Guitar cable?

Dolebludger

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I recommend cable cutting in favor of a remote system. I currently use the Xvive U2 system I bought from Sweetwater. It consists of two small plug in devices (one transmitter and the other a receiver). Both are rechargeable via USB cord with charges lasting five hours of use. As mentioned above, cables add capacitance in some amount — whether you want it or not. This wireless system adds no capacitance. And if you want some, you can add as much as you want by tone controls on guitar, amp, and/or FX. I have been pleased to lose the cable capacitance, and add what I want (if any) when I want. Range is pretty good, as I plug the receiver into the amp in one end of the house and play in the opposite end of the house — a distance of 50’ with several walls between. And then all the guitar damage that happens when somebody trips on the cable, which doesn’t happen with a remote system. With remote, if you are playing in a fairly large venue you can do a sound check playing in various parts of it. What you find by by doing this (which you can’t do with a cable) may surprise and educate you.
 
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freefrog

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If I can share more rambling to complete my previous post...

Cable capacitance has a subtle but pretty singular effect. Instead of squashing the resonant peak of our passive pickups (like a tone contol would do during 70% of its curve / from 10/10 to 3/10 in most cases), it shifts the frequency of this peak along the audio range.

More capacitance (longer cable) shifts this frequency towards the mids. 150m of cable would have the same effect than a regular tone cap. on a tone pot @ 0/10.

Less capacitance (shorter cable) shifts the frequency towards the treble range but has also an effect on the perceived "crispness".

The tone controls of amps can't do that more than those of guitars: they are mostly "shelving filters" and, unless we use an amp with a Bandaxall EQ, they promote or defeat whole ranges.

The fascinanting thing is how a resonant peak "tuned" by a variable cable capacitance aligns successively with the peaks and dips of our (pre) amps and loudspeakers...

it can really enhance or tame the dreaded ice peak effect, for example.

It can also give a bit of mellow meat to bright pickups.

Reason: cable capacitance doesn't only cut the high range. It also introduces a "bump" before the hi-cut effect. This well known phenomenon has been well explained and illlustrated by Atlantic Audio: http://zerocapcable.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cablecap51.gif

Too little cable capacitance puts the resonant peak @ a really high frequency, that many guitar loudspeakers can't reproduce. in some cases, it makes the sound flat and weak instead of bringing the expected clarity.

Emulating the effect of a cable with an EQ would be pretty difficult: the EQ would have to dig a narrow dip @ resonant frequency and to promote another narrow peak @ another frequency.

That's why I use added capacitors in a box with a rotary switch + a low capacitance cable.

Regarding transmitters: some players swear by them and I totally understand that. In my own humble experience, they can be annoying when they catch radio stations or disconnect from their receiver, making the sound intermittent (both situations happened to me on stage).

Regarding capacitance VS sturdiness: personally, I see no opposition between these factors. I"ve (non expensive) low capactance cables that I use on stage systematically without any issue of sturdiness.

BTW, beware with coily cables: their weight pulls on the jack plugs of guitars and tends to unscrew or enlarge them, unless the end of the cable is retained by the strap as explained by a fellow member above - in which case guitar stands must be took in account: a cable squeezed between a guitar and a stand can be damaged (been there, done that).

FWIW:: the end of this message is just a subjective testimonial and I humbly but firmly think that each player has to find his own optimal formula, with cables as with anything else. YMMV.

End of my useless rambling. :)
 

Dolebludger

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free frog,

You gave a good scientific explanation of cable capacitance. I learned a lot from it. All I really know is that I like the tone through a wireless system better. I know interference can be a problem, but the receiver and transmitter in my rig have six selectable channels, and at least one seems to always be clear. I enjoy the ability to play from all areas of a venue at sound check. I am surprised how that teaches me to set volume and tone to fit the place. Indeed, I like the particular system I bought for guitar so well that I bought a different model, same brand for my SM 58 mic and board. I like it too. With it, my singing isn’t quite as bad!
 

freefrog

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free frog,

You gave a good scientific explanation of cable capacitance. I learned a lot from it. All I really know is that I like the tone through a wireless system better. I know interference can be a problem, but the receiver and transmitter in my rig have six selectable channels, and at least one seems to always be clear. I enjoy the ability to play from all areas of a venue at sound check. I am surprised how that teaches me to set volume and tone to fit the place. Indeed, I like the particular system I bought for guitar so well that I bought a different model, same brand for my SM 58 mic and board. I like it too. With it, my singing isn’t quite as bad!
Thank you for your testimonial! :)
As I said, I totally understand your choice and I know that wireless systems work well for many people - including a bunch of pro musos who prove concretely the validity of this option.
My long tedious explanation was only about the personal reaons why I've still cables in MY stage rigs. But to be honest, I'm not a frontman: I generally play behind or beside the main singer(s) and I don't move much. I guess that if I was a real show man, I'd probably use a good wireless system rather than the 90' cable used in the past by Buddy Guy; LOL.
Reason why I thank you again to have shared the reference of your Xvive system. I'll look at it - although playing on stage has become a distant dream in my country too since the last year...
 

Dolebludger

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freefrog,

As you probably know, not all wireless systems are the same. I used to use an older remote system for guitar with one channel, a receiver with rabbit ears and a “Fanny pack “ transmitter, that didn’t sound as good as my new system, and was more prone to interference. Like you, I don’t gig anymore. My problem with cables is that my music room is small and cluttered. Cables everywhere on the floor, and I was tripping over them! My older remote system helped with the clutter problem, and my newer system gives me a tone I like better than either a cable or the old remote.
 

SteveC

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Spend more time practicing, learning new songs, and performing. The capacitance of your cable will not make one rat's ass bit of difference to anyone in your audience, nor will they be able to tell the difference (or care). But, if you fuck up the funky break going into the middle eight - they will notice that. :laugh2:

If you must use a cable and you don't want to make your own (much preferred over the overpriced, snake-oil junk that is out there), buy the best made, cheap cable that you can find. Tip.... look at the connectors. Cheap connectors = shit cable.

Or, just get a good wireless system (no Line-6 junk) and forget cables completely.
 

northernguitarguy

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If you must use a cable and you don't want to make your own (much preferred over the overpriced, snake-oil junk that is out there), buy the best made, cheap cable that you can find. Tip.... look at the connectors. Cheap connectors = shit cable.
Yup.
 

freefrog

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To complete my cumbersome contributions of anal idiot, I can't help to share again the well known story below.

“When we were doing the In Step album with Stevie, I had an endorsement with Monster Cables. They would send me all of this free stuff and I was very excited because I could manage these things for a guy like Stevie, who really didn’t even know how to wash dishes. All he knew how to do was play the guitar, but God bless him for that, because he really did something with what he knew. Anyway, I took these cables we got to Stevie and he said, “I hate these things.” I asked him, “Why, man, they’re the best cables in the world?” He said, “They pass to much electricity.” Those were his exact words, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live. “They pass too much electricity.”
They were too efficient…
Yeah, so he sent me out to the local Radio Shack and told me to buy every gray coil cord they had – not the black ones, only the gray ones. And I thought, “Hhmm, this freakin’ hick from Dallas is telling me this?” I got them and ran them through my capacitance meter and found out that they added like almost .05 mfd to the signal chain. That made it sound solid – it was like having a tone control, and the brightness and harshness that the Marshalls had was eliminated. There isn’t a single picture of Hendrix…back then they already had high-end cables, but there isn’t a single picture of Hendrix where you see him playing with a straight cable. Why? This is something I brought up to Eric Johnson – whether he heard me or not I don’t know, but it could be the second coming of coil cables.”

The Tone Quest Report, Cesar Diaz Interview, August 2000.
NOTES
-There’s probably a typo in this interview: a cable of .05µF would have the same action than a tone pot @ 0/10 and would measure hundreds of meters so what Diaz said is probably .005µF.
-The effect described above should be much more noticeable with "low output" pickups like single coils or Filter'Tron's than with humbuckers. Hence the fact that cable capacitance is most often evoked by people talking about single coils players, like Bill Lawrence did in the third paragraph from the bottom in this page:
 
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BRMarshall

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I’m in the braided Kirlin camp also, mine are straight at both ends (20’). I’ve had a couple for several years - seem clearer than previous braided cables I have used. They seem a definite step up, but imagine they may not be as good as many premium cables. Kirlin are also my preferred mic cables.
 

AcVox

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I've been making my own mic and guitar cables using Belden cable for over 20 yrs with no failures.. So far..
 


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