Deciding on the best guitar cable is tough. What sounds great to me might make your ears bleed. What’s affordable to you might be way out of my price range. What is pristine with my amp might hiss or pop with yours. So how do you decide? You have to understand what makes guitar cables work and try a few of them out. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what the best guitar cables are for your rig.
It wasn’t too long ago when most guitarists and bassists weren’t convinced that their cable choices had an effect on their tone. In my opinion, this is because they were too worried about making them last more than a few gigs! Materials and building practices have certainly improved over the last decade or so. Now guitar cables produce much truer sound and last years, instead of weeks.
The best guitar cable is going to be one that is made from a high quality material, like copper, that is thoroughly insulated from interference, has a strong construction that won’t break at the jacks, and (most importantly) you can afford. There are cables that are going to sound like a million bucks, but cost well over $150 for a 20 foot length! That might be the best cable, but I’m not going to be able to afford it!
The ultimate goal of a guitar cable is to move the signal from your guitar to your amp as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, there are thousands of things that can impede that signal along the way. Everything from the cable’s construction to the wiring of the building you’re in will affect the signal and ultimately your tone.
Construction materials of guitar cables will produce different tones. The core’s material has a much more dramatic affect than the end’s material. For example, copper will produce more authentic highs than any alloy will, but gold or nickel plated ends don’t make a big tonal difference. The insulation material will help prevent interference from radio, your amp, and shoddy electrical work. Insulation separates the positive and negative signals inside the cable. Common high quality insulators are PVC and other polymers.
While it’s impossible to pick the best guitar cable what you can do is head down to your local guitar shop and play a bunch on a setup that is similar to yours. You’ll know it when you hear it, and then come back to the web and buy it for a fraction of the price that you would inside the store!
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