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Wonky cables

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Nov 5, 2005.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    A couple of days ago, I had a student in a combo who was thinking that the amp he was playing was blown because when he really dug into the string, the amp would make a farting noise. On a hunch, I took his cable and reversed it so that the end that had been in his FC pickup jack (which was a 90 degree end) into the input of the amp (a Contra), and everything worked fine. ***?

    The only thing I can figure is that the diameter of the 1/4" plug was slightly too small, making the connection go in and out when the vibration in the afterlength rattled the jack. Has anybody experienced this phenomenon, or know of other cable ****age to be on the lookout for? If I hadn't gotten lucky and guessed right, that amp would have been out of commission for a while for no reason.
     
  2. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I was playing on a tour with my high school's jazz band two years ago. On two of the performances, I got onstage and played to check the sound, only to notice that nothing was coming out of the GK MB150 combo. Both times, miraculously, reversing the cable seemed to solve the problem. I have no explanation.
     
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I just bought a cable with plugs that turned out to be constructed so that dropping them on their tips caused the entire shaft to push into the handle. The result, a plug that was 0.050" too short, would pop out of the output jack on my upright bass pickup, with only the slightest provocation.

    The cable itself was good ProCo "Music Mover" brand, so I cut off the ends and soldered on some Switchcraft 280 plugs.

    Lesson Learned. Bulk "Music Mover" cable, and Switchcraft 280's are both available from Parts Express.
     
  4. I'm a sound guy more often than I'm a bass player these days - I can't count the number of times I've seen players out of action because their multi-thousand dollar instrument was plugged into a $5 cable.
    Anyone who plays an electric instrument should learn basic soldering skills and find their local source or Neutrik or Switchcraft plugs.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I do find this strange - whenever I go out playing music, I always take a bag with at least half a dozen high quality leads (cables) that I know are working!

    Funnily enough, I've never had one give out on me; but I have had two Monster speaker cables "die" on me...:meh:

    So , when I bought my EA VL208 cab, I also bought 3 short Monster cables specifically designed for this purpose - to connect between the amp and cab...

    Now I only have one left that works, which seems strange to me as they get moved about very little compared to instrument cables, yet these are the ones that have died .. :confused:
     
  6. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I've become a fan of George L cables. Low capacitance, good sound, and repairable in seconds with a pair of sidecutters and a screwdriver.
     
  7. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I'm a certified cable junkie. I always take at least one if not 2 backups instrument, speaker and DI cables with me. I buy Monster Studio Pro 1000's cut to length as Bruce does. That's because I've had cables go bad on the job in the past - either farting out or dead. On one gig, ALL my cables went bad. What gives? I believe every time a cable was 'bad' it was oxidation on the outside of the jack that was repairable, and not a totally dead cable. Oxidation on the jacks can appear with only a slight darkening of the finish, almost unnoticable. It seems to occur more on gold plated or brass jacks.

    The fix is easy - a light steel wool (the very fine polishing wools you get at hardware stores) run over the jack will do the trick. I think even a pencil eraser can get you out of a jam, but steel wool is preferred.

    However the longer term remedy is Caig's DeOxit, available at Radio Shack or from www.partsexpress.com or www.caig.com. I hung around the repair bench of a few highly qualified electrical engineers over the years and this was an essential part of the their tool kit. It works as a preventative and as a repair product. The list of what it improves makes it sound like a miracle elixir. I'm not sure about all its claims, but it did recently fix my new NS EUB with it. The NS came in with a seemingly shorted out input jack that was causing hideous distortions and crackling if I pivoted the bass on its shoulder strap. A quick dismount and proper DeOxit application fixed the problem saving me either sending the bass back or a time consuming home repair. The s**t works.

    It may be that reversing the jack dislodged some of the oxidation...
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ah - that's something I hadn't thought of - I shall try it on my Monster cables - although I think I threw one of them away to avoid plugging it in accidentally!! :(
     
  9. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I'll strongly second the recommendation on Caigs, especially down here along the coast. One group I played with a while back complained about "dead jacks" on a couple PA speakers-- and they were feeding them mucho watts, but not enough voltage to jump those tarnished jacks. Contact cleaner (Radio Shack in a pinch) did the trick. Caigs also makes ProGold now called Deoxit Gold, which is the stuff to use after cleaning.

    http://caig.com/

    I have run into some odd phone plugs, starting a few years ago when some makers were apparently not real concerned about tolerances. Their slight incompatibility can cause problems, so "try another cable from a different manufacturer" has been a mantra around here for a while.

    Oddly enough, Caigs recently came out with Axe Wipes http://store.caig.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.275/.f, stuff designed to wipe on metal strings to prolong life, a non-silicone formula more of interest to electric players, but perhaps still something to consider.
     
  10. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    i swear by these.
    won't use anything else if i can help it.

    K.
     
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Everyone knows you shouldn't drop the cable ends on the floor, right? It's basic, but so many people do it. It's convenient, maybe you're in a hurry loading in or out.

    I drop 'em too, but not on the floor. Drop it on your foot. Nice soft landing, very convenient.

    ...and coil the cables proper like so they don't get all twisted inside!

    Look after the tips and twists and your patch cords will last indefinitely.
     
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Admittedly, I did not know this until I learned the hard way with an inferior cable. It's always by accident. But it happens so easily that it has to be considered "normal" abuse. And for better or worse, I am always in a hurry loading in and out.

    I'm pretty sure that I could drop a #280 plug on the floor all day long, and it would survive. Problem solved.
     
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    BTW, I'm not trying to pick on you, fdeck -- I'm just riffing on the cable theme. When I say "you", it's generic second person I'm using...

    The problem with dropping 'em is the solder connections. Sooner or later you're gonna crack 'em or shake 'em loose. The effect of the impacts accumulates, I think -- each little impact ain't no good. I think this would hold true for really good units as well as El Cheapos. The good ones would take more abuse, though.

    I'm still using the patch cord I bought 15 years ago -- not hi-fi by any stretch of the imagination but good quality nonetheless. I attribute the longevity of service to treating it right.
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've got one of those George L cables, but it's so skinny I never really trust it. I remember there was a Bill Lawrence cable just like it (only thicker) that I had a while back, and it did just fine. So you guys are saying that the George L's are really high quality? If so, I might just buy about 50' of the stuff and an extra end or two for quick repairs.
     
  15. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    You can order the George L's with thicker plastic wrapped around 'em if you like. The thick ones are .225s, and the regular ones are .155s. I like the thicker ones myself.

    Sonically, both types of cables are the same. The extra plastic coating on the .225s does not affect the sound.

    At least that's what the folks at George L's told me on the phone anyway a couple years ago ...
     
  16. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Get some, Chris, you won't be disappointed.

    until you end up at a gig somewhere and have to use a cr@ppy cable.

    K.
     
  17. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I have honestly never been happy with the George L's. They are clearer sounding than a lot of cables but I think you sacrifice low end with them. I have been absolutely happy with Planet Wave cables.
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm using a Planet Waves cable with my "A" rig (cables stay in the bag with the amp), and I like it except for one thing: it has a built-in on/off switch on it that I sometimes forget to turn on, then I wonder why my sound is all boomy and unfocused...then I discover that I'm using the mic only. Other than that, it's a great cable.
     
  19. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    i haven't really found this to be true, but i'll try out a planet wave's cable with this in mind.

    K.
     
  20. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    You can swap out a old no good Monster cable for a brand new one at any store that sells Monster cables.