Each month we talk about cool stuff, gadgets, pedals, amps, guitars. In this post, I am addressing an often overlooked aspect of the big picture: The Guitar Cable. I get many queries about my choice of cable, not just from the guitar to the amp, but for the signal path in between pedals, especially when permanently hooked up on a pedalboard.
My choice for a very long time has been George L’s. For many reasons, these make sense for me. In terms of durability and longevity, I have some George L cables that are older than many of my students!!
George L ‘s cables are solder-free do-it-yourself, very high quality, low capacitance, anti-stat, co-ax cabling. They come in two thicknesses (.155 and .225) and in spite of what seems like a relatively small diameter compared to other manufacturers, rank as one of the best I have ever played. I have done much in the way of A/B testing with other, higher-priced cabling. George L’s hold up and, in most cases, surpass the quality of the others.
The cable comes either pre-made as a guitar cable with 1/4-inch plugs on both ends, often including a protective sleeve, or in bulk, which allows you to create your own custom lengths. Plugs average around $5-$7 a piece (depending on your source) and the cable, anywhere from $1.50-$2.25 a foot. Making a George L cable is a simple task and really only requires a little care when assembling to ensure years of trouble-free operation:
1) Cut the length of desired cable, make sure the ends are clean-cut, with no wire hairs hanging or sticking out.
2) Choose a plug, whether strat style extended length plug with grip area:
or smaller style plug, great for Gibson-style guitars or pro-audio:
or corner-style plug, convenient for pedalboard use:
3) The plugs have a screw on the side (in previous pictures) which you tighten after fully and firmly inserting the cable. The corner plugs have what amounts to a gripped, threaded “plug,” which closes the back of the plug while completing all of the connections. No solder at all required!
4) Add protective sleeve (Note: pull this onto your guitar cables before assembling the plug and tightening the screws. With the corner plugs you can pull on the sleeve afterwards because they have a split to allow for this after the cable has been secured)
A good value for folks who need to custom wire up a pedalboard is the George L Effects Cable Kit (around $70, give or take), which usually comes as a package with 10 corner plugs and about 10 feet of cable. The low profile of the corner plugs make it an excellent choice for best use of pedalboard real estate. Just install pedals on your board, cut the desired lengths, connect and you are ready to go to the gig!
The obvious advantage to using this product is that in the unlikely event (in my case) that you have some kind of short happening at the plug, you simply snip the end off, make sure it is flat and clean as before, and then assemble/secure the plug again! And then you are once again ready to rock. It takes all of one minute! I can honestly say that I have fewer problems with this connecting system than I have had with traditional soldered guitar cables.
When I first started using George L’s, I remember there were only limited options, compared to now, when you can choose different thicknesses of cable, different materials for plugs (nickel, brass, even gold!) and different colors for the cable. For more information, check out the George L’s website. There are many other related products and accessories that you might find useful in the signal path of your Quest for Good Guitar Tone!
Here is a helpful video tutorial I found on YouTube where someone is showing you how to make a George L cable: