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Is it bad to run 1600W to the cab with bare wire?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Apr 18, 2006.


  1. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    :D Just kidding.

    I do, however, have a related question. I've heard this both ways, and I'm curious what you guys think.

    So a drummer buddy of mine comes up to me, talking about a gig he did last night with another bassist I know. He says she was using the backline amp (which I was getting ready to use this afternoon while he was talking to me), and the cable provided to link the 60W Ampeg head to the 100W Ampeg 4x10 cab was an INSTRUMENT cable. He says the cable caused the head TO FAIL, and so they went to the local music store after rehearsal and before the performance and picked up a SPEAKER cable. No problem after that.

    Got me thinking - does it really matter? My understanding was always that higher gauge cable is great for preserving the powered up signal, but will it actually damage an amplifier to use instrument cables to carry the power? I've been told "yes" and I've been told "no", both by music store employees and musicians.

    Granted, on all my PA gear, I cheat to the side of caution and like the feel of the higher gauge cables anyway, and my bassist recently switched to a high gauge cable on her rig for the same reason, but I'm interested to know if there is actually a danger to the equipment. Is there a wattage ceiling where damage is more likely?
     
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    On some older amps, it was possible that driving the capacitance of a long coaxial cable would drive the amp into oscillation. At least, I recall reading a warning to that effect in the manual for a very old Heathkit hi-fi tube amp. I think the only danger to a modern amp is that the heat causes the insulation to melt in some unfriendly way, resulting in a short circuit.
     
  3. anderbass

    anderbass

    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    Never use a guitar cord for a speaker.
    Never use a speaker cord for a guitar.
     
  4. jake_tim

    jake_tim

    Jun 28, 2005
    North Carolina
    i use an instrumetn cable with my amp, and ive had no such problems. Or that i can think of, ive never had such a problem on any amps ive used.

    -Jake
     
  5. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Why? Do you have reasons?
     
  6. ras1983

    ras1983

    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    well, your typical instrument cable will only be transmitting about 1 - 2 V from your instrument to your head. i don't know what they're rated at, but you can be sure that your amp will be sending much more than 1 - 2 V to your cab.

    i once mistakenly bought speaker cable and tried using that to connect my bass to my rig... didn't work at all. got a lot of noise and the signal was so faint it was nearly inaudible. i don't know why, maybe there is too much impedance in speaker cable?
     
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The center conductor of guitar cord could be too thin to carry the high current fed to the speaker load. Also, the capacitance of the cable could cause some older amps to become unstable. Of course you can always look up the rating of the cable.

    Speaker cable, on the other hand, is unshielded. If used for running signals, you will get a lot of electromagnetic pickup -- hum.
     
  8. anderbass

    anderbass

    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    A speaker cord is 2 large wires, sized to handle a high curent flow.
    A guitar cord has a very small wire inside of it.
    The ground runs all around the outside of this tiny conductor to block electrical interference.

    Guitar cords will only handle a small curent flow.

    A guitar cord for speakers is like a string when you need rope.
    A speaker cord for a guitar is a radio feqencey noise funnel.
     
  9. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Finally, a technical answer. Thank you.

    It's interesting that you mention the radio noise funnel. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to jury rig a third monitor channel from my church's board.

    The board is at the back of the room. One monitor channel is hardwired in the sanctuary (with horrible wires, incidentally, and no power). The second channel comes via a XLR cable and a XLR-1/4" cable (the mon outputs are 1/4"). Channel one belongs to the keyboard player's powered hot spot. Channel two goes to a powered mixer and two speakers for the majority of the band. I was trying to work out channel 3, which would run to my monitor amp, serving the drummer and myself.

    Unfortunately, the only option I had was a 50 foot speaker cable, as I didn't have a XLR-1/4" cable handy. Yeah. Didn't work very well. More noise than you can almost imagine. As you can imagine, I just ended up tapping our monitors out of channel 2 instead... Nowadays, I just make the channel 2 amp drive 4 speakers instead of 2. Sucks to not have another dedicated channel, but you work with what you can.
     

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