If you use any type of electronic instrument – electric guitar, acoustic-electric guitar, electric bass, electronic keyboard or synth, etc. – you need cables to get the sound out to your listeners. There are two main types of cables that you can use – XLR and 1/4 inch. Which one you need depends on the design of your instrument (and other gear).
All of the cables described below have, as of this writing, an almost 100% positive amount of feedback from current owners. You don’t see that very often. I take that to mean that these are good pieces of equipment and are well worth what you pay for them.
If you’re in a hurry right now and just want to see how much you do have to pay for them at Amazon, you can click (tap) the links in the list just below. Otherwise, you can scroll on past and read the details about each – though there isn’t a lot to say about a cable.
XLR Cables (Male to Female)
1/4 Inch Instrument Cables
Amazon Basics XLR to XLR (Male to Female) Microphone Cable 2-Pack
An XLR Cable is the three-pronged type shown below. This Amazon Basic version is a shielded cable and has zinc alloy connectors (the innermost part of the cable that actually transmits the electrical signal) with nickeling.
You can get a 2-pack of these cables in various lengths.
- 3 feet
- 6 feet
- 10 feet
- 15 feet
- 20 feet
- 25 feet
A 50-foot cable is also available, but it only sells singly.
Cable Matters Premium XLR to XLR (Male to Female) Mic Cable 2-Pack
You will see some cables advertised as “balanced”. This simply means they can transmit a “balanced” signal by using 3 wires, such as those in all XLR cables. It doesn’t mean that your cable does any of the balancing. For a great discussion on this topic, see this article at Magroove: Balanced Cables : The Myth-breaking guide & thorough explanations.
So, both these Cable Matters XLR cables and the Amazon Basics XLRs above are balanced. The Cable Matters Premium cables have oxygen-free copper (OFC) center conductors that aid in noise cancellation. They also have gold-plated pins – though this feature doesn’t matter much according to C|net: Are gold-plated connectors worth it?
Two-packs of these cables are available in the same lengths as the Amazon Basics above, but there is no 50-foot option.
GLS Audio Braided Tweed 1/4 Inch Instrument Cable
Many 1/4 inch instrument cables, including both those from GLS Audio and New Bee (below), comes in straight or right angle variations. Sometimes, especially on a guitar, it’s nice to have the right angle option. It doesn’t get in the way as easily.
The GLS Audio 1/4 inch cable is braided for extra strength. That said, if you’re just a little bit careful, most cables won’t break or get cut so as to make them unusable. You have the option of getting this cable in black or gold tweed.
If you go with the right angle design, you can get lengths of 6, 10, or 20 feet. Straight cables come in 10, 15, or 20-foot lengths.
GLS Audio claims that their cables are shielded and have a low capacitance – 38 picofarads per foot. According to Premier Guitar, “Among most manufacturers today, the consensus ‘sweet spot’ for capacitance is between 20 and 30 pF per foot….” So these are in the ballpark.
New Bee 1/4 Inch Electric Instrument Cable
New Bee 1/4 inch cables have OFC center conductors and have a 22 gauge (AWG) diameter. They are not balanced; they are tip / sleeve (TS) cables and have a 3-year warranty.
Like the GLS Audio cables, you can get right angle style lengths of 6, 10, or 20 feet, but those are the same lengths available for the straight style as well.
General Conclusions about Instrument Cables
As I mentioned at the top, there isn’t a whole lot to say about cables. They all do their job reasonably well, and one brand is virtually the same as another, even if made of slightly different materials.
When you need a cable, you need a cable. Just be sure to get one that works with the socket provided by the rest of your gear – the devices you’re going to plug the other end of the cable into.