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Why are certain kinds of wire better than others?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by NoahL, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    I'm aware that some kinds of wire are superior to others inside a guitar. But why? What does braided vs. solid have to do with tone? What about the covering? Do electrons know that the covering is vintage-style cloth and not Radio Shack plastic? I guess I can understand that braided wire might have a different tone, given that those coiled guitar cables impart a more "vintage" tone than regular straight ones, and "scatter-wound" pickup windings supposedly affect tone. But why not just use cheap Radio Shack bulk wire in for pickups, pots, switches and jacks?
     
  2. DC1

    DC1 Member

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  3. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    Standard wiring inside guitars (mainly) uses single conductor wires; there is no capacitance.

    A few random points:

    1. Really thin, crappy wire will degrade your signal so replace it.

    2. Keep your wire runs short but don't go crazy. A little extra wire won't make much difference and you may need it longer than you think. You don't want any stress on the solder joints.

    3. Solid vs. multistrand? I think they both have perfectly good audio qualities but (I'm guessing here) I'll bet that braided wire gives longer-lasting, more stable and easier to make solder joints.

    4. Insulation? There's nothing wrong with plastic insulation other than the fact that you have to strip the ends which you don't have to do with cloth insulation. But I like cloth wiring because you can push it up, solder, then push it back down to (mostly) cover the joint. It's really clean and neat looking and it can help to avoid short circuits.

    5. Shielded wire? The shielding (a metal braid outside a layer of insulation) is supposed to prevent the internal conductor from picking up noise/interference. You don't need shielded wire inside a shielded cavity. Some people use it when running out of the cavity to the output jack (like on a strat). I read on Ron Kirn's website that he uses regular single-conductor wire for this, too. But he twists the signal and ground wires around each other on their way out to the jack. Clever.
    You certainly could use shielded wire for all the wiring but I don't think it will make any difference. And the capacitance won't matter at all UNLESS you ground the shielding braid. Do you do that?
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  4. DC1

    DC1 Member

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    There is always capacitance since there is a return and a dialectric.


    Guitars output about 20db less level than the +4 (1.228 VAC) that pro gear does, and W2944 console cable exhibits no loss with that. How would it degrade such a small signal?

    One simply does not need big wires for guitar signal, nor does it sound better. I have used this in many guitars and if it is changing anything, it is an improvement.



    It makes no difference.


    Here's a better way. Use a balanced wire (like the W2944 above) and use the 2 internal conductors for signal and return. Use the shield for shielding only and connect it at the output jack, but not at the pot shell.


    dc
     
  5. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Solid vs stranded wire... my understanding is that the flow of electrons happens only on the surface of the wire, and that multi-strand wire has much more surface area than a single solid strand... so multi-strand passes current more easily? I could be wrong....
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  6. DC1

    DC1 Member

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    This "skin effect" only happens at RF frequencies and is not a big issue in guitars. BTW, I use stranded because it is so much easier to work with.

    dc
     
  7. slartibartfast

    slartibartfast Member

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    I used to think single core was better, but after a while I thought theres maybe a foot of wire in the control cavity, maybe a kilometer in the pickups, another 10 foot at least in the cord, whatever in the pedals and associated patch cords, and then I got over it. Unless the wire you use is complete crap, or your soldering is the issue is a pipmle on the ass of a blue whale (to me). I now use cloth covered multi strand cause its nice to work with and more durable than mono. I get really sick of pulling my strats apart to fix wiring issues.
    Brett
     

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