What is an integral part of a guitarist’s rig, but most overlooked piece of gear? The cables!
By: Vince DiGioia
Picture this, you walk into a music store, the local guitar shop and you have your eyes on a $2000 guitar, another $2500 for an amp and around $1500 for a professional pedalboard setup. BAM! You are in the league of the pros now, then the salesman turns to you and asks, what kind of cables do you want for all of this bad ass gear? You look on the wall for the cheapest cables. The salesman looks confused. Why? You literally just spent over $6000 for amazing, top notch, pro gear just to chimp out on what connects it all! Does it matter when it comes to your sound? Some will argue no, a cable is a cable!
Here we will (in a condensed form) dig into why more expensive, “premium” cables do in fact affect your tone.
I saw an analogy on another site that says this -
“Take a really expensive high-performance car and then buy the cheapest tires on the market for it. Although it doesn’t lessen the quality of the car itself, our cheap tires limit our ability to enjoy everything the car has to offer. If we could just invest a little more to get high-quality tires, the car would drive like a dream and function to its full potential.”
The same thing applies to our gear and cables.
We will now talk about the main aspects of high-quality cables, first up is CAPACITANCE. What is Capacitance?
In high-quality cables, you will find lower capacitance. What does that mean?
noun: capacitance; plural noun: capacitances
1. the ability of a system to store an electric charge.
2. the ratio of the change in an electric charge in a system to the corresponding change in its electric potential.
The truth is that most instrument cables do sound different, but not because of their high price or other claims made in marketing campaigns. The interaction of cable resistance, inductance and capacitance with the pickups circuitry and output impedance and everything else within the chain will differ with each cable brand and have some influence on overall tone the discerning professional should not quickly dismiss.
For guitars using active pick ups, capacitance is less of a concern because the active electronics create a low output impedance that won't roll off high frequencies and can drive longer cables.
Most pick-ups are comprised of high impedance circuits driven mainly by voltage, or a small amount of electrical current flow. That is why handling noise can be a problem for guitar cables. Microphonic noise is caused by the low level voltage generated when a cable is flexed, stepped on, etc. Guitar cables must be designed to prevent this, so a conductive PVC layer is placed under the shield conductor to drain away this voltage.
Hyperdrive Instrument Cable capacitance (at 1kHz): 130pF/m (39.7pF/Ft)
SquarePlug SP600 Right Angle Connector
- Ultra–low–profile connector for highest packing density
- Serviceable, all–metal plug designed to snug–fit small diameter cablesfor optimum strain relief and improved EMI protection
SquarePlug SPS6M Straight Connector
- SPS is the shortest soldered 1/4" connector with strain relief made to date.
- You can safely hold the cable and pull it from whatever socket it's plugged in with zero risk of harming the cable or the solder joints.
Shape, finish and physical dimensions:
- The handle of the SPS has been carefully designed to be functional and elegant
- A circular groove allows to hold the plug to patch it or un-patch it effortlessly despite its compactness. Additional grip can also be obtained by holding the plug right where the screw heads and the groove intersect.
- A matte Ni finish gives the SPS a professional look and feel