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From: Shootout Guitar Cables UKBest Guitar Cables Explained

See also: The Shootout Guitar Cables Range

Some time ago now our little world of big guitar tone got sucked into the same vortex of insanity as the hi fi world had been getting mashed up in for several decades prior to us entering the blender, and ever since then, many guitarists have experienced the same mind fog as the haplessly confused audiophiles, having been brainwashed by advertising spreading cable mythology.

Fear not though fellow dive bombers, twangers, shredders, widdlers and noodlers as the vortex can be escaped!

Myth 1. X capacitance guitar cables have a bigger, fatter, fuller, heavier bottom end. X capacitance guitar cables have a smaller, skinnier, thinner, lighter bottom end.

Yes we have indeed read both of the above way out there in Fairy Land, which is a very magical place indeed!

The capacitance of a guitar cable does not affect the low frequencies of the guitar signal from passive pickups at all until you run extremely long lengths (really really long!).

What actually happens, and at commonly used lengths, is that cable capacitance forms a circuit with an inductive high output impedance passive guitar pickup and rolls off the top end of the signal frequency range with a resonant frequency peak just before the roll off as we know from Guitar Cable Capacitance and Resonant Frequency but there is no boost or reduction in the bottom end and this fact is easily demonstrated with frequency spectrum analysis.

This type of equalisation is known as a low pass filter. The hint is in the name, it passes low frequencies!

Have you ever heard a sound engineer say that they are going to equalize a guitar signal with a low pass filter to change the bottom end of that signal? We hope not!

Subjectively speaking of course, by rolling off the highs with a resonant peak before that roll off, as our ears hear it psychoacoustically the relationship of the bottom end to the whole signal will sound different especially with the upper midrange resonance; but the lower 'bottom end' frequencies will not be reduced or increased at all!

We like our bottom end to be standard!

Myth 2. Guitar cables using 'this or that' conductor material pass the full frequency spectrum of the guitar more evenly or have an extended frequency response.

Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and you will be enjoying the many benefits of this fact as you read this. Silver is an even better conductor of electricity (108%) though it is much more expensive. Both conduct very well within the audible frequency range (20Hz-20kHz).

Professional recording studios, broadcast studios, and mastering studios for music, film and television the world over rely on many miles of varying purities of copper to transmit their analogue audio signals covering the full audible frequency spectrum 20Hz-20kHz and beyond encompassing all types of sound source from day one.

This culminated in quite a peak of analogue excellence with guitars, amplifiers, mixing desks, outboard and test equipment by the likes of DBX, Dolby, Fairchild, Fender, Gibson, Helios, Hi-Watt, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Neve, Orange, SSL, Trident, Universal Audio, Vox just to name a few all getting wired with lots of lovely copper!

Tests on different guitar cables some of which claim better frequency response have been conducted and all show the same repeatedly demonstrable frequency response within the audible range of 20Hz-20kHz.

Miniscule variances from the Maxwell skin effect etc. outside of the range of human hearing are highly esoteric considerations except for radio frequencies. Good purity copper is quite good enough, and silver also no doubt an even better conductor, however when the signal core wire is shielded and the resulting additional circuit capacitance comes into play we hear the very real and very significant differences that are indeed predicted by equation and well within the audible range (the most significant part of the audible range in fact) and this is easily demonstrable with test equipment and sound files. Capacitance affects tone radically and we can all hear it easily, but for copper and silver the difference between them is highly esoteric, it is how they are shielded that radically changes tone.

Please remember that it is the total unbuffered Guitar Cable Capacitance regardless or copper or silver signal conductor wire will very effectively remove the high frequencies from your passive guitar pickups output and lower its resonant frequency as a result of the tuned circuit it becomes part if you so desire!

Our current ranges use multiple strand copper wire signal conductors. We would offer solid and or silver variations if we could hear a notable difference under controlled conditions and were happy with their strength and handling properties at reasonable price and if there was a 'sensible' (i.e. logical and physics wise correct) market for them. However in this Universe solid copper signal conductors are stiff and prone to breakage due to lack of malleability and silver whether solid or plate is expensive and offers no practicable benefits outside of radio frequencies on any guitar cable we have ever seen.

Myth 3. Guitar cables with X capacitance per metre are 'ideal' for guitar tone.

So presumably the cable contracts or extends to adjust for your pickup output impedance and resonant frequency etc. and amp or pedal input impedance? Because no matter what the capacitance per unit length of the cable the actual length used will otherwise multiply or divide the capacitance per unit length!

We have yet to see one of these magical length adjusting sweet spot cables but we will be sure to keep a look out!

Example: You are told that a guitar cable product using 100pF capacitance per metre cable is ideal. You believe this and you purchase a 3 metre cable for your home studio and a 12 metre cable for your friend's studio.

However you notice that when playing through your amp at your friends studio your tone is different. This is because your total supposedly ideal cable capacitance in your home studio is the 3 metre version totalling 300pF and at your friends studio is the 12 metre cable totalling 1200pf!

Your friend then says "Hey try my new cable dude!" and you do. It is 6 metres long and the cable capacitance is 50pF per metre... and it sounds just like the mythical ideal cable in your home studio as its total capacitance is also 300pF!

So both 100pf and 50pF per metre cables are ideal capacitances? No there is no ideal capacitance cable, only an ideal total capacitance for you and your different setups.

Typically due to digital recording technology and the modern sound one would want to start with the lowest capacitance possible and take things from there. You can always take frequencies away, but you can never actually add them back without additive signal processing and/or noise as any recording engineer who understands equalisation will tell you.

You can see a chart of capacitances per metre of different cables available including the ones we currently use in bold... Guitar Cable Capacitance Chart

Myth 4. Guitar cables with X capacitance per metre are best for either metal, rock, jazz, bass, country, blues, fusion, funk, disco, or pop.

Really? Again we were quite sure that length was in the equation for overall capacitance thus:

Cable capacitance in pF per metre x number of metres of cable = total capacitance

No? That's interesting! So a thousand metres of 'rock' cable will sound rocking but 3 metres of 'jazz' cable will suck if we try and play rock through it? LOL


Shop smart!


"All Aboard! Fairy Land here we come!" ... and off into the vortex they all went with the Cable Fairy on her Magical Cable Train singing "Poop! Poop!" never to be seen again. THE END.

Other pages in this guide:

Guitar Cable Capacitance and Resonant Frequency

Guitar Cable Capacitance Chart

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

Cheap vs Midrange vs Expensive Guitar Cables

Glued Heat Shrink vs Unglued Heat Shrink Guitar Cables


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