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OK, What's The Real Answer When It Comes To Cables?

TSJMajesty

Power User
I was just about to upgrade to some Mogami Gold cables (till I saw the prices!), and decided to call a buddy who has done lots of research, A/B'ing, etc., and he said build quality is important if you're gigging regularly (which I'm not), and quality is important for recording (which I don't.) But beyond that, they don't matter, sonically speaking.

But someone else here swore he could hear his guitars come alive (both w/ active PU's) when switching to the Mogami Gold's, and made a good point about using cheap cables from a $3500 guitar into a $2000 processor, cable being the weak link, and all that, which I said made sense.

Then someone else said they cannot hear a difference between expensive cables and ones from Amazon...

Sigh...

So for my specific situation: Majesty with active PU's, into Axe Fx III, into either Mesa power amp & 2 4x12 Recto cabs, or straight into DT880 Pro headphones (no recording, no gigging, but still want to buy gear that will last, and I'm careful with all my gear, including cables)..., what do you guys think?

Is it worth it to drop 80 bucks on a high-quality guitar cable, and 40 or so bucks each, on several short cables to route between effects units/amps?
P.S. I already own proper, high-quality speaker cables for my cabinets.

And even if this has been discussed, I felt like posting instead of searching, also wanting fresh responses.

TIA!
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
I buy for durability and mechanical properties. Full stop.

I really like Bestronics cables. Not because they sound any particular way, but because I get many, many years out of them. For $40, it's a great ROI. Amortizes to a few dollars a year. Perfectly fine math for me.

https://btpa.com/fas20-xx

That's a nice cable with a pretty jacket that I think looks snazzy that BTPA designed with @Admin M@ IIRC. There's no noise from the cable when you move around with it, even with a high gain setup on the III running into a very loud FOH system. The Neutrik silent plugs are also a nice touch and I like them for the ability to unplug with no pops and to be able to leave the cable dangling without being connected and not have it make noise. I've never had issues with Neutrik silent plugs failing, but some have reported issues with them. YMMV.

But if you buy a $10 cable from Amazon and it works in your application and it sounds fine then it is fine and you're golden. Don't worry about any other cable, you're not missing anything.
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
I buy for durability and mechanical properties. Full stop.

I really like Bestronics cables. Not because they sound any particular way, but because I get many, many years out of them. For $40, it's a great ROI. Amortizes to a few dollars a year. Perfectly fine math for me.

https://btpa.com/fas20-xx

That's a nice cable with a pretty jacket that I think looks snazzy that BTPA designed with @Admin M@ IIRC. There's no noise from the cable when you move around with it, even with a high gain setup on the III running into a very loud FOH system. The Neutrik silent plugs are also a nice touch and I like them for the ability to unplug with no pops and to be able to leave the cable dangling without being connected and not have it make noise. I've never had issues with Neutrik silent plugs failing, but some have reported issues with them. YMMV.

But if you buy a $10 cable from Amazon and it works in your application and it sounds fine then it is fine and you're golden. Don't worry about any other cable, you're not missing anything.
Beat me to it. Never had a better cable than this one from BTPA (in beautiful Tinley park IL) , the neutrik
is great.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
I buy for durability and mechanical properties. Full stop.

I really like Bestronics cables. Not because they sound any particular way, but because I get many, many years out of them. For $40, it's a great ROI. Amortizes to a few dollars a year. Perfectly fine math for me.

https://btpa.com/fas20-xx

That's a nice cable with a pretty jacket that I think looks snazzy that BTPA designed with @Admin M@ IIRC. There's no noise from the cable when you move around with it, even with a high gain setup on the III running into a very loud FOH system. The Neutrik silent plugs are also a nice touch and I like them for the ability to unplug with no pops and to be able to leave the cable dangling without being connected and not have it make noise. I've never had issues with Neutrik silent plugs failing, but some have reported issues with them. YMMV.

But if you buy a $10 cable from Amazon and it works in your application and it sounds fine then it is fine and you're golden. Don't worry about any other cable, you're not missing anything.
+1, but add electrical properties as well. Low capacitance per foot is imperitive, to preserve highs, and more imperitive the longer the cable gets.

I also have a BTPA cable, as well as a couple Planet Waves ones....
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
Years ago, when they were first introduced, I started using George L's heavier cable. It's not overly flexible, but it sounds very good and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. In years and years of using them, I've never had problems, except for one time I tripped on one and got noise from it when it pulled from the amp. I loosened the end, trimmed it, pushed the plug back on and tightened it down.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
Years ago, when they were first introduced, I started using George L's heavier cable. It's not overly flexible, but it sounds very good and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. In years and years of using them, I've never had problems, except for one time I tripped on one and got noise from it when it pulled from the amp. I loosened the end, trimmed it, pushed the plug back on and tightened it down.
Same. They are pretty low capacitance. I've had 2 20' cables for close to 20 years. No issues and they sound great.

They can have some "handling" noise...

Years ago my band was in the studio doing some recording. The bassist was having an issue with his cable so I loaned him one. He immediately reacted to the difference in top end response.

His cables were Guitar Center "generic" cables... It was a very noticeable A/B comparison.
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
They can have some "handling" noise...
Yeah, I think that's because they're lacking a padding layer somewhere in there. I can forgive them that because they sound so clear.

I always carry one of the Reverb cables in case someone needs to "borrow" a cable, or they're someone wearing cleats, golfing shoes or loggers boots. They sound decent and weren't expensive.
 

Rick

Fractal Fanatic
Mogami and Canare cables work great, and hold up to road use. I’ve used some Monster speaker cable, and it worked well. Best-tronics also makes a nice cable. Many will argue that you can’t tell a difference, and I’m sure they can’t. I can tell the difference in use over time, and consequently buy quality cable.

By the way, paying 50-75 bucks for a guitar cable isn’t “expensive.” Alessandro High End Products has a 20 foot silver conductor guitar cable available for $1999. Yes, that’s dollars. http://alessandro-products.com/instrument-cables/ While you’re chuckling, remember that this guy is no flake. He builds amps for the likes of David Gilmour. He “blackfaced” a recent Deluxe Reverb RI for me, at a very reasonable cost for the work done, and it’s a night/day better sounding amp. He knows his business. He’s not a lunatic, he just believes certain things are better regardless of cost. We all have opinions.

Mine? Do I buy crazy expensive cables... no. Do I buy really good quality cables... absolutely. I could get by with less, and have, but why? I mean, what’s your music worth to you? Just my $0.02 :)
 

TSJMajesty

Power User
By the way, paying 50-75 bucks for a guitar cable isn’t “expensive.”

Mine? Do I buy crazy expensive cables... no. Do I buy really good quality cables... absolutely. I could get by with less, and have, but why? I mean, what’s your music worth to you? Just my $0.02 :)
I'm fine with spending the money on a good quality guitar cable. My concern was, do I need to find the same, how do I say this, type of cable for the ones that will live in my rack, since they won't see the same type of use? Adding 4 more 3' Mogami Gold's to the guitar cable would add another $200. Yes, I sprung for the Axe Fx, so I can handle it. But I try to evaluate spending decisions based on value, not cost. If that's the best bet, I'll do it.
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
My concern was, do I need to find the same, how do I say this, type of cable for the ones that will live in my rack, since they won't see the same type of use?
I make my own cables for pedalboards and racks. I just buy the generic plugs from monoprice and their generic cable. As before, I'm spec'ing for mechanical properties which are not very demanding in these situations as the cable just sits there.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
I'm fine with spending the money on a good quality guitar cable. My concern was, do I need to find the same, how do I say this, type of cable for the ones that will live in my rack, since they won't see the same type of use? Adding 4 more 3' Mogami Gold's to the guitar cable would add another $200. Yes, I sprung for the Axe Fx, so I can handle it. But I try to evaluate spending decisions based on value, not cost. If that's the best bet, I'll do it.
For racks and pedalboards, the George Ls stuff is great. Not too expensive and easy to use with NO soldering.

Been using that method for years and I've only ever had one issue, which was a poorly installed connector (my fault) and was fixed using some scissors in about 5 minutes.

Just a note, my rig(s) previous to Fractal included a rack mounted Budda head with some rack effects and a rack drawer full of pedals connected thru a Voodoo Lab GCX loop switcher.

I had a LOT of cables in one rack... Some were only maybe 4" long. Easy to make them exactly the size you need.

Another advantage for ANY cable you make yourself is making it sized for it's purpose. You can shave many, many feet of cable out of your signal chain.
 

vika12

Inspired
I avoid very cheap and very expensive cables and aim for high quality moderately priced ones. I use a Mogami Silver cable (18') for instrument connection. I've also been using Live Wire patch and extension cables from Guitar Center. Both are moderately priced. Both work just fine and both have a life time warranty from GC -- if they fail, return them and no questions asked.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
For racks and pedalboards, the George Ls stuff is great. Not too expensive and easy to use with NO soldering.

Been using that method for years and I've only ever had one issue, which was a poorly installed connector (my fault) and was fixed using some scissors in about 5 minutes.

Just a note, my rig(s) previous to Fractal included a rack mounted Budda head with some rack effects and a rack drawer full of pedals connected thru a Voodoo Lab GCX loop switcher.

I had a LOT of cables in one rack... Some were only maybe 4" long. Easy to make them exactly the size you need.

Another advantage for ANY cable you make yourself is making it sized for it's purpose. You can shave many, many feet of cable out of your signal chain.
I had a couple different versions of the rack-mounted amp thing happening in the '90s. I used the very similar Bill Lawrence cables for the same reason - custom length cables and less cable length flopping around in there. Eventually Lawrence/Wilde stopped stocking the cable kits. I wonder if competition from George L's very similar kits made it less profitable....
 

Rick

Fractal Fanatic
I'm fine with spending the money on a good quality guitar cable. My concern was, do I need to find the same, how do I say this, type of cable for the ones that will live in my rack, since they won't see the same type of use? Adding 4 more 3' Mogami Gold's to the guitar cable would add another $200. Yes, I sprung for the Axe Fx, so I can handle it. But I try to evaluate spending decisions based on value, not cost. If that's the best bet, I'll do it.
I think your mind is already in the right place on it. Again, do you need to? Nope. A lot of people here use other brands/types of cable options and they work fine. It certainly won’t hurt to have a premium cable there, if you’d like to do that. My choices give me “performance peace of mind“ for when someone’s paying for what the cable’s carrying. My cables are, literally, a business expense. Your needs are different from mine and so your choices may be different. As you can tell, there are a lot of opinions! 😊
 

mr_fender

Axe-Master
With active pickups, the output impedance of your guitar is most likely quite low. I doubt you'd hear a difference with any cable beyond complete junk or 50+ foot long cables. Good shielding is always of paramount importance though, unless you like AM radio stations or lots of noise coming through your carefully crafted presets. Don't let brand names fool you into thinking your are going to get some magically better sound. There's A LOT of misinformation and creative marketing in the audio cable world. Bottom line is you want low capacitance, 100% shield coverage, and good quality connectors. Be very skeptical of any brand that does not publish the electrical specs of their cables.

I'll second the BestTronics recommendation. Great cables at a very reasonable price.
 
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