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Instrument Cord Construction

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by addy, Jun 3, 2004.


  1. addy

    addy

    May 18, 2004
    Reading several threads regarding patch cords and their construction, I am interested in learning how to assemble them myself.

    Would anyone be able to direct me towards resources regarding this, either online, or in print ?

    much appreciated.
     
  2. I make patch cords all the time out of solid-core coax cable (for cable t.v.) just buy the right angle ends on the cheap and find some old cable lying around... cut it to length...and have at it. Works great.

    And I've made great speaker cables, in a pinch, out of extension cord...why not? If it's heavy enough cable...
     
  3. - Always use metal plugs, they can't be crushed by stepping on them

    - To make a cable that will NEVER give up at the ends, after soldering and before you screw the cover back over the plug, take some silicone and pump the cover full, then thread back on the plug. This will seal the cable, keep the contacts from corroding, and act as a killer strain relief. I've done this with relatively cheap cables and had them last for years and years.

    - Tin your work before soldering

    - Heat your work - NOT the solder
     
  4. ubersam

    ubersam

    Oct 12, 2000
    L.A.
    Ive been using Belden 8412 cables (2 conductors/cores + shield) and either Switchcraft 280 (straight 1/4 ) or 226 (right angle 1/4). The one conductor to tip (+), one conductor to sleeve (-). The shield is lifted on one end (the instrument side) and soldered to the sleeve on the other end (amp/preamp side). Works great as patch or instrument cables. IME, gives better sonic results than traditional (1 conductor + shield) instrument/patch cables.
     
  5. The speaker cables from zip cord (ext. cord,etc.) is a very good idea. You can find some good-quality, heavy gauge wire for these, and it works well.
    I would not recommend using solid-core, cable-tv cable for instrument cables, even though I know it works. Yeah, I made some before. The reason is that they aren't flexible. This cable isn't designed to move around or get wrapped up after use. But it will work.

    Mag...
     
  6. Scottgun

    Scottgun

    Jan 24, 2004
    Virginia
    Plus that orange looks really cool! :D But does the thicker wire pick up more noise?



    Scott
     
  7. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Speaker wire is very low impedence, noise is not really a problem. But power loss is. So generally, the thicker and shorter the cable, the better.
     
  8. Scottgun

    Scottgun

    Jan 24, 2004
    Virginia
    And this applies to instrument cables as well?


    Scott
     
  9. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    No, instrument cables are completely different. Pickups are high impedence, low power and are very susceptible to noise. (I forgot to mention that speakers are high power) That is why they must be carefully shielded. As an added bonus, instrument cables must generally handle a lot more bending and abuse than speaker cables ;)

    You should never use instrument cables to connect speakers or visa versa.
     
  10. This is quite interesting. I was checking out the 8412 earlier after reading this. I'm puzzled as to why you're lifting the shield on the instrument end, and soldering it to the sleeve on the amp end. Why is this?
    This same cable can be used to make balanced cords as well if you use the second lead and shield, right?
    But I'd really like to hear more about why you're constructing the cords the way you've described. Thanks!

    Mag...
     
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I believe the Planet Waves site has a information on thilot s. But the basic idea is that noise will take the easiest path to ground. By lifting the instrument end, the only path to ground is through the amp.
     
  12. Hey thanks for getting back to me with this info. I checked out the planet waves site and the information there was very interesting. Makes good sense to wire them that way. Appreciate it!

    Mag...
     
  13. ubersam

    ubersam

    Oct 12, 2000
    L.A.
    Yes, basically what seanm said. Also, as explained to me by a professional rack builder, the only signal the shield will carry would be the noise (emi/rfi) that it picks up. The shield will not carry any instrument signal.
     
  14. Right, as far as using the solid-core coax, I only really used it for patch cables between effects, where flexibility was a minor concern... so yeah, for long lengths, it's a no-no.

    v:O)
     
  15. wizfiz

    wizfiz

    Apr 28, 2004
    So what kind of damage could be done by using instrument cable as speaker cable? The reason I ask is because I didnt have any speaker cable the other day and used a short instrument cable for a bit and then started wondering if I was doing any damage and got scared and shut the thing down...
     
  16. The instrument cable isn't designed to carry the power that runs from head to cabinet. It has a smaller inner wire, usually surrounded by a braided wire shield that surrounds that. If you had a short-length inst. cord, and ran the amp that way at lower volumes, you probably wouldn't have any real problems. Heck, I did that back a long time ago when I didn't know any better, and I never blew anything, but the resistance must have been awful.
    Speaker wire is 2 equally sized wires that carry the current much better. The longer the run from head to cab, the heavier gauge wire needs to be used. You really can't go too heavy here, but you can go too light.
    Damage? I'm sure you could damage the head at higher volume levels.
    I'm sure other people can add much more than what I've written.

    Mag...
     
  17. wizfiz

    wizfiz

    Apr 28, 2004
    Ok I get it.. Thanks.