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Are all instrument cables born the same ? Here is a quick guide

Updated: Mar 14

I am biased of course, but the short answer is no, here's why ;

Electric guitar with cables, audio pedals on stage during a concert, Spinal Cordz
Are All Cables The Same?


It's all in the components

A cable can turn very quickly into a giant antenna, picking up all sorts of noise and polluting your signal. When choosing a cable you want something that will last and something that is shielded from your surroundings.


The anatomy of an instrument cable

The main cable I use is from Canare, the GS-6, made in Japan. It's a cable that has been specifically developed for instruments. The first layer is a nice quality flexible rubber. Thick enough on its own to absorb shock and easy to bend. It doesn't ''kink'' or get all tangled like the more plastic cover of cheaper cables. Under that, you get the first copper braided sleeve. There is a lot of metal here and it's very dense and properly packed for maximum shielding potential. Under there is a carbon jacket, another layer dedicated to eliminating microphonic noise. Then you get to the actual cable under a semi-transparent thick sleeve. The wire itself is 18AWG, a little bigger than most other options, so again, more copper.

  • Electronic Instruments.

  • Hi-Fi Interconnects.

  • Test Probes.

  • Audio Patch Cords.

  • AMP to Cabinet Leads.

  • Stays flexible even in Sub-Zero Weather.

  • Oxygen-Free Copper Conductor & Shield.

  • Reduced Microphonic Handling Noise.

  • Low Capacitance & Resistance.


Reputed Plugs

Obviously, the connectors of the cable are very important as they are a mechanical connection between your gear components. You want something that will last and fit snugly. The Neutrik NP2 series, made in Germany, is a heavy-duty nickel shell with precisely machined tips. The cheaper cable will feature a loose connection, thinner material that can bend or crack if you step on them, or even plastic shells. This won't let you down.



Extra Protection, with a bit of style

A lot of cables in the automotive, marine or other industrial applications will feature a sleeve to protect them from harsh environments and identify them easily and well. TechFlex is a USA-made product and specializes in sleeves and cable protection of all kinds. This alleviates wear and tear during use when your cable is on the floor dragging and also during transportation in road cases or bags. Touring is a hard life! For cables too! It also adds a cool touch to the product and something you can customize to your liking for identity.



Performance

At the end of the day, you want a quality product, with low resistance that preserves your tone. One way to measure that is with a multimeter. A quick and simple test will reveal that the Spinal Cordz cable, 10ft long will feature 0.2 ohms of resistance. Something quite negligible. On the other hand, a cheaper generic option of the same length with a ''no-name'' component shows us 1.3 ohms of resistance. That's about 6x more obstruction to your signal.




So what do you think? Are all cables the same?


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