Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Guitar Signal Cables- If you can't hear the difference.......
Hey now! I saw an ad that remarks rather arrogantly, "If you can't hear the difference, you probably don't need one." They are implying that if you can't tell the difference in their guitar cords then maybe you are simply lame... One thing is certainly the truth, the longer your cord the more your signal will be challenged. A good quality new cord will sound better than some cheap cord or an old cord. The question is - HOW GOOD? Once again this is a question where the answer could bore you to death as raw data is subjective to the desired results. Do you want low noise, accents on high frequency, accents on low frequency, low signal drop over length, clarity, color, or just that minty green taste?
There are many manufacturers of guitar signal cables. Even Radio Shack has guitar cables! I would say that if you are playing metal and using a solid state low powered amp (under 50 watts) then you shouldn't spend too much money on a cable. Depending on your tube amp which tend to make more noise and induce 60 cycle noise, you should at least buy a medium priced cable. If you are have tube amps and you are recording in a studio then you need a good cable and that means even the cabling between your effects pedals. The cliche' about the chain only being as strong as it's weakest link applies when recording.
Most cables just don't hold up to decades of abuse. Stepping on your cable will toast it. Over time, the cable will induce noise that sounds like finger nails on the chalk board or a scratching sound. This is due to the millions of times the cable has been bent, abused and thus after a while the wire starts to break down inside even though the cable looks fine on the outside. If you play daily then you will probably find yourself needing a new cable once a year. You can take a voltmeter and check the continuity while moving the cable around and bending it. If the meter spikes then you have issues and the problem might only require that you install new jacks or re-solder the connections. I almost always try the re-solder as after a while the solder joints fail. It is best to cut the cables and strip the wires with good tools. Tin the wire ends and then solder the proper wires to a new jack piece. Be certain to solder in a well ventilated area and use safety glasses for eye protection.
See pictures of dings for the evidence! Ouch!!
Finally, will good chords make a difference. Yes! The caveat is it will make a difference if you are doing recording but if you are just practicing and playing with friends then I think a medium priced cable will do just fine. If you have a lot of effects in line and a long cable then I certainly suggest that since you have spent a great deal of money on fine guitar effects (opinion warning) then it is only natural that you spend the extra money and purchase good linking cable and guitar lead cable. Also, as an added bit of trivia, many European's refer to guitar cables or cords as - LEADS. FYI :) Besides; unless you have decided to take up this vocation, hobby, career for only a short time then I find that buying quality products will reduce headaches.