The Best Guitar / Instrument Cables

The Best Guitar Cables

Originally published on December 15, 2016 and updated on January 29, 2018.

While good guitar cables can't make you sound better, bad ones can make you sound dull - or worse - they can cut off your sound at important moments! This guide is meant to help you avoid these uninspiring and often awkward situations, featuring the best guitar instrument cables as suggested by the most current market reviews, ratings and recommendations.

For this update, we ended up with 7 highly rated cables that cover a wide price range, along with a runner-up budget option. Whatever your budget is, you'll see one that will fit your needs below.

Contents

The Best Guitar / Instrument Cables

Musician's Gear Tweed Guitar Cable

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
Musician's Gear Tweed Instrument Guitar Cable

There's nothing out of the ordinary with this cable, rather it follows tried and tested designs and sticks with them well enough to top others in terms of sales and review ratings. It features standard 20 AWG OFC conductor wrapped in braided copper shielding, while the gold-tipped metal plugs are protected by heatshrunk tubing that alleviates strain on the solder connections. However, what seems to have captured most users attention is its vintage style flecked tweed wrap.

Features:

  • 20 AWG OFC
  • Braided Copper Shielding
  • Heatshrunk heavy duty tubing for strain relief
  • Gold-tipped metal plugs
  • Length: 10'
  • Available Lengths: 10' | 20'
  • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled

Pros

From room practice, to regular gigs, and even for weekly church use, this cable continues to satisfy users of different backgrounds and musical styles. Its most commended trait is its value for money, which is its main selling point. In addition, the cable's elegant appearance get a lot of thumbs up, satisfying even guitarists who play expensive vintage instruments. The Musician's Gear Tweed Guitar Cable's is also easy to roll up and untangle, as reported by many users.

Cons

There are some users who had their cables give out earlier than they expected, some after a year, while some just after a few uses. The general impression is that the cable requires proper handling if you want to keep it in good working condition for a long time.

Overall

As long as you're not planning on abusing it, this affordable and good looking guitar cable will get the job done.

GLS Audio Tweed Guitar Cable

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$13
GLS Audio Instrument Guitar cable

GLS Audio started out as a guitar amplifier builder in the mid '60s, now they are known for affordably priced cables and accessories. The Tweed guitar cable that they produce continues to get high ratings with its balance of quality and affordability, so much so that it still is the highest scorer in this list. This cable comes with double insulator shields (OFC insulator and PVC conductive shields) and oxygen free copper all wrapped in braided tweed cloth jacket, which is quite good for the price.

Features:

  • OFC Copper
  • Double Insulator Shielding
  • Heat Shrink Strain Relief
  • Braided Tweed Cloth Jacket
  • Length: 10'
  • Available Lengths: 6' | 10' | 15' | 20'
  • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled
  • Pros

    Most are impressed with the overall solid build of the cable, while others are taken in by the familiar aesthetic of its cloth tweed wrap. It is not the cheapest in this list, but it is very affordable, while keeping the quality quite high, as evidenced by the many recommendations and positive reviews that it has. Some even go as far as commenting that the quality matches their experience with more expensive boutique cables.

    Cons

    There were a few who had popping and ground issues after using the cable for a few months of use. They recommend inspecting the solder between the cable and plug when encountering the same issues, and to re-solder when needed.

    Overall

    With its great balance of quality, value and old school looks, you won't be disappointed with this top rated guitar cable.

    Fender Performance Guitar Cable

    91
    GEARANK

    91 out of 100. Incorporating 2100+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $20
    Fender Performance Series Instrument Cable

    When it comes to guitar gear, there's no denying Fender's production capability. And we're are not just talking about quantity, because they are capable of keeping quality consistently high even with their mass produced products, as evidences by the high ratings that this cable continues to gather. In addition to quantity and quality, they can also produce cables with various looks and lengths, so you can have one with just the right length for your needs. Features include a PVC jacket, 90% copper shield, metal connectors and strain relief.

    Features:

    • 90% Copper Shield
    • 8mm Diameter PVC Jacket
    • Metal Connectors
    • Length: 10'
    • Available Lengths: 5' | 10' | 15' | 18' | 20' | 25'
    • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled

    Pros

    A good number of reviewers find the Fender Performance cable to be better than most of the cables within the price range. They are impressed with the substantial quality difference when compared to others, considering that the price difference is not that much. Some users also find it to be quieter than even more expensive cables, surprising even experienced users.

    Cons

    There was one who compared his old Fender cable with a new one that he recently bought, and found that the quality seemed to have lowered. There are a few who had issues out of the box, but they were able to have the cable replaced, or serviced themselves to good working condition.

    Overall

    If you're looking for a cable from a trusted brand, or you want one to match your Fender guitar, then this is your pick.

    Planet Waves American Stage Guitar Cable

    90
    GEARANK

    90 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $20
    Planet Waves American Stage Instrument Guitar Cable

    D'Addario is well known for quality guitar accessories, and their sub brand Planet Waves secured a spot on this list with the USA made American Stage guitar cable. It features a slightly thinner 22 AWG OFC conductor wrapped in 95% braided shielding. Planet Waves employed an exclusive in-line solder process that permanently bonds the wire and plug, which ups reliability and longevity. It also features Geo-Tip Neutrik connectors that help keep the jack in place when plugged in.

    Features:

    • 22 AWG OFC Conductor
    • 95% Tinned Copper Braided Shielding
    • Flexible Jacket
    • Geo-Tip Neutrik connectors
    • Inline Soldering Process
    • Length: 10'
    • Available Lengths: 10' | 15' | 20' | 30'
    • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled

    Pros

    Many users and reviewers describe this cable as having a very clean transparent sound, with some even claiming to hear nuances that were lost with their previous cables. There are also reports of the cable being very quiet even when moving around. The American Stage cable is also commended for its reliability and longevity, used by some for years without any issue.

    Cons

    There are a few users who reported that the geo-tip design is not compatible with some guitars, and while the reports mentioned older instruments, there are some who had connection issues with modern instruments like an Ibanez Jem. Other users noted that the cables twist and tangle too quickly, but to them, it is a small price to pay for its rigidity.

    Overall

    If you're looking for a reasonably priced US made guitar cable that's meant to last, then check this one out.

    Monster Classic Coiled Guitar Cable

    94
    GEARANK

    94 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $50
    Monster Classic Coiled Instrument Guitar Cable

    Since it is pricey, it's only natural for increased expectations, yet Monster Cable is not one to back down. They've been building their reputation on premium audio cables, which include their recreation of the classic coiled guitar cable. While it sports an old school coiled cable look, this one follows the company's modern design to the letter, with its 20 AWG copper conductor, 90% copper spiral wrap shielding, duraflex jacket and twisted pair construction.

    Features:

    • 20 AWG
    • 90% Copper Spiral Wrap Shielding
    • Twisted Pair Construction
    • Duraflex jacket
    • All metal connectors
    • Length: 21'
    • Practical Stage Length: 4' coiled and stretches to 10'

    Pros

    Many users consider this as their best cable purchase, and considering the price they had to pay for this cable, these are big statements. All in all, users are very pleased with the substantial difference in tone compared to other cheaper cables. Others are satisfied with the cable's transparency. Being a coiled cable, there were some users who found it ideal for bright sounding guitars, very subtly taming the excess highs.

    Cons

    There aren't that many complaints about the cable in general, aside from a few who found the coiled cable to be shorter than they expected. Interestingly, only those that have not tried the cable appeared to have complained about its premium price tag.

    Overall

    If you're looking for a premium road worthy cable and want the vintage swag of coils, then this is highly recommended.

    George L's Guitar Cable

    90
    GEARANK

    90 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $50
    George L's Instrument Guitar Cable 15'

    Tone connoisseur Eric Johnson trusts George L's cables with his tone, and that is enough for me, and many others, to consider buying this boutique cable. George L's pioneered the convenient "no soldering" and "no stripping" guitar cable design, and they did so without compromising sound quality. These allowed users to make custom cables in the exact lengths that they need for their rigs. Their pre-packaged cables are also popular enough to make it to this list, with its audiophile sound quality and easy to maintain design. The company lets you choose between gold, nickel and unplated brass plugs, which depending on your ear sensitivity may have a subtle effect on the resulting tone. Its top notch sound quality has made it a mainstay in many guitar rigs and recording studios.

    Features:

    • Solder-less Plugs
    • Lifetime warranty on Plugs
    • Length: 10'
    • Available Lengths: 10' | 15' | 20'
    • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled

    Pros

    "Superior sound and build quality" is a good summary of how the market perceives this cable. Some who are skeptical at first ended up being a fan after trying out the cable for themselves. Most users have great things to say about its sound, specifically the sound details that are missing before with their previous cables. Many are genuinely amazed at the difference this cable made to their sound.

    Cons

    There are a few who expressed concern with how stiff and thin the cable is. There are also some who experienced connection issues, and they caution that proper handling should be applied.

    Overall

    If you're looking for a boutique guitar cable for recording then get this one. If this cable is fine with Eric Johnson, then it should be more than enough for most of us.

    Mogami Gold Guitar Cable

    94
    GEARANK

    94 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $55
    Mogami Gold Instrument Guitar Cable

    Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and Fleetwood Mac are just a few of the growing list of popular bands and artists that are affiliated with Mogami. As such, the company's high-end cable products continue to gain traction in the market, of which the highly rated Mogami Gold is included. This cable features dual shielding - high density spiral and conductive polymer sub-shield for quiet and interference free performance, while the carbon impregnated PVC jacket stops handling noise.

    Features:

    • 20 AWG OFC
    • High Density Spiral Shielding
    • Conductive Polymer Sub-Shield
    • Carbon-impregnated PVC Jacket
    • Length: 10'
    • Available Lengths: 3' | 6' | 10' | 18' | 25'
    • Available Plugs: Straight or Angled

    Pros

    The general sentiment is that this cable is well worth the money, giving you precious peace of mind with its consistent performance and reliability. Both acoustic and electric guitar players report experiencing improvements in their overall tone, when comparing their sound with their previous cables. The way the plugs securely connects with instruments, amps and other gear is also highly commended.

    Cons

    As expected, there are a few users who complained about the cable being expensive, hoping that it could sell for a bit less.

    Overall

    The Mogami Gold is a premium cable that's well worth the money, especially for those who want peace of mind during gigs and recording.

    Budget Option

    Here's one of the more highly rated affordable guitar cables for those with limited budgets.

    Hosa GTR Guitar Cable

    89
    GEARANK

    89 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $9
    Hosa GTR Guitar Cable

    The name may not be familiar to all, but Hosa Tech's decades of experience with audio equipment have enable them to produce top rated and affordable cables like the Hosa GTR. This particular instrument cable features traditional designs that make maintenance easy and convenient, including Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) conductors, OFC braided shield, and all-metal plugs. What sets them apart is how reliable and solidly built their cables are, compared to other similarly priced and configured cables in the market.

    Features:

    • 24 AWG OFC
    • 90% OFC Braid Shielding
    • Serviceable Metal Connectors
    • Length: 10'
    • Available Lengths: 5' | 10' | 15' | 20' | 25'
    • Available Plugs: Straight

    Pros

    Hosa captured the market with its great value, as confirmed by the many reviews that point to its quality to price ratio as its best trait. Novice musicians appreciate its accessible price, while experienced engineers found the quality to be sufficient for regular gigging use. A good number of users also find the flexible yet sturdy rubber exterior to be of high quality.

    Cons

    There are a few who experienced problems after using the cable for months, and they warn that this affordable cable is not for you if you tend to move around a lot while performing.

    Overall

    Overall, this is a great value guitar cable if you're not someone who moves too much while playing.

    Things to Consider When Buying a Guitar Cable

    • Cable Length and Capacitance

      All things being equal, the shorter the distance that your guitar signal has to travel, the better signal transparency that is provided, preventing high frequency loss. So the goal is to have the shortest cable length possible to get the lowest capacitance, without restricting your stage movement. In addition to clearer tone, having the right size cable reduces cable clutter and possible tangling.

      On the flip side, low capacitance and clear tone is not always the way to go, especially when considering that many of the best records were recorded using old cable technology, which is ironically similar to the cheap cables of today. This is the reason why some guitarists do not appreciate the clarity of premium cables, and prefer the subtle high-end damping of cheap cables or long coiled ones (coils add to the actual length of the cable while keeping clutter to a minimum). Note that the effect of cable capacitance and length can be almost negligible if you are using active pickups or buffered pedals (when used between your pedals and amplifier).

    • Cable Conductor

      The term Oxygen Free Copper or OFC refers to a purer type of copper that many manufacturers prefer to use, and the consensus is that the purer the conductor, the more transparent the signal transfer becomes. Note that there are even cables that utilize silver, which is more conductive than copper, but they are more expensive and are not practical for use with guitars.

      Conductors are implemented in two ways, the most cost effective are Solid Conductors, but it tends to break easily, resulting in signal degradation if not total loss. Stranded Conductors are more reliable because they are inherently flexible, and allow for better signal transfer even when bent. Premium cables often use smaller strands for improved flexibility and signal reliability, the downside to this is that small copper strands with low impurities are harder to manufacture. This is where you can separate the wheat from the chaff, as cheap cables usually skimp on this aspect.

    • Cable Shielding

      Shielding is used on guitar cables to block out interference. The cheapest is Foil Shielding, which easily breaks and offers the least protection. Most of the top rated cables listed here have Braid Shielding, which has increased flexibility and strength, in addition to its excellent blocking of Radio Frequency (RF) and Electro-Magnetic (EM) interference generally.

    • Plug Joint

      The part where the cable meet the plug is really where most problems happen, and where most low quality cables show their true colors. Premium cables usually come with better soldering, with some even using solderless joints. Strain Relief is also important as it stops improper bending at the joint, but it can't stop sudden pulls, like when you trip over a cable. So at the end of the day, no matter how reliable the cable is, the 'law of entropy' catches up and eventually the joint will break. This is where Serviceability becomes an important factor, where users can actually repair breakage themselves. It is also useful if there is a need to manually cut excess cable length and to re-attach the plug.

    • Plug Shape and Type

      Whether you want straight or angled will depend on the instrument you're using. Straight Plugs work with most guitars, amps and pedals - but they can be intrusive and be accidentally hit and bent. Angled Plugs offer a more discrete positioning of the cable, and is especially ideal for top mounted output jacks. However they may not work with outputs that are recessed or have obstructions. Based on the ratings, many prefer a combination of angled and straight plugs in one cable, because it allows for flexibility. There are manufacturers who claim that the material used on the plugs have subtle effect on the sound, but this can be debatable. Thankfully, the cables in our recommended list all have sturdy plugs that won't easily break with proper handling.

    Methodology

    We looked at popular and top rated guitar cables that you can easily purchase online. To keep the list focused, we only featured ready-to-use guitar cables within the 10' to 30'length, and we skipped on stereo TRS cables, smaller patch cables, and DIY cable kits. We limited the list to specific models of instrument cables, to avoid having a long list of the same cable with different lengths and configurations.

    For this update, we gathered the most recent reviews and ratings that summed up to over 7,300 sources, all of which were processed via the Gearank Algorithm. This provided us with the scores that we used to trim the list to only those that scored high enough. For more information see How Gearank Works. Note that for some models, we incorporated relevant review data from the different lengths and plug configurations to get a better overview of its market performance.

    Comments

    Great breakdown! George L

    Great breakdown! George L makes some of the best guitar cables around! I'm surprised it didn't rank higher because the difference between George's cables and the Hosa at the top of the list is night and day!

    George L guitar cables tend

    George L guitar cables tend to polarize people, many good guitarists swear by them while others say they don't offer enough extra value to justify the higher prices.

    BTW - the list is sorted by price so Hosa isn't at the 'top of the list' in terms of its ratings.

    It has been shown that

    It has been shown that capacitance is the only thing that alters tone in a cable. Everything else is sometimes subjective or for longevity, interference and various other external reasons.
    It would be nice to see the Picofarads Per Foot on all these cables in the review. For example, the top rated cable is 38 Picofarads Per Foot. Even though they advertise that as "very low" is actually is not considered all that low in cables now in the digital world. Many cable makers have said 20-28 is a good place to start for guitar but everyone will hear differences dependent on their equipment used obviously. Nothing wrong with GLS cable, but did just want to point out that fact.

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