Friday, May 16, 2008

Guitar Cables that Rock!

Dr. "M" Unplugged
Photo: Snap-Jack Guitar Cable
Fender Standard Stratocaster

Cables! Unless you plan to go wireless anytime soon, you're going to need them. Still the pops, cracks and squeals that occur when you try to disconnect from a live amp are enough to send you and your audience running. Not only that, repeated noises like that can permanently damage your amp and your guitar. Not good. What's a working musician to do?

Our solution was to find quality guitar cables that can cut the signal at the instrument jack. Both cables we tested were also featured the May issue of Guitar Player magazine among the 49 they reviewed. We took two guitar cables on the road and into the studio for our own test drive. Here's what we found:

Snap-Jack Guitar Cable by ZZYZX (15 ft.) The simplicity in this design underlies the genius. Tough, thick, PVC jacket, braided shield cable with gold plated contacts and 2 oz of solid metal nickel plating in its shell. The beauty of this cable is that the neodymium magnet only disconnects at just the right tension. If you have a busy stage with lots of wires going every which way, (who doesn't), then this cable could be a life-saver. I had it plugged into a live amp and tripped on the cable. Yes! It disconnected and saved me from a pretty nasty fall. Better still, there were no horrible cracklings in my amp as it separated. In guitar class, I simply brought along extra magnetic tips which can be purchased separately as straight or right angles. Everybody was able to disconnect and switch guitars instantly without cutting the power to the amp. Sweet! For fast changes while performing or recording, just leave a tip in each guitar you'll be playing. Break off the Snap-Jack Cable at your guitar jack and you are ready to attach another instrument without running back to your amp to shut it down! Saves a lot of time and energy especially when you're trying to adjust your boxes & equipment on stage.
PROS: The Snap-Jack is a high quality, thick guitar cable. Our tests for sound quality, durability and construction gave the Snap-Jack very high marks. Easy to use, no guessing about whether or not you're "live"! It performed flawlessly as advertised in the studio and out.
CONS: If you use the extra tips, they can be a bit difficult to remove from your guitar jack. We got around that by simply using the cable itself to retrieve them.
Snap-Jack Guitar Cable MSRP $53.49
Visit ZZYZX (Jodavi) Online at:

The Circuit Breaker by Planet Waves (10 ft. Right Angle Plug) Planet Waves is well known for their quality guitar accessories. 24K gold-plated plugs, copper braided shielding and 8 compression springs that allow the plug to lock securely in the jack. The Circuit Breaker is a performance capable guitar cable with a signal cutoff switch. This means that you can cut the signal from your guitar without having to cut your amp.
We were able to test the Circuit Breaker during a live performance. My amp was connected to a direct box so "my sound" could be played over the house PA. The soundman, (picky fellows, they are), was very impressed and when the set was over, I disconnected the Circuit Breaker cable without blowing up his system. No pops, squeals or cracks! If you need to change instruments on the fly, simply depress the button, remove and insert into another instrument. Press the button again and you're live! I found the right angle plug to be especially useful in the studio when recording and practicing. I like to switch between my Autoharp and acoustic guitar so I can tweak the same arrangement on different instruments. The Circuit Breaker allows me to do this seemlessly without the need to shut off my monitor or recording equipment.
PROS: This guitar cable offers great sound conductivity. Rugged construction makes this cable roadworthy and reliable. The attached cable tie shows Planet Waves was thinking of us musicians down to the smallest details.
CONS: If you're not careful, you could disconnect yourself by accidentally pressing the "short" button during performance.
Circuit Breaker Guitar Cable MSRP $53.99
Visit Planet Waves Online at:


The Original Braided Cable! Spectraflex, a top maker of professional quality, low noise guitar cables also makes a cable with a "Silent Plug" that can be shut off to allow for quick guitar changes without disconnecting from your amp. The Fatso Flex Guitar cable was voted among the best cables this year by Guitar Player Magazine. This superior quality cable is also available with a 1/4 inch Silent Plug, straight or angled. Made in the USA. Have it all!

Fatso Flex Silent Plug Guitar Cable (14ft) MSRP $49.95
Visit Spectraflex Online at:

Coming up next! We'll see what Keeley Electronics, BOSS, Marshall Amps, Digitech and Ibanez have going for them in the way of guitar effects pedals and processors. Learn how to daisy chain your pedals for the best effects. Take a quick preview right now by clicking the banner ad photos to your left!

No comments: