Make your own instrument cable?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by CEM, Dec 19, 2001.

  1. CEM

    CEM Guest

    Nov 3, 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hi all,
    I've benn doing some research on TB about what the best instrument cable is and a few people mention making your own - but they never said how.
    My soldering skills are probably o.k. for this task but I don't know what to look for in terms of quality when shopping for connectors or cable. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  2. Go to Radioshack. Buy 2 1/4" mono plugs, male only.

    Then get 20-40 feet of good, high quality copper wire. Something that can stand 50 amps will do MORE than nicely. Make sure it's insulated.

    Get a length of small-bore surgical tubing.

    Cut the wire in half. One goes to the positive terminal, the other to the negative/ground. Thread the dual wires throught the tubing. Crimp the tubing at the plugs.

    Boom, there's a homebuilt 10-20 foot cable. Probably won't be the best sounding, but it will work.

    Rock on
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    OK, same song, different lyrics. Go to a real electronics supply store and get two male 1/4-inch plugs, Switchcraft is good, Neutrik is better. I like one of them to be right-angle for the instrument end. Get your favorite length of stranded 2-conductor shielded audio cable, Belden or Canare will be just fine.

    Slide the jack covers onto the cable. For Switchcraft plugs, slide a 3-inch-long piece of 3/8-inch shrink tubing onto each end of the cable.

    Strip the inner conductors about a half inch, and tin each one. Tin the connector tangs where the wires will connect. Solder the white wire to the center connector that goes to the tip. Twist the stripped part of the black conductor together with the shield wire. Tin this and solder it to the outer connector. Clamp the little tangs around the cable. Repeat.

    If you're using Switchcraft plugs, slide the 3/8-inch shrink tubing over the soldered connections. Shrink it over the stove. Slide the covers down and thread them on. Slide a 3-inch piece of 1/2-inch shrink tubing over the jack cover (if it's Switchcraft). Shrink it over the stove. Bullet proof.

    If you got the bitchen Neutrik connectors, you can omit the shrink tubing.

    Not to be contrary, but don't EVER even dream of using Radio Shack plugs.

    Also, I probably should tell you that you're not going to save much money over just buying a decent cable. You're paying retail for the connectors and cable, while the manufacturers buy it in bulk at hugely lower prices. By the time they add in their munufacturing costs they're back up to about what you paid just for materials. I make many of my own cables because I don't want them to fail (and they don't). I love to solder, too.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    By the way ... 50 amps? This is supposed to be an instument cable, for god's sake! I can see it now ... the bass has an active pre-amp that requires four car batteries on board. Lordy!
  5. I was once very desperate for a cable so I took an old lamp cord some half broken 1/4' plugs and some duct tape and built one from scratch. sounded pretty bad but it worked for a few days till I could get a new one.

    although I dont recommend this at all, but that is just to show you they are very easy to make.
  6. CEM

    CEM Guest

    Nov 3, 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hey Munji - you said that the cost will be about the same as a factory cable; a 15 dollar cable or a 60 dollar cable? And what guage wire do you recomend? I don't really fully understand the whole capacitance thing...
  7. Cable capacitance has no effect at bass frequencies. OK, not quite true for all the theorists out there;)......cable capacitance has almost no effect. The input impedance of the bass amp is too low. Don't worry about cable capacitance in this case.

    Eric appears to be describing a head to cab cable. Munji' is describing a bass to head cable. The two have entirely different functions in life and you can't really use one for the other.

    The thing to keep in mind IMHO is that any cable you buy or make needs to be as thick / robust as possible: none of this thin stuff. Even if it works electrically, it'll probably get wrecked on stage.

  8. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Stumbled upon this...and it intrigues me...

    what materials do I need, just so I can do this and not have to go searching for stuff...have a soldering iron somewhere, and tahts about it...and couldn't I just get a gimongous cable and cut it and well, reuse it afterwards when I need soemthing else?