Even though buying a guitar lead isn’t the most exciting purchase you can make, it is definitely one of the most important things that you’ll buy.
A guitar cable makes you louder. If this is an electric guitar, you’ll plug this into an amp. If you use an acoustic, you’ll plug this into a mixing desk, which then gets amplified by a PA system.
If you want to buy the best guitar cable, you mustn’t go for the cheapest option. Cheap cables can break easily and we all know there’s nothing worse than plugging in and finding out that you have no sound.
In today’s guitar cable reviews, we’re going to show you 10 of the best guitar cables, as well as some helpful tips and tricks that will help your master guitar cable purchase.
Best Patch Cable
EBS Gold Flat Patch Cables
One thing that is always guaranteed to frustrate guitarists is having limited pedalboard space.
You have a couple of options when doing this, you use fewer pedals, you buy a bigger board or you can get smaller cables to help you fit more pedals on your board.
One company that has excelled in making guitar cables for tight pedalboards is EBS, one of their best guitar cables is the EBS gold flat patch cable.
The EBS premium gold flat patch cable features a 24-karat gold plated housing and gold plated ¼” contacts, it offers low resistance and capacitance enabling guitarists to have quality sound and limited signal loss.
These guitar cables are a lot smaller than standard patch cables. A standard patch cable jack is usually between 15mm and 20mm, whereas the EBS cables have a diameter of 2.5mm.
This can make a huge difference when building a pedalboard and will enable you to increase the number of pedals on your board.
Furthermore, this lead features an oxygen-free copper core. The PVC shielding, polyethylene insulation, and copper shield minimize noise and interference, allowing your signal to be as clear as possible.
This will improve clarity and will appeal to tone enthusiasts who like their sound to be as pristine as possible.
Although these cables fit well on even the tightest of pedalboards, due to their small nature, they may be prone to breaking if moved frequently.
Overall, this is the best guitar cable for pedalboards and would be at home in any guitarist’s setup.
- The ‘flat’ design of these cables ensures that you have maximum pedalboard space available.
- A variety of lengths are available.
- The 24-carat gold plated connectors look stylish, classy, and most importantly improve tone.
- The twisted copper shielding ensures that this cable is protected from unwanted noise.
- More expensive than other patch cables in its range.
- Due to them being extremely thin, if a cable ever broke it could be difficult to fix.
Best Budget Guitar Cable
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner, getting the best guitar cable deals is always an important factor when purchasing instrument cables.
Stagg was one of the original companies associated with producing budget equipment, from cables, guitars, and other accessories.
Stagg produces some of the best quality cheap guitar cables on the market.
If you’re a beginner looking for your first guitar instrument cable, then the Stagg SGC6DL is a fantastic choice. It’s well priced, has a decent cable length, and has a good build quality.
The heavy-duty jack connectors are 6.35mm meaning they are a good size and will be able to endure regular use, however, some users have complained that these straight jacks are prone to breaking if you use a hollow body. If you’re worried about this, Stagg also offers a right-angled version of this cable.
Just like many other leads on the market, these instrument cables use oxygen-free copper core and conductive rubber as part of their insulation material.
This provides a solid connection for the cable, however, some users have experienced the solder in the internal jacks coming loose, this is an easy fix if you’re handy with a soldering iron but if you can’t manage that, these cables are relatively inexpensive to replace.
As well as this, this cable is compliant with the RoHS directive. This means that Stagg has ensured that these cables do not use hazardous substances and as a result of this can protect the environment and public health.
Overall, these are the best guitar cables for beginners or professionals looking for a spare.
- These cables are extremely affordable.
- Straight-angled and right-angled versions of this cable are available.
- The 3m or 6m versions are of a decent length and work well for studio or stage.
- Available in many different color options such as black, blue, green, purple, and red.
- Straight jacks can be prone to breaking on certain types of guitars.
- Not as low capacitance as other competitors on the market.
Best Electric Guitar Cable
Planet Waves American Stage Instrument Cable
Planet Waves produce some of the highest quality music gear around. Whether it’s capos, pedals, or strings, you can rest assured that you’re getting an excellent quality product. One of the best quality cables you can buy is the Planet Waves American Stage.
The Planet Waves American stage instrument cable is one of the best guitar cables for gigging musicians. They’re well priced, built to last, and sound great.
One aspect that aids their sound quality is that is a low capacitance guitar cable. The lead is measured at 28pF per foot, this keeps your tone transparent and provides you with crystal clear quality. This is enhanced further by the use of oxygen-free copper which improves the guitar’s signal flow.
Planet Waves utilize ‘Helio-fused’ soldering. This provides a 180 degree soldered connection which improves the overall stability of the cable, this combined with its geo tip production guarantees that this lead will work well for most guitarists.
One aspect that we really like about this electric guitar lead is that it comes with an elastic cable tie, which allows you to neatly wrap up your guitar lead after use.
Although this doesn’t seem like much, being able to do this will immediately increase the lifespan of this product.
Overall, this is a fantastic piece of guitar gear that would be at home in any guitarist’s tool kit.
- The Neutrik-made plugs improve durability and longevity.
- Variety of plug ends available, including straight, right-angled, and XLR.
- The geo-tip allows it to fit securely in all guitars.
- A low capacitance cable ensures that your tone is left uncoloured and is as natural as possible.
- Some users have experienced issues with plastic parts of the plug breaking.
- Could be too expensive for some guitarists.
Best Guitar Cable For The Money
Fender Professional Series Instrument Cable
Without Fender, it’s hard to imagine what popular music would look like. They have produced some of the most iconic instruments of all time and their musical equipment is a key part of music history.
One of the best guitar cables available is the Fender professional series instrument cable, let’s learn more about it.
The Fender professional series is one of the best guitar cables for the money and works great for beginner musicians who wish to upgrade or professionals who are looking for something that is consistently reliable.
The thickness of the cable comes in at 8mm, this feels extremely sturdy and the built-in strain relief ensures that the cable is long-lasting.
Adding to the durability of this product are the nickel-plated jack plugs, 22 American wire gage, and 95% oxygen-free copper shielding.
This creates decent capacitance levels and delivers a solid audio signal that is buzz-free.
Furthermore, this product comes in a variety of lengths, ranging between 3m, 5m, and 7m. So whether you’re on stage or in the studio, this lead will do the job.
Overall, Fender lives up to its reputation and produces a high-quality product that is built to last, and even if it does fail, you can take advantage of the lifetime warranties.
- Rubber, tweed cloth jacket, and patch cable versions are available in a variety of colors.
- The thickness of the cable feels sturdy and is extremely durable.
- Fender offers a lifetime warranty on this product.
- Some users have experienced broken jacks after limited use.
- Despite Fender claiming the cable is tangle-free, this guitar lead can get easily twisted.
Best Braided Cable
Ernie Ball Braided Cable
One of the most popular guitar accessory brands is Ernie Ball. Known predominantly for their string production, they also make products such as guitar pedals, capos, and straps.
Established in 1958, Ernie Ball boasts users such as Slash, Eric Clapton, and Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day). Their artist roster is an indication of how good their products are and the Ernie Ball instrument cable is no exception.
Most of the time, guitar cables come with a rubber outer cable jacket. However, over the past decade or so, other materials such as braided tweed guitar cable and braided cables have become popular. One of our favorites is the Ernie Ball braided guitar cable.
What makes this guitar cable different from others on the market is its wide range of colors. Usually, most guitar leads come in black and nothing else. This isn’t the most exciting thing visually and doesn’t make you want to pick up the guitar and play.
However, Ernie Ball offers a variety of colors including black/green, neon pink, neon orange, and yellow. This is perfect for the gigging musician who wants to make a vibrant appearance on stage or the studio engineer who is always misplacing cables. These bright colors will ensure that you never lose a cable again.
Not only does the Ernie Ball braided cable look great, but it also has excellent sound quality.
The dual-conductors provide a consistent sound with sparkling highs and rich mids. Furthermore, the sub shield of the cable is solid and limits any noise.
As well as this, like many of its competitors, this cable comes in a variety of lengths, making it versatile for different setups.
Overall, this lead won’t physically make you play any better, but its bright vibrant colors and consistent quality in sound will definitely inspire you to keep on rocking.
- The cable comes in a variety of colors. There are even neon versions available.
- The braided material ensures that your cable stays tangle-free.
- The dual-conductors provide a tight and clear guitar tone.
- The cable has very little noise interference due to the shielding materials used.
- It only comes in a straight-to-right-angled version.
- The braided material isn’t for everyone.
Best Solderless Cable
George L’s 155 Gauge Cable
In recent years, solderless cables have become increasingly popular. Companies such as George L, Evidence Audio and D’addario Planet Waves have all been pioneers of this type of product.
One of the best guitar cables that you can buy is the George L 155 gauge cable, let’s check it out.
One of the main benefits of this cable is that you don’t need to become an expert in soldering to make them or fix them, you simply need to screw the jack onto the cable and away you go.
This guitar lead is available in pre-made lengths at 3m, 4m, or 6m. However, what makes these guitar cables unique is that you can build them to your own desired length, so whether you need a 1m cable or a 20m cable, you’re able to do this with this cable.
Due to the cables being .155 gauge, it also works well as a patch cable, so if you want to build your own at an extremely small length, you can do this.
One downside of the cable’s thickness is that it may not be as durable as other competitors, however, George L does offer a slightly thicker cable at .255 gauge, which may work better for live performance but may lose some tone compared to the .155.
This guitar lead has an extremely low capacitance of 19pf per foot, this enables the cable to retain smooth highs and keep your tone intact.
Although the George L cable is a great solderless cable, some may argue it’s on the expensive side for a lead.
However, this is arguably one of the best guitar cables for tone purists and professional musicians.
- The thin gauge allows your tone to shine through and maintain clarity.
- You can build the cable to your desired length or order one pre-made.
- If the product breaks, you can easily pick up replacement parts such as jacks and cables. This isn’t possible with other products.
- The cable is noise-free.
- Some users have found the extremely thin cable gauge can get easily tangled.
- Sometimes the connector can come loose after persistent use.
Best Circuit Breaker Cable
One unique development that has been introduced over the past 10 years or so is circuit breaker technology. This has been common on guitar pedals for years however not so much on guitar cables.
This is a great feature as it allows guitarists to quickly shut off the guitar signal when it isn’t needed.
One of the best guitar cables in this category is the D’addario circuit breaker instrument cable.
The switch allows the user to cut the signal. This makes this product one of the best guitar cables for gigging musicians who like to regularly change guitars.
As well, if you ever experience unwanted feedback, you have the option of quickly shutting off the signal with this unique switch.
The switch is available as a latching or momentary switch depending on your personal preference and the lead comes in either a straight or right-angled version, enabling it to work well with a variety of guitars.
Furthermore, this lead is available in a variety of lengths, so whether you need a large or small guitar instrument cable, D’addario has you covered.
Just like many other guitar leads, this lead uses oxygen-free copper conductors for low capacitance and two layers of copper coverage shield which provides excellent insulation and minimal noise.
One of the downsides of using a guitar lead is that they can often easily break, however, fear not, D’addario has you covered.
Firstly, the lead can be easily repaired by just using a screwdriver and cable cutter. Secondly, D’addario offers replacement jacks at a reasonable price. Finally, if you don’t want to go through fixing the jack lead, they also offer a lifetime warranty.
This is a unique selling point and makes it one of the best guitar cables available.
- Gold plated plugs improve conductivity and signal strength.
- These cables are part of Planet Waves player’s circle program meaning you can claim free gifts and discounts off of future products.
- Replacement jack heads are available if the product becomes faulty and can be easily repaired.
- D’addario offers a lifetime warranty with this product.
- The ‘kill switch’ function can be tricky to access.
Best Boutique Cable
Mogami 3368 Guitar Cable
Boutique cable makers have become increasingly popular over the last years, some of our favorites include monster cables, the spectraflex original series, and Mogami.
Mogami produces extremely good guitar leads and has often been the choice of many professional pedalboard builders.
Although they make bespoke custom cables, their quality is second to none and are easily some of the best guitar cables available today.
Mogami Neglex 3368 guitar leads are a fantastic choice of lead for all guitar players due to their excellent build quality. This is shown in the materials used and construction of the product.
Mogami produces some monster cables, they have low capacitance, use oxygen-free copper, a conductive polymer sub shield, and an ultra-high-density spiral shield. All of this combined with the carbon PVC layer ensures that this lead produces excellent sound quality.
One aspect which makes this product unique is that it uses Neutrik Black and Gold ¼ inch jacks, these jacks are much higher quality than standard plugs and give that extra bit of reliability and durability.
Although these cables are extremely high quality, they are definitely aimed at the upper end of the market and are the best guitar cable available for professional musicians or pedalboard builders.
- The Neutrik jacks are extremely high quality and built to last.
- The silent jacks are fantastic for switching guitars live and in the studio.
- These cables are extensively tested and come with a lifetime warranty.
- A low capacitance of 21pF per foot maintains a consistent frequency response.
- Very expensive for instrument cables, but can be picked up cheaper when certain stores run guitar cable deals.
Best Coiled Cable
Ernie Ball P06045 Guitar Cable
Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, coiled guitar cables were used by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Brian May.
Known for their high capacitance, these cables take some of the top-end off of your sound and have a warm, rich sound quality that is perfect for rock and roll.
This product has a PVC jacket and provides a performance that is both long-lasting and low noise.
The 99.9% oxygen-free copper core is able to resist corrosion and the coiled nature of this product means it has minimal strain relief and is tangle resistant.
The dual electrostatic shield ensures that this cable has limited noise and durability, however, some users have found that if the cable breaks it can be difficult to fix.
One of the main downsides of this type of product is that it is high capacitance, meaning you can lose some high-frequency response. This could be considered a bad thing, however, it can work well with brighter amps such as a Fender Twin, Marshall Plexi, or Vox AC30.
As well as this, this product is only available in two colors, it would be more appealing if there were more options to choose from.
Despite this, we feel that this is easily the best guitar cable for vintage purists.
- They look extremely cool and the light cream cable looks very stylish.
- This guitar lead is heavy-duty and built to last.
- Great for vintage purists who want to look the part.
- Comes with a cable tie so you can neatly store the guitar lead.
- The top-end roll-off isn’t for everyone.
- Doesn’t include a lifetime warranty.
Whether you’re looking for the best instrument cable or the best bass guitar cable, buying advice can often be confusing.
There are so many factors to consider, from the material, cable length, capacitance, and more.
However, if you feel overwhelmed by all of this, don’t worry.
In this buying guide, we’re going to give you the best buying advice and guarantee that you’ll be able to find the perfect guitar cable for your needs as a guitar player.
When we discuss materials, there are two things to consider. The outer jacket and the inner material.
The outer jacket isn’t something that will change your tone but it will change the appearance.
Some materials used include rubber, tweed, and coiled guitar leads. All of these materials are available in a variety of different colours, depending on the brand.
The inner material is usually made from oxygen-free copper or linear-crystal copper, these materials produce a clearer signal and offer better conductivity than standard copper.
One of the great things about copper is that it tends to be resistant to the ‘skin effect’. You can learn more about that here.
This is how long the lead is, the length is determined by your own needs as a guitarist.
For example, if you’re a gigging musician, you may need a longer lead so you can move freely on stage, however, if you play at home, a shorter guitar cable would work fine as you don’t need to move as much.
One thing to bear in mind is that the longer the guitar lead, the more likely you are to lose high-end. This can be compensated by using a buffer. To learn more about buffers, click here.
In an ideal world, the capacitance of your guitar cable should be as low as possible. The lower the capacitance, the more treble frequencies will come through.
This will prevent ‘tone=suck’ and allow your signal to stay as clear as possible.
As well as this, having a low capacitance cable will prevent noise interference from other sound sources.
Type of Jacks
Jacks come in a variety of materials such as brass, steel, nickel, and gold. These don’t necessarily change the tone but can improve the flow of the center conductor of the cable.
Brass is the weakest conductor of these materials, nickel is in the middle, and gold is the highest conductor.
Will a decent guitar cable make my tone better?
Yes, having a decent cable will improve the tone of your guitar.
Although purchasing a lead isn’t as exciting as buying a new pedal or guitar, it’s actually one of the most important aspects of your tone.
When purchasing a lead, make sure that you don’t just go for the cheapest option. Often, a cheap guitar cable can be made poorly and won’t last. Think about it this way, if you buy cheap, you buy twice.
When purchasing a lead, you should spend at least $10 and above, this will ensure that you have a monster sound for years to come.
What’s the difference between soldered cables and solderless cables?
The clue is in the name here, a soldered cable is a lead that has been connected with solder and a solderless cable is a lead that is connected without solder.
There are many different ways that a solderless cable can be connected and companies such as Evidence Audio, George L, and D’Addario Planet Waves all have different methods of how this works.
The main difference between soldered and solderless guitar leads is the type of plugs.
Soldered guitar leads are much cheaper to make and tend to be more durable than solderless cables.
However, solderless cables offer the user the ability to make and repair them without the use of a soldering iron.
Does the type of guitar cable matter?
Absolutely, if you want to plug your guitar into an amp, you’ll need an instrument cable.
If you wish to connect your pedals together, you’ll need a patch cable.
If you want to connect your amplifier head to a speaker cabinet, you’ll need a speaker cable.
It’s important that you use the correct cables to prevent damage to your instrument or amplifier.
What’s the difference between a patch cable and a guitar cable?
This is an extremely common question. The main difference between a patch cable and a guitar cable is the length.
Patch cables are between 5cm and 60cm.
Whereas a standard guitar cable is between 90cm and 900cm.
Patch cables are used mainly on pedalboards. Their short length is great for sticking them between pedals.
Guitar cables are used to connect your guitar to the amp, this enables guitar players to amplify their signal.
Are Fender guitar cables any good?
Yes, Fender makes some very good guitar cables at a competitive price. Other brands that are worth checking out which haven’t been already mentioned are:
- Spectraflex Original Series.
- Monster Cables.
- Evidence Audio.
- GLS Audio Cables.