Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Guitar Cables

Lately, I've noticed magazine articles, blog posts, and advertisements for "premium" guitar cables. Premium cables have long been a feature in the home theater hobby world where you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on cables for a relatively small setup. I've tested standard AV cables side by side with premium cables (I used a calibration disk to help gauge differences in video quality for example) and never noted a difference. How about guitar cables?

As an experiment I bought a cheap plastic cable for $1.29 (pictured above left). Step one was to play using my normal setup. Then, I substituted my "test" cable and was amazed at the difference. It wasn't about what the test cable added, it was what it took away. I noticed a large difference in transparency. The amp sort of closed in on itself and I felt like I was listening through a porthole. My usual cable (above right) was a $20 cable. Maybe not "premium" but it certainly would fit into the pretty good category.

While, I'm not advocating you spend big bucks on buying really good cables, my little test does show cable quality matters. Maybe I am advocating that you make sure you are not using really bad cables!

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