If you’re a guitar player, then you know the importance of having an awesome guitar cable.
You want to be able to plug your instrument into the amp and get the sound that makes it come alive.
But how do you find out which one is best? And does it really matter what kind of cable you use? It really matters what kind of cable you use. Most quality guitar cables are shielded to reduce interference, and they are made of oxygen-free copper to reduce signal loss.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at why quality matters, and what you should look for when buying a guitar cable.
So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?
Does cable quality affect guitar sound?
Cable quality does affect guitar sound.
Cheaper cables are more likely to have electrical or magnetic interference, which can cause noise or tone loss in your music.
A high-quality cable will reduce this problem so you get the most out of your gear and enjoy playing without distractions.
When changing cables, keep in mind that if you have a lot of cable from your guitar to your amplifier, the tone will be affected.
Also, keep in mind that longer cables equal more resistance, which may affect your guitar’s sound even if you have a high-quality cable.
What should you look for in a guitar cable?
A high-quality guitar cable will have oxygen-free copper conductors, which ensures low signal loss.
It’s best to go with a world-class Mogami cable that is handcrafted and made specifically for your order.
You’ll also want the right connectors, like gold plated to ensure a good connection and avoid corrosion.
When it comes down to it, you want one that you feel comfortable with and can rely on when your life is hanging in the balance (your sound).
Let’s take a look at different guitar cables to see what sets them apart.
Let’s start with their components.
While one manufacturer’s design might differ significantly from another, the general structure is similar.
The following are the 5 primary elements of a typical guitar cable:
- Conductor – An electrical current that carries sound.
- Insulation – Contains the current and keeps it separate from the other parts.
- Electrostatic Shield – Reduces the noise that happens when the cable is moved.
- Braided Copper Shield – The material which blocks interference from outside sources.
- Outer Jacket – The cover protects the inside, and it makes the cable look nice.
The cost of high-end cables is mostly determined by the materials and production techniques used to create each of these five components (though I’m sure marketing plays a role as well).
As you can see, the most important part is to make sure your guitar cable is shielded.
Another thing worth mentioning is that there are two types of guitar cables:
- Balanced cables
- Unbalanced cables
What is the difference between a balanced and unbalanced guitar cable?
An unbalanced guitar cable has one conductor surrounded by a braided shield; this type carries an electric current on that single wire and the wire is surrounded by a shield of braided copper. It has a one-way transmission and is particularly susceptible to interference.
Balanced guitar cables have two wires plus another plastic layer on top; each conductor is insulated and wrapped in aluminum foil, which helps prevent interference from other sources such as power lines. They send two copies (one inverted) of the signal down the wire to eliminate noise and interference.
As you can see, balanced cables provide enhanced noise cancellation compared to unbalanced cables.
A solid link between your guitar and your amp is one of the most crucial components of any great sound; it’s worth spending extra money on good cables if they’ll provide that link.
So, the next time you’re shopping for cables just keep in mind that quality does matter.
Are good guitar cables worth it?
As briefly mentioned above, a good guitar cable can be worth the extra money.
The quality of your cables makes a big difference in how well it transmits sound, which is why you need to find an effective and reliable one.
It’s hard not to notice that there are tons of different types out there; they’re sold by brands like Mogami and D’Addario Planet Waves, just to name a few.
Let’s take a look at three different types of guitar cables that you can choose from:
Cable with an Instrument plug (end) – This type is the most common and comes with an end called ‘A Jack’ or something similar; it fits into your electric guitar, bass, etc.
Cable with a ¼ inch plug (end) – This type is the most common and comes with an end called ‘quarter-inch’ or something similar; it fits into your electric guitar, bass, etc.
Patch Cable – These are short cables that go between devices like effects pedals.
If you’re looking for high-quality cable, keep in mind that when it comes to the instrument cable, you have a choice between balanced or unbalanced cables.
In addition, when looking at all types of guitar cables there are several factors worth consideration:
Cable gauge – This refers to how thick/thin your cable is and can affect sound quality. Cable thickness usually ranges from 16 to 26 AWG (American Wire Gauge).
Cable shielding – This refers to how well your cable blocks interference from other sources such as power lines. The more layers of shielding, the better protection you get against noise and electrical signals that can cause problems with sound quality.
Cable length – The longer your guitar cables are, the more they are susceptible to interference.
How do I know if my guitar cable is bad?
Wondering if your guitar cable is bad?
If you notice that the sound is distorted or there are buzzing noises coming through, then your cables might be to blame.
It’s worth noting that sometimes guitar players think they have a bad tone because of their cables when in reality it’s not the case; this happens more often than not with new/inexperienced players who don’t know any better.
The only way to know for sure if it’s your guitar cable is to test a different one.
What are the benefits of using good-quality guitar cables?
Good quality guitar cables provide enhanced noise cancellation compared to unbalanced cables.
When you invest in a high-quality cable, it will last much longer than an inexpensive one; this way you won’t have to buy new ones over and over again.
Plus, they can transmit a cleaner and clearer signal to your amp or mixer, which greatly enhances the sound quality.
The first place you can start looking for a great cable is online; there’s an endless number of options available on sites like Amazon.
Another option is to go into a music store (i.e. Guitar Center) and ask a salesperson for help; they’ll be able to recommend the best cable(s) depending on your budget, needs, etc.
How long does a guitar cable last and when should you replace it?
When it comes to guitar cables, it’s important to know that not all of them are designed to last forever.
As you may have guessed, the quality varies drastically depending on what cable you choose; an inexpensive one will likely break or stop working much faster than a high-quality cord.
To find out how long your guitar cable(s) should last, it’s best to refer to the manufacturer.
That being said, a guitar cord generally lasts anywhere from a few months to several years; it all depends on how much you use them.
If your guitar cables are constantly breaking, then there’s no doubt that they’re not designed very well and should be replaced as soon as possible.
It might also mean the problem is with something else in your setup (i.e., an impedance mismatch).
As a final note, it’s worth mentioning that you can prolong the life of your guitar cables by storing them properly.
Ideally, they should be kept in their original packaging when not in use to avoid dirt and other contaminants from getting inside.
How much does a good guitar cable cost?
Depending on where you shop and what brand/model of cord(s) you want, prices can vary greatly.
For example, a good-quality guitar cable usually costs anywhere from $10 to $50 per cord.
If you’re looking for something in the middle of that range and/or want multiple cords, then it’s best to go online where there are countless options available at affordable prices.
On Amazon or eBay, you can find great deals on guitar cables made by some of the most reputable brands.
For example, Blue Jean Cables and Monster Cable offer top-of-the-line cords that will last you for a long time without costing an arm and a leg.