Basic Elements: Cables

June 17, 2013

 By PGS Fitz


By necessity, I spend an inordinate amount of time cruising guitars, spec’ing them out, window shopping—just being a geek, really. I’m guilty of hyperfocusing on the instrument and practically ignoring other less sexy things that are of great importance in the grand scheme of my guitar rig.


This week in the corner we’re looking at a critical and often-ignored component in the realm of playing electric guitar :  the cables that transmit the signal between your guitar and amp. This component is often barely given a second thought by some players (I’m guilty), but we can’t be heard without it. Thankfully, there’s room in guitar-land for all of us, from your typical plug-and-play person (like me!) to your complete and utter tone aficionado. 


There are a couple schools of thought about gear—some people think you can pick up the cheapest gear possible and make it sound great (some people can!) and some people think that the craftsmanship of the gear matters (it can!). Whether you’re playing a department store guitar or a Fender Custom Shop Nocaster, it does seem like the one thing you don’t want to happen is have your cables short out, so it makes sense to spend a little time and effort making sure your wiring is solid.



Whether it’s a $5 or $50 cable, the underlying structure of the cable is the same.  At the heart of the cable is a stranded copper center conductor wire—stranded to allow flexibility in the cable. These copper strands are what carry the electrical snapshot of your signal through to your amp. The center conductor is insulated by a layer called the dielectric, which separates the center conductor from the shield layer. Shielding is a critical component of a cable, as it not only blocks electro-magnetic interference but in a bi-directional cable also completes the signal to your amp by sending the return signal. The shielding is complemented by an electrostatic shield to reduce handling noise, and the whole thing is wrapped in an outer jacket for protection and hopefully a long life.


For the best possible tone, your cables should be as short as possible while still getting the job done. Instrument cables in excess of 20’ are widely accepted to dull tone—remember, the longer the distance the signal has to travel, the more degradation the signal will experience. In an ideal world, the cables from your guitar to your amp (or pedalboard) should be 15’ or less. With large pedal boards, it also makes sense to try to keep cables short and tidy—many cable manufacturers offer DIY kits that will allow you to custom cut your own lengths of cable so that you can ensure that your signal isn’t traveling any excess distance to get through your board and into your amp. It’s tempting to pick up a handful of el cheapo grande patch cables for your effects—but you should give the same consideration to your patch cables as you do your main instrument cables. After all, without these tiny little copper wires, no one’s gonna hear the pinch harmonic in the middle of your solo.


Just as the boutique effects market has exploded, the cable industry has gotten a bit more hip in recent years, with several manufacturers now offering extremely high end cable. One of my favorite companies is Divine Noise, right here in Portland—where every cable is hand-soldered and guaranteed for life. I’m especially a fan of their whimsical 50/50 cable—a hybrid straight/curly cable for those who can’t decide which style they prefer.

In an ideal world, you’d have a chance to A/B a few cables against one another when choosing the right cables for your rig; some of us are particularly tuned to tone and can hear minute differences in cables (Eric Johnson, anyone?!)—though for most of us, simply doing a bit of research on the manufacturer and their methods should help steer us in the right direction. Cables experience a ton of wear and tear—look for a manufacturer that offers a lifetime warranty on their cables—it’s a good indicator that they take quality assurance seriously.


Next time you grab your guitar and plug ‘er in, take a moment to check your wiring and look for ways to improve it – your tone will thank you.







  1. Steve says:

    Another really important aspect about cables is how they are stored.  I cringe seeing so many people who don’t know how to properly wrap their cables by treating them like their orange extension cords in the garage.  Any guitar, xlr, speaker, etc. cables have a natural coil shape (bias) and will last for years on end if properly wrapped and stored when not in use.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 4:19 am
  2. Supercolio says:

    Aside from the tonal effects of different cables, the quality of the connectors and the cable itself is one reason to buy more expensive cables. I bought the cheapest cable from a local music store, it lasted for a couple of months (I replaced the connectors, so it’s all good now). I’ve had my share of live situations where cables fail. That’s a nightmare.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 4:31 am
  3. David says:

    One thing not mentioned here is the capacitance of the cable. This is measure per foot, and higher capacitance cables remove high frequency content. So unless you like a dark tone, get a cable with the lowest capacitance you can find. Coiled cables are the worst offenders because they are longer than they appear.

    On every cable the shield is also the ground return, and with the foil shielded cables there is a drain wire. All cables are bi directional, and the cable companies selling cables with the idea that they work differently depending on which direction you have them plugged in are not being entirely truthful. The only time you disconnect the shield on one side of a cable is when you are plugging two mains grounded systems in, and don’t want ground loop hum. This is why amps and DIs have ground life switches.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 4:56 am
  4. Ken says:

    How can you tel the quality of a cable. I bought a 15’ cable from a local shop that has been in business since the 50’s. they have their own brand of cable, I’m sure it’s a re- brand, that had a woven cloth outer wrap. They were priced in the middle and wee all I could afford when I bought my amp and cab from them. I know I have to replace my patch chords as they were chfeies but are my guitar cables ok?

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:37 am
  5. Lovato says:

    I personally have found that when I upgraded my cables, whether acoustic or electric ones, I immediately noticed the difference tonally through my amps. Cheers!

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:38 am
  6. Killio says:

    I put a fari amount of time and money into the “find the right cable route” and ended up with the Planet Waves American Stage (I use 15’ and 20’). Bottom line was that the capacitance was correct (lower is always better) across a variety of set ups. These are quiet, flexible enough to actually use and extremely durable. The bonus is that the somewhat shorter plug housing eliminates the need for right angle and straight cables. No right angles needed, even with a 335. Oh yes, also reasonably priced.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:51 am
  7. Greg says:

    plus 1 on Supercolio’s statements. I have a little Cable company(no I’m not gonna spam) But Build quality is I feel equal to the components used in the cable. I’m a session/sideman, and saw what my custom made touring gear was made with, but even more so the care and construction of the ends onto the raw cable no matter if it is 50 ft or a 2 ft patch.
        So I offer just 3 brands of raw cable, 2 industry stds , 1 econo but still often seen in a Cali rack makers shops, 3 brands of ends I consider the best, but my thoughts are more on a good solder station, great solder, good tools and good building skills and post build QC (not just a cable tester) and technique. I had one go bad so far and it was a plug factory QC problem. Then not being much of a business type sell them for not much more then the raw materials.
        But I feel good knowing that I won’t see that cable again, and as Supercolio said I won’t cause a “nightmare” for some picker somewhere. I think this should be a far more talked about part of the equation.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:51 am
  8. Ken says:

    How did you measure the capacitance?

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:01 am
  9. Brendan says:

    I love Divine Noise. I use the 50/50 with that cool circuit-breaker tip.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:10 am
  10. Killio says:

    Many not-so-expensive multimeters will measure capacitance. Mine is branded Mastech; probably about $30 on eBay.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:24 am
  11. Dr Z says:

    I recently upgraded some misc. inexpensive patch cables with a George L’s patch cable kit and was amazed at how much difference it made!  I’ve got low end I didn’t know my guitar had and needed to roll back my amps tone control a bit to cut the high end as well.  For those naysayers who say they can’t hear the difference…you probably have some hearing loss.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:59 am
  12. Greg says:

    Sure Ken,I was lucky enough to have inherited some Very top self tech gear just this yr a from a family member EE who retired, I so usually use an Agilent 34461A Digital Multimeter.

    I will mention this, I sell many of my builds to other session players or local player’s, so I’ll let them try 20 ft samples, with two “ringers” thrown in,, 2 high $ cables and 70% of the time they pick the cable with the highest cap. It’s 1 of 2 industry std cables, but it’s almost double the supposed “Sweet spot” of 19-30 a couple of maker’s that offer seemingly endless rolls of there own and other “known” cable say should be.
    Cable, will have a frequency response, you can see it on a scope, and hear it. so just like PU’s amps/FX,  people have a preference and an ear. If Anders/Rack Sysytems/Bradshaw CAE/ L.A. Sound among others have many happy user’s (including me) is the lowest capacitance always the best? not according to my customers.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:05 am
  13. telepath says:

    I have a very bright Strat, that sounds great(er) with my long ‘cheap’ red coily lead (so I bought a few more)
    Yes, I could fiddle with the Strat, but I like what I have stumbled upon.

    Sorry for the SRV reference here , I know , I know - it is almost becoming a a cliche to include a Stevie reference, but it’s been logged a few times that SRV used to ask his tech to go get a few Radio Shack/Tandy cheapo cables - apparently because he liked the more rounded sound they gave his (otherwise a bit) toppy rig.

    Not advocating cheap poorly constructed cables for gigging musicians, just raising the possibility that ‘loss’ is not always a loss.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:10 am
  14. David says:

    @Greg, it depends on weather or not you want your cable to color the tone of your guitar. I don’t. I’m a pickup maker. I do notice that a lot of guitarist like a dark dark tone. They use very overwound pickups like the Duncan JB (which oddly people seem to think is bright!). Guitarist also seem to like the tone of humbucker with the covers on, which mellows out the tone. But I know many more guitarist that want a clear more versatile tone from their guitar. I think the very expensive cables are not really needed, but I have a few customers with $100 patch cords.

    Of course if you are playing into a distortion pedal or an amp with a lot of gain, a darker input signal helps. If you are using a less distorted tone (which tends to sound bigger out front) then you want more high end.

    Different areas also have different needs. Here in the NYC metro area my customers tend to like full range sounding pickups, and also noiseless pickups.  I replaced a lot of PRS pickups because the owners complain they are muddy sounding. I also find a lot of guitarist just don’t have a clue about getting a good tone. They use way too much low end and have no note definition.

    @telepath, yes the cheap coiled cable with a Strat is an old trick, and one used by Jimi Hendrix. SRV was great, but none of his tricks were new.  If you just modify the stupid Strat wiring so that the middle tone control worked on the bridge pickup, you wont need the coiled cable.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:27 am
  15. Greg says:

    All cable colors your tone. The PU analogy is good can you wind a PU that would meter stick straight 20/20? nor can cable. The #1 pick cable (man this is getting harder and harder without naming names..) sounds as bright as a cable known for it’s bright open sound and skinny figure ;-)
    One is 17-19 pf/ft the #1 pick 59-61 pf/ft. they both have nearly the same high end character. As a PU maker i’m sure you already know why. Telepath, coily cable and strat’s isn’t an old trick,, it used to be the only trick if you bought your gear from a music shop in 67’ lol!

    I play 3 PRSi and I do find there PU’s a little dark myself :-)

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:57 am
  16. david nouis says:

    cables haj good its gonna be batteries vs power supplies in effect pedals!

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:00 am
  17. Ken says:

    Greg, why can’t we name names?
    David, I would be interested to know more about your pick ups.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:03 am
  18. jacob says:

    One thing that people forget quickly…

    Even if an expensive cable doesn’t audibly change your sound, a high quality cable will last much longer than cheaply made cables.  Many of the more expensive cables come with lifetime warranties.  Think of how many cables you own now that you owned ~10 years ago.  For anyone who plays shows, I’m sure this number is quite low.

    Buy cheap and you buy twice…

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:06 am
  19. David says:

    @Greg, yep, I had a coiled cable back in the day.. I’m 55 so I remember those days….
    And yeah, the PRS pickups are not great. It’s a shame because the guitars are nice.

    @Ken, Look up SGD Lutherie. Currently I only have bass pickups on the website, as that was my focus, but I have been making guitar pickups on a custom basis and plan on added a line of those too. It’s a crowded market, so I was staying out of it.  lol My guitar pickups probably have more in common tone wise with Bill Lawence than Duncan or DiMarzio.  :)

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:12 am
  20. Greg says:

    Hi Ken, like mentioned in my post, I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to sell my cables on a Store website blog. I didn’t know till I posted the E-mail box is just for anti trolling. I’ll name names now Judge!

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:14 am
  21. Ken says:

    Thanks Greg. I don’t want to take anything away from the folks that are hosting this. In times like this they need the sales. But if we share our preferences here, Pro Audio has the opportunity to see what we like and adjust their stock accordingly. I’m grateful for these articles. At 53 I’m getting a late start at something I’ve always wanted to do, so any knowledge gained is a big help to me. I don’t want to hurt these guys, so it would be helpful if they chimed in on this too.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:29 am
  22. Ricardo says:

    No one mentions the effect of buffering pedals here… but I think that given a minimum quality of the cable, if you have a buffer in your pedalboard they are no longer a problem. It makes a huge difference

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:52 am
  23. Ken says:

    Ricardo, do you buffer the pedal chain at both ends, or at one end or the other?

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 9:03 am
  24. David says:

    If the buffer is in your guitar, then you are immune to the cable capacitance. If it’s early in your signal chain, you still have the length of cable between your guitar and the buffer in effect.

    And of course active pickups are not affected by the cable.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 9:07 am
  25. Atomic says:

    I have a couple of Lava Cable coil cables because I think they are cool looking and of course are well built, but I have to say my ears still think my Evidence Audio cables transfer guitar tone the best.  My musician friends agree.  They are a little more stiff than most of the other brands, but I deal with it because it’s all about the tone.  Super high quality build.  NEVER a crackle.  I have four of these cables now and will not part with them…  ever.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 10:23 am
  26. Greg says:

    I do agree with the buffer statement with stipulations. I even build and sell a buffer. I also have active PU’s in a couple guitars. But I can still hear the difference between a Canare and a Mogami cable blindfolded even with one of my ESP’s (EMG PU’s) And I own roughly 80 to 100 or so cable brands that I have collected over the yr’s to asses or I received as gimme’s from cable Co’s or Namm. it’s amazing how far apart some can be and how close some are. But if like the present tour i’m on a 20’ lead to the board, and 35’ to the backline, the is some physics and math a buffer or active’s can’t change.

    Yeah David I’m 49 and remember seeing it first before I played and later used one cause Townsend did!, and I remember the “bootek”  cable brand of the mid 70’s into the 80’s was Belden 9778, that is some dark cable!! it’s still made today, Had a few customer’s that had to have it, and it’s per foot as expensive as Klotz and Evidence. Crazy to me, but like I said everyone has there own ear and preference.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 10:39 am
  27. David Schwab says:

    The regular (not X series) EMG pickups have fairly high output impedances of around 10k. Then they use 25k pots. So they are not immune to some of the aspects of the cable, as well as some other buffer might be.

    And what you are hearing in the cables is mostly capacitance differences, but it might be a few other small things too.

    I’m a big fan of buffers for basses, and I use them in guitars too.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 10:57 am
  28. David says:

    I meant to add, try some EMGs with 100k pots and hear the difference in tone.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 10:58 am
  29. Greg says:

    I remember about 17 or so. Right now off the jack I’m getting 17.07K with an Agilent DMM.. The cap is not going to have very much effect on a low imp signal which is also the conversion a buffer does. This is not the reason for the tonal difference. Same reason a royer 121 mic sounds different then a shure 57 on a 50 foot balanced cable down a 200 ft snake. Well this has been fun and enlightening but I have an uncomfortable tour bus bunk to slide into and try to get some sleep. Peace all!

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm
  30. David says:

    Greg, that’s not the output impedance. You are measuring resistance at the output. You analogy about mics doesn’t fit because the microphone is producing sound. Cables don’t produce sound.

    Try an taking the cable right out from an EMG to a box with a switch, and switch between a 25k and 100k pot. You will hear a big difference because of the loading on the output of the preamp.

    There is nothing in cables besides resistance and capacitance that would affect the tonal quality of a signal. If you are hearing the difference between two cables, it will be one or a combination of those things.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm
  31. Matt says:

    Meh, I’ve made more money, and been called for more gigs and recording sessions than I can remember all using the same $10 15’ cables I bought in a bargain bin 10 years ago. And the only cables I’ve used for pedals are ones that I’ve found for free. The people who hire me to play don’t seem to care (they keep calling), so I don’t either ;)

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm
  32. Greg says:

    My bad, I’m tired and missed the word ” impedance”. Mic analogy was speaking to the low imp factor that got dialed in to the conversation over buffers and active’s meaning since a “balanced low imp” has to travel twice on balanced cable. Yep on the pot values, cable will still have a say.

    Been there (am there?) done (doing?) that Matt for 27 yr’s, congrats on your incredible luck with cable reliability.

    Your wrong, and right, on cable David: but your entire signal is resistance, impedance, and capacitance. just for cable is:  skin effect, dielectric crawl, linz- vs non linz stranding, solid vs stranded conductor, conductor gauge, conductor construction (copper, silver plated copper, silver etc)  capacitance, resistance,  conductor gauge, conductor D.C.R, sheild D.C.R, nominal attenuation, group delay time, Dielectric Strength, Insulation Resistance, Shield Coverage, conductor insulation (ploy or foam) additional shielding wrap ( paper, carbon, plastic, cloth etc) no additional shielding,, 
    and about 15 other’s I can’t recall at the moment will affect those parameters and the sound of the cable and your rig along with it. So no one going to convince me cable doesn’t affect the tone, not going to happen.
        Again back to my original point the article and my posts, a strong build to me is just as important, as the cable’s tone. I really need to sleep now, this coach is not comfy at all. Good night! Greg

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm
  33. Ken says:

    I should have asked this before, but what are typical capcitance values for good cables. I can check mine but I don’t have a point of reference.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm
  34. Steve says:

    This is a subject well worth considering, but is also one that can become an ENDLESS quest! I have used and replaced a lot of cables through the years and spent way too much time checking cable specs online. I have never been unhappy with any quality cable purchase (Lifetime warranty) even though I can hear the difference between some of them. The sound you get from your rig is a sum of ALL the parts, and every player has a different “ultimate tone” they are searching for. I’m glad there are so many great products available to try! Just go get quality cables and spend the rest of the time PLAYING ;-)

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm
  35. SlopeRocker says:

    My new favorite is from Amazing quality and look! It has it all. Each one is handmade from fine components. You have many color/material options.

    posted on June 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm
  36. telepath says:

    @david nouis
    Re: Batteries.

    well… if you are talking about classic Germanium Fuzz, (and _some_ Si Fuzz’s) then even the battery *type* makes a notifiable difference. I have been there, it really does.

    Any stomp more hi-tech/modern than that (and,  yeah that’s most effects!) I doubt it makes a worthwhile difference. But it really does with some old school stuff.

    posted on June 19, 2013 at 2:21 am
  37. David says:

    Greg, regarding cables:

    “Your wrong, and right, on cable David: but your entire signal is resistance, impedance, and capacitance. “

    Impedance is analogous to A.C. Resistance, and it increases with frequency. What’s the D.C. resistance of a 20 foot cable? I just measured one of mine (A Spectra Flex with Neutrik plugs) and it was 1.2 ohms. Do you think that’s going to make a difference? Nope. Not when you facter in the resistance of the pickup, and even more resistance at the inout of your amp, etc.  Cables don’t have an impedance, and we already discussed the capacitance. That’s the biggest factor in the cable changing the tone.

    “just for cable is:  skin effect, dielectric crawl, linz- vs non linz stranding, solid vs stranded conductor, conductor gauge, conductor construction (copper, silver plated copper, silver etc)  capacitance, resistance,  conductor gauge, conductor D.C.R, sheild D.C.R, nominal attenuation, group delay time, Dielectric Strength, Insulation Resistance, Shield Coverage, conductor insulation (ploy or foam) additional shielding wrap ( paper, carbon, plastic, cloth etc) no additional shielding,,  “

    Let’s look at some of that… skin affect?  Only for very high frequencies. At 60 Hz, the skin depth of a copper wire is about 1⁄3 inches (8.5 mm).  How thick is your cable’s center conductor? A lot smaller than 8.5mm. No affect in the in the audio range, no matter what the cable makers are saying. All current flows on the outer surface of conductors. The larger the diameter of the conductor, the more surface area. That;s why you need large gauge wires for a lot of power. For a guitar or bass?  Not needed.

    The dielectric affects the capacitance. We already covered that. “Dielectric crawl” is not something to be convened about with a cable. But the triboelectric effect is. Have a cable that makes noise when you move it around? Triboelectric effect.

    Litz (not linz) wire? No. That’s for reducing the skin affect at VERY high frequencies, up to about 1MHz.

    Conductor construction? Only matters for how flexible the cable is. Remember, we are taking about less than 2 ohms for a 20 foot cable. The rest is marketing hype.

    Honestly now, read this next group of things you listed:

    “sheild D.C.R, nominal attenuation, group delay time, Dielectric Strength, Insulation Resistance, Shield Coverage, “

    Copper wire has a known resistance per foot, depending on the gauge. The shield’s resistance will be at least the same as the center conductor, and probably a lot lower. Let me test the cable I have here: 0.6 ohms. Do you think that matters?

    “nominal attenuation”  Please give your definition for that.

    “group delay time”  That too. None of that takes place in a cable at audio frequencies between your high impedance guitar and an amp.

    “Dielectric Strength”  We already talked about the cable’s capacitance.

    “Insulation Resistance” Unless it’s a conductive layer, insulation had no resistance. It’s not conductive. That’s why it’s an insulator. Some cables have carbon layers to reduce the triboelectric effect.

    “Shield Coverage” Not really something to worry about unless you are buying super cheap cables.

    “and about 15 other’s I can’t recall at the moment will affect those parameters and the sound of the cable and your rig along with it. ”  No, they will not, and have not ever been shown to mater.

    “So no one going to convince me cable doesn’t affect the tone, not going to happen.”

    Yes, they do affect your tone, and it’s from the capacitance.

    posted on June 20, 2013 at 12:44 am
  38. Greg says:

    sorry David your dead wrong.

    posted on June 20, 2013 at 9:02 am
  39. David says:

    @Greg… ROFLAO!

    I provided a lot of factual data about the market speak you were listing, and why it doesn’t matter with audio cables. care to give some facts to back up your assertion that I’m “dead wrong”. 

    Not to sound rude, but you don’t know what you are talking about. 

    And by the way, back int he 70s I worked for a multi national company doing defense communication contacts with the US military. We actually designed and built radio and audio equipment. So I’m talking taking out my backside.

    posted on June 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm
  40. Greg says:

    David your just becoming plain mean. You want to win an argument I don’t even have with you or anyone. And I do know what I am talking about, I may not have your” “mutli National” experience but my training came in the Navy, but more important as a Musician. Everything I quoted was Spec’s straight off the white paper’s supplied by manufacturer’s of the raw cable, and I fully understand what each means, in fact I chose not to point out the one’s you got wrong in there effect on the sound of a cable(because why else would the Co’s want you to see the data?) to be a nice participant in this conversation. 
        Now for tech end of thing’s you answered your own question I know your not disputing the “low pass filter” formed in a passive guitar-cord-amp, just the low imp/buffered animal correct? OK,, take that DC cable reading of 1.2 ohm, half it or double it, wire a resistor with that value on the backside of a buffer, and tell me what your scope says, actually tell me what your ear says. I have 4 25’ cables of different manufacture, and spec EXCEPT capacitance. All read 24pf/ft exactly. I use these on the out of a pedalboard for customer’s to choose the cable that sounds best to “them” when making a low imp/buffered loom run to the backline. Me and a few hundred of my customer’s, studio engineer’s and producer’s can hear the difference, and all spec different on a Scope. savy? how is that David if cap is the ONLY game in town? for that matter the very fact you don’t understand “nominal attenuation” make’s me suspect of your ” Text book Theory only” thinking.
    Since this has become far more mean spirited and confrontational then I have ever got with my fellow man, I simply counter your “Not to sound rude, but you don’t know what you are talking about.” With::  David, the Tin Man has a better ear then you.

    posted on June 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm
  41. David says:

    Mean? I said nothing mean. You said I’m “dead wrong” with ZERO information to validate that claim. All you are doing is reading stuff these cable makers are claiming, with no data to back them up, and taking them at face value.  Go read some catalogs by companies that make cable and wire for aerospace, etc. Unless we are taking high frequency applications, they don’t cite any of that stuff, and only cable capacitance.

    For example, you cited the “skin effect”. Yes, this is real, but does not apply at audio frequencies. I explained why. At 60 Hz, the skin depth of a copper wire is about 1⁄3 inches (8.5 mm). This is a fact. Go look it up. Was I dead wrong about that? So if the skin effect matters, explain how? The conductor’s cross section is too small. You would need a conductor almost 3/8” in diameter.

    So stop and look at the claim from that cable maker about skin effect. They are not being honest. Now go back and read the rest of the claims, and do some research.

    So in the Navy you were designing defense communications field radio devices? Probably not, but you may have been using the stuff built by this company. And don’t tell people they are “dead wrong” without giving some facts behind that statement.

    You are making lots of vague claims, like “a few hundred of my customers” and “studio engineer’s and producer” and other faceless nameless people. People think they hear a lot of things. Look at tone control caps. I know a lot of studio engineers and producers in the NYC area too.

    You wrote:

    “take that DC cable reading of 1.2 ohm, half it or double it, wire a resistor with that value on the backside of a buffer, “

    What are you talking about? “half it or double it” and “wire a resistor with that value” ?

    This shows me you aren’t understanding the concepts here. That cable series resistance means absolutely nothing. The pickups have a DC resistance of several thousand ohms. What’s 1 more ohm going to do. But 20 feet of cable will alter the tone from the capacitance. Take the same value cap and wire it in parallel to the pickups. You will hear it. Remember the PRS “sweet switch”? That used a passive delay line to simulate a long cable. Passive delay lines are LC networks (inductance and capacitance). It was the capacitance that softened the tone. Now PRS uses resistive loading on the pickups in the Santana models.

    Unbuffered pickups are also loaded by the volume and tone controls, which is parallel resistance. The tone control cap does not affect the circuit until you turn down the tone control. This is because impedance of the capacitor in the range of the resonance is a lot less than the pot value, so you are hearing the loading of parallel resistance.  But you get people swearing they hear a difference in caps, with the control on 10. They don’t.

    What buffers do, and I have been building and installing them in guitars and basses since the late 70s, is to present a high impedance load to the pickups, and a low impedance output to drive the cable. If you put the buffer before the passive volume and tone controls, the pickup is isolated from them, and everything else down stream. The affect on the pickup is to widen the frequency response and to raise the frequency of the resonant peak. A lot of guitarist and bassist don’t like this tone, as it’s too bright.  If you put the buffer after the controls, you still get a brighter tone because you are isolating the pickup from the cable capacitance.

    You have to remember that pickups are reactively inductive, and they will form a resonant second order low pass filter. It’s very different from using a cap to load an active stage like a buffer. Plus low impedance devices need much larger values of caps. You can see this on the passive tone controls EMG has been using. The .1µF tone cap does very little. The X series has a lower output impedance so they had to shift to an active tone control.

    Yes, let’s see some screen cables of slew rate alterations from these audio cables. But what I really want to see is a double blind listening test.

    Please come back with cold hard facts, and not conjecture, or I’m done with this conversation.

    posted on June 21, 2013 at 4:15 am
  42. Greg says:

    I AM done with the conversation David, I have to go to work with my faceless nameless fellow Union professionals who are were we are because they can hear a difference. Come to Nashville sometime, I’ll introduce you to Kevin Shirely and Mutt Lange, you can dazzle them with your theory and they can ROFLAO to your face.
    I’m un-ticking the box David and leaving you to lord over a thread you ruined for many people I imagine, not by your vast knowledge that you seem to think you have on the subject above everyone else, but what you lack in knowledge of cable parameter’s/= effect, and just plain Ego and mean spirited, hostility. Now I really have a slew of sessions this evening, so have a great life Tin Man.

    posted on June 21, 2013 at 6:33 am
  43. Atomic says:

      Hey, David and Greg.  I learned some stuff I never knew by reading your responses to one another.  I only go by what my ears tell me, and that goes for all my music equipment.  I decided to try Evidence Audio because of what I had read about their cables.  Side by side through an A/B box, Evidence Audio beat out all the other cables I had.  My musician friends heard the same comparison and agreed with my conclusion.  I am sure there are several great high-end cables out there, but it was Evidence Audio that taught me good cables are worth the money.  You guys taught me there’s a whole lot goin’ on in my cables that I never knew about, and I thank you.  “Good game!”  Peace.

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