So tell me about cables....

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by BigED, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. BigED

    BigED Member

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    I like to understand the how and why of things. This way I can tell if making a change is going to make a difference. I’d like someone to clarify a few things on guitar cables.

    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Is a chain of cables only as strong as its weakest link, or does each cable degrade the signal a little more? Let’s say you have a chain of 10 cables between your guitar and you amp (with pedals in between). Is statement A or B true?

    A.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]A signal chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. i.e. if 9 of the cables are super high quality, with 1 low quality cable, the low quality will completely ruin the end signal, rendering all of the other high quality cables pointless.

    B.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The chain signal quality is based on factoring in each and every cable’s quality. So having 9 cables with 0% loss (not possible, but lets consider it for mathematical purposes) and 1 cable with 10% quality loss will yield a signal chain with 90% quality (1.00 * 1.00 *, … , * 1.00 * 0.90). Likewise, using 10 cables in the chain, each with 10% quality will yield 0.90 * 0.90 * 0.90, etc (0.90 to the 10th power) = 34.8% quality in the end. (Thus proving the use of at least some high quality cables purposeful.)

    To put it another way, does having one bad link in your chain make all of the good links irrelevant? Let’s say my signal chain goes through nothing but high quality pedals and cables, but I start out with a wireless system. I’ve heard people argue good and bad things about my wireless (Samson Airline), but it obviously has to introduce some sort of degradation into the signal. By using wireless (obviously the weakest link) did I just ruin everything and make it pointless to use high quality cables, or am I benefitting from the high quality cables because at least after the wireless, I know my signal won’t really suffer much more degradation?

    So basically I’m asking does one so-so quality cable or a wireless system blow the whole signal chain even if everything else is high quality?
     
  2. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    Yes, one so-so cable, effect, tube, etc... will ruin the whole chain. Think about your drain in your sink. You have nine 3" pipes but in the middle a reducer that goes down to a 1" pipe. Where do you think the water is going to clog up when you pull the drain plug? You guessed it, at the 1" pipe. Equate that 1" pipe to your one crappy cable and the same thing is happening to your signal on the way to the amp.

    The more effects, wires, etc... you run through, typically the more signal attenuation you have. Nothing is 100% efficient, so each jump through a jack is gonna lose some signal.

    Summary: Yes, if you're using a crappy wireless or cable anywhere in your input chain, you could be running through ancient mayan gold cables the rest of the way and still have a crappy sound.
     
  3. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    i tend to use different cables to get to what i want, some are too trebly, others are like blankets, i try to avoid both and use different flavors in different places.

    No one cable won't determine the whole chain, it will change the quality in sound, but won't kill it completely
     
  4. Brien

    Brien Member

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    This is not entirely true. The length and quality of the cable will have less affect on the overall tone after the first buffer in the chain. Doesn't mean it doesn't matter, just not as much.
     
  5. BigED

    BigED Member

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    Why not just use the brightest cable and then turn down the tone knob on your guitar or the treble knob on your amp?
     
  6. m@2

    m@2 Member

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    i think using a switcher (like a loopmaster) can maybe help, by keeping unused pedals out of the signal chain. that's what i do at least (I have a 6 channel loopmaster), so I don't have to worry as much about EVERY cable being top notch. I just bypass anything not in use.
     

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