I'd just like to know what good info you all have on instrument cable..
I was thinking there must be a good place to order some good off the reel cable and right angle plugs to DIY. That's what I'd like to do but have not had time to research much.
I'd like to make a couple appro. 3' maybe 3.5' pedal to amp cables & a couple 18"er so pedal to pedal patch cables.
I know the plug just needs to be built well and the cable needs a good shield. I don't beleive in the gold plate hype type stuff, so I don't need cooksniff stuff. lol :)I just Want some real world stuff that works well.
If there are some good pre-made cables that don't cost 3 legs and 1 arm I'd love to hear about them too. I have a 20% off code at musiansfriend
Anyway guys I just got to hear what you all can tell me about cables.
I'm married to nurse Ratchet, so excuse me if I sound confused & crazy.
The thread contains some "link-backs" to prior discussions of the sort.
Essentially, for guitar cables (and not for speaker cables!), you want a good braided shield. The cheap stuff has a metallicized plastic wrap, not as good and hard to work with.
And the big issue- the capacitance, per foot. This is the stat you need to know, and one which few manufacturers will disclose. Lower is better. In the linked thread above, ChrisK mentions that 20pf per ft. is good.
DIY cables are a good way to save money, particularly for applications where not much stress will be applied to the plugs or connections, such as between pedals.
I buy the molded-end ones, and when they fail, as they always do eventually, I snip off the bad end and rewire it with a metal jack.
I haven't done my own price comparison lately, but this question comes up over on the TapeOp board every so often. That's usually in the context of studio wiring, but it's not that far off from what you're talking about.
The consensus over there is usually that the cost benefit is minimal. Once you've purchased decent connectors and cable, and then if you value your time at all, it starts to get pretty close.
If you really need practice soldering and have the time to put into it, it's not likely to be more expensive than just buying pre-made cable. On the other hand, you could spend that time playing your guitar!
Like newey said, the big issue is capacitance. After the first active stage (the first non-true bypass pedal) it's not quite so much critical, but it's worth getting good cable anyway.
And that leads to a question I've had for a little while: How to get a fairly accurate idea of the crapacitance of a cable I already own? Is it just a matter of measuring between the tip and sleeve of the plug? Should I put one probe on the tip on one end and the sleeve on the other end? Should the cable be terminated?
How to get a fairly accurate idea of the crapacitance of a cable I already own?
Got to have an LCR meter, for starters. I don't know, but my inclination would be to check tip to tip, and sleeve to sleeve, and then average the results.
I don't have any justification for that technique, mind you, other than a gut feeling. Seems to me that if you terminate it and measure tip to sleeve, you'd be doubling the reading. But, OTOH, since the signal goes both ways, maybe that's the reading that matters.
In a nutshell, there's the proper way to do it, which is patented! (No, really! Don't ask, I dunno either.) And then there's the quick and dirty way, which is pretty close for our needs.
First, if you want to know the capacitance of an entire guitar cable, then leave the plug ends on. If you're after the "per foot" number, then it'd be nice to remove the plug ends, as they don't help any.
Next, lay the cable out as straight as possible, no coiling at all, and as few bends as you can manage.
Third, no termination - the cable must be open.
Fourth, connect your meter to one end of the cable, center and shield, and leave the other end completely untouched.
Lastly, make sure your meter is somewhat calibrated. It will be producing a given frequency (or a band/spectrum of them), and it's nice to know that your meter is better than the cable you're testing.
Measuring the cable will give you a reading for the entire length. If you are just comparing cables, then this a good number, particularly if the plugs are installed - it's kinda hard to use the cable without 'em. If you want to know the "per foot" number, simply divide the reading by the measured length, and there you have it.
More in-depth details and technical analyses can be found via Google, look for "measuring transmission line parameters". But for the most part, I'd say that searching on "measure cable capacitance" will probably get you more of what I just said above.
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Thanks SG. I figured that would get a "close enough" reading, but haven't ever tried and wasn't sure. Never would have occured to me that it should be laid out perfectly straight, but I can see how coils and loops could alter the readings. OTOH, it's not likely to be out perfectly straight in practice. Depending on what kind of reading you're trying to get...
newey - the cable crapacitance that we worry about is that between the shield braid and the center conductor, from tip to shield on the plug. This is like a capacitor between the signal hot and signal return, in parallel with the pickup, just like the Tone control's cap. I've never heard anybody talk about series capacitance in a cable.
Resistance is worth checking too, if testing an unknown cable (of which I have hundreds). Check both series (low is good) and parallel (low is bad) resistance.
I remember every little thing...as if it happened only yesterday. I was barely seventeen, and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar. I don't remember if it was a telecaster or a stratocaster, But I do remember that it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel.
Never would have occured to me that it should be laid out perfectly straight, but I can see how coils and loops could alter the readings. OTOH, it's not likely to be out perfectly straight in practice.
True, but then again, if you're comparing two (or more) cables, then trying to get them coiled/bent exactly the same way is even harder, no?
And yes, all laboratory conditions are out the window when the player takes the stage. (Sorta like Murphy's Law about "Any Plan will always fail upon contact with the enemy".) But again, we're looking for an easy way to choose the cable most likely to sound better on stage, and this "lab method" of measurement is one that we can duplicate time and again, as needed.
Yes, that's exactly half the reason to install a buffer, to overcome cable crapacitance. The other half being a louder output, when desired.
I use all self-made cables, made from standard instrument cable from the electronics shops - nothing special, but works fine.
On guitars with passive output, I use 3m to the amp, or the first non true-bypass stomp box (or modeller or tuner). After that, it makes no difference how long the cable is, but if that first cable is longer, say 6m instead of 3m, I can hear the sound getting duller.
But on guitars with a buffered output, I can run straight into any length of cable, with no tone loss.