Solid Core vs Stranded?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Nolatone Ampworks, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Nolatone Ampworks

    Nolatone Ampworks Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi folks,

    Actually a couple of questions:

    First, if building amps from scratch (no kit with wire supplied), what guages and types of wire should be on hand, and for what uses?

    Second, wrt hookup wire, is there a difference in performance/tone between solid core wire and stranded? What do you all prefer and why?

    Thanks,

    Paul
     
  2. Trout

    Trout Member

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    Hey, add braided to the mix.
    I just got a roll of Alpha brand hook up wire that is braided stranded wire. It is tightly braided and strips without fraying. Seems no more or less flexible but it sure seems easier to use than the old stranded stuff did.
     
  3. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    I use 20 gauge solid throughout.When it's above 50 watts or has 4 power tubes,I use 18 gauge for heater wires.
    Solid core wire stays here you put it,thats the only reason I use it over stranded.
     
  4. Laird_Williams

    Laird_Williams Member

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    That's all well and good -and if you get a sufficient guage solid wire then there should be NO issues -

    But -- current travels over the SURFACE of a metal, so the more surface area the lower the impedence. This is why AC ("telephone pole") power transformers are wound with hollow tubes - so there is surface on both the inside and outside of the "wire" and more current can be carried.

    The net is that current-carrying capacity of stranded wire generally greatly exceeds that of solid wire of the same guage. Increase the guage of the solid you use to compensate if you are in a circuit where wire impedence is a potentially-significant issue.
     
  5. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    22 guage wire is fine for any tube guitar amp wiring except heater wiring which should be at least 20 guage. Another important issue is the voltage rating of the wire's insulation...so, in a tube guitar amp, you'd want to use wire that's rated at least 600 volts. Dave Allen, of Allen amps, sells a wire package with enough wire, of the proper specs, to wire a typical tube amp for $10 (but has a $50 minimum order). Teflon insulated, silver plated wire is also available at various vendors but is fairly expensive.

    At audio frequencies, theoretically, stranded or solid conductor wire shouldn't make any difference. However, the late Ken Fischer of Trainwreck amps made a claim that stranded wire causes a phase shift between upper and lower audio frequencies and thus recommended solid conductor wire for guitar amp wiring. Us mere mortals probably wouldn't be able to hear the tonal difference though and solid conductor wire is generally easier to work with.
     
  6. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    Well the next time I build a telephone system I'll switch to stranded wire.
    In the meantime,I'll continue usin solid core.:)
     
  7. Nolatone Ampworks

    Nolatone Ampworks Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm tickled to death that solid core is considered acceptable! I REALLY enjoy not having to tin leads, deal with bird caging, etc!
     
  8. trower

    trower Silver Supporting Member

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    excuse my ignorance but most, if not all power cable is stranded, is this just because it's flexible?
     
  9. hunkowood

    hunkowood Member

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    All wire is measured in circular mils regardless of construction.12 gu stranded has the same ampacity as solid.Use whatever is easiest for the app.

    Hunk
     
  10. Structo

    Structo Member

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    I like the stranded teflon the best.
    Why?
    Because during a build you invariably move wires around and a solid core wire can only be bent so many times before it breaks.
    I recall a build I did with solid wire and after opening up the chassis several times to tweak components for tonal changes I had some weird symptoms show up to haunt me.

    I had a hell of a time tracing down the culprit which turned out to be a wire that had broken but made intermittent contact and was not visible because the insulation was covering the break.

    Sure stranded wire can break as well from repeated bending but is far more durable than the solid.

    The plus side to using teflon wire is a soldering iron won't melt the jacket.
    And on shielded cable you won't be melting the inner jacket from too much heat on the braid.
    I can be difficult to strip teflon wire and I find a very sharp knife or razor knife can give good results if you are careful.
     
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  11. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    I agree about teflon,but I have never hd an issue with solid core wire breaking unless it was nicked when stripped.Cheap quality solid core wire is a different story.Use quality brand-name wire and those problems don't exist.Rat shack wire is NOT good quality.NEVER,EVER STRIP WIRE WITH A KNIFE!No wonder it breaks.Thats' just silly.
     
  12. alltone

    alltone Member

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  13. booj

    booj Member

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    Fender used solid core wire with the fiberboard layouts. I hear some of them are still working.
     
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  14. jalexquijano

    jalexquijano Member

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    i have a Fender Red knob twin and would like to know if i can use radio shack hook up 22 gauge 300v solid core wire rated 300v as fly wires from the 6l6 power tubes and 12ax7 to the pcb.
     
  15. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Solid core is easy to use because you just push back the cover. But there are many very bad types out there that fray into looking like a paint brush right away. Get solid core from Marsh Amps it's like the old stuff. I use all 20 gauge. I have used stranded wire and see no problem with it. I bought tinned stranded wire, plastic cover. Tinned is often used the marine environment.
    My experience with teflon lined wire has not been good. The teflon sleeve doesnt strip clean and you end up pulling it etc.... or cut into the core trying to strip it.
     
  16. Steppin' Wolfe

    Steppin' Wolfe Member

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    Swiv, would you advocate using solid core wire on this REd KNob Twin PCB amp knowing that in the future those boards might have to be pulled?
     
  17. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Not too sure, I'd have to see it. Cant remember... though I had a Red Knob twin. One thing though, I think solid core is easier to remove/reinstall compared with stranded right? And easier to get into small holes in PCB than stranded. Just curious though, why does the board need to be removed in the future.. you mean for repair on the under side? Maybe the stranded for flexibility though... is that what you are thinking?
     
  18. Steppin' Wolfe

    Steppin' Wolfe Member

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    That amp has a front PCB for the jacks and controls. IF one has to replace pots....as I have had to do before....then those wires will be bent during that process. And...yes....to lift the main board, those wires will be bent.
    I agree that solid wire of the right gauge might be more user-friendly going into those holes in the PCB's. To be frank, although I have worked on these amps, I have never investigated the type of wire that was used. I just know that it is a lot of fun to pull that front board to replace pots. those pots stick out a bit and tend to get broken off....they are plastic shafts, iirc. I just looked at a much more modern FEnder amp with some wiring between boards and components....stranded. Large or small wire...it was all stranded.
    With an open chassis in front of one, one ne could also investigate on this Red Knob what Fender used back then......my money is on stranded.
     
  19. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Yeah, I remember that control pot/PCB nightmare. I hate those setups in other amps as well. Solid can break, but my way of thinking it takes a number of bends to do so. But there is nothing wrong with stranded wire.
     
  20. Steppin' Wolfe

    Steppin' Wolfe Member

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    I have had wires break right at the solder joint on these PCB amps.....it probably wouldn't matter whether the wire were stranded or solid in such a case, right. The solder made the stranded wire stiff right outside of the joint.....and it broke.
     

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