Making Cables: Ultimate Gear Nerdery?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by alathIN, Oct 25, 2019.

  1. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A soldering iron typically fits nicely in an SM-57/58 mic clip. Use that as a 3rd hand, preferably in a desk stand if you have one. Tin the lugs, tin the leads, apply heat to the tinned lug & insert your lead. No muss, no fuss.
     
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  2. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    consider .. many of the ¼ inch plug ends available on eBay are from Asian manufacturers. They are junk... While the case may be substantial, and sexy looking, the actual plug end is often made of a metal little more than sheet tin.. its very fragile.. and a simple yank (guitarists never yank a cord, I know ;)) but such will bend, compress or just plain break 'em off faster 'n you can say, "Damn, I hate it when that happens."

    Point being, get ya some "good stuff" like the good old classic, Switchcraft, or the more contemporary Neutrik, there's a few others that possibly have been mentioned.. but the acid test.. if you can squeeze the tube between your fingers you don't wannit. You can buy those toads in bulk for under a buck a pop..

    and regarding the cable.. you want low capacitance as a rule... it's listed in pf (pico farads) per meter, the lower the better.. it'll look something like .020 pf/m . . . BUT... that lower number allows more of the higher end frequencies to pass through. That can result in a brighter sounding cable... the reason is the cable acts as a cap placed directly across the output of the guitar... not generally a good idea.. so if you want a warmer more "jazz like" tone.. ignore that bit of advice..

    a good source for low cap cable is Bill Lawrence... if Becky still lists it, or George's L's who used to source their cable from Bill Lawrence. I donlt k ow of any lower cap cable available..

    As for the fancy cloth covered cable.. big whoop... you cannot hear how your cable looks, but if ya must you can buy the woven sheathing online for pennies a foot and slide your GOOD cable down it and have a nice effective, quality cable that looks nice 'n sexy, until some jackwaggon comes along, and spills some weird gooey cocktail all over it...:D Do NOT buy cable that's already supplied with such a covering... you simply cannot buy good quality cable remade with the fabric covering..

    rk
     
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  3. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    I have probably 15 cables that have gone suspect over the years so they got jammed into a box. I still have plenty of good ones so I'm saving the bad ones for a really boring rainy day.
     
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  4. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    Exactly.

     
  5. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
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  6. CDox

    CDox Tele-Meister

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    I am a diy person. I did this for a while and the cables I made for myself, my son and friends are all still functioning perfect after quite a few years. Maybe one or two I had to fix due to wear and tear but the majority are of them have lasted with no issues.
     
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  7. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I started building cables because I’m cheap and it’s easy to do. I like Neutrik XLRs but I never cottoned to their 1/4” connectors- old school Switchcraft 280s for me. It’s probably heresy, but I like to buy those cheap Musicians Gear braided cables when they go on sale and cut them down- a 30’ (cheapest per foot) makes a 20’ and a 10’, two 15’, whatever. That way I can always have a cable in a guitar case, back of an amp, in my car, wherever I might need one.
     
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  8. tube.tone

    tube.tone Tele-Meister

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    Building cables is fun, built a couple 10 years ago using shielded Mogami coax wire and Neutrik connectors, still doing strong.

    There’s decent wire out there, I always pay attention to the capacitance per feet, and overall tone impact on long lengths.
     
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  9. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I've used store-bought cables and I've made my own. Over the years I've ended up with a box of them. For me, they all crap out eventually. I'll echo the advice: Get the best quality plugs you can find. Use shrink-wrap for strain relief, 2 or even 3 layers. The weak point is where the center conductor attaches to the tip lug of the plug, this will break if it gets stressed, so make this solder joint as mechanically sound as you can. Keep a spare handy, cause eventually they all go crackly.

    I've never worried about capacitance. I've tried the super-expensive directional oxygen-free lo-cap cables, the difference is barely noticeable. A lack of brightness has never been a problem for Telecasters.
     
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  10. tube.tone

    tube.tone Tele-Meister

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    Forgot to mention the nylon braid sleeve, really helps protecting the cable

    5F403A31-7B1D-442F-BDFA-1B697889F88D.jpeg 3844E4B6-08D5-4250-9EA2-4D2F5F43A26C.jpeg F024D08E-7580-48CA-9E3B-40A064A66024.jpeg
     
  11. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Afflicted

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    I already have shrink wrap and I love this idea.

    How good is my soldering? Well, I grew up in a metal fabrication shop. I know enough about welding, brazing, and soldering to know that there are people who are absolute wizards and have better skills than I will ever have.
    I am several notches better than the "beginner solder turds" phase.
    I solder well enough to build a Trinity TC-15 amp kit that actually works and I'm not embarrassed for people to see the build pics.
    So, "medium," I guess?

    Re; wizards: my dad is one of those wizards. I was joking with my brother about whether I'd weld something myself or ask dad to do it, and I said "well, this job doesn't require welding rocks to water, so I might not need dad." I'm 55 and he already had metalworking superpowers when I was a little kid.
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    one other little thing... Gold... do not get apoplectic if you're laboring with cables without "Gold" plug ends...

    first, the reason for Gold connections, I mean real Gold, as in the element Au, is due to its resistance to corrosion in highly contaminated areas, or in applications under other extreme conditions... Your cables, plugged into a guitar and an amp, are not in either...

    Gold (Au) is often thought of as having superior conductivity, this is incorrect.. in fact on most charts listing the conductivity of common conductors, Gold is 3rd, sometimes 4th down on the list, with pure Silver being consistently number one, and Copper two... with the actual difference among those top 3 being damn near impossible to measure under any circumstances, and absolutely so with the normal electronic bench grade instruments found in our shops.. I mean, how easy is it to move a solid one cubic meter block of Metal around :eek: ... and where do ya get it... :p

    https://www.thebalance.com/electrical-conductivity-in-metals-2340117


    But even at that, for Gold (Au) to be of any advantage, the actual connection would have to be such that the contact was constantly opening and closing so the atmosphere, thus whatever pollutants are circulating, could adversely impact the contact area.. The standard 1/4inch jack/plug mechanism is engineered to maintain what's known in the industry as an "air free" contact.. meaning where the metals actually touch, enough pressure is exerted so that no atmosphere can seep in and corrupt the contact over an extended period of time...

    Thus, unless you have a faulty contact.. identified by the intermittent sound crackling, Gold, real Gold presents no advantage other than to the guy's bank account that's selling the stuff.

    then there's this, few of the "Gold" plug ends are real Gold anyway. Gold's expensive, they don't wanna use "expensive stuff" . . . so they use a far less expensive, and devoid of any Au, Gold COLORED alloy. So you are buying a color, not an element... If it doesn't say 24k gold, its not, and if it's not real Gold, it's all about optics... and ya know guitarists aren't at all interested with how things look... That's more in the purview of Caitlin and Brittny... :D

    SO.. in summation, if it's Gold, it's of no advantage to ya under any normal circumstances, and if it's didn't say it's real, 24k Gold, its not and you were scammed anyway... I hate it when that happens...:cry:

    rk
     
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  13. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    So if the connnection is left intact (like on a patch bay) you don't need gold, and if the connection is being opened and closed a lot (like a guitar cord) then the gold wears off leaving the nickel underneath? As usual Ron makes a good point.

    I've been using Mogami cable and either Neutrik or Amphenol plugs (from redco.com) for years with great reliability and have made a few cables for friends with no complaints. Also the nylon braid that you can slide over it will basically be like armor preventing a folding chair or a dropped cymbal from cutting the cable (I've seen both happen with regular cords).
     
  14. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Afflicted

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    UPDATE

    The Giant Bee plugs I had didn't work well for this project. The cable entry was too small and by the time I drilled one out, there wasn't much left of the housing.
    Also, the lugs where you solder the wires on weren't great - it wasn't a problem when using those plugs to repair a cheap cable, but on this heavy duty cable it was obvious that the lugs were flimsier than one would hope.

    I do think this is good quality cable. It has a low impedance and the materials are very beefy.

    My "engineer" at Sweetwater contacted the folks at Lava who make the cable to recommend plugs big enough and they recommended G&H which is not generally available at consumer outlets but was easy to find and not terribly expensive from pro audio vendors.
    There is a switchcraft "jumbo" for big cables but it was going to be $12 per plug.
    The G&H were $16 for four of them.
    They do seem better made than the others.
    20191104_184821.jpg
    I was not particularly attached to "gold" plugs but that's what these are. Or the color anyway. They say they're "copper core."
     
  15. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Very important operation at this point missed................allow the soldered joint to cool down sufficiently so as not to start shrinking until before it covers the tag. ( Don't ask!) MANY years ago I was in the electronics game and used to make UHF two-way radio aerials and shrink plastic was at a premium so I used a chemical called Amyil Acetate to soak the plastic tubing in before threading it over the aerial and the top loaded coil. Shrank with a warm heat gun as usual but this stuff stinks like super concentrated bananas for weeks after. The saving grace was that they were mounted outside the car!;)

    DC
     
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  16. KT89

    KT89 Tele-Meister

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    A lot of misunderstandings in here.

    First, gold is corrosion resistant because it is chemically inert. It doesn't oxidize at all, whereas silver and copper are highly reactive and form compounds very willingly. That is why you see gold used for connectors and not silver and copper, which are reserved for internal applications that can oxidize because the important bits are soldered in already. Simple contact with air is enough to oxidize most metals, it doesn't have to be in any sort of "highly contaminated areas." The contacts in a jack don't touch the same place every time, so unless you never unplug your cables, it's worth having a non-oxidative plating. The regular stuff is fine, but IMO the performance difference over a decade or more justifies the extra half a buck per plug.

    Second, all the gold is "real" gold. 24K gold is 100% gold, and is very very soft and not suited to the rigors of jack work (it is pretty much exclusively used for jewelry, not a very useful metal at all). They introduce other metals to create an alloy that has the properties they want, but it is most definitely still gold. This is the plating on circuit boards, jacks etc. that ensures long shelf life and proper work.

    Another interesting tidbit from an electrical engineer(ing senior), there is something called the skin effect that means that most current flows through the outer edge of the wire and very little in the center. Kinda makes you think about plating with more conductive metals a bit differently.
     
  17. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Friend of Leo's

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    To address the question in the title: it gets WAY nerdier than making your own cables. Making your own cables is just a great an easy way to guarantee a good quality and less expensive cable over paying for premium stuff. Provided you use good materials, take your time, and do it right. I want to vomit every time I look at the cost of (most) quality cables...
     
  18. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    Neutrik do some ‘jumbo’ plugs for thicker cables. I’m 100% neutrik convert. Great design.

    The bend over clamps are just a weakness.

    https://www.neutrik.com/en/neutrik/products/plugs-jacks/plugs/professional-1-4-plugs/jumboplug
     
  19. Verne Bunsen

    Verne Bunsen Tele-Afflicted

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    Canare GS-6 cable and Neutrik NP2X-B connectors for me. In addition to the satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge that you have utilized quality components, building your own cables gives you the option of making them to your own exact specifications. Like a color-coded 4-cable bundle 6’ 7” long for hooking up your Boomerang looper.
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  20. Telegnosis

    Telegnosis Tele-Meister

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    Before you decide to buy plugs, find out where they are made. If they don't come out shaft-size to a stock pro quality plug like a Switchcraft, and were made to metric sizes, they might look good but won't fit properly in your standard size jack, causing intermittent connection and noise.

    I would've bought Switchcraft at least or some other brand that will properly fit a standard sized jack.

    Buying plugs and jacks from China, unless they are branded like Switchcraft or Rean, Neutrik, G&H, may not fit properly and will be a tad smaller in shaft diameter than the jack as unless advertised as "standard" they tend to be made to "metric" scale. YMMV

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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