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Cables - speaker/instrument

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Chico16, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. Chico16


    Apr 2, 2012
    Yuma, Az
    I've always used an instrument cable to connect my cabinet to my amp. Is this damaging my equipment to the point I REALLY need to invest in speaker cables/speakon cables?
  2. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    It can cause over heating of the output tranny (or circuit) from what amp manufacturers say in their literature. The hot lead on an instrument cable is very small gauge. Better safe than sorry. Use at least 14 gauge wire.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
  4. I stopped counting how may amp repairs were needed from someone using an instrument cable for SPEAKERS. :rollno::rollno:

    Speakers are NOT instruments, they are speakers.
  5. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    You've been dang lucky! Instrument cables will overheat, and eventually short or open - either can be disastrous to your amp and your gig. This is one of the real problems with using 1/4" plugs for speakers. It has always been a really bad idea.

    Speaker cable do not have to be expensive - avoid the esoteric ones and perhaps learn to make your own from an AC extension cord and a couple of plugs. If you get plugs with screw terminals, you don't even need to solder.

    Even 18 gauge like a lamp cord is fine for short runs and 16 ga. is better for longer runs.
  6. Chico16


    Apr 2, 2012
    Yuma, Az
    Damn.... I guess I really have been lucky! Lol my Behringer stack has been putting up a hell of a fight then!! So a 14 gauge is fine?
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    14 is fine. You could run a football field with that heavy of a gauge.
  8. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    It ain't just about the guage, pal. Get one marked "Speaker Cable."
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. Better yet, walk up to "the guy" at "the store" and tell him you want a short speaker cable. And THEN confirm that the package/cable itself reads "speaker" and the the size of the cable on it.
  10. Andyman001

    Andyman001 moderation must be taken with a grain of salt

    Feb 11, 2010
    +1 to all

    Open up an old instrument cable (unscrew the end) and look at the wire size, or cut open a bad cord. That small wire in the middle, or soldered to the tip of the plug is probably only 20 awg, which is very small, to run any power (speaker signal) through.
  11. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    What kind of amp- if it's high power, it's more risky. Read your manuals. You don't need to spend a lot on the cables, but they need to be made with speaker cable. The difference in signal level (voltage) and other characteristics is substantial. If the jacks work with 1/4" or Speakon plugs, use whatever you want- this has already worked with 1/4", so.......
  12. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    I did what the OP did for many years I always wondered why my amps sounded like ****.
  13. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana

    I was about to point this out to the OP. Back in the day when a decent bass amp was 35-50 watts, it still mattered using a speaker rather than instrument cable, but not as much as today. My lowest rated bass amp today is 600 wts @ 4 ohms. It matters much more today than it did 40 years ago.

    And speakon? Yes, it is worth it, if your amp and cab are already set up for speakon. Buy it one time. 10 years from now you will still be using that same cable.
  14. Chico16


    Apr 2, 2012
    Yuma, Az
    Yea guys I was already looking for a cable labeled as speaker cable just wondering if the gauges would make a big difference that's all. I'm dumb but not THAT dumb lol
  15. Chico16


    Apr 2, 2012
    Yuma, Az
    The earlier posts were able to inform me of the importance of using a speaker cable over an instrument cable, I was moving on to a different question. But never mind I guess lol thanks though guys!
  16. Another amp and gig saved! :D
  17. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Gauge only matters if the cable is long and the wire's characteristics cause problems when the frequency range is especially wide or there's a small tolerance for variations. For a short one, 16 is fine for short distance and less than 100W, but you'd still have some voltage drop.

    Here's a calculator-

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Cable is cheap. Amplifiers are not. Get a good quality speaker cable and be done with.
  19. ericg3


    Jan 14, 2013
    When your cables are mixed up in a box how do you know which one is a speaker cable and which is an instrument cable
  20. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    A tab of cloth medical tape on the speaker cable maybe? Color coded velcro wraps? Spray paint the ends? There must be a million ways limited only by imagination.

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