THE GUITAR CABLE – INTRODUCTION
The guitar cable is probably the most important peripheral item for your guitar. We are talking of course about the cable that connects between your guitar and the amplifier, or the MIDI device you are using. For electric guitars, it's mandatory to use an amplifier and a guitar cable. For acoustic and classical guitars, it's optional and can be replaced with a microphone in front of the guitar. However, if you're going to play in an open area in front of big audience with your classical/acoustic guitar, then cable connection is highly recommended in that situation because it simply ensures a better sound transfer with much less noise.
The guitar cable connects to both the guitar and the amplifier via a “Plug-Jack” connection. The plug, being the tip of the cable (the male-side), and the jack being the input connector found on the bottom of your guitar body facing down (the female-side), as well as the input connector on your guitar amplifier. The location of the connection on the body of the guitar, and its direction facing down, is not a coincidence, but it is intentional to ensure a “relaxing-state” and “stress-relief” state at all times, to avoid the cable being cut open or disconnected internally and get ruined with continuous usage over time.
The normal cable that you use to connect a headphone or a microphone to your amplifier, or to your mobile device, or to any input device capable of receiving this kind of data, is the 3.5mm mono/stereo type:
- Mono: contains only 1 signal, which is the audio signal, and a grounding wire, that serves as a noise negating wire that negates unwanted signals from the outside world, in addition to its normal role in the electronic circuit.
NOTE: Both the audio wire and the grounding wire are installed in a “twisted” manner in most cables (circling each other), for better noise filtering. And also sometimes a set of little grounding wires are used around both the audio and grounding wires, and which connects to the metal connector of both sides of the cable. Another method of “noise filtering”.
- Stereo: contains 2 signal wires, one for left audio signal, and the other for right, and a third wire that is the ground.
- The Mono type is used with devices that don't “care” or recognize right or left directions for the audio, examples of such devices are: a microphone, your electric guitar, etc.
- The Stereo type is used with devices that DO recognize two audio directions. Such as: your headphone.
The cable that you use to connect your guitar to your amplifier, is the 6.3mm mono/stereo type. Some come with the plugs installed in a straight angle, and some come with a 90 degree angle, for convenience purposes only. The photo below shows the types of plugs we described above:
SO WHAT REALLY MAKES A GOOD GUITAR CABLE?
So with the above informative introduction to guitar cables, we can come to the conclusion that you need a good audio cable of the type 6.3mm. But really, what is a guitar cable other than just a … “cable”? I'll try to explain this as simple as I can:
- The guitar cable, like any other cable, is made for one purpose: and that is to convey data from source to destination. The data here, of course, is the sound coming from your guitar.
- Being an experienced electronics practical engineer myself, I can tell you this: Lengh of the cable, width, and the material it's made of, all affects the quality of the signal. As well as shielding, types of jacks and plugs, and the way it's all assembled.
- Width: you normally don't want to bother with this one. Standard width to most cables, the width effects here are neglectable.
- Length: Pick a length that suits your needs, not too long, and not too short. If you are going to use it mostly for home, practicing with your band, or playing in small gigs, around 3 meters is enough for you. For bigger gigs and live performances, you might wanna consider a longer cable to give you more freedom to move around the stage and be mobile. You might want to invest in a higher quality cable if you go for a long one, because the effects of length on the signal (your sound) is much more noticeable, especially when scaling up to much higher volume (for live performances, big amplifiers, big speakers, etc).
- Material: For the plugs, almost everything is metal. For the wires, you might find: Copper, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, but the most common material used is Copper, basically because it is a good signal conductor and very cheap. A 20$ copper guitar cable, if it was made of gold, it would literally cost over a thousand bucks. The cost difference is THAT much.
- Shielding: this is a purely technical matter, up to the manufacturer.
- Capacitance: the capacitance measured from end to end. This indicates on the quality of signal transmitting. The less capacitance, the better!
By now, I hope you have a better understanding of your guitar cable, and in the next section, I will be recommending on guitar cables that I believe are excellent on both the quality and the price, if you're looking to buy a new cable, you might want to check these out first:-
MY RECOMMENDATION: HIGH QUALITY GUITAR CABLES FOR THE MONEY
There are many good and trustworthy companies known to make high quality inexpensive guitar cables. Below are my recommendation based on experience, company reputation, and real customer reviews, you are free to check them all and choose whatever you like or suits your needs, or you can explore other options by yourself now that you have enough knowledge on the subject. So let's start!
- Company: Fender
- High Quality
A cool, reliable cable that is also extremely inexpensive, highly recommended for the regular guitar player, also very durable and flexible, extremely hard to get ruined or inappropriately twisted. All this make it ideal to both home use for jamming or practicing alone, or band play and gigs.
- Company: Fulltone
- High Quality
- Reliable with life time warrante from Fulltone
- Great Sound
A well known company in the industry for producing good guitar cables, a close friend of mine who've purchased this same cable and tested it playing with a band, have personally recommended this to me, after using the cable for couple of years now.
- Company: Hosa
- Very good noise filtering
- Functional, Simple, Basic.
- Price: 8.5$, BUY HERE
A great, basic guitar cable, extremely in-expensive, a little less durable than the other cables, but if you take good care of it, and store when not used, it will serve you well for a long time, providing you with great noise-less sound, and good sound conveying capabilities. For the low price given, you would love to get two of these and store one as backup cable.
- Company: GLS Audio
- High Quality
- Extreme number of satisfied customers and positive feedback reviews
- Great Noise Filtering
- Price (was on sale by the time of publishing this article):
Regarded by many as one of the best guitar cables out there, it provides it all: great signal conductivity and great shielding – which translates to great and clean sharp tone, extremely high number of positive customer feedback, durable and reliable, and the price is just amazing. What else do you need? in addition, this is another cable a friend guitarist of mine have personally recommended me to buy, after several years of experience with it.
Guitar cable is not a “stupid” item that you randomly buy without giving it any thought, we've learned that it is one of the key players in conveying your guitar tone to your amplifier, and to the rest of the audio system, and a good guitar cable should definitely be able to convey the sound very clearly and with as much less noise as possible. We are living in a practical world, and in practice, “perfect” audio transmitting is impossible. What distinguish a good guitar cable from a bad one, is that it provides less noise-interference into the signal, and have better capabilities in preventing sound quality loss. In this article you are provided with a number of very good guitar cables that combine both high quality and a good price, feel free to check them out and choose one that you think will serve you well.
If you have other guitar cables in mind, other manufactures that you think are worth mentioning here, then feel free to mention them in the comments section below, I will appreciate your input and this community will get to learn more about guitar cable brands and expand our knowledge. Any kind of feedback or suggestions regarding this topic, are also more than welcome.