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From: Shootout Guitar Cables UKBest Guitar Cables Explained

See also: The Shootout Guitar Cables Range

Guitar cable design has come a long way since 1931 when the first electric guitar was invented, and the very best cables now offer low microphonic triboelectric handling noise, braided shielding against interference, good handling properties and low capacitance.

There can be no doubt that a guitarist would definitely want all of the above except perhaps for the low capacitance in some circumstances. However this question only arises with the capacitance as regards 'total capacitance' as it pertains to passive electric guitar pickups and its effect on tone... see Guitar Cable Capacitance and Resonant Frequency

Let's look at the benefits of low guitar cable capacitance:

Tone most likely to be near what the designer intended assuming they tested their pickups using fairly short cables i.e. peak resonant frequency nearest to where the pickup with tone and volume controls in circuit and a minimal cable length would put it.

More upper frequencies let through to pedals and amps to excite tube circuits, and more harmonic overtones.

Less dramatic high end loss when volume pot is turned down i.e. a volume control is supposed to be a volume control, not a volume and tone control. Some players who realise this set their guitar volume to below full volume, and use full volume like a boost, but this is generally problematic with too much total guitar cable capacitance as the tone is already heavily dulled.

Far less problematic with running longer cable lengths, especially when using bufferless true bypass pedal board systems.

Can still reduce high end with pedal controls and amp controls or simply longer cables.

Pretty good! So what's the problem? Well none really, except that players generally like a fairly 'smooth' tone and there are examples of well known players using long cables and coily cables as a tone control to overcome otherwise problematic pedal and amp setups.

For example peaky single coil pickups that exhibit harshness with resonant peaks in the 3-5k range can be tamed down to the warmer 'rounder' but still bright frequencies around 2k with 1000s of pF of cable capacitance. Famous players from the 60s and their audio engineer buddies knew about guitar cable capacitance and sometimes used this method as an equaliser! Otherwise harsh fuzz pedals might be one effect type for example that benefits from loading a peaky single coil pickup with lots of capacitance.

The high capacitance examples however tend to have been used by players with particular limited vintage setups that were problematic in many ways i.e. they were fixing problems to enable the use of a limited vintage style system overall with few pedals, amps to choose from.

The bottom line is that most modern players opt for low capacitance, but some famous characters have used very high capacitance cables specifically as a tone control in some situations... and if you missed that part of ther setup then your tone cloning might have been frustrating!

Also in this guide:

Guitar Cable Capacitance and Resonant Frequency

Guitar Cable Capacitance Chart

Guitar Cable Length and Signal Loss

Guitar Cable Myths and The Cable Fairy

Guitar Cable Shielding and AC Hum

Guitar Cable Microphonics and the Triboelectric Effect

Braided vs Spiral vs Foil Guitar Cable Shielding

True Bypass Pedals vs Buffered Pedals

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

Buffer Pedal Placement

Oxygen Free Copper Guitar Cables

Cheap vs Midrange vs Expensive Guitar Cables

Glued Heat Shrink vs Unglued Heat Shrink Guitar Cables


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