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Old 2007-03-25, 05:14
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Soulinsane Soulinsane is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hanger 18
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Custom quality instrument cable construction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sqol
Now that means we all need to upgrade the wire from the output transformer to the speaker outputs


You're getting the right ideal You could have the best gear in the world but you need high quality materials connecting it all to get the most out of that gear. I can not emphasize the importance of good cable, wiring, and solder joints enough. Any musician worth a damn will tell you the same thing. All it takes is one solder joint, wire, or cable of poor quality to ruin you tone. Why make your own cable? Because its cost efficient, construction quality is better, and you get the lengths you need.

Continuing with this theme, I will explain my top secret cable making skills. I've spent hundreds hours of researching cable stats and materials, comparing everything. This post will reflect my final research results, choices in materials, and supply links.

Instrument cable:
Mogami w2524 guitar cable has the best stats I've ever seen compared to other cable manufactures that publish their cable stats. Basically, if you can't find stats on a cable you don't want it. The difference you hear between this cable and most other cables is like night and day. I consider this to be the best cable in the world, even compared to instrument cable that cost hundreds of dollars/ft. It is about as neutral, transparent, and quiet as a cable can get.

This is the cheapest place I have found it at $0.52/ft. Average price is $0.75/ft, but I have seen it as low as $0.37/ft in the past. If you can find it any cheaper than let me know.

Neutrik phone plugs are my favorite plugs to use, especially the series-C plugs. They are absolutely solid badass plugs for both instrument and patch connections. They do cost a bit, but are top of the range quality plugs and I've never had one fail. They range from about $2.00 up to $5.00 depending on the plug type and can be purchased just about anywhere. Here is an awesome buy! I use the Neutrik NP2C-BAG, Neutrik NP2RC-BAG, and Neutrik NP2RCS plugs. It's almost like the Neutrik series-C plugs were designed for use with Mogami w2524 cable. They are a perfect fit for each other. I don't use the gold plated plugs because there is no point unless the jacks they are plugged into are gold plated to and, most of all, I've never found any evidence that plating makes a real difference, so why pay more?

FYI: Use only the mono type 1/4" phone plugs with instrument cable or you will have big problems.

Now that you have everything, all you have to do is solder the plugs onto the desired cable length. Seems easy right? There are some important things you need to know first about stripping the Mogami cable. There is a layer of black PVC that needs to be stripped from the end of the clear insulation. Don't question it it. Just do it or the cable will not perform as it should. A fully prepped cable will have two hand twisted strands and will be tinned with a solder iron. It should look kinda like this once stripped, twisted, and tinned. Ready to have the plug soldered on . The strands in the middle of the cable should be soldered to the plugs tip terminal and the shielding strands should be soldered to the plug sleeve terminal. It should look kinda like this but not broken. Put the casing on the plug. Now test the constructed cables resistance with a multimeter to make sure there are no shorts or opens where there shouldn't be. Done.

Tips:
Make sure you slide the plug casing on to the cable first before you solder the plug and cable together or else you will have to desolder everything to get the casing on the plug.

Don't make cables any longer than 30' or the signal it will carry will start to diminish.

Practice soldering for about an hour or until you know you are ready to tackle this project. To much heat applied to the cable when soldering will melt the insulation and ruin the properties in that part of the cable if not ruin the plug in the worst case. To much or over heated solder joints will also ruin tone by acting like a resistor. Bigger the blob isn't better the job. Soldering is easy but it takes some pratice.

Always remember to tin the twisted strands of the cable and the plug terminals before you solder. It will help make the prefect solder joint. Use just enough heat and solder and the joint will be prefect every time.

Summary: I hope this saves someone from paying $50 on a pre-made 20' Mogami guitar cable with Neutrik plugs, because now you know how to make that same cable for $15. Making the prefect cable only requires decent soldering skills, good cable and good plugs. That's it. If you got any questions then ask.

Good luck

Edit: I'll post my links for speaker cable materials later, but their construction is basically the same. The only difference is that speaker cable is balanced while instrument cable is unbalanced.
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