Guitar cables….ask ten friends what cable they think is best and you’ll undoubtedly get 11 answers! From whatever you get cheap in the bin at Guitar Center to high end cables in custom lengths from makers such as Evidence Audio, Klotz, Canare, Mogami and others, there really is no right answer for everyone. I have tried a wide variety of cables over the years and have more recently used several of the higher end cables available, and there is definitely a difference. Now whether or not that difference is good or bad, or even important to you at all, is completely up to your own ear and how sensitive you are to subtle changes in your tone. Guitar Player Magazine recently ran a short primer 5 Things on Guitar Cables and you can find it here.
As we’ve moved to larger stages over the last year I made the move back to wireless (a story for another day), but still had to decide what to use on my pedalboard and in the snake from my board to my amp. A company that I’ve purchased from and been very happy with for the past several years is Lava Cable in North Carolina. Mark Stoddard is the owner sand he is very knowledgeable about what might best fit your needs. From my pedalboard to my amplifier I use his Lava ELC, and when I do use a cable on small stages I like the Evidence Audio Melody cable (used by both David Gilmour and John Mayer). These are not inexpensive cables and will run you close to $100 for a 20′ cable. One of the nice things about working with Lava is that Mark will make any cable to the exact length you want and I’ve definitely taken advantage of that when putting together my snake. You also have the option of straight vs. right angled plugs which comes in handy as well when configuring your connections. Lave has put together some great articles and information on cables in their Cable 101 Guide and you can find that here.
Another thing to consider is how best to connect all those pedals on your board. A lot of people like George L’s kits, and while I’ve used them, I prefer the Planet Waves pedalboard kits and that’s what I have on both of my boards. Lava Cable has come out with a kit that offers a 360 degree rotating sleeve which is very convenient, and they’re also the slimmest connectors you can find out there allowing you to have only a half inch of clearance between pedals. Again, none of these options are inexpensive, but making sure my pedalboard and all the connections are bulletproof is always my primary concern.
So what about a less expensive option? I have a friend who’s a renowned guitarist in the Northwest who plugs his stunning 1940′s Gibson Super 400 straight into his custom made Mesa Boogie amplifier with….the oldest, gray coiled cord he can find! That’s the tone that sounds best to him, and you know what, it sounds great!
So again, no one can answer the question about what cable’s best for you, except YOU. So experiment, try different things, borrow from friends, and eventually you just might happen onto that elusive tone in your head. Good luck!