Free US / Domestic Shipping On Orders Over $125!


How to find the best guitar cable.

How to find the best guitar cable

When looking for the best guitar cable, there are many questions to ask. But typically, people first tend to ask, "what is the best guitar cable." And from this point, they get lost in the options, pricing, and specifications.

I wanted to do a breakdown of these areas to help the understanding of features and specifications and what they mean for you. So let's ask a few common questions.

What makes a good guitar cable?

How to find the best guitar cable. Cables laying cable reelsConductor gauge or AWG or American Wire Gauge. This is what carries your signal from your instrument to the next point of your signal chain. When we talk about cables' pricing, we're generally talking about the copper in the cable. The more copper and the better quality of copper can raise the price. A great gauge for the primary signal conductor is 20 AWG. By having a thicker conductor, you increase the strength of that signal path. Over time, the cable bending and twisted can cause a thinner gauge to break from fatigue.

Oxygen Free Bare Copper or OFBC is a smelting process of the copper (electrolytically refined). This smelting leads to extremely high-quality copper. The higher quality copper will increase conductivity, and we all want that. Conductivity is the reason we hear our instrument. Again, like our conductor gauge, the OFBC will often bring in a larger price point compared to Bare Copper or BC.

Capacitance. You'll run into this term a lot. Capacitance, or cable capacitance, is when your signal degrades. This degradation is based on the diameter of the cable in relation to the conductor and length of the cable. Okay, that isn't very easy. Let me explain it this way. There is a copper "shield" protecting the inner conductor. I'll get into shielding next, but the closer the conductor is to the shield, the higher capacitance. The higher capacitance will result in a muddy or darker tone and potential volume loss. Capacitance is also related to the length of the cable. The longer the cable, the higher the capacitance.

A good guitar cable will want to have the perfect amount of capacitance in the desired length. For example, our Standard instrument cables are 20-25pF (picofarad) / foot. This is tested at 15' feet lengths. A 10' cable is probably 19-21pF, while a 20' cable is in the 22-27pF range. As we get longer, the pF increases.

Thin cables will either have tiny conductor or have higher capacitance. Our instrument cable is thick (.280" diameter) to maintain a strong conductor and have low capacitance.

Cable Drawing Cross Section

Shielding. We touched on this above. Shielding is critical for a quality instrument cable. Shielding (or ground) is to "shield" the conductor from outside radio frequencies (RF). External signals are flying about in the air. A cable without a shield is an antenna and would pick up the radio or other frequencies. Shielding will pick up those frequencies and send them to ground. Quality shielding ensures a quiet cable.

Cables come with two types of shielding - spiral shielding and braided shielding. Spiral shielding allows for more flexibility, but gaps in the shielding and breakage are possible. Braided shielding is the strongest shielding but can be stiffer. When we talk about shielding, you need to pay attention to "coverage." Cheap cables will have very little coverage. Like the conductor, less copper in the shielding leads to cheaper production costs. You pay the price with noise.

Plugs. What terminates your guitar cable is important. Plugs are where most failures happen. Strain relief plugs or plugs with proper cable clamps like the Neutrik Pro Series we use are the best. Cable clamps are like Chinese finger cuffs. The clamp tightens harder when you pull the plug from the cable. This cable clamp ensures a good "bite" to protect the solder connections.

If you go with Gold or Nickel contacts is up to you. Many people swear by gold, but it doesn't matter unless all contacts are gold in the chain. Gold is very cosmetically appealing, and that's fine.

Does guitar cable quality matter?

This is a funny question that I've heard many times. When you're on stage, and the signal stops, or you're dealing with noise - ask yourself this question. Usually, I get a nod when I say this - quality matters when you have a problem. You can get away with a cheap cable - but if you want the best tone in the recording studio. Or if you want something you can count on while on the road. Yes, quality matters.

Are all guitar cables the same?

Okay, so we talked about what makes a great guitar cable. If we start looking at nuts and bolts and compare specs. If cables are the same from builder to builder, are they the same?

I say "no". At this point we should be looking at the business. There are x-factors when purchasing. The unknowns. For example - buyer experience, customer service, company ideology, etc. Why do we like to buy from certain companies and not others?

When we talk about boutique instrument cables or custom cables, we want to feel good about buying. Where is the wire milled? For instance - here at Rattlesnake Cable Company, we go WAY out of our way to get our cabled milled in the US. Some companies outsource work. Again, family business like ours hires locally to build a team to build your cables. Customer service is critical. Look up reviews and see how company treat their customers AFTER buying. How did they handle complaints? How did they handle repairs, etc.

So when we talk about cable specs, if they are the same, this is what separates the brands.


Related Products mentioned in this article...

Standard Rattlesnake Cable
Standard Rattlesnake Cable
Buy Now
Snake Head Rattlesnake Cable
Snake Head Rattlesnake Cable
Buy Now
Pedal Steel Cable
Pedal Steel Cable
Buy Now

Below is a listing of our Recent Articles

What is the perfect guitar cable length?

What is the perfect guitar cable length?

What is the perfect guitar cable length? At Rattlesnake Cable Company, we often get asked, "what is the perfect guitar cable length?" That is a difficult question to answer without knowing some of the critical variables and applications for the musician. But before we get started, let's start with some of the common questions. Are long guitar cables bad? Yes and no. Typically, extremely long guitar cables can be a problem due to cable capacitance. The longer the run, the more capacitance can be...
What Is Rick-O-Sound? And what do you need?

What Is Rick-O-Sound? And what do you need?

What is the RickenbackerTM Rick-o-Sound (Ricko sound)? On the Deluxe RickenbackerTM models, they introduced the Rick-O-Sound circuit in their instruments. The Rick-O-Sound separates the two pick-ups (bridge and neck) into separate, independent lines that require a TRS (aka Balanced or Stereo) cable. You can then use these individual lines and send them to specific amps, pedal setups, etc., via our TRS to Dual Mono Splitter. This split signal handling is managed via a separate output jack but is...
How to measure custom patch cables for your pedalboard

How to measure custom patch cables for your pedalboard

I have wanted to write this article for some time. We often get asked, "what is the best way to measure custom patch cables on the pedalboard or pedal line?" We must be both on the same page in regards to measurement points! This article will go into measurement techniques and details about patch cables and plug options. Do patch cables matter? Before we start talking about measuring, let's ask the age-old question, "Do patch cables matter?" I've personally used the cheapest cables on the planet...
Monitor Cables / Balanced Patch Cables

Monitor Cables / Balanced Patch Cables

I'm someone who suffers from chronic Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). Don't most of us musician types? It's easy to fixate on that next piece of gear, believing it will elevate my sound and take my recordings and mixing skills to the next level. Usually, It's an excuse to procrastinate and isn't a very efficient way to generate output. But some buys are hard to skirt around in the studio. The purchase I recommend before almost any other is a decent pair of studio monitors. They might not be the...
CL-1 Cloudlifter and Rattlesnake Cable Company XLR Cables

CL-1 Cloudlifter and Rattlesnake Cable Company XLR Cables

As we settle into the age of COVID-19, it goes without saying that the lives of musicians have shifted. Many of us continue to create and generate output during these uncertain times. Through live streaming, home recording, and podcasting, we adapt to the situation in front of us. This meant pivoting my focus towards recording at home and overcoming some technical barriers along the way. I typically outsource recording and mixing services from local studios. But adapting to our "new normal" and...

Testimonial Images


Reviews on Google

groovinbass88
groovinbass88
9/29/2021
I love these cables!! They are well built and sound great!! The different weave options are great my favorite is the Snake skin. Customer service is top notch!! Hank and the Rattlesnake team really care. Every order is packed professionally and shipped quickly!! A customer for life!!!!
Jeff Engelbert
Jeff Engelbert
2/5/2021
I've been a professional musician since the age of 19 (66 now). I've used every cable you can name. Mogami, D'Addario, Asterope, Armour Gold, ProCo, George L's, Lava and probably some I forgot. Ironically after seeing and hearing a great deal of buzz about Rattlesnake Cables I was in a music store... Read
Nick Lopez
Nick Lopez
2/19/2021
Rattlesnake cables are simply the best. I don’t use any others!
Nick Lopez
groovinbass88
9/29/2021
I love these cables!! They are well built and sound great!! The different weave options are great my favorite is the Snake skin. Customer service is top notch!! Hank and the Rattlesnake team really care. Every order is packed professionally and shipped quickly!! A customer for life!!!!
Close
Nick Lopez
Jeff Engelbert
2/5/2021
I've been a professional musician since the age of 19 (66 now). I've used every cable you can name. Mogami, D'Addario, Asterope, Armour Gold, ProCo, George L's, Lava and probably some I forgot. Ironically after seeing and hearing a great deal of buzz about Rattlesnake Cables I was in a music store in Boise, Idaho about 2 years ago and on a rack were some Rattlesnake Cables. I thought what the heck I would give it a try. When I got home I compared it to my Armour Gold, D'Addario American Stage and my Lava cable. No contest. The Rattlesnake cable was more balanced and had better cleaner more articulate mids, highs, and low frequency than all of the cables I was using. I also like the fact that the outside material is durable but not stiff. I now have at least 6 guitar cables in a variety of colors (I dig the Black Widow and Purple the most) and probably 18 patch cables of different lengths. The patch cables are now on my full size pedalboard, my alternate pedalboard, and my acoustic pedalboard. I'm done chasing the best sound for my guitar rigs I know I found it. THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SERVICE FROM Rattlesnake Cables: Hank and his team are terrific. They know it's a competitive world out there and there are so many choices in purchasing guitar cables and patch cables. Their Customer Service is 2nd to none. Always on time and most of the time exceed my expectations. I'm waiting for a curly cable throwback to the 60's, those were some of the first cables I ever used as a kid.
Close
Nick Lopez
Nick Lopez
2/19/2021
Rattlesnake cables are simply the best. I don’t use any others!
Close

Search

Need a coupon?

15% Coupon

We'll send you a 15% coupon code directly to your inbox. We just need some info below

Enter Code