10 of the Best Guitar Cables
When you consider how much time and effort you put into getting your rig to sound just the way you want, it makes sense to ensure your guitar cables are also up to the job - after all they're an important part of the tone chain. Also remember that occasionally things will go wrong, so always carry at least one spare cable to gigs and rehearsals.
What to Consider When Buying Guitar Cables
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First and foremost, you have to consider the guitar cable's durability and shielding. This is where cheap cables usually fail, but don't get too hyped up on expensive cables either. If you don't want awkward silence during your solo, you will want to invest in ones with quality connectors, sturdy cables and proper shielding. Take it from me, I've had my fair share of cheap cable experiences, and it's not good.
Next thing to look out for is the cable's length and capacitance. If you move around during gigs then you have no choice but to get a longer cable or a wireless system, if not then get a shorter cable. Shorter cables allow your signal to travel a shorter distance, which equates to lower capacitance that provides better signal transparency. Lower capacitance will keep your cable from loosing high frequencies. More importantly, by having just the right length, you get less cable tangling and clutter.
If you are looking for a vintage, analog tone ala Hendrix, then a cable with higher capacitance such as coiled or even a cheap cable becomes a viable option. Because of their high capacitance, these coiled and cheap cables subtly reduce the top end to give you a warmer tone. Note that capacitance will have negligible effect if you are using active pickups and/or buffered bypass pedals, both of which act as a mini power amps that can drive the signal.
10 Top Guitar Cables
Manufacturer: George L's
When it comes to gear, tone connoisseur and virtuoso Eric Johnson (EJ) knows his stuff, and him using George L's is a big deal. Along with other artists, EJ helped this small scale guitar cable maker gain reach a wider audience, eventually making them one of the most sought after guitar cable brands.
George L's is considered to be the company that started the premium guitar cable craze, with their cables requiring no soldering or stripping, which makes them extremely easy to customize and setup. The lightweight prepackaged version comes with stress relief jackets and comes with different types of plugs: nickel, unplated brass and gold. and depending on your ear sensitivity, the plugs may have an effect on your tone. Note that this cable may require careful handling, and may not be viable for players that move and jump around. Still its top notch sonic quality has made it a mainstay in many professional studios and concert rigs.
Lava Magma Instrument Cable
Manufacturer: Lava Cable
The Magma series is designed to provide the basic cable essentials which are transparency, shielding and durability at an affordable price range. It is equipped with G&H Show Savers pure copper plugs, and has a 93% spiral shielding that rejects unwanted RF signals. Transparent signal is ensured with its 29.5 pF/ft low capacitance, and it is among the few honest guitar cables that actually have its capacitance rating listed on the product description.
Big name guitarists like Steve Vai, Carl Verheyen, Greg Howe and more have proven that Lava cables are rugged enough for stage and tour use. And notice that the artists mentioned are known for moving around during performance, attesting to the quality and durability of Lava cables. My only complaint for the Lava Magma cable is its basic aesthetics, a flashier or sleeker look could have made it stand out from the many cheap and regular cables in the market today. Regardless, this is an affordable pro-quality guitar cable that's more about the function than the form.
Monster Rock Instrument Cable
Monster's reputation, when it comes to high-end audio gear, is steadily growing. And their foray into instrument cables have been met with the same success and enthusiasm from well known players. Zakk Wylde, Kerry King and Scott Ian are just a few of the big name artists that utilize and recommend this cable brand.
The Monster Rock Cable's official description has all sorts of hi-tech mumbo jumbo: Patented time correct windings, extra-flexible Duraflex and IsoTec vibration isolation just to name a few. All of which are developed to ensure reliable and quiet operation while maintaining high sound quality. Interestingly, they claim that these cables "enhance" tone, but what they really mean is that you'll sound better with their cables, because theirs offer improved transparency and zero coloration. Unfortunately, only those that are willing to invest can enjoy this premium cable. If you have the budget or you're willing to save up for a quality cable, then check this one out.
Mogami Gold Instrument Cable
The Mogami brand is another high end cable manufacturer that's been gaining popularity, thanks to the quality of the cables they are producing. Big name artists like Fleetwood Mac, Pearl Jam, Prince and Foo Fighters are just a few of the growing list of professionals that are utilizing their cables.
Even with their high price tags, Mogami cables are still bought and sought after by many players. Reviews are consistent in saying that the extra money that you shell out is well worth the peace of mind and sound quality that the cable provides. If you're making the switch from a regular cheap cable to a Mogami, the transparency will make you think that your tone has improved, when in fact, it's just that the cable better transfers your signal. If you are looking for a pro level transparent sounding cable, then you should save up for the Mogami Gold.
DiMarzio Overbraid Instrument Cable
This colorful and affordable cable is designed to match the best guitar cables in terms of durability and reliability. The sturdy overbraid cover decreases tangling and allows the cable to withstand various torture tests, to the point that it has outclassed expensive cables. It doesn't have any of the tone magic that other premium cables have, nor does it have space age shielding, but it does get the job done, and reliably so.
To ensure the quality of each cable, DiMarzio manufacturers them with strict quality guidance in the United States, which is quite surprising given the low price point that these cables are going for. Interestingly it honestly shows its capacitance which is 33.27 pF/ft (picofarads per foot), low enough for normal gigging and recording use. While the bright colors can be distracting to some players, the DiMarzio Overbraid is the best choice for budget strapped players, and for those looking for eccentric and colorful cables.
Vox Vintage Coil Cable
Having been used by Hendrix, it's no surprise that guitarists today are still looking for coiled guitar cables. And a popular and accessible choice is the Vox Vintage Coil Cable, with its stylish design and multiple color options. Its unique look by itself is enough for some to consider having one, but thankfully its not just about the looks because it is built using audiophile quality materials.
Far from being just another cheap cable, Vox used 99.99% purity oxygen free copper cable conductors, two separate shields for noise isolation, abrasion resistant PVC jacket for durability and gold plated connectors to ensure signal transfer. While coils were originally designed to reduce tangles, its inherent curls allow your audio signal to travel longer than when using a straight cable, which means naturally losing some top end. This results in a subtle vintage twist which works well with guitars that have sharp top end.
Whirlwind L15 Leader
The Whirlwind Leader Instrument Cable is a rugged electric guitar cable built for the road. Instead of focusing on sonic nuances that only those with elite ears can hear, they prioritized durability and reliability, resulting in instrument cables that are practically indestructible. This durability has led big name artists like Marc Anthony, Buddy Guy, Steve Stevens and more to use them on their tour.
Whirlwind Leader's durability is achieved via the special cable grip that reduces the strain on cables. And it does this while retaining essential shielding and having industry standard low capacitance rating. While it may not be as cosmetically pleasing as other branded cables, it makes up with its good sonic quality and reliability. This cable is a good and affordable entry point if you are looking to switch to pro level cables from regular cheap cables.
Rotosound Curly Guitar Cable
Rotosound is a manufacturer that produces all sorts of guitar gear and accessories, many of which are highly rated by musicians world over. Of their wide selection of cables, the Rotosound Curly made the list for providing a more affordable and accessible vintage style coiled cable. And it's not just about the price either because reviews have been consistently positive, praising its reliability and build quality.
Unlike other vintage style coiled cables, this one features standard size jacks on both ends, which makes it easier to check for problems and do preventive maintenance work. It's springy curls are also very resistant to deformation, which means that the cable bounces back to its original shape even when momentarily stretched. Ofcourse there is a limit to the cables durability, but it should handle regular gigs and practices quite nicely. If you're looking for an affordable old school telephone spring like cable then get this one.
Live Wire Advantage Instrument Cable
Manufacturer: Live Wire Audio
The Live Wire Advantage Series is a top seller, primarily because it is cheap. And with cheap cables, quality and durability is a bit hit or miss, but this is one affordable cable that's consistently been good to its users. This cable is surprisingly sturdy and have served many players well both in and out of the stage. And Should there be any problems, the generic looking plugs are easy to maintain or replace.
For its price point, the Live Wire advantage instrument cable offers surprisingly good sound quality, as can be attested by the many positive reviews that its been getting on various online retailers. Just be extra careful with handling and setting up and this cable should last you longer than you'd expect it to. If you are on a tight budget, and you can can do maintenance soldering work on your cables, then check this one out.
HOSA GTR-518R Cable
Manufacturer: Hosa Technology
While not as well known as other guitar cable brands, HOSA Tech has been providing connectivity solutions for the audio video industry for three decades now. This experience allows them to create high quality guitar cables at a more modest price point, and surprisingly they do so without compromising cosmetic quality. The tweed finish HOSA GTR-518R is a great example of what the company provides, quality and great looking cables that will not go beyond your budget.
Inside the nice looking exterior, this cable has most of the same features found on more expensive cables, including the use of Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) conductors for signal clarity and high-density OFC braided shield for noise rejection. The all-metal plugs are also designed to follow conventional format making them easy to check, service and replace as needed. If you're looking for a no nonsense yet stylish cable that will not dig a hole in your pocket, check out the HOSA GTR-518R.
If you haven't found the best cable for you above, then check out this guitar cable comparison at bestguitarcable.com.
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