Best guitar cables 2023: recommended instrument cables for electric, acoustic and bass guitar

Quick menu

A PRS guitar on a flight case with a guitar cable wrapped next to it

(Image credit: Future)

1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we choose products

We guitarists spend a lot of time and money obsessing over our guitars, pedals, and amplifiers, so why don't we put as much thought into the thing that connects them all together? While it's not the most exciting aspect of being a guitar player, the best guitar cables ensure you have the best signal transfer and thus, the best tone possible.

Cheaper guitar cables have a habit of introducing monophonic noise into your painstakingly crafted tone and often fail when you least need them to. Preventing any weak links in your signal chain is good practice for any guitarist, and will spare you the ignominy of hunching over your pedalboard mid-set, trying to find the offending cable that's causing your guitar to cut out.

We've included some in-depth buying advice at the end of this guide, from our team of expert writers so if you'd like to read more about the best guitar cables and what to know before buying, it's worth checking out. If you just want to get straight to the products, keep scrolling. 

Fender Pro Series Cables: from $15
Cyber Monday cable...

Fender Pro Series Cables: from $15
It really is worth investing in high quality cables to make your signal chain as good as it can be, and Fender's Pro Series cables are a very smart option indeed. Now, you can get up to 70% off such cables, which are available in three glow-in-the-dark finishes and either 10ft or 18.6ft lengths.

Best guitar cables: Product guide

Best guitar cables: Buying advice

Three guitar cable jacks in a row

(Image credit: Future)

How long should a guitar cable last?

The best guitar cables out there will be durable - if you look after them, you can expect to get a good number of years’ worth of use out of them. When you pay more for a good quality lead, then it’s going to be well made, using quality parts. Things to look out for are the jack plugs and the material used for the actual cable part. Shielding around the core of the cable is good also, as this can help protect from unwanted noise when the cable is moved. 

What is cable capacitance?

The cable can also have an affect on your tone. All cables have a certain capacitance - that is they hold a certain amount of electrical charge. As you might think, you don’t really want a cable to hold charge - you want your signal to flow through it, into your pedals and amp. In this scenario, a higher capacitance can cause a roll off of the higher end frequencies; so essentially you’ll hear less treble in your tone. So, low capacitance cables mean that you get a fuller frequency response. The difference might not be huge, but it’s there. 

What length guitar cable do I need?

When looking for the best guitar cable, it’s also worth buying the shortest length that you can get away with. Like with high capacitance, longer cables can roll off some of your top end. Of course, it’s also worth thinking about the sound of your guitar and amp - you might perhaps want to lose some of those higher treble frequencies, though normally, shorter, low capacitance cables are the way to go. 

How much should I spend on a guitar cable?

Like with many things in life, the more you pay, the better the product you end up with. Cheap budget cables can be alluring when you’re about to part with your cash, but, as the old saying goes - buy cheap, buy twice. Chances are, super budget cables will be noisy, will detract from your tone, and will break much sooner. The best guitar cables will keep the sound of your rig intact and will stand up to the rigours of everyday guitar playing. 

A guitar cable plugged into an electric guitar

(Image credit: Future)

What are guitar cables made of?

Different materials are used by various manufacturers, but copper is usually the core of the cable, and whilst you’ll see gold plated jack plugs on many premium cables, they don’t have much, if any affect on your tone, though they won’t corrode. 

Are guitar cables balanced?

Guitar cables are unbalanced, which means they're very prone to outside interference and microphonic noise. It's partly why we recommend getting good quality cables, particularly where a complex pedalboard is in use.

Guitar leads are mono, sending one copy of your signal along it's length. Because they only send one signal, they pick extraneous noise along the way. A balanced cable sends two copies of your signal, with one inverted to cancel out the noise it picks up along the way.

Unfortunately as guitar players, we cannot use balanced cables as they are typically incompatible with the inputs on our guitar amplifiers. Our amps require a TS connector to work, whereas balanced cables carry a TRS connector.

You'd usually find balanced cables in use with other type of gear like synthesizers, studio monitors, PA systems, microphones, and many more. They're also recommended where you have a cable run of more than 25-feet.

Can guitar cables cause buzz?

This is a difficult one to answer because any component in your signal chain can cause buzz. Even electrical items around your setup can potentially cause buzzing, so while we wouldn't automatically point towards a guitar cable as the source of buzz - it might well be causing the issue.

The best way to detect the source of noise is to test each component individually. It takes time, but is pretty much the only way you'll get to the bottom of any unwanted noise. You may also need to section things off, as buzzing can build up over the course of a couple of pedals or cables. 

Make sure to check any electrical items around where you play too - things like computer monitors or mobile phones - as these can cause unwanted buzzing in your signal chain

How to look after you guitar cables 

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Taking good care of your cables is really important too - there’s no point spending a load of money on the best guitar cables, just to then treat them badly. Coil them properly when they’re not in use, and try to be wary of standing on them (not always easy when playing on small stages). Things like making sure your amp or pedalboard isn’t trapping them might seem an obvious step to take, but this has certainly led to the demise of many cables over time!

How we choose the best guitar cables for this guide

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best guitar cables available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best guitar cables on the market right now.

Find out more about how we make our recommendations, how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides and our review policy.

Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar World, MusicRadar, Guitar Player and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.

With contributions from