Sound Quality = C+ Materials and Cosmetics=C Anti Tangle =F Corrosion Free / Longevity=D Conductor Deformation=F Easy Glide=F Elongation=D Price =A+ *VALUE? $15 for 10ft. guitar. Audio Envy cables Sound Quality =A Materials and Cosmetics=A Anti Tangle =A Corrosion Free / Longevity=A Conductor Deformation=A Easy Glide=A Elongation=A Price =A *BEST VALUE $58.00 for a 10ft guitar cable. after free shipping
    My first cable ever got broken some time ago, I replaced it with a cheapest cable I found from a local music store (14). BOTH connectors failed me. Solution? Fix the first cable, and then rip the broken connectors off the other cable and replace them with switchcraft's connectors. So much win, two perfectly working cables. I want to pay more for quality products.
    Wow, there is a lot of information circulating here. Seems like many factors outside of the guitar cable itself effects sound. As far as a good guitar cable goes, I bought the Blackturtle Reveal 10ft. The connectors are solder free. Does anyone have a comment on these or any other solder free cables? These jacks are way different than any others Ive played (neutrik etc) and feel real beefy. So, what I am asking is that if solder is taken out of the equation, does this effect sound? My recordings are fat and this cable is very quiet.
    Gray Ghost
    The sad fact about the super expensive cables are that cable maufacturers try to sponsor a group or guitarist by giving them free cables as marketing strategy. Let's face it. If a guitarist like Jimmy Page used Poop Cable, everyone would run out and buy the cable at a 500% mark-up. Most hard rockers of the past are wearing hearing aids these days. Not sure if they would notice subtle differences between cables. One thing is for certain , stranded wire is more Flexible, solid wire is more stiff, and playing with a full band you will rarely hear the difference, and playing alone you notice your sound a little better.
    Gray Ghost
    The standards in copper wire is true. In the manufacturing of instument cable the standards in jacks and soldering is alot different. There are many different grades of silver solder depending on the use. Jacks, there are hundreds of companies that make them. Some compamnies that make jacks are high quality, some are not. Very low cost cable makers will use cheap jacks, some such as dimarzio use switchcraft jacks. Gold plating jacks can either be to get more quality out of a signal or hide imperfections in the jack. Cheaper cables may cut cost with inferior silver solder or just use a lead solder. Wire insulation is another factor. Wire manufactures use insulation based on the use of a particular wire. insulation is made to except certain signals, some designed to take frequencies from air born signals and others to take signals from one point to another with in the wire. The use of the wire determines the sheilding. I have always used Dimarzio cables because they have a elcellent signal, stage tough, switchcraft jacks and the Company backs them 100%. Says alot about a company that guarentees their product 100%.
    the cheap Live Wire cables have a lifetime warranty also. if you bought it from guitar center you can take it back anytime and get a new one and you dont have to have a receipt because they keep every purchase in the computer. so is paying more for a warranty really worth it?
    I use a fender custom shop 5.5 foot cable. Cost me more than twice what I paid for another one only a few months before, but that one broke and needed resoldering almost immediately. Also the fender has that tweed jacket that reduces knotting and I can't explain how nice that is. It has a lifetime guarantee and has lasted me longer than other cables. To cut a long story short I'd say don't buy a super cheap cable, but unless you have seriously high end gear, it isnt worth spending too much either.
    It doesn't matter what people say or whatever theoretical speculations they have. If you can't "hear" the difference, it's money wasted. I do hear more noticable differences in terms of overall signal strength and articulation of certain frequencies as cable length gets higher (>15-20"). Spend time on trying different cables and go by your ear when you buy them instead of reading and trusting what others say.