You know what? The way guitar connects you to the music; likewise, a guitar cable links the guitar to other guitar equipment.
Guitar cable carries a signal containing analog information of the guitar’s tone. It is one of the most neglected gear. In reality, this is what makes a guitar sound incredible. A good guitar cable may not make you the best guitar player.
However, the wrong one can make your happening music session into a heartbreak moment. Regarding this, we’ve been getting a question repeatedly that what is the best guitar cable for the money?
Well, there is a range of options, from affordable to expensive ones. Not all may fit your style, sound, and, most importantly, budget. Some are excellent, while some are awful.
Don’t panic. We will narrow down your choice with our favorite and best picks. With years of experience, here we came with some of the best guitar cables in the market. Let’s get started!
In a hurry? Take a quick look at the comparison table on the best guitar cable.
The Top 5 Best Guitar Cable for the Money: Reviews of 2020
The following guitar cables are mostly-reviewed by professional guitarists and liked by beginners as well. We’ve tried each of them to test the value. Let’s briefly know more about the five best guitar cables.
The Framework of a Guitar Cable
A guitar cable is what carries the signal from the guitar to other devices, including the preamp, amplifier, tuner, and pedal. A good guitar cable should send the same signal coming out of the guitar.
The exterior design may vary with the material and manufacturing process. Yet, each cable has the following parts. Take a look.
The center part of the guitar cable is known as a conductor. It carries the signal or current from the instrument and enclosed by an insulation layer. Manufacturers mostly use “Oxygen-free copper” or “Liner-crystal copper” in the premium-quality cables.
Though there is a doubt that what improves the guitar’s performance! Any copper that is “purer” than standard copper offers cleaner signal and better conductivity. Conductors are available in three types, including;
- Stranded Conductors: The 26 or 41 strands of fine copper wires among 32-36 AWG are twisted together to form stranded conductors. Mostly 41 strands of 36AWG are the standard formula for premium cables and 26 strands of 34 AWG for general cables.
Standard conductors offer better flexibility, durability than a solid one. Some manufacturer uses tinned copper strands by dipping copper strands in molten tin.
- Solid Conductors: Solid conductor uses solid copper wires of 18-24 AWG at the center. These are more superior to stranded conductors. It has a significant tonal difference between solid and stranded conductors.
These conductors are prone to breakage, so not a durable option. If you are planning for a permanent studio, solid conductors are definitely the best option.
- Twisted Pair: When two different conductors are twisted together into a single circuit, it forms a twisted pair conductor. These conductors nullify electromagnetic interference from external sources.
A twisted pair conductor is a good option when noise is an issue. But, the downside is, these are not flexible like solid conductors and also too costly.
Insulation and Capacitance
The next layer to conductance is insulation, which contains the currents. A capacitor is needed while two current-carrying material separates from one another. The low the capacitance, the high the frequency response. The insulation part keeps it isolated from external noise.
Yet, most guitarists use high capacitance to enhance high-mid frequencies. The insulations are usually made from thermoplastic (polyethylene, PVC, FPE, polypropylene) and thermoset (rubber, neoprene, Hypalon, EPDM). However, high-density polypropylene made insulation cables are the most common and cheaper.
The semi-conducting barrier between a copper shield and insulation is known as an electrostatic shield. Static electricity can generate while the cable is bent or flexed. Then, an electrostatic shield discharges these charges. The electrostatic shields are crafted with either conductive PVC or Dacron.
- Conductive PVC is also known as carbon-loaded PVC. It is extruded and entirely covers the insulation. Relatively, it offers superior insulation and conductivity.
- Dacron is a carbon saturated material which also denotes as semi-conductive tape or noise-reducing tape. It is relatively thicker and less flexible than the Conductive PVC.
The outer copper shield of a cable denoted as an external shield. It acts as a return conductor and also a barrier to stop any interference from reaching the center. It comes in three types;
- Braided Shield: These have braided copper wires over all the layers. It offers about 97% coverage from interference, even when the cable is bent. Also, it efficiently blocks EMI and RFI and boosts the cable’s strength. However, these are less flexible and expensive as well.
- Spiral-Wrapped Shield: These include wrapped copper wires in a single direction. This cable provides more flexibility and a reliable option at a lower cost.
- Foil Shield: This type includes a thin layer of mylar-backed aluminum foil and a copper drain wire. Foil shield wire cables are prone to breakage, so not a good option.
The final layer or outer jacket is made with PVC, rubber, or neoprene. For added protection, some cable has a nylon braided layer above PVC outer jacket. However, it limits flexibility but protects the wire.
Things to look for in a Guitar Cable: Complete Buyer’s Guide
Indeed, all guitar cables have almost the same parts. Still, a lot of things differ in the good-quality cable from a poor-quality one. Whichever you choose, it will have a great impact on the sound quality and performance.
If you know what makes a guitar sounds good, it will be easier for you to get the best one. You may not need to know everything, still, take a look at what to look for in a guitar cable.
The first thing that should come to your mind that how long the cable is! Usually, a guitar cable doesn’t exceed 25ft length. With the extended range, it creates more noise.
In the case of a guitar cable, the shortest length provides the cleanest sound. You’ll undoubtedly get a noise-free sound with cables shorter than 12 feet and less. In a word, it should not be longer than you need; the quicker is better.
Then comes what are you going to use the guitar cable for? In a studio? On stage? Rehearsal room? Or at home? The requirement for guitar cable differs from situations.
While using the cable in the stage, it should be rugged with a great sound. There you may step on it, pull it, or jump on it. For use at home or rehearsal room or in a studio, only the quality of sound matters.
Quality of Connector:-
Each guitar cable requires a quality connector to send and receive the signal well. Most guitar cables use TS connectors. Guitar cables connectors are generally made of gold, nickel, or silver.
Most guitarists think gold-plated connectors are superior to others. Well, that’s because gold-plated connectors are less-corrosive and last for longer. Apart from that, there is no difference in tone and conductivity in three types.
Coiled vs. Straight; which one is good?:-
If you are looking at it for live performances, coiled cables are an excellent option. A 10ft coiled cable is actually a 30ft cable. Nonetheless, the longer cable degrades the tone, and it will get twisted, which are the downsides. Then, for use in the home studio, a straight cable is good enough.
If you are thinking of using it on the stage, you may need to run from one end to another. There you’ll need a wireless rig which sounds as reliable as regular guitar cables. But, those units are expensive. So if you are ready to break the bank, consider buying wireless rigs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does guitar cable make a difference?
Well, it depends on the pickups. If you use a guitar with active pickups, then the cable will make a little or negligible difference. That’s because of the low output impedance of active circuitry. Else if you use conventional passive pickups, then it makes a lot of differences.
2. Are GLS cables good?
To find the answer, we precisely test the GLS cables, and we already reviewed the cable above. What we liked most is its Picofarad rating. Picofarad rating makes the sound different in different cables. The low the rating, the better the sound quality.
Thankfully, GLS cables feature low 38 Picofarads per foot, which makes the cables the best choice. With the durable protective tweed jacket, it makes the cable durable and capable of enduring severe uses. Also, GLS cables are of good value for the price.
3. What size cable does a guitar use?
Guitar cables mostly come at a standard ¼” size, known as a mono connector. Most guitarist uses 6.3mm or ¼” mono connector to connect a guitar with an amplifier.
4. How long should a guitar cable be?
The guitar cable should be at least 15-20 feet so that you get the ease to move around. The guitarist also uses 40-50 feet of cables in the real-world for live performance in stages. However, it’s not a good idea to use unbalanced cables more than 25 feet. The cable under 20 feet is the right choice.
5. Can instrument cables be used as speaker cables?
Yes, you can use it with low signal levels. When you use an instrument cable as speaker cable at high signal levels, there would be a lot of glitches. The high amplifier power has to flow via cable’s small conductor.
When the high power converts to heats, the low conductor cannot even catch it. So, at the output, all you get is an extreme distortion or sometimes connector failure.
6. What are the best guitar cables to buy?
All our suggested guitar cables are the best option to buy. Apart from the list, we found Mogami Gold, Fender California-series, and Planet waves American-stage as the best cables.
Now that, you got a quick glance at some of the best guitar cable for the money. Whichever you pick, make sure to check the length and material more precisely.
If you have to choose high-end models that suit your style and budget, don’t give it a second thought. Expectedly, this complete guide helped you to learn a bit more about guitar cables.
Keep it connected and stay connected!