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Cloth or Poly Wire?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by munkeyfish, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. munkeyfish

    munkeyfish Supporting Member

    I looked around and didn't see any topics right off about it.

    So, any pros/cons over cloth wire vs. poly? Or is it the other way around?

    About to wire up my P and was wondering....

  2. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    No difference in sound. Wire is wire. The difference is that you don't strip the cloth wire, you push back the end then solder it. Whether this is easier or harder than stripping the wire is debatable. I find working with cloth wire to be a bit of a pain.
  3. It's a personal preference, based on aesthetics. To a lesser degree, some like the workability of one over the other, as well. Modern wire must be stripped, while cloth wire pushes back.

    If you have to ask which wire to use, then you're overthinking it.
  4. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Teflon insulated is the best - hands down. It is absolutely inert and will not chemically interact with the conductors over time. Some polys are OK with this, others are horrible.
  5. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    what's best is the "pre-tinned" or "pre-bond" wire, where it's stranded together then dipped in the solder bath; it bends and stays bent like solid core, while still having the durability of stranded.

    stewmac sells cloth wire like this, and mojotone sells regular wire like this, both AWG22, what you want for guitar wiring.
  6. Many make a big deal about the vintage aspect of cloth wire but in reality once everything is connected you never see it again and no audible difference , so use what you 're more comfortable using.
  7. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Cloth wire is really more of a "period correct" detail used on some reproduction instruments. There's no advantage to it, it's just what they had back in the 50's and 60's.
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    The only reason that people still use cloth insulated wire is some sort of weird nostalgia, and a desire to do things the way Leo did it. Personally I hate the stuff, its much easier to strip vinyl insulated wire than it is to push back the cloth stuff, and the jacket makes the wire much thicker, which can be a problem in a tight control cavity.

    The only time I would ever consider using the stuff would be on an instrument where it is period correct.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, that cloth wire is a PITA to strip when needed. Give me vinyl any day.
  10. IMO, cloth wire is better. It's pre-tinned and only needs to be pushed back (when stripping, it's easy to take some of the wire itself with it).
  11. Cloth covered wires sound much better.

  12. Rodger Bryan

    Rodger Bryan Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    If I have to solder it, vinyl or teflon. For a good connection, good soldering is a more important consideration.
  13. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If you are taking wire when you are stripping the insulation you need a different set of strippers. It takes literally 2 seconds to strip vinyl insulated wire, and maybe 5 seconds to tin the exposed wire after you strip it. When you push the clot stuff back, it returns when you let it go, so you have to hold it back when trying to do your solder joint. So you have to hold the jacket back, while holding the solder and the soldering iron.
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I am sure there are people that believe it makes a difference.
  15. Growlmonkee


    Jan 30, 2013
    Florida, U.S.
    In a low voltage situation like bass wiring, Teflon, vinyl, and cloth make no difference, quality of soldering is more important as Rodger said. Vinyl is the easiest to work with, if that matters, cloth is simply the "old way", but works. Teflon costs more than either, its a bit harder to strip, it does not burn from hitting the iron and it's best application is for high voltage, it has very high insulating properties, which does not apply for wiring a pickup, cloth can be made easier with a small alligator clip to hold back the insulation while soldering.
  16. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I do agree that "pre-bond" wire is best. But I personally prefer teflon insulation because you can't melt it when wildly waving the soldering iron around. Down side is it's harder to strip, especially without nicking it.

    Nicking wire is bad because it will tend to snap off there later from vibrations etc. in the instrument. Solid wire is ESPECIALLY bad in this regard and I DO NOT recommend using it for that reason. Stranded is bad enough. Especially prone to snapping are where wires feed into a circuit board through holes. (I've had to resolder wires to my G&L pre several times)

    But the stranded and tinned solves a lot of those reliability problems. The only down side of teflon in my book is that a stripper tool specially made for teflon is best to prevent wire nicks. (I have one)

    As for old-school cloth wire, I agree with everyone else. It's authentic period look, but a real PITA to use. Again I'd use the "pre-bond" wire even on a cloth vintage job.
  17. How do you strip teflon?
    I love teflon insulated, especially when it comes pre-stripped from good electronics/pickup makers. However I have not found a good way to strip it cleanly at home, the ViseGrip quick stripper or electrician scissors are no good on it. I had some success with just running an exacto blade around it and pulling but I lose a few strands of wire this way
  18. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    This is really lacking a bit in detail. Obviously the sound of the cloth wire depends on whether it is 100% cotton or not and where it has been grown.

    Likely you can't just treat all poly insulation the same. The oil it is made from differs dramatically.
  19. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    Had my first experience with cloth, pre tinned wire the other day. I loved it. I just pulled back twice as far as I needed to, soldered, then pushed it back to the joint. Holds shape too when moving a pre-wired assembly to the control cavity.
  20. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    A pair of wire strippers like these work fine