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From: Shootout Guitar Cables UKBest Guitar Cables Explained

See also: The Shootout Guitar Cables Range

The cable that connects a guitar to the first pedal on a pedalboard is usually referred to as a guitar cable or lead, and the same goes for the cable from the pedalboard to the amp. The cables inbetween pedals however are usually referred to as guitar pedal patch cables or simply guitar patch cables.

The generic type of cable used for both is known as an instrument cable and in the case of a passive pickup equipeed guitar is required to carry a very low voltage mono audio AC signal through its signal core along with an earthed shield to protect this signal for interference between 1/4" jack plugs. The best way to do this is generally with a coaxial cable type whereby the signal flows down a central copper core that has insulation between it and an outer shield that exists to carry interference signals to ground, there should also be a semi-conductor shiled to reduce triboelectric handling noise.

The main difference with pedal patch cables is usually found at the jack plug terminations and in the cable diameter used.

Straight barrel jack plugs are rather awkward for most pedal applications where space becomes an issue as they stick out at right angles to the pedal surface, and so right-angle barrel jack plugs or pancake jack plugs are generally used instead.

Where space is at a premium for gigging pedalboards or modest studio spaces then pancake jack plugs can save space and weight by also using a lower diameter cable as bending thicker cable to too tight a curve between and around pedals can sometimes damage the larger cables, although twisting in addition would be the main culprit for cable failure and this happens as premade guitar patch cables are usually only offered with same side facing right angle jack plugs, which is quite frankly rather stupid.

Where space and weight are not a consideration then right-angle barrel style jack plugs with the larger diameter cables can be used.

Only the combined cable and connector capacitance will make any significant difference to tone if good quality cable is used, though not significantly following a buffer. Otherwise durability and material stability, excellent shielding, low tribolelectric handling noise, and flexibility are the favoured traits as with the longer main guitar cables.

Many guitar patch cables have spiral shielding which is cheaper to make and assemble and inferior to braided shielding. It bends a little more easily and twists more readily, however this is at the cost of shielding compromise and tensile strength. Braided shielded guitar patch cables are superior, particularly when same side or opposite side facing jack plugs are used as suitable for the application without cable twisting.

Naturally SHOOTOUT! guitar patch cables use braided shield cables and we offer same and opposite side facing jacks plugs to avoid twisting!

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

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

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


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