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Best guitar cables 2020: top cables for electric, acoustic and bass guitars

Best guitar cables 2020: top cables for electric, acoustic and bass guitars
(Image credit: GLS Audio, SpectraFlex, D'Addario, Mogami, George L's)

What the best guitar cables lack in Instagrammable aesthetic virtue, they make up in importance. There is no point in looking for the best guitar, amp and effects that you can buy and then playing it cheap with a poor-quality cable. But surely, you ask, it’s just a cable – what difference does it make?

The answer is: everything! More often than not, a cheap guitar cable is a false economy. Within months, maybe even weeks, you’ll be in the store looking for a replacement, or driven mad by tone suck, or noise wrecking the signal. Here we are looking at top options from the likes of Planet Waves, Mogami, GLS and others to avoid those scenarios, with a host of the best guitar cables to help you get the most from your gear.

Best guitar cables: Guitar World Recommends

Best guitar cables 2019 group shot

(Image credit: D'Addario/Planet Waves)

You’ll get a ‘no excuses’ lifetime warranty with the Mogami Gold Series, but with premium components and construction this is one durable cable. That's why it's our pick for the best guitar cable. They’re pricey, yet perform immaculately with low noise and excellent frequency transfer.

A great value option is the widely available American Stage cable from Planet Waves. It’s a favorite for good reason. It has D’Addario’s patented Geo-Tip connectors so that it fits securely in whatever jack you’ve got. The HelioFused soldering in its connectors will stop them crapping out on you, while the cable is another that doesn’t step on your tone.

Best guitar cables: buying advice

Buying the best guitar cable for you can be a confusing business when there is no shortage of conflicting information out there, and all too often the cable’s full spec isn’t advertised online. 

But there are a few things to keep in mind. Again, avoid super-budget cables. The $9.99 cheapo cable will no doubt fail you, or introduce all kinds of extra noise. Conversely, spend as much as you can, but a great cable need not cost hundreds of dollars. And it shouldn’t.

Always buy as short a cable as possible. There is naturally a positive correlation between the length of cable and unwanted noise, and other undesirables such as frequency loss. All guitar cables have a capacitance, typically measured in picofarads-per-foot, or per-meter. The higher the capacitance of your cable, the more high frequencies are rolled off; and the longer the cable, the higher the total capacitance.

Now, here it gets complicated, with some saying that the higher capacitance works great with single-coil pickups, citing Jimi Hendrix, but we would advise looking for as full a frequency response as possible, and seek your EQ solutions elsewhere. 

So, low capacitance cables are a plus. Gold-plated plugs and connectors are nice to look at and they don’t corrode, but they don’t add anything tone-wise, and make things more expensive. They’re not the be all and end all.

Also bear in mind that all guitar cables take something away from your tone, however slight. Don’t sweat the conductor core material too much; they will typically be made of copper and be similarly conductive. 

What we are looking for here is a low-capacitance cable with enough shielding around its conductor core to carry your guitar’s signal with a minimum of noise, that isn’t too stiff or thin and tangly, and one that will ultimately stand the test of time. 

The best guitar cables you can buy right now

Best guitar cables: Mogami Gold Series guitar cable

(Image credit: Mogami)

1. Mogami Gold Series Guitar Cable

The gold standard of guitar cables

Price: $40-$63 | Features: Oxygen-free copper conductor, carbon-impregnated PVC, Neutrik black and gold plugs, ultra-high density spiral shield, conductive polymer sub-shield, lifetime warranty, 130pF/m capacitance | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-to-right-angle | Length: 3-25ft

No unwanted noise
Lifetime warranty
Variety of lengths
Not much, but is the gold necessary?

The Mogami Gold Series guitar cable has an ultra-high density (UHD) spiral shield and conductive polymer sub-shield to help kill noise and preserve that signal. A conductive carbon-impregnated PVC layer will stop all the sort of microphonic pop that you can get from handling cheaper guitar cables.

The copper core conductor might be heavy gauge but the Gold Series is still easy to handle and easy to pack away. Gigging musicians might wish to upgrade to the Gold Series Silent, which use Neutrik silent plugs so you can change your instrument without having to switch your amp off.

This cable comes with a “no excuses” lifetime warranty and is offered in a wide variety of lengths.

Best guitar cables: D’Addario Planet Waves American Stage guitar cable

(Image credit: D'Addario)

2. D’Addario Planet Waves American Stage Cable

If America’s sweetheart was made of copper cable, this’d be it

Price: $30-$53 | Features: 22 gauge oxygen-free copper twisted pair conductors, 95 percent tinned copper braid shielding, Geo-Tip plugs, approx 92pF/m capacitance | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 10-30ft

Geo-Tip plugs for enhanced connection
Low capacitance 
Lack of outer jacket options
Not ideal if you want something premium

Planet Waves’ patented Geo-Tip plugs are a big draw with this best guitar cable entrant. They have a slightly flattened tip and longer shield, made by Neutrik in Liechtenstein to Planet Wave’s spec and no matter what jack is fitted in your guitar, these should fit nice and snug with no crackle or pop. That tinned-copper braid should stop rogue frequencies wrecking your signal too.

The HelioFused soldering is another feature unique to Planet Waves and this 180-degree inline connection helps make the American Stage a tough, durable and stage-ready cable.

They are also affordable and available pretty much anywhere, with right-angled options.

Best guitar cables: George L’s .155

(Image credit: George L's)

3. George L’s .155 Cable

The best guitar cable for DIY-minded guitarists

Price: $39-$60 | Features: Solder-less connection, George L’s .155 connectors, high-density braided shielding, 67pF/m capacitance | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 10-20ft

Low capacitance
Lightweight and tough
You want one of George’s build-your-own
Thin cables are not everyone’s bag

George Lewis’ is famous for selling his .155 cable in bulk so that guitarists can take advantage of their solder-less connector design and build their own cable. His cables are also famous for their ultra-low capacity. Eric Johnson swears by them. You would be hard pushed to find another guitar cable on the market with a lower capacitance per meter. The frequency response is excellent and your signal is well shielded.

Readymade, these come out the box with George L’s solder-less .155 connections and despite the vintage feel of the low-diameter cable - and its tendency to coil a little - they feel like you could tow a trailer with them.

For those who find the .155 too thin, the .255 offers an identical sonic performance but with thicker and heavier cable.

Best guitar cables: Asterope Pro Stage

(Image credit: Asterope)

4. Asterope Pro Stage

Freakin’ expensive, freakin’ good

Price: $100 | Features: Solid-core, nickel-plated connectors, 95 per cent cross-braided tin copper shielding, directional twin-axial 99.9 per cent oxygen-free copper conductor core, barbed-collar bracket, extra durable and full-flex pressurized PVC jacket | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 6-30ft

Transparent, wide frequency response
Rugged design
That price
Not miles better than cheaper primo cables

Asterope might be playing the capacitance and exact spec close to their chest, but there is no questioning the high-performance of this premium cable. Its build and its transparency are hard to beat and for many this is the test cable against which all others are matched.

Whether all this is worth 100 clams for a 15-foot guitar cable is up to you. But do as the arrows on the super-tough plugs tell you to and this directional cable will transfer your tone without any unwanted frequencies and with that high-end unmolested.

Of course, all cables take something from a signal, but when you try a cable such as the Asterope Pro Stage, the brightness and clarity might make you swear it is dialing in a little more presence.

Best guitar cable: Ernie Ball Braided Guitar Cable

(Image credit: Ernie Ball)

5. Ernie Ball Braided guitar cable

Hard as nails guitar cables for road dogs

Price: $20-37 | Features: Dual conducters, tangle resistant, braided jacket exterior, 99.95% oxygen-free copper to resist corrosion, dual-shielded, dual-conductor design | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 10-25ft

Noise free design
Nothing shorter than 10ft

All of Ernie Ball's guitar cables are built to last, but these braided models are designed to be particularly robust, and they're tangle-resistant too - ideal for guitarists who spend a lot of time on the road, or who prefer to stuff their cable straight into the gig bag rather than coil it carefully. 

Inside each cable, dual-conductors help ensure your guitar tones are clear, with crisp highs, tight mids and rich harmonics, while internals are shielded well to reduce noise and preserve the signal.

When it comes to lengths, there's not loads of choice, but EB's braided cables are available in 10, 18 and 25ft varieties.

Best guitar cables: GLS Audio Tweed Guitar Cable

(Image credit: GLS Audio)

6. GLS Audio Tweed Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable for vintage enthusiasts

Price: $13-15 | Features: Triple-strain relief, oxygen-free copper conductor, oxygen-free copper shielding, conductive PVC shield, plastic conductive carbon shield, approx 125pF/m capacitance, brown or black | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 6-20ft

Low capacitance
Clear and bright tone
If tweed ain’t your thing

The list price for these guitar cables at various lengths sits around 60 bucks so there is a whole lot to be saved from ordering from GLS direct. The tweed outer jacket looks great in black, impeccable in brown, and the feel of the GLS Audio Tweed is excellent; it coils nicely, is durable, and for the vintage enthusiast this might be too hard to resist.

The cable is double-shielded and low capacitance, so again it should be quiet enough without choking the high-end. There is no price difference between straight-to-straight and straight-to-right angle formats. 

Best guitar cables: Fender Deluxe Series cable

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender Deluxe Series Instrument Cable

Wait, they make cables too?

Price: $25-55 | Features: 24K gold-plated connectors, 20 AWG 99.99 percent oxygen-free copper conductor, 95 per cent braided oxygen-free copper shielding, molded plugs w/strain relief, yellow or black tweed outer jacket, hook-and-loop cable tie | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/right-angle | Length: 5-25ft

Good value, lifetime warranty
Free cable tie
You have money to burn
Tweed ain’t your thing

Fender’s Deluxe Series might fly under the radar when it comes to guitar cables, but with a lifetime warranty and excellent construction they offer a high-performance product at a very competitive price.

The custom-molded plugs have strain-relief in-built and make for a solid connection, while the Deluxe Series’ shielding holds its own against more expensive cables when it comes to killing extraneous noise.

They are a beefy 8mm diameter but coil nicely and come with a cable tie to encourage you to look after it. To our ears these are bright and transparent – the 10-foot cable especially – and certainly feel like a cable durable enough for the road. A worthy addition to our best guitar cables buyer's guide.

Best guitar cables: PRS Signature Series

(Image credit: PRS)

8. PRS Signature Series Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable for a 'handmade in London' option

Price: $55-90 | Features: Oxygen-free copper core, dual screens of conductive and close-lapped copper, hermetically sealed reed switch connector, silent plugs an option | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 5-25ft

Handmade, premium quality
Pure, bright signal
Another skinny cable
Hard to find the 5-foot option in stock

Paul Reed Smith swears by these cables, which are handmade in London by Van Damme Cabling, but of course he has to say that. What’s more impressive is Van Damme’s client list, which includes the likes of the Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Abbey Road Studios.

PRS and Van Damme play the exact spec close to their chest, so we can’t say for sure what the capacitance is other than it is “carefully tuned”, but we would interpret that as low, as these are bright, crystal-clear guitar cables that make all the difference in carrying those mids and highs.

They are lightweight, low-diameter, and the option of silent plugs allows for hot-swapping – a 25-foot cable with silent plugs will set you back 90 bucks, which is decent value for a pro-quality, road-worthy cable. There is no crinkling, no hint of microphonic pop, just a pure signal. Which is exactly what you should expect from a premium cable. And there is no extra charge for straight-to-right-angle options.

Best guitar cables: SpectraFlex N-Flex

(Image credit: SpectraFlex)

9. SpectraFlex N-Flex Guitar Cable

Get a load of those Neutrik plugs and nylon braiding

Price: $34-105 | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 1-50ft

Heaps of options
Neutrik plugs are ace
Capacitance spec unconfirmed
No one needs a 50ft cable

Available in all the lengths and all the finishes of braided nylon you could ever want. You want cowprint? Pink? No problem! The SpectraFlex N-Flex takes its name from the addition of Neutrik plugs, and is an incredible, hard-wearing cable that coils well, feels great, and sounds pretty darn transparent.

Those Neutrik plugs will never crap out of you and the SpectraFlex say the precision-engineered one-piece tip ensures you get a nice clean contact and no breakages. This is another you could use in haulage it’s so tough.

The total C-PVC shield coverage kills microphonic interference, making for a super-quiet guitar cable. The frequency response seems pretty even, the tone transparent.

Best guitar cables: Monster M Rock2 instrument cable

(Image credit: Monster)

10. Monster M Rock2

This monster won’t mash

Price: $35-60 | Features: Custom gold turbine connectors w/ 24k gold contacts, multiple gauge high and low frequency wire networks, 95 percent coverage copper braided shield, IsoTec vibration isolation, Time Correct windings, Duraflex protective jacket | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight/-right-angle | Length: 3-21ft

Exceptional shielding
Rugged design and tactile
Some might prefer a brighter cable
Can be hard to find

Here is another favorite, no doubt because the likes of Slash and Zakk Wylde are fans of Monster’s Pro Studio series, but also because these are some of the best guitar cables for build quality. The 24k gold contacts and construction of the signature Monster turbine plugs are a little OTT with the bling, but there’s no denying these are durable cables.

They are also very well shielded. Monster’s multi-twist construction tightly twists the positive and negative conductors within the cable to help with noise-cancelling, citing Bell Labs as using similar tech. But let’s assume your amp is in the same state as you, these still do the business. 

Time Correct windings are used to minimize the skin effect, where bass frequencies can be fractionally delayed by the magnetic field at the heart of the conductor.

Best guitar cables: Gibson Pure instrument cable

(Image credit: Gibson)

11. Gibson Pure Instrument Cable

The best guitar cable for getting that cool US Custom Shop vibe

Price: $100 | Features: Silent Plugs, low handling noise, 24k Gold Over Nickel Plugs, oxygen-free tinned copper conductors, hardwood plugs, plastic conductive carbon shield, super-durable outer cable sheath | Connection: 1/4” straight-to-straight jack | Length: 25ft

Great-sounding and durable
Silent plugs
No straight-to-right-angle connections
Lack of length options 

There is a whole lot of fancy-schmancy to this top-range cable from Gibson, like the wooden plugs, the 24k gold-plated nickel connectors, it’s made in the USA, but ultimately this is a super-durable cable that has super-high sound quality.

The quality of the plugs is incredible, too. They are heavy duty and they are silent, so you can hot-swap the guitar while connected to a live amp.

With the plastic conductive carbon shield allied to the oxygen-free tinned copper grounded braid shielding, this Gibson cable is excellent at killing unwanted noise. It handles well, too, so you won’t be getting tied up in knots.