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 encountered. Cable capacitance will darken or muddy your tone. The rate of that capacitance has multiple factors, including the length of the cable, the gauge of the conductor, and the how much internal insulation separates the signal conductor from the shield.

Long cables can be remedied with a signal buffer to get that original signal back. So if a long cable is required, we recommend using a buffer somewhere in the signal chain.

Does guitar cable affect the sound?

Absolutely, the guitar cable can affect the sound. As I mentioned above, capacitance can be an issue. This is highly dependent on the cables you purchase and how they are built. Shorter run cables in the 10-15 feet range are ideal and going 20 feet and longer, you may begin to experience some tone or signal loss. Our cables are engineered to be low capacitance, with the sweet spot being in that 15' range, and 20' still sounds clear and natural.

What is the perfect guitar cable length? Cable from spool

Are thicker guitar cables better?

Thicker guitar cables tend to indicate durability (beefy, as they say). But thicker cables also mean a more significant gap between the signal conductor and the internal shield. This gap is critical for maintaining lower capacitance over distance. Thinner cables will have a smaller gap, and high-end frequencies will bleed to ground with shorter lengths. The only way to compensate for that is to go with a thinner signal conductor, resulting in breakage over time. Our cable uses a 20AWG center conductor and spacing for low capacitance 20-25pF/foot at 15-foot length.

Now that we have some of the basics of how length can affect your tone and overall signal, let's talk about length requirements for performing.

Guitar cable length for gigs.

There are a couple of rules of thumb here.
  1. What is the size of the stage?
  2. What is the required movement needed?

If you're performing on a large stage with your rig WAY behind you, you need longer cables. Gigging musicians often carry a short set and a large set for the run between the pedalboard and amp. I usually recommend having an Instrument Junction Box to tie cables together for super long runs. If you're playing in most ‘bar' stages and don't want to be standing on your cables, then I would recommend 10' cables.

The other factor, which can be a significant issue, is your beverage during a performance? If you put a drink on your amp, you need to ensure your primary instrument cable can get back to the pint glass or can. If you use a mic stand to hold your beverage or keep it by your feet, then it's not an issue.

Movement is something to consider as well. Do you stay in your zone? Do you wander around? If so, then a large cable might be required.

A typical to average stage, I would recommend a 15' to 20' Standard Cable from pedalboard to amp and a 10' or 15' Snake Head or Standard from board to instrument. If you encounter a large stage, I would recommend carrying a 20' Standard as emergency bonus cable and a Junction Box to double your length from pedalboard to amp.

Guitar cable length for recording.

When recording, you are very much in control of your tone, playing area, etc. Length is generally not an issue unless isolation booths are a long way from the playing area. If so, you can dial the proper tone while sound checking and compensating for cable capacitance with the amp or at the console. Starting with the best-desired tone is the way to go, so finding that perfect length for your ear is ideal but not necessary. Also, the opposite can be helpful; in some cases, you may think your tone is too bright, and an extremely long cable might help with that. That is one of the reasons some players like coiled cables to get that added cable capacitance with guitars with exaggerated highs.

In summary, what is ideal cable length for guitar?

Essentially, where it matters the most is live settings. Understand your average stage size and account for that, with backups lengths and the ability to lengthen if needed. Understand how you navigate your playing area (i.e., grabbing drinks, interacting with your band, etc.). Typically, 10-15 foot length cables are ideal for most stages and ensure excellent tone. Anything over 20 feet might require some adjustments.


Related Products mentioned in this article...

Standard Rattlesnake Cable
Standard Rattlesnake Cable
Buy Now
Snake Head Rattlesnake Cable
Snake Head Rattlesnake Cable
Buy Now
Junction Box
Junction Box
Buy Now

Below is a listing of our Recent Articles

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

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

What is the Rickenbacker Rick-o-Sound (Ricko sound)? On the Deluxe Rickenbacker 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 not...
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...
Can you use instrument cables as speaker cables?

Can you use instrument cables as speaker cables?

Over here at Rattlesnake Cable Company and talking with various musicians over the years, I get asked this question a lot. It's a simple question that is easy to scratch your head. Both types of cables, at first glance, look the same. A cable with a couple of mono phono plugs on each end. Both seem to work either way, so does it matter? Absolutely! But, let's first talk about the differences between these cables. We need to know what makes a guitar cable or instrument cable different than a...

Reviews on Google

Jared Blankenship
Jared Blankenship
5/25/2021
Top-notch customer service and high-quality gear. What more could a musician need? Ordered multiple pieces — built to my specs and performing just as I’d expected.
Steve McBride (SoundGate Productions)
Steve McBride (SoundGate Productions)
6/22/2021
As a professional musician for the past 42 years, having performed on every type and size of stage all over the world, I can honestly say that these are the finest cables I have EVER used. I would recommend them to any musician. First Class and Top Notch!!! Thank you Rattlesnake Cable Company!!!... Read
Augustine Mele
Augustine Mele
1/19/2021
These cables hold up, sound great, stand out so you can easily identify them and the covering makes set up and break down easy!
Augustine Mele
Jared Blankenship
5/25/2021
Top-notch customer service and high-quality gear. What more could a musician need? Ordered multiple pieces — built to my specs and performing just as I’d expected.
Close
Augustine Mele
Steve McBride (SoundGate Productions)
6/22/2021
As a professional musician for the past 42 years, having performed on every type and size of stage all over the world, I can honestly say that these are the finest cables I have EVER used. I would recommend them to any musician. First Class and Top Notch!!! Thank you Rattlesnake Cable Company!!! You're the BEST!!! Excellent customer service!!! Products arrived earlier than expected.
Close
Augustine Mele
Augustine Mele
1/19/2021
These cables hold up, sound great, stand out so you can easily identify them and the covering makes set up and break down easy!
Close

Search