The Make Your Own Damn Cables Thread

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by MaxOfMetal, May 23, 2013.

  1. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    So, it's late at night, I've had a couple beers :)drew:) and after reading a few threads on cabling, I thought I'd help you fellas sound better and have some extra beer money at the same time.

    Where do you get cable?
    Bulk Instrument Cable | Redco Audio

    Which do I get?
    Here's the truth, all five of those options are great. I've tried just about all of them, from the .44$ a foot to the $3.65 a foot. Know what the real difference is? Just about nothing in 99% of scenarios, tonally. From a quality perspective, I feel the slightly more expensive (bust still cheaper than $3.65/ft) cable is more rugged.

    What's the difference between the .44$/ft and .84$/ft cable?
    Diameter. The more expensive cable is the thicker, less flexible cable, where the cheaper is thinner, super flexible stuff that's great for pedalboards and patch bays.

    Alright, so you picked your cable. Now what? Well, now you have to pick the business ends, which you'll find here: TS Connectors | Redco Audio.

    What connector should I get?
    Honestly, I usually cheap out here, as connectors are all pretty similar from my experience and believe it or not, the $1.00 Redco brand 1/4" jacks work just as good (and reliably) as the $4.46 Canare brand 1/4" jacks, and the Redco ones are actually a little easier to solder and re-solder down the road. If you want to be all baller and shit, you can grab the $20 Neutrik with the crystals on them. :lol: But, I'd recommend sticking with Redco and the cheaper, smaller Neutrik options, such as the 224L. Nothing wrong with the more expensive Neutrik stuff, other than they're kinda bulky. I'm also no longer a big Amphenol fan as I find them a little difficult to solder (not a lot of elbow room) due to their super compact end.

    So, I have a shit ton of cable, and enough connectors to sink a ship. Now what? Now it's time to grab some tools.

    First, you'll need a cutter. This will do: Eclipse 902-084 | Redco Audio. Though, a stripping feature would be convenient, like on this guy here: Eclipse 200-007W | Redco Audio.

    Then a soldering iron: Eclipse 900-035 | Redco Audio, will be great, but a $5 Radioshack iron will do just fine for this task. Even a solder gun if you want to go all Rambo.

    And of course solder: Rosin-Core Solder (1.5 Oz.) : Soldering Tools & Supplies | RadioShack.com.

    If you're new to cabling and feel like doing it like a pro, grab one of these too:Behringer CT-100 Cable Tester | Musician's Friend. That little box is awesome.

    Alright, you got all the shit, now how the hell do you do this?


    Not going to lie, there are a hundred other YouTube videos of this task, but I chose this one for the music. Enjoy.

    They use some other tools in this video, but I typically substitute those with a safety knife and my hands. I ain't afraid of no shielding.

    Now shred away on your new awesome cables.

    But Max, I want to make speaker cables!
    Then get these cables instead: Bulk Speaker Cable | Redco Audio. You can use the same connectors posted above. I'm not going to go into detail, but NO, instrument and speaker cable are different, don't substitute one for the other. Trust me.
     
  2. 7stg

    7stg SS.org Regular

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    Nice thread

    Here are some cable specs:
    Van-Damme - Silver Series Session Grade instrument cable Lo-Cap 55 - capacitance 16.8 pF/Ft - Resistance 36 Ohm/Km
    Gotham - GAC-1 ultra Pro Guitar - capacitance 21.3 pF/Ft - Resistance 85 Ohm/Km
    Klotz - AC110SW - capacitance 21.3 pF/Ft - Resistance ? Ohm/Km
    Gepco - XB20UB - capacitance 22.3 pF/Ft - Resistance 34.02 Ohm/Km
    Cardas - Golden Chord Musician’s Cable - capacitance 22.8 pF/Ft - Resistance ? Ohm/Km
    Sommer - Stratos capacitance - 23.8 pF/Ft - Resistance 39 Ohm/Km
    Lava Cable – ELC - capacitance 21 or 28 depending on the page on their web site pF/Ft - Resistance ? Ohm/Km
    Van-Damme - Silver Series Session Grade instrument cable Hi-Cap 125: capacitance 38.1 pF/Ft
    Belden - 8410 capacitance of 33pF/Ft, 9778 capacitance of 45pF/Ft
    Redco - TGS-HD - capacitance 44pF/Ft
    Mogami - W2319 - capacitance 47.3pF/Ft
    Canare - GS-6 - capacitance 49.0pF/Ft

    Capacitance works as a low-pass filter/ cuts the highs, so higher capacitance less high end.

    Shielding strength from strongest to weakest - braided, spiral, then foil wrap.

    I have used Gepco XB20UB for its low capacitance and resistance plus a double-braid shield. Its $0.63/ ft at Full Compass Systems and $0.68/ft at redco, and I did not find it at markertek. I have had good luck with those companies in the past. I have not been able to find Van-Damme - Silver Series Session Grade instrument cable Lo-Cap 55 in the US, but I want to try some.



    For solder I like this for its ease to work and some silver content:
    62/36/2 eutectic solder (1 Oz.) : Soldering Tools & Supplies | RadioShack.com

    I like using a flux pin too, to help ensure a good connection. [url="http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Kester/83-1000-0186/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMsQtlBhqKq43W9d3O0MjDHo']Kester 186 Flux Pen.[/url]


    I use Neutrik's NP2X-B plugs some like switchcraft,
    Cardas GRQ S M for a high end plug Cardas GRQ S M 1/4" Mono Plug (Each) | High End Other Connectors | Moon-Audio.com
     
  3. Pezshreds

    Pezshreds SSBRO.org Regular

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    +1 for sweet thread dude :yesway:
     
  4. DoubleAA

    DoubleAA SS.org Regular

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  5. Daf57

    Daf57 5 7s in 4ths

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    Excellent post Max - and +1 on making your own cables. I've been doing so for years now. Luckily I have access to the cable and connectors at work. :yesway:
     
  6. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    :lol: Max, you're having one hell of a week.


    :wub:
     
  7. Larrikin666

    Larrikin666 Deadite

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    I'm tempted to sign Max up for a "beer of the month" club just to enjoy the threads that pop up after a delivery each month.
     
  8. AxeHappy

    AxeHappy SS.org Regular

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    I like to use heat shrink on the over the boot of the plug, colour coded so I can easily tell what cable is what live in dark situations. And throw tech flex on them too, for a slight bit of extra protection and colour coding.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I don't think you gentlemen realize what I do for a living. :cheers:
     
  10. Larrikin666

    Larrikin666 Deadite

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    LOL. I'd honestly never looked until now. Maybe you need to sign ME up for a beer of the month club then.
     
  11. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    Oh I do haha
     
  12. Enselmis

    Enselmis SS.org Regular

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    Bump because this thread should really get some more exposure. Anybody else have any particular solder recommendations? What differentiates one 1/4" plug from another? Anybody have any experience making balanced TRS cables? What kind of cable did you use for them?
     
  13. tripguitar

    tripguitar Settler of Catan

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    connection material, the "gold" ones are more resistance to corrosion. also some of the compact ones might be more of a challenge to solder for beginners.

    also a tid bit of wisdom just incase anyone didnt know - TRS cables and XLR cables are identical except for the connectors. the cabling is the same. positive, negative, and ground.

    i used quad core canare mic cable when i made all my cables for my studio, but people say the difference between quadcore and regular is minute. there are two positives, and two negatives in quad core, which at each end are soldered together and to its respective pin on the connector. supposedly the way the are wound around each other in a spiral helps to eliminate noise and interference. I can say my cables are nice and quiet, but i cant say they are any quieter than regular ones! ha.

    and yes as max said instrument and speaker cables might have the same connectors (TS) but instrument cables are shielded, and speaker cables are not. the reason behind this AFAIK is because a signal in an instrument cable is "quiet" and will be boosted by some pedals, a preamp, and a power amp. so we have to keep that signal clean if we are going to juice it up so much. speaker cables are already carrying a juiced signal from the amp to the speakers so any interference that might get picked up wont be amplified by anything at this point in our signal path and will remain inaudible.

    also REDCO is the shit. i'm lucky enough to live two towns over from them!
     
  14. Hammer

    Hammer SS.org Regular

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    The more expensive 6.35 mm plugs (yeah, I use metric) might have better build quality, meaning that the tip won't become loose or other nasty things. Solder is solder, but you should really try to find thin stuff. It's way easier to use. Usually these things have lots of room to play with so you won't really melt anything if you are a total soldering noob. Try to avoid cold solders and if at some point the cable starts to malfunction in certain positions just open up the jack, cut a few millimeters of cable just to be sure and resolder or replace the plug if you think it's broken. I do that all the time on my cables and even earbuds, because I'm cheap. I usually get my plugs for like 70 cents for 3.5 mm and like a dollar for 6.35 mm anyways. They are ok, not great by any means, but ok. Metal casing so it won't get busted as easily as the plastic ones. It may not be pretty and I might not get the best sound out of it, but it gets the job done :D.

    Oh yeah, I'm also looking for decent coaxial cable. :D
     
  15. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    MaxofMetal, what do you do for a living? You seem to know many things and own many guitars. I have to believe the two are related. :spock:
     
  16. 7stg

    7stg SS.org Regular

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    solder - For the best quality either Kester 44 - 62/36/2 tin, lead, silver or Cardas Quad Eutectic - 61/35/3/1 tin, lead, silver, copper. For something a little cheaper Kester 44 - 63/37 will work fine. Use a diameter of 1mm or .04" or smaller.

    TRS use Mogami W2549 it has low capacitance and is good quality. plugs for XLR - Neutrik's XX-HE TRS - Neutrik's NP3X-B
     
  17. Thep

    Thep Blast & Sweep

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    My advice would be to invest with all the soldering tools you need, it take a lot of headache out of the process and will pay for themselves in convenience and speed quickly.

    What I have in my soldering kit:
    Soldering iron with adjustable temperature
    Desoldering tool
    Brass wool tip cleaner
    Helping hands clips
    Solder sponge
    Variety of solder in varying thickness
    Variety of heatshrink tubing and electrical tape
     
  18. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I make beer happen.
     
  19. ryanougrad

    ryanougrad SS.org Regular

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    Back from the dead bump. Anyone getting solderless plugs and where from?
     
  20. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I've yet to find ones worth a damn. They're almost all more expensive for no real sound or build benefit and they're often very finicky when it comes to assembly. Not to mention, unless you use LockTite which defeats the purpose, they're prone to failing as the set screws or housings come loose as they just screw in.

    If you have to, and I really do recommend you make them the old fashioned way, I'd start with GFS. They're cheap and just as well built as the pricier stuff, at least from what I've seen.
     

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