How important are cables?

Ron Kirn

Member
Messages
7,105
I first learned I could hear a distinct change in clarity when I tried GeorgeL's.

qualities like Clarity.,, Articulation, that "cut through the mix feature" are all characteristic of the higher frequencies... the very thing a high capicatance cable can diminish.. George's L are among the lowest capacitance available.. That "clarity" is the bonus resulting from such low capicatance.
 
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Messages
16,245
How important is the fuel line in your automobile?
You could have the best fuel there is, but if the 'transportation' to the engine is crapola, you're gonna get crapola performance.

I have direct experience with this, was almost stuck on the freeway in Bangkok in a diesel truck with a clogged fuel-filter.
Even after I got it started again, it was balking like a wild mare in heat!
 

Presc

Member
Messages
1,354
Let's put it this way - capacitance DOES create a tangible impact on sound (interesting, I've found some of my guitars are more impacted than others). Whether you feel the need to address it and how you do so is a separate matter.
 

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,495
In general, the biggest issue is capacitance. Longer cable runs and higher capacitance cables will generally bleed off treble in your guitar. The difference is noticeable but not profound. You can convince yourself of the difference by A/Bing a very short cable with a very long cable of relatively low quality. I can hear some treble bleed off when I plug in through my pedalboard vs. straight into the amp.

Unlike the high fidelity world, however, we electric guitarists molest the signal of our guitars at pretty much every point in the signal path. Things get EQed/distorted by pedals, amps, tubes, speakers from the moment we pluck a string . . . so I wouldn't sweat the cable quality TOO much. I do have some nice Vovox cables that I like (mostly because they coil nicely and have relatively low capacitance), but I wouldn't go diving down the hifi path of unobtanium cables that costs hundred/thousands of dollars because you aren't really preserving the purity of the original signal quite in the same way you would in a hifi system. In fact, the amp bleeds off a lot of signal from the guitar that you definitely would not want to hear.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,970
Keep in mind that if your cable run is about 15' or less, even a high capacitance cable will perform about the same as a low capacitance cable. 20' will make a difference albeit small and probably not to important on the bandstand. 20' to the pedal board and 20' to the amp? Might want to check cable capacitance.

And the other side of the coin, I like George L and used em for my main cables for years. But I finally got tired of the crappy way they coil and lay on stage. So I moved to another type that is close but has slightly higher capacitance. Worth it for improved behavior laying on the bandstand.
 
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Guyotron

Member
Messages
98
A few decades ago, I got sucked into the whole Monster debacle. Still have them, and have never failed me. But even I thought the signal direction was ridiculous. They did sound better than the generic cables that get thrown in with various purchases, and those cheap cables have failed me. I'm pretty cable agnostic, though: Planet Waves, Fender, whatever, as long as they're quiet.
 

Supercubziggy

Member
Messages
861
Cables make a difference for me absolutely. In tone and feel. Havent used anything but Van Den Hul, or Evidence for at least 10 years. If you are using a Two Rock i would absolutely buy good cables. If its a Pod XT maybe not so much. If in doubt do this. Buy a 15 foot Evidence audio Lyric HG off Amazon from Geistnote. Check it out when you get it. If you dont hear a difference, or if the difference isnt significant to you, then return it for a full refund. Even better yet, let us know how it goes. That way you can decide for yourself.
 

ClickClack

Member
Messages
612
nope, more like Dog Breath Variations ... :p

Rhino
Big tip o'the hat to you, Prof. Rhino, for mentioning one of my earliest favorite compositions by the late Mr. Zappa. Here's a nice clip of it being performed live in 1992 by the amazing Ensemble Modern along with the "Uncle Meat" theme in the "Dog Meat Medley" that FZ composed & arranged:



And for those who might recoil in horror and confusion from orchestral music, here's a live rock version (sadly, audio only) from one of his early to mid-1970s lineups with George Duke on keyboards, Ruth Underwood and FZ himself on tuned & other percussion, & Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax & vocals:

 

theonemanband

Member
Messages
69
I have never understood people buying expensive, top quality guitars, amps and fx pedals, and then linking them together with cheap cables. Cables are potentially the weakest link in the chain, so to me it makes sense to buy the best you can afford.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,422
Line 6 and Boss make awesome wireless units, not the mention the cheaps on Amazon for $40. Those things murdered the premium cable market. Or they should have.
 

fingertip

Squier to the Grand Funk
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
589
I replaced an old and cheap cable with a much nicer new one (Christmas gift) and some faint background noise disappeared.
 

Dashface

Member
Messages
5,511
Well, you know... I used to pooh-pooh at using fancy cables, but I'll tell you right here and now that ever since I switched to 100% Evidence Audio cables my tone has truly improved. It was always good, but I like it better now.

Now, I know damn well that a lot of cable stuff is snake-oil - but I like the clearer sound from Evidence's stuff. I also like their company, their stellar customer service, and the look and feel of their product. It's expensive but it's great. Cannot recommend it enough.
 
Messages
26
...and those that mistakenly bring experience in High Fidelity sound to the table.. fuggidaboudit.. the guitar amp is the determinative... if the frequencies cannot get past the amp then for all practical purposes, they do not exist...

Now if you will google Guitar amp speakers.. note the frequency response... they typically fall around a low of 50 Hz... to the high or 6000 Hz... ya throw those numbers out in a true high-fidelity shop and they would laugh ya out the door... But, that's the reality in the world of a guitar's voice...
To expand on this a bit: most of what we look for in terms of guitar tone doesn't come from equipment operating well. It comes from equipment operating badly.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
7,430
Big tip o'the hat to you, Prof. Rhino, for mentioning one of my earliest favorite compositions by the late Mr. Zappa. Here's a nice clip of it being performed live in 1992 by the amazing Ensemble Modern along with the "Uncle Meat" theme in the "Dog Meat Medley" that FZ composed & arranged:



And for those who might recoil in horror and confusion from orchestral music, here's a live rock version (sadly, audio only) from one of his early to mid-1970s lineups with George Duke on keyboards, Ruth Underwood and FZ himself on tuned & other percussion, & Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax & vocals:

lol, I grew up with that stuff starting @ age 9, in '70 ...
my best buddy's older brother was playing fiddle in a classical orchestra, he turned us kids on to Zappa, King Crimson, Tull, Camel and all the other creative bands of the early 70s ... :cool:
Willie The Pimp, Dinosaur Swamps and Schizoid Man all on one rainy afternoon ...

now don't blame me for being a little weird ! :dunno

thanks for these nice clips, they sure bring back memories !
Rhino
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
6,648
The way I see it, the cable I use should not be a tone shaper. It should be reliable and out of the way when I play. So I go for cables that are low capacitance while having good handling qualities, no handling noise and Neutrik or Switchcraft plugs so I know they will last at least at the connector end.

I use the Klotz La Grange cables, mainly because they are reasonably available in my country and have worked well for me. I just buy the longest I can find, cut it shorter and solder on some Neutrik plugs. Cheaper than buying several of them in shorter lengths.

They are quite low capacitance at 65 pF/m. That's lower than the ~98 pF/m of Evidence Audio, if the forum reports of the capacitance of their Lyric HG is true considering the company does not publish capacitance specs. Yet the Klotz is about $51 on Amazon while the Lyric is $119 at GC for a similar robust cable with Neutrik plugs.

The thing about expensive cables is that they are actually good cables. But they are also overpriced cables. The marketing is worth a laugh most of the time. But many of them are also sold with dubious claims that don't apply to audio frequency signals or don't apply to low level guitar pickup signals. You certainly won't have "warmer mids" or "more brilliant highs" or "more balanced lows" like some market their cables.

Of all the things to spend a lot of money on in guitar gear, cables are not it. Buy inexpensive low capacitance cables with good plugs or make your own.
 

TK LP

Member
Messages
465
I bought an amp from George Alessandro at the Philly guitar show some years back, and bought three of his cables as well. There was no doubt in my mind about the difference, they increased frequency response at both ends of the spectrum, and added clarity as well. I’ve had the cables at least ten years now, and they are holding up well. I guess given how long they’ve lasted, they probably aren’t really any more expensive to own than their less expensive counterparts.
 

Jabby92

Member
Messages
3,740
I get custom made cables made for me using the best cabling available and interestingly since the shop isn't a retailer, I get a pretty significant discount overall. They're the only cables I've bought that don't break or make any extra noise. That to me is worth the investment, I got really tired of replacing cheaper instrument cables after a year or 2 of use.
 




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