Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016-09-18 Cables! oh-Snap.

Greetings Cork-Sniffers and Fellow Tone Hunting Extraordinaire 

Do I spend $10 or $50?!?!?! This one has gold! This one has a warranty! OMGZZZ!

The answer? None of the above.

This topic is heavily debated, and to be honest is mostly bullshit and/or marketing.

If I spend $50 on this Monster or Moogami is it going to give me better tone? In short, No. but there are a few variables. The warranty is one aspect. The durability is another. The ability to do you're own repairs (OK, it matters if you can solder).

What does a cable do? and what is it made of? 

A guitar cable, also known as instrument cable, is a two conductor (think two wire) cable that has a 'TS' plug, They are similar to what a headphone jack looks like (except a headphone jack is smaller and has an extra wire), you get the point. TS means "tip-sleeve" the tip (inner wire) is the 'hot' and the 'sleeve' is the ground (shielding). Typically the shielding is braided around the inner wire. In most every case a decent cable is oxygen free copper, and the jacket is some form of ABS or PVC plastic.

Copper is not the best conductor, so why do we use it?

That is because of cost of material, and tarnishing of silver (everybody has seen an old silver dinner platter) and becomes less conductive, and diminished performance. Copper also oxidizes more than gold. NOW! That is why we use gold plated ends. Why do we? I have not a damn clue. It is a sales gimmick, I call bullshit on the audio industry. Does it do any harm? No.

Why don't you run ten thousand feet of cable? The answer is capacitance, and the way it can interact with the resistance. I will cover that another day.

Cables have two main components that affect performance, cable (surprising, isn't it), and jacks.

The good thing about a typical garden-variety cable is that they are easily repairable, just two solder joints. That is if you can solder (it isn't hard and any self-respecting guitarist should learn). 

BUT I have this warranty so they will replace it right? 

Yeah, if you go the store and if they have one. It's a hassle. If you have a music store down the street that does, great, good for you. I don't feel like wasting an hour on the road to get one cable swapped (and gas too, I guess). 

So what do I do? A little bit of everything. I bought a TON of Monster cables a long time ago when they were half off ($25 isn't bad for ten years and the warranty). But I make a lot of cables.

There are two brands jacks worth considering, Switchraft (my preference) and Neutrik (good as well). They will set you back a couple of bucks a jack, but they will last forever. As far as cable, I use (hey guys, I could use a kickback here), They are very well priced and they are cheap in bulk. Their cable out-specs Monster, Moogami and [some] Canare and is priced at just over $.50/foot in bulk.

The Verdict-

Cheap shitty cables have weaker ends and are less reliable, in my book, a no-go. Mid range cables the ends will fail first. Expensive cables are expensive, but are generally extremely reliable (especially how Monster casts theirs in a resin around the plug). Cheap cables also have more 'memory' which is a huge pain in the ass, it doesn't like to lay out flat and coil up worse. I have never had a cable I made fail. if it does, I can fix it in two minutes. THAT is what I do. That is the rant!

Keep on playing and I will keep on bitching!

Cheers, Trashed. 

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