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Speaker Cable?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by lustreking, May 4, 2003.

  1. I just got my first separate head and cabinet, and I've got a question. I've heard people say that you should never use a regular instrument cable to connect a cab to a head.

    So is this true? Is it vital that I go and buy a speaker cable asap?


  2. Mathias_TfG


    Apr 28, 2002
    New York
    Yes. An instrument cable has extra insulation on it. If you use one to hook a head to a cab, it will heat up much more than a speaker cable will. When a conductor gets hot, its impedence also increases. This will cause you're amp to have to work much harder.
  3. Definately do NOT use an instrument cable as a substitute for a speaker cable. Though technically it's not just the insulation, it's also the size of the copper conductors inside the cable. An instrument cable may be 22 or 24 gauge, whereas a speaker cable will be 16 ga (maybe 12 or 14 in heavier cables, 18 in real cheap cables). Gauge size goes the opposite of the numbers: the smaller the gauge number, the bigger the wire--a 12 gauge wire is much heavier than a 24 gauge.

    24 gauge offers a lot of resistance under heavy loads, which means power is lost...as heat, which is not good.

    Think of it this way: can you get more water out of a 1/2 inch garden hose, or a 3 inch fire hose? Duh, the 3 inch fire hose, no brainer. Likewise, more current can go through a 12 gauge cable than through a 24 gauge cable.

    So, buy a quality speaker cable in the length you need.

    PS Don't use a speaker cable for an instrument cable either. The speaker cable is not shielded, whereas an instrument cable is. So if you plug a speaker cable into your bass, you'll probably hear lots of hum and noise.
  4. and DO NOT use a speaker cable as an instrument cable. The folks down at Sam Ash now have one very broken SWR workingmans 2004 Stack thanx to my little mistake. :bawl: :(
  5. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Eh? What caused that? I never thought that there could be damage to the amp from using speaker cable as your instrument to amp connection. I mean I can imagine it'd sound bad without the shielding but how'd it mess up the amp?

    brad cook
  6. Makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanations, nashvillebill and Mathias_TfG!

  7. 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
    An instrument cable is meant for a voltage of around one volt with current measured in milliamps. Speaker cables can feel voltages in the hundred-volt range with current in amps. The insulation issue is trivial. The wire gauge is most critical. Using an instrument cable for speakers is a disaster on the hoof. Don't do it, ever.

    WRT Heffer's remark, he's mistaken. It will not hurt your amp if you use a speaker cable for an instrument cable. The lack of shielding may, however, contribute to a little noise in your signal.
  8. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Yeah I thought that sounded like typical music store employee bs. The kind of stuff that they tell you because they either don't know anything about anything...or they are on a power trip and want to chide you about something. Not saying all music store employees are like this. But I've been chided several times in GC for using a speaker cable as an instrument cable (but never vice-versa) when I couldn't find one. I usually ask why when they chide me and they make up some stupid crap.

    brad cook

    brad cook
  9. This is opposite, I used a speaker cable as an insturment cable because it was practically the same size as my instrument cables at home and because some moron gave it to me because he was done and I just got in the shop:rolleyes:... I swear it was a fairly thin cable too until a salesperson told me. That's why you should never unplug cabinets from the amp at stores and use it to do that, you may not hurt it, but the next person will and will most likely be held responsible.
  10. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Hey, come on dude, cut them some slack.


    Sometimes it's both of those things! :D
  11. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Yeah...that's why I signed my name twice. :confused:


    brad cook