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What do you put between a high-end guitar and a high-end amp?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by trucks, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. trucks

    trucks Member

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    Tonight I used my first high-end cable. I just got a Tara Labs Spectrum cable from Lava Cable. I immediately heard the difference in tone compared to my old Canare. I can detect rather subtle tone differences, but this is obvious. As I A/B'd with the Canare, I detected a number of differences. My old Canares sound dull, dark and lifeless in comparison. The Tara Labs is very rich and clean sounding. It also has a bit more signal and sustain. There seems to be an elusive quality that I can only loosely describe as feeling like the signal is more direct or had a quicker response. The tone was more dynamic and transparent. The cleans were tremendously improved and the od was also much better.

    While carefully selecting which guitar, effects and amp I use, I ignored the impact of the cable on the signal path. All the time, I knew any type of cable is sensitive due to variations in capacitance, resistance and sheilding. Still, the most thought I put into guitar cables up to a couple of week ago was switching from Spectaflex to Canare and keeping them as short a possible. All the while believing the myth that the cables developed wear from coiling which caused them to crackle. This has been the sole reason I have replaced cables through the years. Actually, these inexpensive cables were not wearing out, but they are microphonic due to the construction and materials used. While some high-end cables can also be microphonic, the Tara Labs cable is dead quiet. Honestly, this was all I expected from a high-end cable and that would have been worth the cost difference alone to me.

    What happened a couple of weeks ago? I decided to get a new cable thinking my old noisy cables were worn out. I had read LavaMan's comments on the Sommer Spirit and the fact it was just a bit more expensive than the Canare so I headed over to the site to place an order. Once there, I started reading. I read enough to send me back to TGP and read some more. Then I was still confused so I contacted Mark asking for a recommendation. He has a high opinion of the Tara Labs so I went for it. It arrived today with a note that it was his first Tara Labs cable!

    Just a couple of comments on the physical characteristics of the Tara Labs cable. It is a larger diameter cable and makes my old Canare look like a string. The double-braided shield has a wrap going through it which I mistakenly thought was a printed design from the pictures (this is cooler). It is also a directional cable (my first). It is a bit stiff, but coils pretty well. The workmanship is all top notch.

    I'm not reluctant to post a review after just a few hours of playing because I do hear a difference. Yes, it is better! No, it is not microphonic!

    So why was I excited that Analysis Plus Clear Oval speaker wire was used in my Carr while I ignored my guitar cable? Why spend so much time on everything else in the signal path? Why do so much research on everything but my cables? I can't say other than I knew better and did nothing about it. Not a mistake I'll make again.

    BTW, my experience so far comes from plugging directly into the amp. I'm afraid my pedalboard may need those George L's replaced next. :rolleyes:
     
  2. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    -jm
     
  3. Tonemeister69

    Tonemeister69 Member

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    So when you replace those George L's shoot me a PM and we'll talk ;)
     
  4. drolling

    drolling Member

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    When you get into the nosebleed zone of cable pricing, like anything else, the law of diminishing returns kicks in, but I agree - a good cord can make a world of difference.

    I still remember when I first stepped up to something better than the cheapest stuff available - it was like pulling a blanket off the amp!!
     
  5. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Sometimes I like a blanket on the amp.

    There is one British guitarist who used to (may still do) record his NMV Marshall through a tunnel of Duvets to get his sounds.

    I don't want a too hifi sounding guitar amp. I like the sound when a cord knocks off a bit of very high end. What bugs me though are cords tieing themselves into knots and noisy cords.

    Best, Pete.
     
  6. trucks

    trucks Member

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    The Tara Labs is priced very well. Since over the years I quit using all my past cables because they were microphonic, I would have saved a lot of money if I had just invested in a good cable long ago. :jo
     
  7. Johnny Raz

    Johnny Raz Member

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    Where do you finde Tara Labs cables?
     
  8. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Great post.

    Regarding the above: What is the longest length you'd recommend. I checked the link, and 10' seems short for stage work. Do you think 15' is an issue?

    stratzrus
     
  9. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    High end rolloff is not so much of a problem on cheap cords, it's the midrange spike that some have, coupled with the high end rolloff that me them unsatisfactory. If you're using $5,000 or more amp and guitar set why use a $20 cable?
     
  10. trucks

    trucks Member

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    Thank you! I don't think 15' (or longer) would be an issue, but send Mark (LavaMan) an email. He will definitely get back to you quickly. The longer lengths are listed on the right hand side of the page.

    Gary
     
  11. Jacobpaul81

    Jacobpaul81 Member

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    I had a snippy, cork sniffer comment all laid out for the title of this post, then read it. Well said. Excellent comment
     
  12. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

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    Excuse me if this is an uneducated question, but...

    I thought George L's were supposed to be pretty good?

    Is the cable effect as significant after a buffer?
     
  13. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

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    Pedals and some cables :D

    Sorry.
     
  14. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    What is a microphonic cable?
     
  15. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

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    If you tap on the outside of the cable, it makes noise out through your amp.
     
  16. trucks

    trucks Member

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    A cable that exhibits noise like crackles and pops. There is an excellent description of this phenomena at http://www.lavacable.com/cable_101.htm
     
  17. trucks

    trucks Member

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    No, don't apologize. The title was meant to have some fun with. Of course, your comment was not too far off from what I use to do except I put thought into which pedals. :AOK
     
  18. Patrick Ginnaty

    Patrick Ginnaty Member

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    I was gonna say something until I realized that none of my gear is particularly "high end".
     
  19. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    A cable is part of the tone chain and should be treated as such. If the $20 cable floats my boat, I'll use it every time.....even if I'm playing a real '59 Les Paul into a real Dumble amp ;). SRV used coiled Radio Shack cords and he seemed to do ok....and they probably cost less than $20 :eek:. When it comes to tone though, there's no right or wrong....but what sounds good to YOU.
     

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