If you're building a pedalboard then trust us, you're going to need a bunch of the best patch cables to go with it. Making a pedalboard is a super fun experience, but can be frustrating without the right cabling. To get everything neat and tidy you're going to need various lengths, and you'll have to think about the connectors you need to fit into your setup.
Crafting a 'board with cheap patch cables is fine for the guitarist who plays at home, but if you want to take your stompboxes on the road with you, you're going to need something far more durable. There's nothing worse than having to hunch over your pedalboard during your band's opening number, frantically trying to find out why nothing is working. We've been there, and since then we've never cheaped out on quality cabling.
If you're new to pedalboard building make sure you have a look at our buying advice section, which has loads of common questions answered by guitarists who've been there and got the t-shirt. If you just want to get straight to the good stuff, then keep scrolling.
Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.
Best patch cables: Product guide
+ Solid build
- No issues at this price
There's not a lot to say about this cable. Like Planet Waves' larger offerings, it's solidly built, and the stealth black aesthetic is to the point. They're shielded to reduce noise, and are made in the USA.
This three-pack option is affordable enough that you could wire up a smaller pedalboard cheaply. All three cables in the pack are the same length, but Planet Waves also offer longer right-angle-to-right-angle patch cables up to a length of 3 feet.
They even offer a double-ended jack for the very tightest of spaces, but beware – we've found this kind of inline connector to be prone to breaking.
+ Compact design
+ Solid build quality
+ Multi-packs available
- Not widely available
Where you can get them, the Donner low-profile patch cables are one of the best value options on the market. They have a robust metal pancake jack, and a large pack size of six.
They're copper shielded, with oxygen-free copper for low noise. Donner claims that the polyethylene insulator they use is more heat resistant and durable than using PVC, but we can't recall ever having an issue with insulation sheath damage.
Six packs are available with lengths of either 15cm or 30cm, meaning that all but the longest cable runs should be covered.
For some reason, distribution and availability is spotty for these cables.
Best for style
+ Super cool looks
+ Low-profile jacks
- More expensive than others
The super-bright color options of the Ernie Ball Flat Angle patch cables may not be for everybody, but we love them. Should you want something less loud, there are white and black options, as well as different jack configurations.
We've singled out the pancake option here because, in our experience, space is always at a premium. Like most quality cables, these are shielded, and have a tough PVC outer shell for durability. While they're not the cheapest, for a three-pack they're hardly extortionate.
Ernie Ball offers both 15cm and 30cm options as three-packs, so you can mix and match between those. However, this is only if you opt for regular right-angle jacks instead of pancakes.
+ Premium option
+ Quality performance
- There are better investments
We've always spent our money on high bang-for-buck utilities, or things that make fun noises. As a result, spending this much cash on a single cable has never been on the cards for us.
That said, we do know people who swear by these, and for the price they do at least come with a bombproof reputation.
The cables themselves feature an oxygen-free copper core for low noise, which is pretty standard, as well as a spiral shield. The main deviation from the norm is that the jacket is 'carbon-impregnated' to eliminate handling noise and improve durability.
For about the same price, there's also a ten-inch and eighteen-inch length option.
+ Stylish, vintage looks
+ High-quality feel
- Pricier than some
We love the look of the Fender Custom Shop cables, and the tweed option is the coolest patch cable on the market, hands down. On top of the standard PVC cable sheath, there's a paracord fabric outer, available in a classic straw tweed and black tweed finish.
They look slick, they're reliable, and are guaranteed for their lifetime by Fender. Whether you are likely to ever use that guarantee is another story.
The main drawback is that they are expensive compared to the other options. You can get them in a two-pack but there's usually no discount for doing so.
Fender also makes a 30cm right-angled patch cable, but it's only available in a plain finish, and not with the tweed outer.
+ Tiny connectors
+ Uses Mogami cable
- There are cheaper options
Manufactured using the same cabling as the industry standard Mogami cabling, Worlds Best Cables delivers top-quality cabling at a price much lower than some of the more premium patch cables available. As Mogami cables are made in Japan, you can rest assured you're getting a quality product.
We love the Eminence 'Tiny' TS plugs, which make these patch cables great for stereo pedals or those using multi-switchers. The tiny heads mean it's easy to fit them in side by side, and stops you from having to use two different sizes which keeps everything looking neat and tidy.
There are a multitude of pack sizes available too, with a good mix of long and short cables so you can wire your 'board to perfection. For us, they represent excellent value for money considering the price point and the quality of materials. A 10-year warranty on top of that makes them a no-brainer.
+ Basic, inexpensive solution
+ Low profile for a tidy board
- Only available in black
If you just want a set of cables that ‘does the job’ then this pack from MXR should tickle your somewhat restrained fancy. There’s no pretentiousness, they just do what they say they do – patch.
You do get oxygen free copper wire, flexible PVC outer jackets and ultra-low profile pancake-style connectors for cabling those inevitable tight spots (every board has at least one).
They only come in one length – 15cm – and a single colour – black – but other than that, at this price what’s not to like? After all, if anyone knows good pedalboard tone it’s MXR.
Best DIY option
+ Enables custom wiring
- More than a pack of pre-mades
An affordable option in the custom cabling stakes, this widely available Boss set has the benefit of being solderless. There's a price to pay for the flexibility of making your own cables though. Not only the ticket price, but in debugging time if something does go wrong with your custom creations.
Luckily, these are pretty foolproof as custom cables go. If that's the sort of thing that's likely to play on your mind though, then it may not worth the hassle.
The BCK-24 is only a little bit more expensive in some stores, and is double the size, with 24 connectors, and 24ft of cable – one for guitarists taking on a bigger pedalboard.
Best for bling
+ It looks blingtastic
+ Super compact
- Not cheap…
Trust those quirky Swedes at EBS to come up with a patch cable that looks this bling. However, it’s not all style over substance. The connectors feature a tough, die-cast zinc housing that’ll take a few knocks, and naturally the cable core and shielding are made from premium oxygen-free copper.
Those tough connectors are genuinely ultra-low profile too, fit for the tightest pedalboards. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, they’re also bathed in 24K gold.
What we love though is the super-compact flat cable that really will make any pedalboard setup look a whole lot neater.
The PG patch cable is only available singly but in four lengths: 10, 18, 28 and 58cm.
Best for variety
+ Good value
- Barely cheaper than Ernie Ball
The 'go-to' pancake, or low-profile patch cable, the Hosa is a workhorse. It's cheap, widely available, and rock solid.
Although they sit at the budget end of the market, they're low-noise, with oxygen-free copper conductors and spiral shielding. This will keep EMI and RFI interference under control.
Hosa makes many different cables and lengths. Should you want 30 or 45cm long patch cables, Hosa makes them with both standard right-angle and low-profile connectors.
The only drawback to the Hosa product line is that some more exciting looking patch cables, like the louder Ernie Ball offerings, are now available at a similar price.
Best TRS option
+ Compact design
+ Good variety of sizes
Every pedalboard has one or two annoying cable runs that need an odd length. Usually, this is from one 'row' of a stepped board to another, or due to a weird-sized pedal like a wah, whammy or multi-effect.
Rockboard have a wide range of patch cable lengths available, with moulded ends that are even lower-profile than a pancake cable.
The cables have low resistance and capacitance as well as full copper shielding. They make short TRS patch cables, which will help with expression pedals that take TRS. A small number of pedals also use TRS for stereo input or output.
- No woven option
Kirlin makes some simply exquisite woven guitar cables in a multitude of patterns and colors, but sadly this patch cable is more prosaic. Nevertheless, it’s inexpensive and a couple of sets will keep your guitar sounding sweet and your pedalboard looking fly.
The connectors have traditional pancake style heads, so you can squeeze all your pedals up nice and tight. The core and shielding are made from oxygen-free copper and there’s a conductive PVC shield to cut the risk of noise.
You’ll find two cables in the pack, but once again it’s a shame these cables aren’t available in a variety of colors or, better still, woven patterns. Now, that would look cool.
Best patch cables: Buying advice
There are quite a few different options when it comes to patch cables, so we'd always advise planning your pedalboard out before committing to purchasing. In this section we've featured loads of common questions, all answered by actual guitarists with vast amounts of experience playing at home, on stage, and in the studio.
Does the quality of patch cables matter?
Many dwellers of the internet will say that patch cable quality should be an afterthought, and whilst we have many old, cheap, cables that are still going, we've also experienced the other side of that particular coin.
If you're a bedroom player, then by all means cheaper cables will do the job just fine. However if you're playing with a band, your cabling is going to be subjected to all kinds of stresses, strains, and vibrations when playing live, which can often result in failure.
It's happened to us twice on the road, and it's not fun having to find the source of a problem while the rest of your band soldiers on. We learned this lesson the hard way, so if you're planning on taking your stompboxes on the road with you, buy a quality cable that will put up with plenty of abuse.
Are shorter patch cables better?
In audio the general rule is you'll want your cables as short as possible. A longer cable run means more chance of exposure to noise and potential signal loss, particularly when a cable is made of cheaper materials.
That said, at some point you're going to need to jump a longer distance on your pedalboard so while buying loads of short cables will seem like a good idea, it may be you end up needing something longer. If you've got two tiers of pedals on your 'board, then at some point you're going to need to jump up. Similarly if you use a multi-switcher then longer cables will be much easier to manipulate.
Planning out your pedalboard before buying any cables means you'll be able to get the best mix of longer and shorter cables. It's also pretty fun knocking up a plan of what your pedalboard is going to look like when you finally get it completed.
Do I need TS or TRS connectors?
Most of the time you’ll need cables with TS connectors, which are the same standard as you’ll find on regular guitar instrument cables. TS stands for tip-sleeve and this kind of cable carries a mono signal, which is perfect for most guitar pedals because they’re usually mono too.
Even if you do own a stereo pedal or two they are likely to have distinct left and right input and/or output jacks that still require mono TS cables. You’ll just need one for each stereo channel or, better still, a dual cable.
Occasionally, you may come across a stereo pedal with a single input and/or output jack that can be configured for mono or stereo by flipping a tiny internal jumper switch. When set to mono it’ll take a regular TS cable but in stereo mode you’ll need to use a TRS cable. TRS stands for tip-ring-sleeve, and it can either be used to carry a stereo signal or a balanced mono signal.
It's worth reiterating that for the vast majority of pedals you’ll just need a bunch of mono TS patch cables. So, if you’re not working in stereo, don’t sweat it.
What’s hidden inside a TS patch cable?
A TS cable is coaxial, with a core of multiple copper strands that carry your audio signal and a braided copper sheath that acts as both shielding and a ground. Between the two will be layers of insulation plus, of course, there’s an additional thick outer layer of protective insulation too, usually made of PVC. In order to carry a signal, the core is soldered to the tip of the connector, while the woven sleeve is grounded to the body.
Many premium brands are quick to point out that they use low capacitance, oxygen-free copper and gold plated connectors, but are these upgrades worth paying for? Well, oxygen-free copper will provide greater signal reliability and is more resistant to corrosion. Just.
The fact is, almost all copper destined for cabling manufacture will be free of oxygen anyway. And, while it’s true that capacitance can rob your tone over long cable runs, it’s hardly an issue for short patch cables. Similarly, gold plated connectors are more corrosion resistant, but the coating is soft and wears rapidly.
Our take is that the performance claims you’ll read about for capacitance, oxygen-free copper and gold plate aren’t just snake oil, there’s some good science behind them. But, in the real world, the benefits are almost insignificant. That said, gold-plated connectors do look rather fine, and will match your gold lamé suit!
Buying the best patch cables for you
You can trust Guitar World
The main things you need to consider when investing in the best patch cables are the type of jack end and the length of the cable.
Most jacks won't be straight, as pedalboard real estate is limited. These days, in addition to standard right-angle jacks, there are lots of different variations on the low-profile, or 'pancake' jack. Particularly for pedals that have side-mounted jacks rather than the now-standard top-mount jacks, having a few pancake jacks to hand is invaluable.
Standard lengths are usually about 15cm, 30cm, 50cm and various lengths up to a meter. If you are building cables from a patch cable kit, then you can custom-build your cables to exactly the right length.
There's also the question of aesthetics – some cables, like the Fender custom shop patch cables, look amazing, but that aesthetic does come at a cost. At the end of the day, cool patch cables make for great Instagram content, but we've not found that they improve our tone or playing.
A few patch cables are available in a rainbow of different colors, which may look a little gaudy but can be immensely useful for finding your way around a complex pedalboard.
If you decide to build your own, then you need to choose between solderless and a kit that you need to solder. It's possible to make robust cables using a solderless kit, so to some extent the choice is about personal preference. It's worth investigating, assuming you have the tools and the confidence to use them. Here however, we've only recommended solderless kits.
How we choose the best patch cables
Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar 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 patch 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 patch cables on the market right now.
Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.
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