Leading the way: our choice of five quality guitar leads
Ask 10 guitarists what they believe is the biggest contributor to tonal nirvana and you’ll get 10 different answers. Some would say the guitar’s wood combinations, while others may point to variables like signal chain, pedal choices or even the player’s fingers.
What’s often forgotten, but no less vital, are the humble leads and cables we use to connect everything.
Leads come in all different shapes, sizes, materials, lengths and prices, and it’s important you are choosing the right one for the job at hand. All players, from bedroom guitarists to professionals, will have different needs. And while a quality cable isn’t going to necessarily improve or drastically change your tone, a poor quality cable can definitely have a negative effect.
As well as sound quality and performance, you’ll need to consider things like reliability, durability and the impact of the cable’s length.
Let’s have a look at a few, and weigh up the various options.
The one with a kill switch
This Planet Waves cable gives you everything you’d expect from a good guitar cable: it’s durable, made a good quality cable and doesn’t ruin your tone. On top of all of this standard fayre you get a built-in momentary kill switch which is great for swapping guitars on stage without any annoying crackle or buzz from your amp.
The lengthy one
So you’re keen to venture out of the practice room and onto the stage, and need a lead which can accommodate your stage dives without compromising on tone or durability. This 20 foot (over six metres) lead will ensure you stay connected no matter the shapes you’re pulling on stage, while Neutrik connectors ensure consistency and stability throughout.
The Gibson Memory Cable is made unique by the fact that it incorporates a Tascam recorder in to the cable itself, letting you record your ideas and performances on-the-fly. This is incredibly useful for band practice or jam sessions, ensuring you’ll always be able to recall any new riffs or ideas that you play during them.
The tweed one
The Fender Custom Shop is rightly held as a benchmark for guitar quality. So, why not treat your axe to a cable built to those exacting standards. This attractive cable is designed with more than a nod towards classic, vintage guitar leads, wrapped with a black, tweed outer for that ‘toaster cord’ appearance.
The cable is engineered to resist twisting, kinks and all of the other movements, which can prematurely end the life of a cable, and is also backed with a lifetime guarantee. As this is Fender, it also delivers great sonic performance.
The professional one
For the purposes of comparison, we present to you the gold standard of our instrument lead range – Monster Cables. While this may be a price point (or two) above the others in this round-up, what it offers is professional grade reliability, build quality, consistency and durability. Put simply, the Monster lead will not let you down either in the studio or on stage. For the serious player and in this case acoustic player, this lead would pay for itself many times over.