Why Do Guitar Cables Go Bad?

why do guitar cables go bad

A great guitar cable should last years or decades with proper care, but certain factors may shorten its life.

First is general wear and tear, which occurs when not wrapping the cable up properly or when you step on it frequently.

1. Damage

Guitar cables are an integral component of any guitar rig and need to be treated carefully to ensure their longevity. But with proper care and maintenance they could last much longer!

As soon as you purchase a guitar, ensure it is properly stored. This will protect its cables from being damaged by blunt objects and harsh weather conditions, and for optimal protection use a hard case when travelling with it.

Avoid stepping on your guitar cable as this could result in serious bodily harm to yourself and others, particularly young children at home, as the cord could roll or slide under their legs and get caught between their legs, potentially leading to injury.

Stepping on cables can damage their insulation layer, protecting against abrasions. Furthermore, this could also harm solder connections connecting wires.

If your cable exhibits cracking or fraying, it is recommended to replace it immediately with one made from superior material. Also ensure you use only high quality cables.

Quality cables will help ensure they last longer and offer better sound, saving both money and time in the long run. Investing in high-grade cables could prove fruitful over time!

Maintaining separate guitar cables and speaker cables will help prevent damage to both, while making identification of them much simpler if they do come in contact with each other.

If you notice any pops or buzzes when plugging your guitar into an amplifier, swapping cables could help determine if the problem lies with either your audio jack or with one of its cords.

2. Heat

Poor guitar cables can have a dramatic impact on performance, tone and sound quality. A quality one will make your instrument sing with amazing tone; while poor ones may turn it into unlistenable noise.

There are various reasons for why guitar cables become damaged over time and some can be easily diagnosed and rectified. One such cause is simply overuse or misuse which damages them further.

This is especially relevant if you perform live on stage where guitar cords may often get tangled and trod upon. Therefore, keeping your cables clean and in good condition to maximize longevity.

Choose a cable with a sturdy shield to avoid picking up electromagnetic or radio frequencies that could interfere with your audio experience.

Additionally, an ideal cable should feature high-grade conductors and dielectric insulators to keep its core free from grounding or “leaking,” thus reducing vibrations caused by cable movements during playing.

Higher-priced cables typically use less Picofarads per foot than low-cost alternatives, indicating greater ability to prevent leaking.

Check your guitar cable’s condition by plugging it into an amplifier, touching its other end and listening for any pops or buzzes (dim the lights for optimal results). If a buzzing noise occurs when touching either end, that could be an indicator that it has become damaged.

3. Humidity

Humidity can wreak havoc with your guitar. It can cause the wood to expand and contract as well as crack. In addition, humidity can dry out glue joints leading to unglued bridges or parts becoming damaged on your instrument.

A good case or at least a case that’s well insulated against temperature and humidity changes is the ideal way to protect an instrument, whether you store it at home or work. Keep it away from windows that could expose it to sudden temperature and humidity changes, such as those near windows that offer natural sunlight and ventilation.

Consider replacing cables as they begin to sound odd or become outdated if they start sounding poor or becoming worn-out.

Purchase a cable that suits the way you play — for instance, if you tend to move around on stage a lot, consider investing in an Ernie Ball flexible cable with copper jacks – this will protect against moisture corrosion corroding its connections and wires.

Under normal conditions, cables should last several years with proper care and handling. However, overcoiled or pulled on too harshly may damage them and make them microphonic; when run around your guitar you might hear strange noises, hollow sounds and pops as a result of these damages.

If your guitar starts sounding bad, it is advisable to inspect both its cables and amplifier. One way is to gently wiggle each end and listen for any crackling or popping sounds; if any are present then your cables could likely be malfunctioning.

4. Over-stepping

Over-stepping is one of the primary causes of guitar cable degradation. Be it on stage or during practice sessions, accidentally stepping on your cable can quickly lead to damage that needs repairs.

Roll your cable carefully to prevent fraying and splitting as this is one of the easiest ways to maintain its condition and can prevent fraying, splitting and even breaking altogether.

Staying on top of your guitar cable maintenance requires not over-twisting it. Overtwisting can cause it to break or even short out completely, leading to unexpected failure of its structure and eventual destruction.

It is particularly essential if you’re performing on a stage with lots of dust or debris present. Furthermore, cables should be as short as possible since longer wires increase noise pickup potential.

Consider selecting a guitar cable featuring Oxygen-Free or Linear Crystal Copper conductors; these purer forms of copper provide superior conductivity and signal purity, giving rise to better conductivity overall. Though more costly, such cables will yield better sound quality overall.

5. Misuse

Misuse of guitar cables is often the culprit of poor connections that go bad, leading to serious consequences and potentially ruining guitars, amplifiers and other equipment.

Too often, people make the mistake of using different cable types that were never intended for that application, leading to issues down the road that could have been avoided through proper care.

An example is when someone purchases a cheap cable solely to connect their guitar, without considering other possibilities, such as something of higher quality that may outlive this low cost alternative.

Another issue can arise when people connect their instrument to an amplifier or PA system that they weren’t designed for, potentially causing severe damage and ruining its tone.

Avoid these issues by purchasing high quality cables designed specifically for these devices. A great cable will feature a durable outer jacket to resist wear and tear as well as shielding to block electromagnetic and radio frequency (RF) noise from nearby equipment.

Flexibility is also crucial to ensure a long life for any cable, especially as you play and move about on stage. A good cable should flex enough to withstand regular abuse without becoming damaged over time.

Finally, an ideal cable should have a strain relief to prevent the joint that attaches the wire to its connector from bending too far, creating unnecessary stress on its structure. This feature is particularly crucial as this is where most cables get damaged and must be replaced.