If you ever wondered what can ruin a concert faster than a malfunctioning instrument, than you may have been blessed to never have to deal with a bad guitar cable. These things are more than just important to your musical performance, they are probably one of the most important guitar accessory to make sure are ok before you perform. If you don’t, you might end up with a lot of noise coming out of your instrument, interference or just plain not be heard if the cable is in that bad of a shape. Which is why it is important to understand why these things are important, how bad ones can affect you and how the best guitar cables can be more than an asset to your band or to you. After all a bad cable might end up ruining a potentially great time in your life, while a good cable will not be noticed for a long time before it is gone.
Top Guitar Cables
If you have no choice but to go the cheap route when buying a guitar cable, might as well find the best cheap guitar cable on the market. The thing is, even the best of the best among the cheapest cables will have a hard time to living up to any expectations. The HOSA GTR-210 Straight Guitar Cable is cheap, and it is noticeable. Not the most durable option on the market, it will last you for a little while until you save up a little to get a new one. Still it will serve you well as long as you take care of it. Don’t pull on it too hard, don’t bend it too hard and you will have a dedicated friend. Maybe this is not your main cable, but a backup, or a practice cable, in which case it might be the perfect cheap candidate. Otherwise, don’t rely on this one too much for gig performance, or else you might end up in an awkward situation.
I don’t like to compare items on the same list to each other, saying that one is better than the other simply based on the price. Though in this case, I would like to apologize and do so, because, this items is objectively, even though still slightly, superior to the option above. The Fender Performance Series Instrument Cable is much sturdier than its more affordable cousin, and more dependable for a longer time, while costing only just a little bit more. Still, it is not the best option ever, but a well balanced one, dependable for longer than a month or two while still being affordable. Though you still should not consider this to be the perfect cable to take with you on gigs, and if you do, definitely have at least one backup. Though for practice and fun this will be the perfect cable, providing acceptable quality for an affordable price.
I love me some braided tweed cloth in my cables. I am a strong believer that such protection for the cable usually results in better longevity and makes the cable better at taking abuse that comes with playing, whether it be practicing or gigging. Which is why I find that the GSL Audio Guitar cable is foot to foot better than its closely priced alternative talked above. Offered in the 20 foot variety that you might find useful the cable might end up serving you a little longer than its plastic or rubber protected brethren. Still, it is not the best cable offered on the market, but it has the potential to remain useful to you for a while before having to consider moving on to something else. Unfortunately it is not offered in shorter varieties. The 20 feet of cable result in the signal being slightly weaker than in shorter alternatives, so this one might not be the best pick for everyone. Still, if you like to walk a long distance from the amp and enjoy having a more or less reliable and affordable cable, this one might be for you.
Red dragons are not known for their flexibility or for their propensity to being nice and kind. They are known for their reliability and the ability to carry large amounts of raw power. Though I wouldn’t know this, since they are not real. What I do know is that the AMBOZ CABLES Red Dragon guitar cable is one of the best guitar cables available on the market currently. Priced slightly higher per foot than the others, it is much more reliable per foot than the others. The cable is as durable as it gets thanks to its braided PVC jacket and protected jacks, meaning it can last you a long time, whether you are traveling to gigs or practicing for hours at a time with it. The signal transferred is strong and noiseless, meaning clean sound whenever you play. I like this cable so much, I would buy two of it. Not because I like cables, but because the best way to remain safe in case one fails is to have another one of it.
At the time of me writing this, there is a discount for this cable online. If it is still going on, you should be scrambling to buy it right now. If the discount is over you should still be considering purchasing it, since it is one of the best guitar cables you will come across in your long search for perfection. It is incredibly durable thanks to its OFC braided shielding and carbon tweed woven jacket, meaning that you will not realize you have to think about a new cable for a long time, if you care for it. The signal transferred through it is noiseless and clean, and remains strong for longer distances than in other cables of the same length. It is perfect for your gigs, whether you travel for them or not, and it is perfect for practice because it can take a beating. While it would be good to have a backup, you might not need it for a long time as this cable will have your back for all of the time it is with you.
I’m pretty sure you already know how important a high quality cable can be, but such precious knowledge is never too much. That’s why I’m going to say it once again: you absolutely have to put everything away, concentrate all your attention on this accessory and buy the one that won’t ruin your sound. The models such as Ernie Ball Stage and Studio Patch Cables don’t leave you with many excuses, since they offer wonderful quality at an affordable price. These bad boys are built to last, as they are shielded from external damages. They won’t lose any properties of your signal or add unnecessary noise to it. They will, in fact, transfer your sound transparently. I wish they were a bit more flexible, so that they would be easier to connect to those pedals, but we can turn a blind eye on that. After all, you won’t see such quality that often and we really have to thank Ernie Ball for giving us an opportunity to play faultlessly without emptying our pockets. You can, of course, splurge for backups as well, but the chances are you won’t be needing them anytime soon.
What could be better for frequent performances and practices than Fender Performance Series Patch Cables? – probably something that would cost twice as much. This model will definitely turn into a reliable tool for anyone who doesn’t want to swap cables every day. They are made from durable material and covered with PVC jacket. This way, you’ll have a hard time ruining them. The only drawback here is that these babies aren’t flexible either, which can be a bit of a headache if your pedalboard is jammed with stompboxes. Don’t even get me started how difficult they are to bend, forcing you to mess around quite a bit if your pedals have connectors in different positions (side to top for instance). However, Fender Performance Series Patch Cables are still quite handy. They are transparent and noiseless, which are rather important for any setup. I guess sometimes we have to sacrifice flexibility for the sake of durability, am I right? Keep in mind that they won’t last you through a lifetime, but they will definitely be by your side for a while.
If the situations I described above scared you off, then I have good news: I have found the cables that will satisfy your needs perfectly. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about pancake cables. I can’t even tell you how much improvement these little fellas brought into my life, especially considering the fact that I’m a perfectionist and jammed cables aren’t exactly my thing. So, if you’re willing to try out those pancakes, then Dunlop MXR Right Angle model could be an amazing start. I won’t be exaggerating if I say that it’s really hard to find faults with these. They fit perfectly between the pedals, saving you a lot of space on your pedalboard. The conductors are made from oxygen-free copper, which means they won’t get rusty. The outer shell is rugged, i.e. it won’t let the signal leak. In other words, your pedals will be connected smoothly without the signal escaping the cables. And that’s everything you need for a pleasant practice or a badass performance. Stock up on these, my friend, and trust me, you won’t regret a penny. I’m sure you’ll thank me once you give Dunlop pancake cables a fair try.
If the previous model seemed just a little expensive to you, then you should turn your attention to something like D’Addario Classic Series Patch Cable. It’s relatively more affordable compared to MXRs, yet it’s not cheaper in terms of quality. The cable itself is covered with a durable jacket that protects it perfectly from external damage. It’s quite flexible, which means you can bend it however you want without ruining it. The best part about these cables is that they offer noiseless operation. There’s one drawback – the connectors are a bit big in size, which can be inconvenient for those who are serious about pedalboard space. Though it’s just a minor flaw, it can still interfere with your choice. Consider carefully how much pedalboard real estate you have before splurging for these. D’Addario Classic Series Patch Cable is still an excellent choice as it delivers great performance for a really long time. And in case it breaks, getting a new one won’t be too big of a burden due to the low price. What’s not to love?
Is affordability your priority? If so, then you can’t get anything better than Donner Patch Cables. It’s a 6-pack deal which costs less than you’d pay for a single one from other brands. You might think that they have crappy quality due to such a low price, but trust me, they aren’t bad at all. Of course, you shouldn’t expect that they will handle studio applications – that would be too unreal. But they are perfectly fine for daily utilization. Plug them in, leave your pedals connected to one another and you’ll get an excellent use out of these fellas. The particular model we’re talking about is 6inch long, which is enough for the majority of users. But if your application is slightly different, then you can go for the longer options. I can say that these cables are everything Donner represents – they are affordable and durable enough to keep you connected for a while. Will they last for years? – I really doubt that, but till they do, they’ll do a decent job. The main thing is that the signal that passes through these cables is virtually noiseless. And when that part is nailed, we can usually forget those minor drawbacks. Donner has done a wonderful job at providing us with something we can really enjoy!
There are many ways to fail at buying the right guitar cable. One of the easiest ways to do so is to go cheap. I understand the temptation, I’ve been in a spot where the extra 20 bucks I would be spending on a cable would end up being really useful in a different situation. Like for a round of beer for the pals at the bar tomorrow. The thing is though, when you end up buying cheap, you end up getting what you pay for. In guitar world you might have an option of a cheap but good guitar, but in the cable world cheap does mean bad. Easily torn or simply bad at conducting signal, the cable will eventually end up being thrown out and you will have to shell out more money for a new, better cable. Don’t learn the lesson the hard way. Be smarter than that. Buy a good cable from the start, even if you end up paying an extra 20. It’ll save you money in the long run.
There is a relationship between the length of the cable and the strength of the signal delivered to the amp through it that needs to be considered when buying a cable. The longer a signal has to travel the more power it loses, meaning a less powerful output from the amp. Not ideal if you are looking to have a good time with the band. So when buying a cable remember, you don’t need the longest they have, neither the shortest they have. Strike a comfortable balance, 10 feet, 12 and even 14 feet should be fine. If you go longer than that you might have to expect problems with the signal and sound.
Everything you possess requires maintenance at one time or another. A house needs cleaning and repairs, dishes need washing, a car needs check ups and oil changes and guitars need regular cleaning. The guitars cables also need regular cleaning, even when you are the cleanest person you know. Eventually a small layer of varnish or gunk will end up gathering on the ends of the cable, which will impede the signal transfer. Taking a rag to the cable ends regularly will save you the trouble of wondering what might be wrong with your sound.
I have heard so many horror stories about people having a hard time with their cables. Stories ranging from buying a cheap cable that within a weak stopped working to people having to delay their performances to make an emergency run to a friend’s house to pick up an extra cable that would work. All the horror stories that could have been avoided if only the person in the situation had been taking care of their cable, or picked a good cable up in the first place. Though sometimes these horrors are not the result of carelessness or being cheap or ignorant about what makes a cable quality. You see, things age, and things as often in use as guitar cables age fast. The best guitar cable might last you two years at most, if you are extremely lucky, but eventually they break too. There is nothing that can be done about it, it should be accepted as a fact of life. You should expect a cable to go bad one day and have to replace it. If you do not you will one day find yourself in front of an audience, waiting for your performance, expectations high and pressure crushing down on you, without a sound coming out of the amp because your cable broke. If you do not have a backup in this situation, you better have friends with extra cables. And if you do not have even that, then be ready to feel shame as you apologize to the people because you cannot perform. Last time I had to do that my cheeks were burning red, I was sweating bullets and I swore never to have that problem again. Thankfully my friend saved me by giving me his backup, but the 5 minutes where I thought I had no way of playing were extremely painful. Learn from me, have a backup for important situations.