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From: Shootout Guitar Cables UKBest Guitar Cables Explained

See also: Shootout Guitar Cables UK Range

Many guitarists see a guitar cable as being a simple low tech device that they resent paying for when they look at certain component prices or cheaper mass produced poorly assembled items and figure that higher priced cables are all a rip off. Then of course we also tend to forget to factor in the cost of another patch cable of three each time we add a new bit of gear to our guitar rig or studio doh!

Black Powder Guitar Patch Cables

This business was started because the guitarist director felt the same way and decided upon some do it yourself which then led to a thorough examination of what makes a good guitar cable and why they sound like they do when used with passive pickups.

Cheap components and cheap premades can be a disaster but then again at the opposite end of the price spectrum cable assemblers and retailers often offer Cable Fairy magic with the most bizzare claims that make no scientific sense in this physical universe... see Guitar Cable Myths and The Cable Fairy

If we break down the guitar cable market by price, then it pans out something like this:

The Good • Some Midrange Guitar Cables Like SHOOTOUT!


  • Well manufactured, braided shield, nice handling cable √ Yes
    Avoiding inferior spiral shield, stiff solid polyurethan insulation where it needs to be air blown instead for good handling on cables from the guitar, and nonsensical galvanic corrosion risk silver anf gold plating etc. √ Yes avoided
  • Well manufactured, well designed, consistently plated connectors √ Yes
    Avoiding nonsensical galvanic corrosion risk gold plating √ Yes avoided
  • Well soldered using human safe solder √ Yes
    Avoiding nasty lead, rosin and halogens in the solder √ Yes avoided
  • Well assembled with exceptional strain relief √ Yes
    Avoiding ineffective unglued heat shrink that serves only to promote a logo √ Yes avoided

We highly recommend therefore of course our own highly specified midrange priced cables!

What are you paying for? You pay for our time to solder and assemble using superior strain relief methods with care having sourced the best and most sensible components. Our price point as a result is midrange.

What to watch out for with other midrange guitar cables:

  • Gold bling hi fi inspired connectors that aren't an appropriate specification for guitar cables
  • Cables that do handle and lay nicely but have spiral shield that is inferior for interference rejection and offers no tensile strength to protect the signal core
  • Cables that are braided shield but solid polyurethane insulated and so are stiff
  • Cables that are stiff generally for some other reason i.e. outer jacket material formulation
  • Unglued heatshrink that serves only to promote a brand or even worse a spring!

The Bad (For Your Pocket) • Expensive Esoteric 'Magic' Tone Guitar Cables

What are you paying for? You pay legendary amounts for some highly esoteric components, the time to solder and assemble, the Emperor's new clothes with gold and silver sequins, and Cable Fairy snake oil sourced from baby vipers under a full moon. Deep pockets will help but you'll still need to practise all the same and any special tone 'magic' will remain elusive or be covered by your imagination to compensate having shelled out serious dollar*.

What to watch out for with expensive guitar cables: 'gold' bling hifi inspired connectors that aren't an appropriate specification for guitar cables, , wild 'tone' claims that are not backed up by peer reviewed empirical evidence (i.e. science) i.e. 'silver plated' signal conductors that aren't an appropriate specification for guitar cables, solid copper rather than stranded copper signal carrier that will make the cable very stiff and more prone to breakage.

Likely issues: bankruptcy, divorce, band members winding you up "saw you coming" ha ha etc., use of the cable as a javelin to demonstrate stiffness, early failure from bending a solid signal conductor, 'red plague' galvanic corrision of silver plating on copper (at least you will be in good company i.e. NASA however they do have scientifically valid reasons to use it as they need to deal with radio signals etc. not guitar signals).

*Much of the price of some expensive guitar cables may be to cover a lifetime 'we will replace it for free forever and ever amen' guarantee... that's fine, but remember that you should have at least one backup cable regardless for gigs, and the guarantee doesn't necessarily mean it's a better cable.

The Ugly (All Round) • El Cheapo Cheap Guitar Cables

What are you paying for? Monkeys! You pay for it when your system goes down at the most inopportune moment because you paid peanuts and so got monkeys. Like a rusty old banger you drive five miles off the dealer's forecourt only to have to call the tow truck... avoid if at all possible.

What to watch out for with cheap guitar cables: pretty much everything but especially poor shielding, moulded or low quality jack plugs that will fail easily, dodgy soldering assembly, no special strain relief beyond the traditional clamping wings or more modern screw down friction methods.

Likely issues: failure, noise, your band drops you for being a cheapskate and ruining the gig with a cheap cable again (even though the stage diving singer does admittedly keep tripping over all the cables, you did not take appropriate measures to compensate so you get the blame).

Other Guitar Cable Price Factors

Human time costs money and right now it's cheaper to pay someone to put a cable together in some parts of the world than others, but there can be tradeoffs where quality is concerned unless everything is very well controlled, and this requires economy of scale.

Economy of scale means everything can be made more cheaply, but only for things that many many will be sold of, like computers, and cars within a certain price range.

However the fewer the items that can be sold, the more tradeoffs there will be made with quality, and so with guitar cables the cheap junk and the very average will fit into this area nicely like the spiral shield cables that are just good enough not to be junk but have heatshrink just to display a logo for example.

Advertising costs money hence your lower priced big store no brand baked beans are a bargain, but you might not like the taste of their cola, and was there ever a mass produced cake that was better than mum's (maybe don't answer that one... somebody's mum... you know what we mean!).

Conclusion ;O)

You get what you pay for up to a point, and then after that you get a lot off stuff you don't need, like a gold plated mobile phone.

Your gear, your studio session, your gig, your choice... we hope you make it a good one, we do everything we can to make sure you buy whatever cable you buy well informed!

We also do everything we can to ensure that our Shootout guitar cables and guitar patch cables are world class top guns on the leaderboard of premade soldered guitar cables!

Also in this guide:

Guitar Cable Length and Signal Loss

Guitar Cable Shielding and AC Hum

Braided vs Spiral vs Foil Guitar Cable Shielding

Guitar Cable Microphonics and the Triboelectric Effect

True Bypass Pedals vs Buffered Pedals

DIY vs Premade Guitar Cables

Silver Plated Copper Cables and 'Red Plague' Galvanic Corrosion

Copper vs Silver Signal Conductor Guitar Cables

Gold Plated Guitar Cable Jacks and Galvanic Corrosion

Guitar Cables vs Guitar Pedal Board Patch Cables

Analogue Guitar Cables vs WIFI

Low Capacitance vs High Capacitance Guitar Cables

Buffer Pedal Placement

Oxygen Free Copper Guitar Cables

Glued Heat Shrink vs Unglued Heat Shrink Guitar Cables


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