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Instrument cables.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by CrawlingEye, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    I've used a variety of cables, a couple which I don't recall the name of, they have one blue rubber end and one red. I've used a couple fenders and just recently bought a Peavey.
    I really never bought into the whole 'this cable will change your sound!' deal, but I could notably tell a difference in clarity when plugging in the Peavey cable. It even got me a fuller sound. I was so shocked I had to do an AB with one of the Fenders, the random blue/red ended cable and the Peavey.

    I'm just curious of if anyone else has noticed any distinction between cable brands and if so, what the distinction has been?

    Note: Sorry if this is the wrong forum, mods. I figured this would be a bit too closely related to go in Misc and closer to being on topic here, where the cables connect us too. :)
  2. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000
    It's been made very clear by some very qualified people here that your experience with an instrument cable simply can't happen. Your post gives me the impression that even you where suprised to hear a difference.

    I belive you.

    I'm also happy to hear that Peavy manufacured it. While I don't own any Peavey gear I find thier quality at pricepoint excelent.

    Thanks for going out on the wire limb to share your experience.
  3. OneDrop


    Jun 17, 2003
    i was able to notice the difference between dimarzio cables and the cheaper line of pro co cables. not to sound like a bp mag, but the sound did seem to open up a bit, just clearer overall w/ more detail in the highs and lows. prob not something you'd notice unless you were listening for it though. but what bassist isn't listening to those things when trying gear:p !
  4. KB

    KB Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I was able to hear a difference between in the cheaper pro-co cables I used to use and the Monster 500 Bass cables. The tone had slightly more meat on it and a little more punch. It was a very slight change (probably couldn't be heard in a loud band context), but I could hear it playing solo.

  5. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    There are a number of factors involved in cable construction that can have an affect on the sound. The materials used for the wire will detemine capacitance, resistance and inductance. Even the type and thickness of the insulating material can have an affect. Some of these effects will not be noticeable to everyone, depending on other gear and environmental situations, but it does occur.

  6. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I tried a Monster Cable a few years ago, and it solved a problem I was having. I live near alot of the local FM Radio stations, and one of them
    was bleeding threw my amp when I was playing at home, I use a nady Wireless for gigs. I tried
    everything, moving the amp to a different outlet,
    different room, different cables, passive bass
    active bass,and the Monster cable solved the problem. Now I have a 20 footer in my gig bag at all times in case the wireless dies and I have one
    at home.I did notice more of a full sound after I started using them. now I only use them, for patch cables etc etc.:)
  7. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I purchased a Peavey speaker cable last summer, because the cable was thick and the 1/4" plug ends were HUGE, super-heavy-duty looking. I later lopped-off one of the 1/4" plug ends to install a Speak-on connector, and was shocked at how tiny thin the actual wire inside was. It was very cheaply made, but was intentionally designed to appear to be heavy duty. Shame shame on them.
  8. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio

    There might be, but in casual comparisons there also is the considerable influence of the placebo effect (Did you ever read the children's story Stone Soup?); IOW, if two things sound exactly the same, if you expect to hear a difference, you'll perceive a difference. You could also subconsciously play differently when listening to one cable that you think might sound better; that's another unintentional bias that can produce false evaluations. Aural memory in human beings is also not particularly reliable beyond a few seconds, which further makes it difficult to compare cables.

    There are four things that determine how an instrument cable can influence the sound:
    • Series Resistance. Unless the cable is defective or your cable is hundreds of feet long, at worst you might have a small fraction of an ohm of resistance in the cable. Since you're driving a very high impedance input in your head or preamp, the effects of these small resistances are negligible.
    • Series Inductance. This is another electrical property, and it tends to resist the flow of current in high frequencies. However, in instrument cables, the amount of inductance is negligible.
    • Shunt capacitance. Another electrical property, this one tends to roll off high frequencies of passive instruments by shunting them between the inner conductor and the shield. This is the most likely property to influence how a cable "sounds." However, unless your cable is hundreds or thousands of feet long, its capacitance is significantly smaller than the capacitance used in a passive tone control (which also works by shunting high frequencies). What his means is that a passive tone control can more than compensate for variations from one cable to another. Unless the cable has bizzarely high capacitance, active basses (because they have buffered outputs with low output impedance) are practically immune to the effects of cable capacitance.
    • Shielding. This is a physical quality that determines how well the cable keeps hum and noise out of the inner conductor and instead routes it to the amplifier ground, where it does less harm. Really cheap cables are likely to have poor shielding. But good shielding is not overly expensive; you should expect high-quality shielding in even moderately priced cables.

    Considering the variables that influence the sound of your instrument and your playing, the effect among instrument cables of decent quality is extremely slight, if present at all. It's like dust among potholes.
  9. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    Bob, I'm glad you brought that up, which is why I A/B'd it and had my guitarist listen to see if he could hear it as well, which he could. I even went as far as to have my girlfriend listen, who also heard the difference. My girlfriend is also a beginning bassist.

  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    DiMarzios are my fave cables....the metallic jobs. Besides the fact that they sound good, they are built to take a beating and are tested to pass the "cymbal crash" test.

    GeorgeL's were the biggest disappointment I've experienced in any cable - bullt like chow mein noodles!!!!
  11. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    My favorite "awesome bang for the buck" cables are the GC promo cables. About 15' long, with heat shrink on the ends, and usually about $10. Good cable with good shielding, too.

    After that, the ordinary ProCo, Whirlwind, and Horizon cables offer great performance and durability (even though they have lifetime warranties) at reasonable prices.

    All of them use wire that's good enough to use for test bench equipment.
  12. Tapp


    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    I'm all for realistic evaluations of cables yet when I compare GeorgeL's to other "common" types, the GeorgeL's sound distinctly better to my ears. More clarity and high end. In my previous band my guitarist friend was very doubtful of cable differences until he A/B'd his SHORT Fender cable against my 18ft GeorgeL. He kept going back and forth because he couldn't believe the difference he was hearing. In fact all of us in the room could hear a distinct difference (same guitar, amp, chords played, etc).

    Rickbass: Have you tried the thicker GeorgeL's (I think .225??). They lay much better than the spaghetti thin stuff thats used for effects hookup. Also, I got some heavy duty connectors straight from GeorgeL that have been great. You can also solder Switchcrafts for added reliability.

  13. There are 2 kinds of instrument cables. Good ones and broken ones. I've never been able to hear any difference in any of them. Maybe that tells us something about my hearing.....:meh:
  14. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Cables shmables.

    I'm with Bob Lee on this. I think the perceived difference is greater than the actual. I've tried a lot of cables and have at times noticed a very slight difference, but nothing approaching "dramatic"...as many high-end cable manufacturers claim. When I first switched to Monster cables I perceived a slight difference, for the better. But truthfully it was nowhere near dramatic.

    Now go back and A/B all those cables with the rest of the band playing. If you can hear the difference in cables in that setting, you've got better ears than me. Heck...you've got better ears than a bat.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    A German magazin did tests on instrument cables with lots of measurements.

    The differences between cables a very small, the one exception being a "curled telephone" cable with cheap speakers.
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Tapp - With all due respect to your contentment with them, I think they are CRAPOLA!

    Playing bass is my paycheck and I can't rely on them. They don't sound anywhere near as good as my DiMarzios and you shouldn't have to "solder Switchcrafts for added reliability" to any cable that is high quality to begin with. GeorgeL's, IME, snap like chicken necks right where the connectors meet the wire. There's absolutlely no strain relief and I think they are engineered by Soyuz rocket scientists, (the Russian space gear that incinerates).

    Try a nice, thick, rock-solid, DiMarzio metallic cable. I think you'll gladly forget about the GeorgeL hype.

    As for me, I wouldn't take a GeorgeL to play at a dog show.
  17. hmjuice


    May 20, 2000
    Austin, TX USA
    I use George L's in my home studio and rack and they made a difference in the signal level. It was very evident, especially in recordings but live they are a little small and easily taken apart. I use them in small clubs and restaurants but for big stages I still use the Monster Cable. It takes a beating and keeps on going. I also have a GC cable as a back up, its never given out on me...
  18. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    On George L's: The big thing for me is that you don't have to solder. Very handy for making a new cord for a rack or pedal board. But I agree they are no good as guitar cords, too stiff, thin and difficult to handle, I use them for patch cords between effects.

    Can there perhaps be other explanations for differences between old cables and a brand new "monster" one, like dirty/oxidized plugs or something else that actually produce a real difference? In tests probably all cables are new and clean.
  19. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    My bag of cables is full to overflowing. I've got every type of cable imaginable. I've got long ones, short ones, leads with gold plated terminals, leads with cheap plastic sleves - everything. Wanna know which I prefer? Whichever is on the top of the pile! They all sound the same.
  20. Tapp


    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    You guys know that there are 2 different thicknesses for GeorgeL's right? The .225 (or whatever the guage) is much better for an instrument cable than the spaghetti thin GeorgeL that most stores carry on the roll and sell by the foot. Yes the "pin" connectors are easy to install but they can cause problems if treated rough. That's the reason Rick that I suggested that you can solder them conventionally to a good Switchcraft plug but if your happy with Dimarzio then more power to ya. I definitely disagree with you (as do lots of guitarist steel, bass, and electric) that they are total crap.


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