Why Guitar Center Cables Are Essential to the Sound of Your Guitar

guitar center cables

Mastering your desired guitar tone takes time and equipment; don’t skimp on cables that connect it all together.

Standard instrument cables feature a stranded copper center conductor enclosed within an insulating jacket and fitted with a copper shield to reduce interference. Some versions also feature flat “pancake” connectors to maximize space on pedal boards.


An essential component in any studio or live environment, high-quality guitar center cables are an invaluable investment that should never go unspent. But don’t feel pressured into spending hundreds on high-end options; many excellent-sounding cables come at much more reasonable price and last far longer when cared for properly.

Electric guitarists generally find one 10- to 20-foot instrument cable is sufficient to run signal from their guitar or bass through pedals and amplifier. This gives plenty of range when performing live or recording studio without compromising sound quality. But if you have multiple amps or pedals, multiple cables may be required between units and if using rack mounted effects pedals requires specially constructed cables with bent jacks to reduce the space taken up by cables.

Though they may appear similar, different types of 1/4 inch jack cables should never be interchanged. Guitar cords connect instruments and effects pedals to amplifiers while speaker cables (often disguised as guitar cables) carry high levels of current over long distances. Any attempt at misusing an instrument cable for long distance current carrying could potentially overheat and potentially damage your amplifier.

When it comes to guitar center cables, higher-priced models typically boast superior wiring and sheathing than their lower-priced counterparts; however, when treated with equal care and respect both models will perform equally well. Be sure to coil both accordingly without kinking them or knotting them, as this will maintain flexibility and help prolong their lifespan; similarly use Velcro ties or wall-mounted clips to keep cables out of foot traffic’s way and maintain organization.


No matter your level, the quality of your guitar cables can make an enormous impactful statement about who you are as an artist. Premium cables typically boast superior components which translate to improved performance and durability; plus, most manufacturer warranties cover them and reduce failure risks – however not all premium cables are created equal!

A great guitar cable should be crafted from oxygen-free copper with an oxygen-resistant carbon impregnated PVC outer jacket, insulated with an abrasion-resistant polyethylene material and designed to minimize interference and noise transmission – this will help ensure a clear signal without distortion, and avoid the so-called ‘tone sucking’ that coil cables often bring.

An important consideration when purchasing cable is the type of connectors it contains. Gold-plated connectors tend to be better choices than nickel or silver as they’re more resilient against corrosion and more conductive than copper – meaning your signal can pass more quickly and accurately through it.

Choose a cable with heavy gauge and braided outer shell features to prevent tangles and kinks, which could otherwise damage it. Furthermore, thicker gauge cables offer more stable connections and firmer feel while custom-molded 24-karat gold-plated connectors should also feature in a quality cable with limited lifetime warranties – these features should make for optimal use and reliability.

Finally, it is advisable to invest in extra cables so you will always have them on hand when needed. Having extra cables on hand is especially helpful for bands; having spares saves both time and money when replacing one needs replacing. You might also consider buying some velcro ties or wall-mounted cable hangers to keep cables organized and out of the way.


Not every guitar player may understand exactly what makes for an excellent cable, but most will understand that cheap cables sound terrible and cause various issues from annoying buzzing to outright equipment failure. Cheap cables often cause mismatch between conductor and shield, which often occurs when wires touch or copper shield is rubbed against rough objects causing capacitive effects between materials which create capacitors between them, leading to reduced performance overall in the cable.

To avoid interference and electrostatic shocks, high-quality guitar cables will feature a braided shield to minimize static buildup and electrostatic shock, and a flexible yet durable jacket that resists abrasion. Premium cables may even feature thinner outer jackets than budget options to fit better on pedalboards; some even feature flat connectors to maximize space saving.

There is also the matter of cable core. Solid core conductors tend to be cheaper and less durable; some cables use stranded cores in order to increase durability; others combine both approaches. Furthermore, quality cables often feature strain relief that protects where the cable attaches to its connector, either made out of plastic or integrated directly into its design.

There are other ways to enhance the design of a guitar cable, including opting for oxygen-free or linear-crystal copper as the conductivity agent. These materials are purer than standard copper, improving conductivity and handling more current. These premium cables may cost a bit more, but are often worth their cost in terms of improved sound.


Accessing the appropriate cable adapters can make a big difference when performing or recording. There are a number of cords available that convert 1/4 inch instrument cables to 1/8 inch headphone plugs – perfect for connecting mobile Apple devices such as an iPod, iPhone or iPad to an audio input source. Both male and female adapters are available.

Other cords can also come in handy. One popular type is the Y cable, which can split a signal in half or send one signal to multiple places simultaneously. One popular variety features both male and female stereo TRS connectors on one end and dual mono TS connectors on the other – making this especially helpful for getting keyboard’s combined stereo out into separate mono inputs on mixing board, or vice versa.

High-quality guitar cables typically feature gold-plated connectors that offer excellent contact between wires, providing reliable protection from damage. Less expensive options tend to feature plastic ends molded together which may not offer adequate wear protection, leading to degradation over time in terms of dynamics and high frequencies.

Low-quality guitar cables can often be distinguished by having different connectors than premium cables, with less-premium metals used and soldered by machine rather than hand, leading to poor performance and patchy shielding that doesn’t cover fully and allows RF noise through; such inferior connectors also tend to shorten cable life span.


When using guitar cables frequently, it’s essential that they last as expected. Therefore, periodically testing them using a multimeter is recommended to determine their quality and identify potential problems. One important indicator to look out for is resistance between sleeve and tip; this should ideally be zero Ohms but may increase due to solder not adhering correctly or mechanical stress on the cable.

Consider also the capacitance of your cable. A cable with low capacitance will cause less noise – particularly with long runs of wire. Furthermore, use shielded cables if possible in order to minimise interference from external electromagnetic fields.

Finally, it is essential that you carefully consider how much cable is necessary. An overly short or too long cable may impede functionality while too many meters may result in signal loss. If in doubt about what length cable to purchase, get advice from a professional for help in making this determination.

As it’s common for cables to become damaged or short out, having backups will help avoid any unnecessary hassle. If you’re touring musician, make sure that at least a couple spare cables are always included in your tour kit; that way, should one break, you won’t be left dealing with an unpredictable process of unplugging and isolation testing before finding a solution – having spares could save both headaches and money in the long run!