Guitar cables vs speaker cables: what’s the difference?

Guitar cables
(Image credit: Future)

Cable manufacturers often take their lead from the hi-fi industry when it comes to marketing. Terms such as oxygen-free, skin effect, directionality and dielectric biasing are bandied about and, while there may be a scientific basis for some of these claims, the idea is to make customers think there’s always something better out there.

Not all cables are created equal, but factors that affect their sonic characteristics can usually be measured and quantified. As musicians, we are primarily concerned with instrument and speaker cables. So, what’s the difference?

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.