Ever tried getting your musical sound set up, and having to endure a constant crackle or screech from your guitar amp?
Many people do not know that guitar cables are not balanced. A balanced cable is typically used for professional or expensive equipment, where the sound quality is of critical importance, but not the safety of the player.
An unbalanced cable (sometimes known as “variable resistance” or “directivity cable”) is an inexpensive cable for ordinary portable equipment, such as the guitar. It has only one wire for both the amp and the guitar, and uses resistors, most often galvanic clips, to select the source level of the signal. A guitar amplifier may require two of these for it to be effective, as a balanced pickup will not work well with the unbalanced cables on guitars.
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Since sound is a wave, the same balanced wire connected to two unbalanced pickup-style pickups or to two unbalanced guitar pickups may produce two slightly different output levels. The combination of pickups will determine the frequency response, particularly when there is feedback due to the output being a pure sine wave. Thus, an unbalanced pickup may play one note at a time or one string at a time, or even in different combinations of notes with a balanced pickup. A balanced pickup or cable can be used for amplified guitar, and a unbalanced pickup or cable for acoustic or electric guitar.
Since the voltage ratings of balanced cables differ substantially from those of unbalanced cables, a multistage speaker cable cannot be used with a balanced speaker.
The unbalanced cables can be oriented parallel to the guitar pickup, such as with an RCA stereo plug or a J-channel connector on a TV, radio, or VCR. Most guitar amplifiers or monitors do not provide an output that will match the guitar’s strings to the guitar amplifier or speaker system, but they will also not work with the speaker unbalanced. Thus, the guitar/amp connection should be unbalanced, although on some amps and guitars, the guitar cable is connected unbalanced and the amp or monitor cable is connected balanced.
There is, I dare say, nothing more frustrating than a guitar amp giving off an awful screeching sound, because of a bad guitar cable. You can find yourself terribly flustered, trying to get that dreadful interference out, from drowning your music. To get the best out of your guitar-playing experience, you should be using nothing below the most durable and quality guitar cables. Paying attention not just to the price tag of your guitar cable, but to the quality and durability of the brand is very important, therefore, to ensure that you get yourself the best guitar cable.
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Top 10 Guitar Cable UK
This product from the popular and reputable Premium brand is a good value for your money. This high-grade oxygen-free copper cable ensures that your musical production is noise-free and pure. Available in different lengths, the cable is durable and beautiful in its brightly-coloured design.
- 10ft/3m, straight plugs.
- Heavy-duty pro ¼” jack to Jack mono lead.
- High-quality gold-tipped jack plugs.
- Easily identifiable cables.
- Well-shielded cables.
- Available in different colours and lengths.
Renowned as a world-class guitar manufacturer, this product from Fender offers all the perks of a high-quality, superior cable. With a thickness that makes it road-reliable, while retaining its flexibility, this product offers you a blend of reliability, durability and quality.
- 10ft in length.
- 22 AWG – Spiral shielding; Nickel-plated connectors.
- 95% oxygen-free copper spiral shielding.
- ¼” nickel-plated connectors.
- Made of black PVC, with an outer 8mm diameter wire jacket.
- Available in different other lengths.
With a firm copper wire structure of the best quality to enhance signal transmission and make your music clearer and more expressive, this product is your best bet for good quality cables. Suitable for use with a wide range of instruments, its compatibility is broad, while retaining its exceptional sound production quality.
- 10ft/3m in length.
- ¼” straight to straight AMP cord.
- 22 AWG oxygen-free copper centre conductors.
- Made of high-density stranded copper double shield and PVC insulation.
- Black tweed-woven jacket with 7mm (0.27″) outer diameter.
Made with dual conductors to make its production clearer, and multiple shielding materials that prevent noise, this product by Ernie Ball is good, reliable and long-lasting. Its braided jacket exterior design prevents tangles and breakages that guitarists often struggle with.
- 10″ braided straight/angle cable.
- 95% oxygen-free copper, resistant to corrosion.
- Dual-shielded, dual conductor with good durability.
- Available in 10ft, 18ft and 25ft lengths.
- Available in different bright colours.
This Kirlin fabric-coated product is beautiful in its alluring red design and offers you the value of durability and low noise production with its well-crafted shielding.
- 10ft in length.
- Fabric-coated cable.
- ¼” straight jack on one end; ¼” angled jack on the other end.
- Red in colour.
- Sturdy and strong plugs.
This double-shielded OTraki product helps reduce noise and clicks with its design and is widely compatible with many devices. Its design also discourages the frequency of wear and tear on the cable and keeps it long-lasting and new.
- 10ft/3m in length.
- 35mm, ¼” two-piece noiseless cables.
- Woven nylon sleeve to prevent wear and tear.
- Made of 24 AWG oxygen-free copper to reduce electrical losses.
- Double shielding.
- Wide compatibility with a range of instruments.
This classic design, coiled Vox cable is particularly beautiful and reliable because of its tangle-resistant design. In spite of its coil, it is over nine meters long, and can easily fit any of your musical needs, with regards to sound quality and depth.
- Multi-gauge conductors for optimum performance.
- High-quality 99.99% pure, oxygen-free, copper cable conductors.
- Double-shielded for maximum noise reduction.
- Abrasion-resistant, high-temperature PVC jacket for durability.
- Gold-plated connectors.
- Available in five different colours.
This Tiger product, from a brand with a long history and popularity in the market, is your ideal choice for quality and reliability. With its flexibility and lightness, it is easy to carry around for your practice gigs.
- 3m cable length.
- ¼” right-angled jack.
- 35mm connector.
- Wide compatibility in audio interfaces, electric guitars, bass guitars, and electro-acoustic guitars.
Crafted with 24K gold-plated connectors, these Roland Black series provide the best conductivity for great sound production and quality for your music. Its low-capacitance design also makes sure that your sound depth is clear and near-perfect.
- Angled/Straight, ¼” cable jack.
- 15ft/4.5m in length.
- Available in 4.5m, 6m and 7.5m.
- Heavy-duty cable.
- Low capacitance design.
- High-density spiral copper shields.
This gold-plated mono jack cable is remarkable for its clarity and depth and can be suitable for use in a wide range of instruments. Its depth and balance make it a ready fit for your musical needs.
- 15ft cable in length.
- ¼” mono jack cable.
- 35mm guitar cable made to reduce noise.
- Made with thick, heavy gauge wires and heavy-duty metal jack.
- Protected with a PVC jacket.
- Compatible with a wide range of instruments.
- Oxygen-free copper lines with double shields to maximize audio quality.
- Available in 10ft, 15ft, 3ft and 6ft.
Buying guide For Guitar Cable UK
Before heading into that guitar shop, it is important to have at the back of your mind the following tips to ensure that you are no novice in selecting the best guitar cable for yourself. Make sure that you are not simply paying undue attention to the price of the guitar cable, but also these invaluable guides to an agreeable shopping experience.
It is important that before choosing a guitar cable, you find out what brand it is, and how popular and integral that such brand is in the market. You expect that such brands as Premium, Fender, Vox, Tiger, etc. already have strong brand popularity and presence, and that this would influence largely the quality of your guitar cable.
Ensure that the guitar cable you are choosing is quite durable. You can guess at this by identifying the type of material that your cable is enclosed in. Generally, PVC-jacketed cables or electrostatic-shielded cables are very durable and strong and can last for a long time and with prolonged usage. You do not want to have your cable malfunctioning midway into your practice gigs.
Length and Flexibility
Length and flexibility are other important tips for your buying considerations. You have to be aware of how far away your guitar amp is from the stage, and what length of cable you would be in need of. Normally, most cables are between 10 to 20 feet long. At the same time, you should be considering a cable that is tactile and flexible, so that it does not get to coil up unnecessarily and have breakages along its length.
It is of utmost importance that your guitar cable is well insulated. This is because your guitar is an electrical instrument, and you could have seepages of electrical current from your guitar cable, which could cause damages to your circuitry or yourself and others. A good cable should, therefore, be well insulated, to adequately contain the current that passes through it. Consequently, make sure that you avoid cables made of plastic, and instead make choices of cables with a rugged tweed jacket. Look out for an insulator shield on your cable and an oxygen-free copper shield (OFC) for the conductor.
In making a choice for a guitar cable, ensure that you consider a cable that is versatile and can be compatible with many other devices, such as your piano, ukulele, foot pedal, etc. This would be helpful for you as you are able to use your cable nicely with any other needs that may arise along the way.
Look out for a cable that is simple in outlook and can be easily used. In this respect, you should look at the connectors to be assured that they are not loose, and can easily fit into the lamp sockets. A bad connector may have you struggling to connect your cable each time, or having your guitar amp constantly making crackling sounds.
What is the best length of guitar cable for my guitar?
There is no fixed length of guitar cord expected for your use. This depends a lot on the setting of your stage and the distance from the guitar amps. Most guitar cables come in lengths of 10-20ft. Ensure, however, that the cables are thick and durable to avoid tangles and breakages along its length.
What is the best quality material for my guitar cable?
There is a range of materials that guitar cables come in. The best quality materials, however, are those that offer good insulation for your cable, so as to maximize conductivity and reduce electrical losses. As such, cable materials like polyethene, PVC, etc. are of great quality.
How do I store my guitar cables after use?
It is important that after use, you neatly fold up and arrange your guitar cable. This will help you to remove any entanglements on the cable’s length and keep it in good shape.
From my review, it is my recommendation that while the most expensive product would be Vox VCC90BK Vintage Coiled Cable, and the cheapest of the products reviewed is Tiger 6.35Mm – 1/4 Inch Right Angled Jack Guitar Cable, the best value for your money would be Fender Professional Series Instrument Cable. This is because the latter does not simply offer you a cheap value-price ratio, but possesses excellent and reliable features to make your guitar experience pleasant, noise-free and memorable.