There was perhaps a time when the choice of a guitar cable really didn’t matter. A time when speakers weren’t as sensitive, or there wasn’t a whole pedal-board of effects to consider. Unfortunately, those days are over because the cable that’s bought for your guitar is now more important than ever before thanks to improved electrical circuitry and the ever increasing use of passive magnetic pickups. Nowadays choosing the right cable can have a definite effect on the guitarist’s sound.
Since there are dozens of cables currently available, however, it’s easy to see how it’s tough for a guitarist to choose one that’s appropriate for them. To help you sort the good from the bad, we’ve included the best guitar cables currently available with a short description of what makes them great. After that list, we’ve included an article on what to look for when buying a new guitar cable.
Best Guitar Cables Reviews & Buying Guide
#10 Donner 10-Foot Bass Cable
Designed using pure oxygen-free copper that’s wrapped with PE insulation, conductive PVC and then wrapped with helical shield and a woven jacket, this product is made with extremely high standards. It has a 1/4-inch right-angle connector on one end and a straight conductor on the other end, and both contacts are gold plated. This 10-foot bass cable is easy to use and is even fairly easy to disassemble if incidental repairs are needed at some point in the future. And finally, since it has a cloth covered exterior in one of several styles including black/white or black/blue, it looks good whether it’s used on stage or in the studio.
- This cable is well built
- Has a nice look to it
- Cord tangles easily
#9 Hosa GTR-210 10-Foot Straight-Ends Cable
Manufactured with a straight-end connector on each end, this 10-foot guitar cable is a nice beginner’s cable that’s designed to just get the job done. It’s made using an oxygen-free copper conductor that’s been wrapped in 24-gauge OFC copper braid, this cable has a low impedance and is good for most simple setups to amps or pedalboards. Its metal plugs are completely serviceable, which makes them ideal for touring or for other activities. This cable isn’t just available in a 10-foot length, but it can also be bought in a number of larger sizes including 15-foot, 20-foot, and 25-foot lengths.
- Is an inexpensive cord
- Is a basic beginner’s cord
- Available in several different sizes
- This cord is very thin
#8 Fender Performance Series Cable
Manufactured by Fender, a leader in the guitar industry, this 10-long guitar cable has straight end connectors, a durable 8mm black PVC jacket, and very flexible construction. What really matters about this cable, however, isn’t its tough outer layer but essentially its inner conductor and its shield. Inside of this cable is a 90% copper coverage shield and a design that’s made specifically for live performances. This cable is designed to not twist or kink, and it always retains its original shape. It’s also a fairly inexpensive cable that can be used on stage or in the studio.
- Has a very flexible construction
- Has a nice outer covering
- Comes in a variety of different sizes
- Works well with any instrument which uses a 1/4-inch plug
- Cable relief bands don’t work very well
#7 Fender California Series Cable
Available in one of three different and very exciting colors, this guitar cord is ready to be the perfect accompaniment to any brightly colored guitar. This brightly colored cable can be bought in either Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue or Surf Green, and these cables can be bought in one of several different lengths including not only the 10-foot length but in 15-foot and 20-foot lengths as well. These guitar cords are made with an extremely durable outer coating that makes the cable a little bit stiffer than other cables and allows it to hold up to heavy-duty use. These cables also have heat-shrunk ends, and their connectors connect quite reliably every single time they’re plugged in.
- Extremely tough PVC cover
- Comes in one of three different colors
- Connectors connect to amps or pedalboards very reliably
- Holds up to regular use
- This Cord is a bit thin
- It’s a little stiff for use during live performances
#6 Red Dragon 10-Foot Instrument Cable
This Red Dragon Instrument Cable is extremely flexible and is made with extremely durable polyethylene insulation and a core that’s made out of oxygen-free copper. This cable also has several other features which show the guitarist just how reliably constructed this cable is. This product has straight 1/4-inch gold-plated jack ends, is made with hand-solder connectors, has a dragon skin woven-tweed design that makes the cable really stand out and has a secure strain relief metal clamp system that prevents excessive strain from being placed on the connectors when it’s plugged into a pedal-board or amp. Overall, it’s a high-quality cord ready to do its job onstage.
- Cable is flexible
- Has a durable outer covering
- Very solid feeling connectors
- Feels like a solid cable
- Cable is a bit too thin
- This cable doesn’t lay flat very well
#5 Mediabridge Ultra Series Right-Angle Cable
Mediabridge is a company known for making quality cables, so it really shouldn’t be surprising that they also make a quality instrument cable. This product is made with a 20-AWG copper core covered with a copper clad steel braiding that’s put over a dual layer of PVC & LDPE insulation. All of these layers help to reduce EMI interference and reduce the “crackling” effect that’s common among lesser quality cables. This cable also has gold-plated corrosion-resistant right-angle plug and have a PVC rubberized jacket that’s approximately 6mm thick and reduces handling noise. All of which makes this cable one that’s worthy for either the studio or the stage.
- Cables have corrosion-resistant ends
- They feel extremely durable
- Cable has less EMI interference than comparable cables
- Cables feel like they’ll hold up to frequent use
- Cable initially feel like they’re too stiff
- Plugs stick out a little bit when they’re plugged in
#4 Kirlin Premium Cable 20-Foot
This straight to right-angle cable is made using 20 gauge oxygen-free copper that has a 95% coverage OFC braided shielding that doesn’t have the handling noise that other cables tend to have. This product also has an attractive tweed woven jacket that’s quite attractive and is available in one of four different colors. This cable comes in either olive green, red, or carbon gray. This cable has an outer diameter of 7mm and has heavy-duty contacts that are gold-plated. Although it does have a tendency to coil and tangle, it’s a high-quality cable that’s sure to provide years of faithful use to any current or aspiring guitarists.
- Very attractive tweed covering
- Feels extremely durable
- Doesn’t have any handling noise
- Cord tangles up quite easily
#3 KLIQ Guitar Instrument Cable
Manufactured using a 24-AWG oxygen-free copper core, an OFC 99% braided shield and tough tweed outer jacket, this guitar cable is ready to rock and roll. Whether it’s used in the safety of the studio or during an unpredictable stage show, this cable is sure to hold up to whatever is thrown at it. It offers flexible and kink-free handling, even though it’s made with several layers of insulation and shielding. This cable is also equipped with gold-plated connectors that are not only corrosion-resistant but interface with jacks quite well. All of which makes this product a good one for any guitarist to use.
- Has an attractive tweed outer covering
- Has an extremely durable feel to it
- Triple shielded for less audio interference
- Has corrosion-resistant connectors
- Cable feels a little too light
#2 Mogami Gold Instrument Cable
Although this 25-foot cable is more expensive than other comparable cables, it does deliver a crystal-clear tone and does it without it having any annoying background noises. This product is specifically designed for studio use and is constructed with not only an OFC core but also an ultra-high density spiral shield and a conductive polymer sub-shield. This combination prevents interference from ruining the transmitted audio source. This cable is also manufactured with corrosion-resistant connectors that provide a nice stable connection every time they’re plugged in. All of which makes this cable a great choice for anyone intending to use it for professional use.
- This cable is pretty durable
- This cable doesn’t kink or tangle
- It’s extremely well shielded
- It’s very flexible
- They’re pretty expensive
#1 GLS Audio 20-Foot Right-Angle Cable
This cable is made with a colorful and flexible tweed jacket that’s not only designed to be moved however the guitarist needs it to move but to also be very durable as well. This guitar cable is really ready for just about anything. It’s beautiful and durable outer covering isn’t the only cool thing about this cable, however. It’s what’s on the inside that really matters, and on its insides is an oxygen-free conductor that’s wrapped in an OFC insulator shield with a conductive PVC shield. This allows the cable to not only be flexible but to also have a very low capacitance as well.
- Cable is extremely well shielded
- Has a durable feel to its construction
- Has an attractive tweed outer covering
- Cable has a low capacitance
- Maybe a bit thick for some guitarists
More products also worth checking out:
Guitar Cable Buying Guide
Anyone who wants to get the right tone from their guitar is going to want to examine their entire setup—all the way down to their guitar cables. Although guitar cables are not usually given much thought, the selection of the right one can really make a significant difference to how the guitarist’s sound stands up. With that clearly in mind, below are some of the things that guitarists should consider when they’re buying their next best guitar cable.
Guitar Cable Construction
Before we can begin to talk about which cables are the best, it’s important to know how they’re constructed in the first place. A guitar cable is essentially composed of a Center Conductor, which carries the electrical signal from the guitar to the amp. This is then covered with Insulation, an Electrostatic Shield, an Outer Shield and an Outer Jacket. These parts are present in all guitar cables available. However, what really makes a great cable different from a bargain basement guitar cable is what materials these components are made from and how well they’re constructed. Those two things make all of the difference in the world. Let’s examine each of these components more closely.
Guitar Cable Components
One of the most important components found in the guitar cable is the Center Conductor. A cable that’s created with a low-quality conductor will not only do a poor job at properly conducting the electrical signal from the guitar but is more likely to break, and therefore, it’s the first thing to consider.
The center conductor of a guitar cable can be made using a single copper conductor that’s anywhere from 18 to 24 AWG or can be made using a stranded conductor with a size of anywhere from 32 to 40 AWG. Although some guitarists use cables with a solid center conductor, these cables tend to break more easily. They also tend to be cheaper because the construction process isn’t so involved as it with stranded cables.
Cables with stranded center conductors tend to be more expensive because the process of assembling them is more detailed. When it comes to stranded center conductors, it’s important to realize that cables made with center conductors that are composed of individual center strands usually have a gauge of 30 to 36 AWG and these cables are generally better than solid conductor cables. However, premium cables are usually better than the models that have individual strands, and these cables usually have a gauge of over 36 AWG.
Although we could get into a discussion of how capacitance affects sound quality and which materials are the best at keeping capacitance at its lowest when it comes to insulation in guitar cables, there are really only two types used, rubber and polyethylene. Polyethylene has the lowest capacitance, so it should be most guitarist’s first choice. However, since it’s cheap enough that it’s used in both expensive and budget guitar cables, it’s really shouldn’t be an issue. Rubber is rarely used as an insulator these days, and its use has been on the decline for quite some time.
There are two types of electrostatic shielding found in the cables that use electrostatic shielding, and those two types are Dacron and Conductive PVC. It doesn’t really matter which of these materials is used, as long as electrostatic shielding is used. Most of the cheap guitar cables don’t use any shielding at all, which makes them prone to making a crackling sound when they’re bent or moved.
The outer shielding of a guitar cable comes in a number of different types: braided shields, serve shields and foil shields. Each of these outer shields has a different effect on not only the cable’s flexibility but also on the cable’s impedance and audio transfer characteristics. Below are some notes on these three different types of shields.
- Braided Shield: These shields are recognizable by their use of copper braids around an electrostatic shield located on the center conductor. This shield adequately protects the signal from RF interference and also has pretty consistent coverage. It’s also more expensive and has less flexibility than other types of shields currently available.
- Serve Shields: This shield is recognizable by its use of a flat layer of copper strands wound counter-clockwise or clockwise around the cable’s center conductor. This is a very flexible shield, but one that’s doesn’t have a high of tensile strength as a braided shield. This shield is decent for frequencies 100 kHz and below, but RFI becomes a problem at higher frequencies.
- Foil Shield: Characterized by its use of mylar-backed aluminum foil over copper wire, these shields are inexpensive but they aren’t very flexible and tend to break easily. However, they’re sometimes used when space is a concern and durability isn’t that important. That’s because foil shields tend to result in much smaller cables than other types of shields.
Guitar Cable Length
As the length of a cable increases, so does the noisiness of the cable, which is why cables are generally under 25-feet long. As a general rule, you should only buy as long as a guitar cable as you need to ensure that your signal is as quiet as possible.
Guitar Cable Plug
Over the years, many people have claimed that gold-plated guitar cable plugs provide a better connection than nickel plated ones. However, while it may be true that gold-plated plugs do provide a great connection, the connection really isn’t better than nickel-plated plugs. In fact, the performance of these two types of metal is equal. And since gold-plated plugs aren’t exactly pure because the gold is mixed with nickel to make it harder.
If the gold-plated plugs have one advantage over other types of plugs, it’s the fact that it doesn’t corrode as quickly as other types of metal plugs. But its advantage is slight in this department because most modern nickel-plated plugs also offer great corrosion resistance, so which one you choose is really a personal decision and makes little difference in the overall scheme of things.