Good cables make a difference.

kennl

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depends on the application

onstage - find a cable that does not tangle, has zero microphonic and good shielding
added points for rugged jacket that can withstand the impact of a dropped cymbal during load-out

studio - short, low-capacitance, well-shielded

band-aid - low or high capacitance cables of variable lengths can impact the EQ of the signal chain, like a buffer
I use a 1960's gray coil cable that rolls off some of the string noise I get playing slide on round wounds
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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I work as a professional tech. Our policy is that cables without mfr. name & wire type screened onto the jacket are noisy, microphonic pieces of junk. You will save well over the price difference by purchasing a quality name brand cable over buying 2-3 cables to replace it over the cable life span. I prefer Rapco products when it comes to factory pre-made cables.
 

jvin248

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.

A buddy needed new cables a while back so I took my meter with me to the store with us. I measured all the cables and found a definite trend:

-Expensive cables have higher capacitance
-Cheap cables have low capacitance

Seems like that is done on purpose -- the higher capacitance is like turning your tone knob from ten to nine on the guitar. If that is what you want then go buy the more expensive cables. If you like cleaner cleans or nothing mucking with your tone then get cheap cables. I suspect they do this with the expensive cables so they trim the high signals and make it seem like they are higher quality because there is less noise signal getting through. But if you hate muddiness then avoid the expensive cables, you can always roll the guitar tone knob back a notch yourself if you need it. EVH could famously tell the difference between ten foot and twenty foot cables and his signal loss -- probably because he was buying the expensive ones, lol.

The other difference is that the ends on cheap cables are molded on vs manually wired and screwed on. The molded ones tend to break sooner so you just plan to buy new replacement plugs when they do, if they do.

You can also buy a roll of cable and a box of plugs and make your own cables.

.
 

Telecastoff1

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I've building my own for years now. I use Belden 8410 cable (I purchased a 250 foot spool years ago) and Switch Craft connectors. I haven't had a single one go bad on me in all these years. Really nice, clean sounding cables and lay down nicely on stage. I use them at home and in the studio as well.
I might add, a Pro PSG friend of mine sent me a pair of George L's a while back to try out. They're good sounding cables to my ears, but I don't think I could get used to the thinness of them. Other than that, nice cables, but they won't replace my Beldens.
 
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beninma

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When I started playing I bought cheap live wire cables and I had multiple cables fail in the first two months. I’m an engineer more than capable of making cables but I just asked my guitar teacher for a reliable suggestion. I got a recommendation for Daddario Custom or Stage series. 5 years later I have 5 or 6 of them and I’ve never had any trouble.

I’m in the camp that says go for the stuff that’s mid grade in the price/performance sweet spot.

I don’t like Daddario patch cables for pedals though. They’re huge. I’ve got a mix of Mogami pancake jack and EBS flat patch cables. I like the EBS ones best.

If you have time to make yourself stuff and enjoy it go for it but you don’t want to get too deep into the weeds on some of this stuff. Likewise it might be interesting to build a guitar but I don’t really want to spend the time on that instead of playing music.
 

yegbert

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The "no snake oil" brand is the absolute best.

There's no mystery or "sound" in cables.

Soundwise the ONLY "truth" is that there are cables with low capacitance that let all frequencies "pass through " and higher capacitance ones that filter out highs.

Some people like the former ,some the later.

It all depends on your style,preference and gear.

But claiming that a particular cable has or "improves " a "sound " is the epitome of internet BS. (Well not exactly since "speaker cable" actually takes the internet BS cake :) )

DURABILITY,Rf shielding etc are a whole different story of course.
If some cables let more frequencies pass, while others filter out higher ones, isnt that an affect on sound? Is it that the anticipated affect on sound is negligible, and within the range of what typical tone shaping controls on a guitar and amp will correct?

If, on the other hand, the affect is significant; do any cables come with capacitance ratings, allowing one to check whether their cables are within an expected range of capacitance?

What is an expected range of capacitance for a cable? How might one measure it?

Are there foreseeable conditions that would cause a cable’s capacitance to change over time?
 

pippoman

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I have ordinary Fender cables. Apparently they somehow not good enough??
I guess not, and your tone has been sucking eggs all this time, as has mine, because we’re losers! Sorry Marc, just suck it up and buy some expensive cables boy. All this time I thought my ordinary cables were good and I was told I sounded good, but what do people know. Seriously, any good dependable shielded cable should work. A good cable will not be picking up radio stations. If you have to check capacitance with a meter to determine which cable to use, then why do you need your ears? We mostly adjust our tone and volume controls to suit our individual tastes. Look, I’d rather just be playing my guitar. Pete Townsend’s favorite cable was a Whirlwind. But what did he know?

Silliness aside, If your Fender cables don’t behave like antennas, aren’t constantly getting tangled, aren’t grounding out, and do transfer a good strong signal to your amp, carry on.
 

Twang-ineer

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Mogami, they last forever. Like, decades forever.

I also have quite a few of the aforementioned Monster cables that were given to me through a music industry friend in the early 2000's. The packaging and marketing speak were kind of hilarious.... But they are still pristine and do sound very good.

As to a comment earlier, Monster even marketed to different capacitances, and the high end roll off. My Monster "jazz" cable is different sounding than my "bass" cable. You can hear it on a Tele, but on a high gain pickup, it makes no difference. It is most obvious straight into a tube amp.

They also print an arrow on the cable so you know which is the right direction for the signal to travel.
Um.... very helpful? I guess
 

Quexoz

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Bad cables make a difference. Once out of that realm (which certainly doesn't require $55 for a 10' cable?) the rest is marketing, confirmation bias, fear, etc. IMO.

I congree. A bad cable will make microphonic noise every time it moves or touches something. Otherwise, any good cable is, well good. I haven't bought one in so long, I forget the brands, but never spent more than around $12-18 for 10-20 foot. Just checked, my best one says Planet Waves on it. So $11, 20 foot D'Addario Planet Waves.

The other one that I actually use most of the time at my desk, because it's shorter, is an unbranded thing that came with my Shine WT240 guitar. I know those are usually bad, but this one was decent, so I use it.

If I were shopping for one right now, I'd just do Monoprice.
 
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kLyon

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No love for ProCo? Solid cables with a lifetime guarantee that they absolutely honor.
 

MilwMark

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So do some folks just not know what tone they want to hear? Is that what causes concern here? I mean, setting aside actual bad cables.
 

Nick Fanis

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If some cables let more frequencies pass, while others filter out higher ones, isnt that an affect on sound? Is it that the anticipated affect on sound is negligible, and within the range of what typical tone shaping controls on a guitar and amp will correct?

If, on the other hand, the affect is significant; do any cables come with capacitance ratings, allowing one to check whether their cables are within an expected range of capacitance?

What is an expected range of capacitance for a cable? How might one measure it?

Are there foreseeable conditions that would cause a cable’s capacitance to change over time?

A cable's Capacitance doesn't change,it is what it is.
Like I said it depends on what each INDIVIDUAL person likes.
Any cable under 35 pf/feet is considered LOW capacitance (industry standards in this category are cables like George L ,that do have the lowest capacitance and Belden 8410).
Higher capacitance cables are around 45 pf/ft (industry standards include the Canare GS6 and most Monster cables).
You pick what you like.
Personally I like the " sound " of George Ls but in a BEEFIER package so I use SOMMER XXL that have the exact same capacitance but are built like tanks.
 

Milspec

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The "no snake oil" brand is the absolute best.

There's no mystery or "sound" in cables.

Soundwise the ONLY "truth" is that there are cables with low capacitance that let all frequencies "pass through " and higher capacitance ones that filter out highs.

Some people like the former ,some the later.

It all depends on your style,preference and gear.

But claiming that a particular cable has or "improves " a "sound " is the epitome of internet BS. (Well not exactly since "speaker cable" actually takes the internet BS cake :) )

DURABILITY,Rf shielding etc are a whole different story of course.

We are really stuck on the semantics with cables. It sort of reminds me of the arguements I have with my doctor regarding the annual flu shot. He tells me every year that the flu shot can't make you sick, because it is not a live virus, but the immune reaction can cause headache, muscle ache, fever, and fatigue....which are the same results even if not technically sick. The cable can't add anything to the tone you hear out the speaker, but the results can sound better to your ears, so in that sense, it really does "improve".
 

beninma

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The thing with cables and capacitance is it goes by the foot, so longer cables end up with more capacitance. If you want more high end to make it to the amp choose shorter cables over longer ones. Especially at home how long of a cable do you want anyway?

Also throwing a buffered pedal or dedicated buffer in between the guitar and amp pretty much eliminates the entire concern.
 

Bob M

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I have a couple of 20 year old Monster cables that have gone to war and are still going strong. I went through a phase where I made my own. I recently bought a 20’ cable from Kirlin. Under 20 bucks on Amazon with a right angle plug that works on a Tele. Good cables are necessary for sure, but I think it’s for dependability sake and not because of any sound quality issues. Just my 2 cents.
 

rand z

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I've used Bill Lawrence cable's, exclusively, for the last 17 year's.

I bought the kit for around $60, that came with 50ft of cable and about a dozen connector's.

I occasionally have to cut off an inch of an end to reconnect, but they've been better than fantastic!

They are low pf so they transmit a pretty extreme frequency response.

I use them on acoustic/electric mostly and the sonic quality comes across, nicely.

I've probably done 1500+ shows with the same cables and they're still going strong.

(Bill knew his stuff!)

imo.
 

T00DEEPBLUE

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Good cables do make a difference. But good cables aren't necessarily expensive ones. Most of the time they're just overpriced. The most important metric in what makes a cable transparent is its capacitance. The lower the capacitance, the less the cable sucks away treble frequencies from the guitar.

The thing is, you do not need an expensive cable to have low capacitance. Some cheap cables have remarkably low capacitance whilst some extremely expensive cables (like Monster and Mogami-branded ones) have high levels of capacitance per foot that suck tone considerably. Those are the ones to be avoided.

Build quality and noise rejection are important factors too. But sometimes a cable that has better noise rejection comes at the cost of having a higher capacitance. Since the attenuation of treble frequencies from a high capacitance cable has the knock-on effect of attenuating the perceived loudness of frequencies that are heard as noise. Generally the further the distance the shield inside the cable is from the conductor, the lower the capacitance will be, but the less effective the cable will be at rejecting noise. Also the thinner the conductor inside the cable, the better. Due to larger diameter wires having a larger cross-sectional area and therefore allowing more capacitive coupling between it and the shield to occur.

There's no go-to method for determining the transparency of a cable from looking at the price, the thickness of the cable insulation or what pretty colours it comes in. The only way to know is to measure it with a capacitance meter.

Any cable that has 30pF/foot or less is generally considered to have a low capacitance. So that's what I always tend to shoot for.

Obviously the shorter the cable is, the less overall capacitance it'll have. Doesn't matter if you have a cable that is only 15pF/foot if the cable is 100 feet long; it'll still suck tone unless you buffer it.

I like to make my own cables. I tend to use Van Damme and Sommer cables with either Switchcraft or Neutrik ends. You get way more options in length and get a better performing cable in the size you want at a better price that way.

Here's a good article that talks about the performance of cables from an objective standpoint with comparison measurements of several different models and brands. You'll find the best performing brands tend to not be the most expensive.

 

SPUDCASTER

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I build my own cables for the most part. If you're hesitant about soldering. You probably know someone who isn't.

Canare or Belden cable and Switchcraft ends.

That combined with some heat shrink and you're good to go.

Sweetwater has bulk Mogami, Pro Co and George L's cable. Plus, an assortment of connectors. Free shipping.

Rarely have had any failures building my own.

I have no connection with Sweetwater.
 




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