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Durable good sounding cords? price difference mean much?  

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(@rollnrock89)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 344
31/12/2004 5:09 am  

Both of my 2 cords have kicked the bucket, they are always crackling, buzzing, or simply not transmitting the sound to my amp. If i wiggle it around in the jack something different happens. So I've decided to get 2 new cords, one 20' and the other 5-10'. I see that musicians friend has a wide price range 5 bucks all the way up to $150 (!!!?!?!?! for a 20' cord, hell no!). My question is that do more expensive cords sound alot better than 5 dollar cords? Sure I imagine their more rugged, but do they sound better?
I really like the price of these:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/base_pid/330077/

Reading the reviews of these, they sound like they are great:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/base_pid/336004/

they have the little on/off switch, but i don't really need that. All the reviews said that these made their sound better. total garbage or is it true?

Thanks, I'm kinda confused, all i want is something that sounds good, doesn't cost too much, and won't break on me within a year.

edit-just found this:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/base_pid/330075/
looks like a great bang for the buck, reviews are good, and its very cheap, your thoughts?

The first time I heard a Beatles song was "Let It Be." Some little kid was singing along with it: "Let it pee, let it pee" and pretending he was taking a leak. Hey, that's what happened, OK?-some guy


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4931
31/12/2004 10:21 am  

It depends... I spent some time researching cables in the BC (before children) days when I was questing for the perfect home audio sound.

Cables carry electrical signal by passing electrons from one copper molecule to the next. It's like a bucket brigade - if a fire fighter drops out of the line, not so many buckets go through, and you get less sound. So to start with, you want good copper. It's not just copper with lack of impurities (that 'oxygen free' phrase I see in the pages you posted), it's also the casting of the rods and the drawing method of the wire.

Oxygen free is actually false - the copper that's smelted has impurities like sulpher and hydrogen in it. When it gets heated, the copper expands, and then it shrinks when it's cooled - this can make bubbles. Oxygen is deliberately added to the process to form gasses with these impurities (so the gass will bubble out of the mix), and some remains - high quality copper has about 200 parts per million oxygen; OFHC - oxygen free high conductivity copper - has about 40 parts per million. But 'reasonably low oxygen content' doesn't sound as good for marketing, I guess.

Copper molecules has a 'grain' to it from these remaining pieces of oxygen, and you want as few grains as possible. You want this (one grain):

----------

and sometimes you get this (five grains):

----////----\\---

with breaks in between for impurities, surface damage from drawing, etc. The signal jumps the gap between grains, but that takes energy, making less available to go into the amp.

Different methods of wire production result in different grain purities. OFHC copper that's drawn has about 400 grains per foot. A continuous casting process like OCC can have as few as one grain per 700 feet - that's 280,000 times 'better' than drawn, even though both have the same basic material. If you really want the best, you can drop $1,000 on a pair of audio speaker cables with [url= http://www.acousticzen.com/interconnects.html ]Acoustic Zen[url].

Now for the practical part: unlike my home stereo, guitar cords get moved around - a lot! Strain relief is critical to cords. Perfect wire won't do any good if you break the solder joint. Poor grounding will damage sound more than good cables will fix it. And copper, like all metals, becomes brittle when it's repeatedly flexed.

The sound you get is a function of the weakest link in your chain. If your amp isn't properly grounded, fixing that will do a lot more than better cables. Handling your cables with care (coiling them carefully, not stepping on them, not yanking them out of connections) will keep them in good shape. I use medium price ($30-40) cables - cheap ones need to be replaced more often; I don't think high-end ones give me appreciably better sound - there are other weak links for conductivity in the chain (like my tube amp itself).

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5134
31/12/2004 11:01 am  

Radio Shack makes some very durable cables.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun. -- John Lennon


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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 653
31/12/2004 2:46 pm  

The guy who runs http://www.guitarnuts.com (he was an electrical engineer before he was a guitarist) has somthing on this.

Buy a cable with low capacitance, good sheild coverage, and is physically rugged. Don't buy into those low resistance sales pitches, that won't effect your sound in the slightest. Also, don't bother with gold plated plug heads. A guitar cable is going to be regularly plugged in and out, that gold will just wear off. Remember, phsyical ruggedness is an important factor. I'm not saying to buy the cheapest thing out there.

So, buy a cable described above and don't get rooked into buying those pricy oxygen free cables, ect.

-Metaellihead


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 hh83
(@hh83)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 52
31/12/2004 3:27 pm  

cable is the thing that affects your sound the least.
when you pay for a cable, quality is longevity, not sound.
(mostly. anyways)
the better sound is bs.
(mostly anyways)
when you buy a cable that is expensive, you get a better buildt cable
that has the cable well anchored inside, so it wont start to crack and buzz, because youve pulled the wire loose inside.
you allso pay a bit for good grade copper, but that is really not the biggest issue. buy an average quality cable, and be nice to it, that way you can buy a longer cable than if you bought the most expensive thing you can find.

BUT: buy a guitar cable, not just a cable with jacks. the sound is the same, buy guitar cables are often better insulated and more solid, so you can give it a pull and a yank without pulling the wire loose.

my enterpertation of the truth.

-henrik

Never call a shovel "an ingenious hole-digging instrument"


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(@rollnrock89)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 344
31/12/2004 3:47 pm  

Thanks guys, I see theres a lot of crap going around about how guitar cables can really affect your sound. Glad to hear its mostly false.
So if I take care of my cables, you guys think these would last me awhile?

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/base_pid/330075/

The first time I heard a Beatles song was "Let It Be." Some little kid was singing along with it: "Let it pee, let it pee" and pretending he was taking a leak. Hey, that's what happened, OK?-some guy


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 kab
(@kab)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 24
31/12/2004 8:14 pm  

The same "voodoo" is around a lot about speaker cables, mainly for home theater setups and such.

You can easily pay $100 per FOOT for high grade, "audiophile" speaker cable.

Does it make a difference? Unlikely... but Im sure psychologically, you can convince yourself you've heard a difference after you shelled out 5 grand to wire your living room ;)


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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 5470
31/12/2004 8:46 pm  

and one of my favorites, brass, bone or fossil bridge pins....

if it makes a difference it ain't much, adding mass to your top is generally a bad idea, and how anything past the saddle is supposed to make a difference in your sound I don't know.


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(@metaellihead)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 653
31/12/2004 9:14 pm  

and one of my favorites, brass, bone or fossil bridge pins....

if it makes a difference it ain't much, adding mass to your top is generally a bad idea, and how anything past the saddle is supposed to make a difference in your sound I don't know.

We're talking about instrument cables. :P

-Metaellihead


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(@tim_madsen)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 728
31/12/2004 11:41 pm  

I don't think you can go wrong with Monster cables, about $25 for a 21 footer. They are very well made (Guaranteed for life).

Tim MadsenNobody cares how much you know,until they know how much you care."What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away you keep forever." -Axel Munthe


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(@slothrob)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 477
01/01/2005 12:34 pm  

and one of my favorites, brass, bone or fossil bridge pins....

if it makes a difference it ain't much, adding mass to your top is generally a bad idea, and how anything past the saddle is supposed to make a difference in your sound I don't know.

Cables may not affecct your sound, but bad cables (sometimes meaning cheap cables) can be a big source of noise. I have one thin cable that came with a cheap guitar that is practically an antennae for buzzes.


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(@oldiron)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 111
02/01/2005 3:49 am  

One more thing.
I am a radar technician by trade so I know a little of where I speak.

Don't fall for the sales pitch made by a cable company who's name is synomious with a creacher that hides under childrens beds only to come out at night and eat them. What they say about conductivity is true at the frequencys used in radio broadcasting and radars but NOT at audio frequencys! Sterios, guitars, PA's all work at audio frequencys.

Strain relief is very important in a guitar cable. Try to find a cable that uses a two piece conector shell that is screwed together. Next is the spring that extends an inch and a half or so past the end of the connector.

After that it's sheilding in the cable. You want 95% or better shielding. A cable that isn't sheilded well will pick up a lot of noise from external sources. I just pitched a cable that wasn't sheilded well.

Gold plated tips, low oxygen copper, low resistance, ect. Good sales pitches but in the 10-20 feet of cable for a guitar the differences would require some very sophisticated labritory equipment to see any difference in signal transmision. A tough outer coating, good shielding & strain reliefs are what are important.

I may be going to hell in a bucket but at least I'm enjoying the ride. (Jerry Garcea)


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5058
02/01/2005 12:49 pm  

I have a lot of cables across the price range. Current least reliable: the Monster cable. Why? The fancy plug does not properly strain relieve the rather thick cable and the internal wire contact goes intermittent. Not gonna make that mistake twice.

As mentioned in above posts, generally low capacitance is good, as high capacitance rolls off (attenuates) higher frequencies.

Plain old vanilla Switchcraft 1/4 in. connectors work as well or better than most of the fancy new designs. Gold -- forget it; waste of money. Brass -- should be plated, as it oxidizes and goes intermittent (I have a number of old Whirlwind and Bill L cables w/solid brass plugs. All require periodic cleaning to properly operate the integrated on/off jack switching in my pedals). Resistance claims -- as oldiron says, not really an issue in a high Z guitar system.

Shielding -- now here's a problem. Got to compromise, as the best %shielding is not very flexible. The choice is yours. Some of those fat-@ss cable have great shielding, but their inflexibility puts more strain on the plugs, as well as the guitar and amp jacks.

-=tension & release=-


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 Nils
(@nils)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2896
02/01/2005 1:45 pm  

Radio Shack makes some very durable cables.
I just picked up a 12 ft coiled cable from RS the other day just because it was only $5.95 and it works and sounds fine on multiple amps. I like it for practice since I am generally no more than 8ft from the amp and it stays out of the way.

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other StuffDMusic Samples


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5058
02/01/2005 1:56 pm  

Once upon a time, coiled guitar cords where almost the standard. I suspect the reasons they nearly "went away" had to do with the need for longer cords, durability and the fact that they are probably are less shielded than "straight" cords so as to be flexible enough to recoil. I can also recall spending time untangling my coiled cords from my friends'. In any case, for practicing in a small space a coiled cord seems a good solution.

-=tension & release=-


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