5 of the Best Guitar Cables (From Experience)

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So you’ve got your electric guitar and you’re all ready to jam. All you need to do is plug your guitar into your amp – but you don’t have a cable!

Just about every guitarist that I know has gone through multitudes of guitar cables. They come and go for various reasons:

  • Maybe they were “accidentally” taken by the opening band at your last gig?
  • Maybe your current one has been cutting in and out, inexplicably?

Regardless, in order to get your guitar to play through your amp, you need a cable. Cables are notoriously the least sexy upgrade that you can make to your guitar rig, but are arguably one of the most important ones to make.

animated guitar cable beside yellow circle with electric guitar inside on red music themed background.

It may seem silly to spend a lot of money on a guitar cable, but if you know what to look for, I guarantee you it will be money well spent. 

So, this guide will walk you through some of the best guitar cables on the market (from my playing experience). Then, we dive into all the details around types of cables and what to look for when buying good guitar cables!

The Top 5 Guitar Cables

Before we dive into some of the top guitar cables, here are my quick-picks to get you started. If you need a cable – and need one quickly – these picks will lead you in the right direction.

Now, let’s get into my top 5 recommended guitar cables with detailed reviews:

Mogami Gold Instrument Silent S

Mogami Gold INST Silent S-18 Guitar Instrument Cable, 1/4" TS Male Plugs, Gold Contacts, Straight...
  • Mogami GOLD INST SILENT S Guitar Instrument Cables provide crystal-clear tone and a drop-dead silent background. The top choice for wiring professional recording studios for...
  • Engineered for the highest level of transparency, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables are constructed with a conductive polymer sub-shield, an Ultra High Density (UHD) spiral...

Last update on 2023-02-02 at 17:34

This is a premium, no-compromise guitar cable for those who want nothing but the best components in their signal path. This cable is fantastic for live and studio applications, featuring top quality Mogami Gold cabling and Neutrik connectors.

The Neutrik silentPLUG allows for guitars to be hot swapped (changed without powering off the amp or otherwise cutting the signal), which is a must for guitarists who gig with an arsenal of guitars.

  • Features: Premium Mogami Gold cabling for superior signal clarity, gold Neutrik connectors, Neutrik silentPLUG for hot swapping guitars
  • Pros: Top quality components, solid build quality, silentPlug allows for hot swapping guitars
  • Cons: Expensive for the casual or beginner guitarist

Mogami Gold Instrument

Mogami Gold INSTRUMENT-18 Guitar Instrument Cable, 1/4" TS Male Plugs, Gold Contacts, Straight...
  • Mogami GOLD INSTRUMENT Guitar Instrument Cables provide crystal-clear tone and a drop-dead silent background. The top choice for wiring professional recording studios for...
  • Engineered for the highest level of transparency, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables are constructed with a conductive polymer sub-shield, an Ultra High Density (UHD) spiral...

Last update on 2023-02-02 at 17:34

This cable is very similar to the previous one, except that on this cable, both connectors are Neutrik gold plated connectors (there is no silentPlug).

This cable would be best suited for home or studio applications, or live situations where hot swapping guitars is not necessary. 

  • Features: Premium Mogami Gold cabling for superior signal clarity, gold Neutrik connectors
  • Pros: Top quality components, solid build quality, friendlier price point than the “Silent S” version of this cable 
  • Cons: No guitar hot swapping, still a premium price point

Pro Co Evolution Silent

Pro Co Evolution Studio/Stage Silent Straight - Straight Instrument Cable 10 ft.
  • Features Neutrik's exclusive angled silentPLUG (NP2RX-AU-SILENT), allowing you to change instruments without annoying pops and crackles The silentPLUG automatically mutes...
  • Exclusive "Soft-Touch" technology (wraps easily and lays flat)

Last update on 2023-02-02 at 17:34

This is another premium cable featuring the Neutrik silentPLUG. The Pro Co Evolution is an affordable cable with great performance and premium connectors.

Pro Co doesn’t have the same name recognition as Mogami, but these cables still deliver a great signal. This cable also comes in a “regular” connector version, switching out the silentPLUG for Neutrik’s gold plated plug.

  • Features: Neutrik silentPLUG for hot swapping guitars, great build quality, great value for the price. 
  • Pros: Premium gold Neutrik connectors, high quality cabling, excellent value 
  • Cons: Limited length options

Digiflex NPP-15 Pro/Tour

Digiflex is a maker of budget cables that – despite their price point – are absolute workhorse cables.

While the actual cable construction can’t compete with quality of the premium brands, Digiflex uses Neutrik connectors that will likely outlive the actual cable itself.

I’ve used many Digiflex cables, and usually keep a few around as spares to lend at gigs, or for using when casually jamming. These cables are best used for live and practice applications. 

  • Features: Nickel Neutrik connectors, “budget” cabling
  • Pros: Premium Neutrik connectors, great value
  • Cons: Limited length options, not ideal for studio 

Fender Deluxe Instrument Cable

Sale
Fender Deluxe Series Instrument Cable, Straight/Straight, Tweed, 15ft
  • Made with the highest quality materials to deliver durability, conductance and transparency
  • 95% oxygen-free braided shielding for crystal-clear audio

Last update on 2023-02-02 at 17:34

These cables are made by Fender and come in a tweed wrap with and feature a braided shielding.

The Deluxe Instrument Cable sports gold plated connectors and is available in an array of colors and lengths, as well as a right angled plug option (if that’s your preference).

Tweed cables can be a bit stiff, so I tend to use my braided cable to run between my pedal’s output and my amp (instead of between my guitar and pedal’s input). These cables are best used in live sound applications. 

  • Features: Soft tweed wrap, Fender branded connectors, braided shielding
  • Pros: Many different lengths, available with right angled connector, gold plated connectors
  • Cons: Cables can be a bit stiff, solder connections may wear a bit quickly

What Is A Guitar Cable And Why You Need One

A guitar cable is used to transmit the signal from an electric guitar to an amp, computer interface, or DI box.

Though they are often referred to as guitar cables, they can be used for most instruments, including bass guitars, acoustic guitars and electronic keyboards or synthesizers.

Depending on your instrument and application, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

If you are looking for a cable for playing live/ jamming/ playing through an amp, you might want a longer cable so that you have some mobility and freedom in your jam room, or on stage. 

If you are wanting to record your guitar into a recording interface, consider a shorter cable so that you don’t have as much extra slack to deal with (a 10’ cable in the studio is often enough). A shorter cable also will have less of a sonic impact on the signal than a longer cable. 

If you are looking for cables to connect effect pedals, use shorter cables (6”), and consider cables with right-angled plugs. The L-shaped plugs will help maximize the number of pedals that you can cram onto your pedal board (if you have one). 

Things To Look For In A Good Guitar Cable

Without getting too deep into cable architecture, guitar cables are made up of two main parts: the cable and the connectors (plugs).

It is important to note that cables (the bulk wire containing the lead and the shielding) and connectors are often made by separate companies.

Neutrik is almost indisputably the best manufacturer of audio connectors (in this case, the ¼” instrument plug). However, some other companies, such as Amphenol and Rean (owned by Neutrik) have adopted a similar plug design to Neutrik’s.

Mogami and Pro Co are two companies (among many others) that make quality cables. 

Quality Connectors (Plugs)

This may be counter intuitive, but the plugs/connectors are the most important part of a guitar cable! When buying a guitar cable, always take a good look at the connectors. 

High quality connectors are designed to have strain relief between the connector and the cable. They are designed this way, so that in the event of an accidental cable pull, the force of the pull is not placed on the internal solder connections, but on the strain relief mechanism.

From my experience building cables, Neutrik connectors have the most effective strain relief mechanism, which is a big reason that they are the brand most relied on and used by the pros. 

If you are handy with a soldering iron and want to make your own cables (a great way to save money on cables), Neutrik plugs are absolutely worth the money. 

If you tend to use multiple guitars, check out this silentPLUG by Neutrik. It has a switch built into the plug so that the signal cuts as soon as the plug is removed from the guitar jack. 

In addition to being insanely convenient, it is also an invaluable safeguard to avoid damaging your amp. Goodbye, terrifying amp-popping noises!

If at all possible, avoid cables that have molded connectors where the connection is completely encased in a plastic or rubber casing. These cables often fail very quickly and cannot be fixed without completely replacing the connector.  

Connector Material

Many connectors boast gold plating on the plugs as a superior signal conductor. While it is true that gold is an exceptional conductor for electrical signals, I do not believe that it should be a priority characteristic when buying a new guitar cable.

A high quality cable built with non-gold plugs will likely perform just as well as an equivalent that is made with gold plugs.

Gold plugs can sometimes be used as an enticing selling feature, however, a gold plug does not equal a high quality plug. Choosing a cable with a well designed connector (ie. a Neutrik connector) should be the priority.

Cables Brands

Some cable brands carry a premium price tag due to their build quality and reputation. However, the signal quality and transmission is much more affected by the length of cable and the style of connector.

Guitar Cable Length – and Its Importance

Does the length of the cable really matter? In this case, absolutely! Except, maybe not exactly in the way that you’re thinking. 

Guitars output a high impedance electrical signal (sometimes called Hi-Z). Because of this impedance, guitar signals experience some amount of degradation when run through any length cable.

It is generally agreed that a high impedance signal is audibly affected when run through cables longer than about 18’. This is typically experienced as a high frequency roll off, or a reduction in the high frequencies.

If a guitar signal needs to be transmitted a long distance, changing the signal impedance (through a transformer or DI box) is necessary.

Guitar and instrument cables are referred to as unbalanced cables, meaning that the signal is carried through a single lead (wire), while the wire wrapping around the cable acts as the signal shield and the ground.

Since guitar cables are unbalanced (mentioned above), they can sometimes attract unwanted interference (such as radio frequencies, noise from electromagnetic fields, etc.). 

Generally speaking, the longer the cable, the more opportunity there is for external noise to be introduced into the guitar signal! Long, unbalanced cables basically act as an antenna, and the longer the antenna, the more interference it will pick up.

This can be especially problematic when living in a big city (with tons of radio signals bouncing around), or in residences with poorly or improperly grounded electrical systems. 

For these reasons, I will never recommend a guitar cable longer than 18 feet long!

The Different Types of Guitar Cables

Most guitar cables are constructed in the same way, and are usable in many different situations and for many different instruments (such as bass guitar, acoustic guitars with pickups and electronic keyboards/synthesizers).

Though they may appear the same as some other types of cables, such as unbalanced speaker cables, these are not interchangeable.

Never use a guitar cable in high voltage applications (ie. as a speaker cable), since this can pose a potential fire hazard or cause other electrical issues with your gear. 

The quality of the cable’s components generally dictates the type of application that is most appropriate for that cable.

High-End Cables

High-end cables often use the best available connectors and cabling, which suits them best for studio applications.

These cables are often engineered specifically to optimize the signal clarity for situations where low noise and pristine signal clarity is prioritized. These cables also demand top dollar. 

Lower/Middle-End Cables

For the majority of guitarists that want to play in small venues or jam with their band, a balance of quality connectors and a lower quality cable is often the proverbial sweet spot.

These cables may have lower quality components than the premium cables, but the difference in cost savings is often justifiable.

The difference between a $40 cable and a $100 cable is almost certainly not audible in a live setting, and may not be discernible at all, even in the studio.

There is somewhat of a threshold here, where beyond a certain investment, there are diminishing returns on audio quality and build quality. 

My Cable Buying Tips

Here are a few tips from above (and a few new points) summarized when it comes to guitar cables.

Overall, I tend to recommend buying cables with the best connectors available within your budget.

Cables most often fail at the connector, and the difference in signal quality between a top of the line cable and a middle of the road cable is almost negligible (assuming you are using a cable less than 18’ long).

I would generally advise against buying any cables with molded ends for anything other than practicing, as these are prone to failing without warning (from random crackling to full on signal loss).

Many of the cables that I have recommended in this article feature the Neutrik silentPLUG. I have used my guitar cable with the silentPLUG for well over a decade now for live and studio use.

I highly recommend finding a cable that suits your needs that has this specific connector, especially if you like to use multiple guitars while playing live.

Even in the studio and when practicing, it allows for quick and quiet guitar changes, sparing your sensitive gear from loud (and potentially damaging) pops.

I generally make/solder my own cables, and have switched out connectors for the silentPLUG without any issue. If you know how to solder, and are interested in making your own cables, I would highly suggest modifying a midrange cable with a silentPLUG instead of buying a new cable. 

If you don’t know how to solder, don’t try this at home because there’s a risk of burning yourself!

Benefits Of Using A Guitar Cable

When amplifying a guitar, a cable is needed to output the signal from the electric guitar. Without a cable, there is no way to amplify your guitar. 

There are ways to play electric guitar without an amp (like with computer software) but it’s just not the same – nor is this a typical route of a beginner/intermediate guitar player.

While there are wireless guitar systems available, the vast majority of guitarists don’t need that level of sophistication, and a simple guitar cable will do the trick. 

Conclusion 

Depending on your typical application, there are many different guitar cables available, and not all cables are made equal. When looking for a cable that will last you for years, be sure to look for a cable that has quality connectors and is 18’ long or less.

Premium cables will come with the highest price tag, and are often best suited for those spending lots of time in the studio. There are many mid-tier cables available with a high build quality and solid components that offer great performance for the price. 

\m/

-J

About Jordan Shew

Jordan is a musician, audio engineer and entrepreneur. He has been playing guitar for over 20 years, with a particular love for the electric guitar. He has played in bands that have spanned genres from folk to rock to synth pop, learning to play as many instruments as he could in the process. He’s also a techie at heart and holds a degree in mechanical engineering, which fuels his endless gear curiosity. You can check out his portfolio at jordanshewmusic.ca.