So you got a great guitar and a powerful amplifier. Great! Now, the one thing you need to get hold of is the best guitar cable. To connect an electronic guitar to an amp, you certainly need a cable. The type of guitar cable you choose has a huge impact on the tune you want to produce. As such, choosing the most appropriate is of utmost importance. To help you discover the best leads on the market, we have highlighted our top 7 recommendations and short DIY guides for making guitar cables for the best electric guitar.
Perhaps you are thinking about getting rid of the cables and going wireless. Check out this article on the best wireless guitar systems.
- Are All Guitar Cables The Same?
- Our Top 7 Picks
- Best Sounding Guitar Cable For The Money – Mogami Gold Instrument Cable
- Best Bass Guitar Cable – 10 ft Canare Instrument Cable
- Best Silent Guitar Cable – Mogami Gold INST Silent S-10 Guitar Instrument Cable
- Best Guitar Cables for Noise Reduction – Planet Waves Custom Series Instrument Cable
- Best Guitar To USB Cable – YESPURE Guitar Bass to USB Link Connection Cable
- Best Curly Guitar Cable – VOX VCC090 Red Coiled 1/4″ Cable
- Best Shielded Guitar Cable – KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable
- Making Your Own Guitar Cable
- Testing Your Guitar Cables With A Cable Tester
Are All Guitar Cables The Same?
No. Guitar cables are not created the same. Truth is some are great while others are terrible. They differ even in terms of price; with a few costing more than a guitar itself. But do the most expensive guitar cables sound better that cheap ones?
In any case, the price tag and quality of the braided copper cable have no direct correlation. Do not be duped by some companies manufacturing fake cables only to take your hard-earned money for nothing. However, there are good brands out there selling genuine products at a hefty price tag. When buying, be keen on the insulation material.
Go for one with gold-plated connectors, conductive PVC electrostatic shielding, oxygen-free or linear copper material, braided shielding, and the lowest capacitance. Some brands specialize in gold-plating more than the other components and so their embossed cables end up selling at expensive prices. Beware of such gold-plated features as they only enhance longevity but the cable may not offer any performance busts.
You must check every component before you pay a hefty bill. Again, the purpose of your guitar matters. For regular gigs, you need a longer and durable instrument cable. If you only play for fun at home or studio, a shorter and cheaper cable would be more suitable.
Our Top 7 Picks
The best guitar cable should satisfy you with quality and price range. Here, we showcase top choices that do not compromise quality.
Best Sounding Guitar Cable For The Money – Mogami Gold Instrument Cable
The Mogami Gold Instrument Cable is designed to give sublimely silent backgrounds, crystal clear tones and excellent sound quality. For decades, it has been one of the best guitar cables used by guitarists working in professional studios. Besides preserving the unique allure of your guitar and its effects, it exhibits amazing sound clarity and high quality. Built for higher transparency level, Mogami Gold Cable features:
- Conductive polymer sub-shield
- OFC- Oxygen free copper core
- Straight Neutrik silent plug
- Carbon impregnated PVC- Anti-static shield layer
- UHD spiral shield
If you are always on the go, the carbon-infused PVC helps to mitigate handling noises. The straight Neutrik silentPLUG ensures quiet hot swapping between devices. The cable is compatible with bass, electric, and acoustic guitars, among other unbalanced cable applications. The standard foot length is 10 feet but other series come in 25, 18, 6, and 3 feet. While it doesn’t come cheap, you can expect awesome tones from Mogami Gold guitar cable. It introduces zero perceptible noises and doesn’t block the lows and highs from ringing out. Durability and high built quality are its greatest strengths. Because it coils easily, storage is never a problem and it will, therefore, resist any breakage.
Best Bass Guitar Cable – 10 ft Canare Instrument Cable
An oxygen-free copper 18 AWG cable is ideal for connecting bass guitars and keyboards to effect pedals, mixers, amplifiers, or any outboard signal gear. With low resistance and capacitance, the 10-ft Canare Instrument Cable offers an enhanced frequency response that flattens to 50 kHz. It preserves a brightly ringing sound even if HI-Z guitar pickups are connected to long cable runs.
- 1/4″ mono straight angle or right angle
- Double carbon/braid copper shield
- XX Neutrik connectors
- Lifetime warranty
A proprietary double shield construction prevents any microphonic handling of noise during a stage performance when amplifiers are running at their maximum volumes. The Canare instrument cables are more suited to connecting amp heads to speaker cabinets. The high-quality Neutrik connectors are the leading audio connectors with the XX series being the most reliable thanks to improved contact integrity and minimum cable stains. These connectors are housed in a silver casing and their contacts are silver-plated. With a lifetime warranty, it outlasts all the cheaper counterparts. When it comes to Canare products, it all boils down to shielding which is typically braided. A braided shield features numerous wires twined on opposite sides, giving about 95% coverage. The shield hardly shifts over time and is highly flexible.
Best Silent Guitar Cable – Mogami Gold INST Silent S-10 Guitar Instrument Cable
Mogami is dedicated to manufacturing the best guitar cables thanks to the many years of research they invest in. When most companies produce cables with almost the same effects on sounds, Mogami products stand out with unique approaches and better signal transfer. The heavy-duty Gold INST Silent S-10 cable has an outstanding signal transferring capability. The main features of the Silent S-10 are:
- Conductive polymer sub-shield
- OFC core
- 1/4″ TRS connector
- UHD spiral shield
- Carbon impregnated PVC
- 1/4″ Neutrik Silent Plug
- Lifetime warranty
Mogami Gold Inst is recommended for keyboards, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and electric basses. As far as the handling of noises goes, this cable is completely silent courtesy of a carbon impregnated PVC. The guitar player can jump with the instrument as much as they like without creating some twitching sounds. The silent plug allows hot-swapping of instruments without causing an earsplitting pop. With a neutral balance, the cable’s output is always at its optimal level. As for the price, it is one of the best guitar cables for a nominal budget.
Best Guitar Cables for Noise Reduction – Planet Waves Custom Series Instrument Cable
This is a mid-range guitar cable from Planet Waves American Stage and a dramatic upgrade in terms of quality from what many budget cables offer. It is available in straight and right angle connections. With two length choices- 30ft and 10ft, you can expect an excellent combination tone quality, value, and durability. It is possible to get a crackle-free connection in any instrument courtesy of the patented tip design. Features of Planet Wave cable are as follows:
- Neutrik made plugs
- Oxygen-free copper conductor
- In-Line solder joint with enhanced strength and conductivity
- Foamed Polythene insulator
- 1/4″ right-angled tips – 1/4″ straight-end tips
- Robust polymer coating
- Geo-Tip that fits into any jack
- In-Out technology- it gives what you feed into it
Overall, the sound quality of Planet Wave Custom Series cables is very neutral. It makes an essential accessory for recording and gigging where tone transparency is a priority. The in-line soldier joint makes it a go-to guitar cable for anyone who wants something that can last for years. The price is an interesting factor as it compares to more expensive models with the same performance. If you are a music lover looking to get the most out of your instruments, then this is the right cable for you. Planet Wave is clean-sounding, reliable, and affordable.
Best Guitar To USB Cable – YESPURE Guitar Bass to USB Link Connection Cable
Connecting your guitar to a PC is a nice way of recording your music and experimenting with different amp effects and plugins. You just need one tool to achieve this- a Guitar Bass to USB Link Cable. A professionally shielded cable by YESPURE uses a simple USB plug without the need for an additional driver. It is the easiest way to connect bass or electric guitar to a computer through an audio interface that safely processes the signals from the guitar and converts them into something that your PC can use. Even if the computer has audio jacks, you cannot plug an electric guitar directly into it and so you need an audio interface. With great compatibility to devices, the Guitar Bass to USB Link Connection Cable supports windows and Mac OS systems. It also works well with XBOX, PS2, PS3, and USB 1.1/2.0. It features:
- 6.3mm radius jack/ XL plug
- Offers 16-bit 48/44.1 KHz resolution
- Embedded A/D converter
- LED indicator
- 2.8m cable length
- 83dB S/N Ratio
- 80dB dynamic range
- 1M Ohm input impedance
The LED indicator produces flashes of light whenever there’s a signal to transmit. Sometimes, the sound may delay due to a variation in the configuration of a computer in which case the cable gives a warm reminder.
Best Curly Guitar Cable – VOX VCC090 Red Coiled 1/4″ Cable
If you are looking for precise, clean tones without the annoying noise interference, then this premium VOX VCC090 would serve you best. It utilizes specialized audiophile-grade materials to bring optimal performance. Moreover, this Class A guitar cable is designed to resist any form of corrosion while ensuring seamless signal flow. It has the following features.
- 24K gold plated connectors
- 99.99% Pure OFC copper conductors
- Multi-gauge conductors
- 1-piece connector tip
- Polypropylene Dielectric
- High temperature resistance
The 24K gold plated connectors are double shielded thereby giving maximum isolation from any interference by radio frequency or electromagnetic waves. Unlike typical cables that are prone to sound distortions with poor copper conductors, the VOX Coiled cable does not cause any loss of signal. Designed for dynamic and high-definition sounds, it comes with the finest OFC copper conductors for prime clarity and more naturally sounding midrange tones. OFC copper a common element among audiophile devices. The multi-gauge conductors are optimized for certain frequency ranges and so they achieve fuller and natural sounds. This VOX cable has managed to eliminate undesirable characteristics that are common in traditional coiled cables. It makes an ideal choice for guitar players who adore the retro style.
Best Shielded Guitar Cable – KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable
The KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable is available in four versions which come in 20ft and 10ft lengths. The shorter cable is suitable for most studios. Coming with different connectors, the 10ft model allows you to choose between straight-angled and straight-straight connectors. It is also thicker than other cables because of the multiple layers of shielding and insulation it carries. The many layers enable maximum noise isolation. It features:
- 24AWG oxygen-free copper core
- Neutrik 1/4″ gold plug
- Rugged tweed outer jacket
- High-density braided shield (OFC 99%)
You can rely on the superior connection by Neutrik plugs that offer improved conductivity and resistance to tarnishing. They are enclosed in a black zinc shell. The KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable is surprisingly kink-free. Its flexible construction does not tangle and coils easily for storage. Its rugged jacket offers maximum durability in any kind of environment and is available in 3 colors: red, blue, and black. It is one of the cables with a good combination of flexibility, superior conductivity, shielding, and insulation. Overall, the warranty and quality of the product offers great value for money.
Making Your Own Guitar Cable
Did you know you can make the best guitar cable from a number of electrical parts? Here is a simple DIY procedure.
- Get the tools ready – You will need 2 mono plugs, wire strippers/sharp knife, damp sponge/cloth, solder, soldering iron, and a stand. Look for 1/4″ plugs with a metal casing- straight or angled. They don’t have to be gold plated. Be sure to set up the stand or workbench so you can sit in a comfortable position. You may spread old newspapers or a blanket on the work space. A damp cloth is for wiping the iron.
- Strip the insulation – Starting from each side of the cable, cut a 1-cm strip of the plastic insulation. Roll the cable on the knife or use the wire strippers to cut. Be careful not to apply excess pressure when cutting the cable jacket. That’s why you should buy an extra length of cable just in case you snip through the copper wire.
- Prep the wire – The thin wire in the middle of the cable is the conductor. The copper strands in the outer layer make up the shield. They are braided all over the cable’s circumference. Twist the strands together and make sure nothing is loose. From the wire’s end, strip about 5mm jacket with a wire stripper or knife. Then twist the strands together. Check whether the cable fits into the plug. If possible, no wire should be exposed. Place the soldering hot iron under the twisted wire. Let the solder melt over the copper strands to form a neat cap. Repeat the process to get even coverage.
There is an easier way though, with a DIY guitar lead kit where you can build your own guitar leads at the lengths ou need. Take a look at this and make the best guitar cables just right for you:
D’Addario DIY Solderless Custom Cable Kit
- 6 right-angle plugs and 4 straight plugs with patented Geo-tips
- 40” American Stage cable
- Mini cable cutter
- Screw driver
- Road-tested plug connections
- Solderless plugs for quick and hassle-free connections to the cable
- Limited lifetime warranty
To start making a guitar cable, you simply need to measure the cable length, cut it, place it onto the end of the plug, and screw to secure the ensemble. A mini-plug design allows for both right and straight angled connections. With this kit, it is easier to design guitar cables that are most appropriate for the layout of your equipment. All this you will do without using any solder. The components are made of the topnotch materials like the original Neutrik connectors and audiophile-grade wire. This means your DIY project results in the best sound whether you play bass keyboard or electric guitar. D’Addario cable kit is tailored to serve your tone with robust high fidelity. Moreover, the connections cannot break when you want to give an impeccable performance.
Testing Your Guitar Cables With A Cable Tester
It is very important to confirm whether your guitar cables are reliable or faulty. You will hardly enjoy a guitar if the input jacks are always faulty. For the avoidance of doubt, make use of a cable tester. To test your guitar cables, you need:
- 9v battery
- Battery holder and clip
- 2 stereo 1/4″ jacks
- Small speaker
- 3 LEDs- green, yellow, and red
- 3 330Ohm resistors
Start by checking out the schematic, i.e. whether there is any flow of electric current from one tip of the cable to the other. If you switch off the power, there should be some light on the tip. The ring light should also remain when you flip the switch to either side if it is a mono cable. If it doesn’t light up, then the cable is defective. You will also know you have a bad cable if the tip shorts to the ring or ground when the switch goes off or when you shake the cable. Similarly, lack of light or tip light means the cable is broken.
Now this is how you would build your own tester for guitar cables – what about one that you can just buy?
Behringer CT100 Professional 6-in-1 Instrument Cable Tester
Manufactured in Germany, the Behringer CT100 Professional 6-in-1 cable tester is a microprocessor-controlled device featuring 3 testing modes: cable test, tone, and installed cable test. It works with all standard connectors from MIDI, RCA, XLR, and TRS (TT, 1/8″, and 1/4″). It comes with an LED display to facilitate easy and intuitive operation. It can test for intermittent contact, continuity, and presence of grounded shields or phantom power. This portable audio device is a must-have tool for musicians and engineers. Other features include:
- Belt clip for busy users
- Phantom power and ground shield checks
- Test-tone generator
- Uses 2 AA batteries
- 3 years warranty
Behringer’s CT100 can test any type of guitar cable used in live performance or music recording. Since it runs on AA battery sizes, it is comfortable to carry in the pocket or clip onto the belt. The smart and portable cable tester ensures that your recording session is not interrupted. You would want this tester if you are always using effects board or condenser microphones. Do not let the bad jumping cables ruin your musical session by switching things anyhow. CT100 will not only test the reliability of guitar cable but also save your mixer’s Phantom power. It sends signals to show you whether you got a good or bad cable. If you make your own cables or normally repair on your own, this cable tester is an indispensable tool to add to your arsenal.
Want to preserve the unique tone of your guitar? Choose one of the best guitar cables highlighted in this guide. You have probably spotted a few cables to suit your requirements. It is okay to have several choices so you can listen to their tonal differences. Regardless of the model you choose, keep in mind that too long a cable may not work for you unless you are performing in a big stadium. Also, remember you can design your own cables. And to be on the safe side, use cable testers. They will save you a lot of time and agony.