If you think that guitar cables don´t play a role in enhancing the tone of your guitar, you should remove that train of thought instantly. You should understand what it is about guitar cables that help improve the guitar tone. Also popularly referred to as an instrument cable, a guitar cable basically connects the guitar to an amplifier.
You can read more how to fix a broken guitar string here.
What does a guitar cable consist of?
A guitar cable generally comprises of 5 parts and they are:
- Outer Jacket – The outer jacket provides a protective layer to all the parts located internally.
- Electrostatic shield – The electrostatic shield helps decrease the handling noise that is generally produced by compressed and flexed cables.
- Braided copper shield – The braided copper shield shields the inside components from outside intercession.
- Center conductor – The center conductor transfers the audio signal through the current.
- Insulation – Insulation helps keep the current at bay, preventing the electric charge from affecting the other parts.
What features of a guitar cable enhance the guitar tone?
Materials used to form the conductor
According to reliable sources, conductors of guitar cables that boast of oxygen-free copper and linear-crystal copper relatively produce better sound than the standard copper that most standard conductors possess. It is because the oxygen-free copper and liner-crystal copper conductors are purer, therefore, offering cleaner signal because of better conductivity.
Different types of shield offered
Unlike microphone cables, guitar cables generally don’t feature noise cancellation abilities, therefore, making them susceptible to interference from radio signals and other equipment. However, there are shields installed to shield the instrument cables and they are braided shielding, foil shielding and serve shielding. Braided shielding is the most expensive and reliable out of the lot. Serve shielding is relatively cheaper and provides better flexibility. Foil Shielding is the least expensive; however, you get what you pay for and foil shielding provides lesser shield in comparison.
Design of the conductor
A conductor generally boasts of 2 different designs—solid conductors and stranded conductors. The solid conductor is the cheaper alternative; however, it is prone to breaking easily. On the plus side, it is simpler to solder. On the other hand, we have the more expensive stranded conductor that is more flexible and durable than the aforementioned design.
The longer the guitar cable, the noisier the guitar sounds. Hence, you will rarely come across guitar cables longer than 25 feet. In addition to that, a longer cable would also mean that the signal-to-noise ratio is poorer, meaning it would take longer for the signal to reach the amplifier, therefore, decreasing the quality.
When acquiring a guitar cable, it is imperative for you to check the connecting ends of the cable and identify if they are durable. The most strain is usually put on the connecting ends because of the constant plugging in and removal of the guitar cable. Some of the brands that manufacture great guitar cables with durable connecting ends include Amphenol, Switchcraft, G&L, and Neutrik etc.
Inexpensive guitar cables can be identified easily. When they´re removed, they produce irritating, crackling noise. This usually takes place because of the friction that occurs between the copper shield and the insulation, which is, static electricity. More expensive guitar cables enjoy the benefits of electrostatic shields which prevent the production of the irritating, crackling noise. The electrostatic shields are generally made of two materials—Conductive PVC and Dacron. Dacron is a type of tape that assists in the reduction of noise. Conductive PVC is regarded as the better option because it offers better flexibility and is thinner.