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Best guitar cables 2021: leads and patch cables to suit all budgets

Included in this guide:

Close up of guitar cable jacks
(Image credit: Future)

Having the best guitar cable you can get your hands on is fundamental to sounding your best. A crucial aspect of your signal chain - carrying the all-important signal that holds analogue information about your tone - it’s the sole connection between your electric guitar and guitar amp or pedalboard. If you go for a less-than-adequate cable, or something old and tired, you’ll likely lose tone - and that is something we could all live without. For this important reason, we've rounded-up the best guitar cables (and even a few patch cables) on the planet for everyone to enjoy - whether you want to spend a little or a lot. 

Guitar cables can range in price from a few pounds/dollars to hundreds, and the temptation for many guitarists is to spend as little as possible so that there's more cash left in the pot for alcoholic beverages, or more exciting gear like looper pedals, guitar wireless systems and, of course, electric and acoustic guitars.

But rest assured, we're not here to empty your wallet, although It’s worth considering that like everything else in your rig, higher quality usually lasts longer and sounds better. A relatively small investment of around £30/$40 will land you one of the best guitar cables in our guide though, so if you treat it right, it will last you many happy years of jamming, gigging and recording.

If you’d like to read some more in-depth buying advice, click the ‘buying advice’ button above. If you’d like to get straight into the products, keep scrolling.

Looking for a great Black Friday music deal? Check out our Black Friday guitar deals page for all the latest news and the best guitar cable offers.

Best guitar cables: Our top picks

The Mogami Gold Instrument Cable is an industry standard, visible in recording studios around the world. The company’s claims of clarity and wide frequency response are founded on a solid reputation – with a lifetime guarantee to boot. If that’s not convinced you already, you’ll be pleased to know the price is decent too - hence why it sits pretty atop our best guitar cables guide right now.

With lengths available from 2 to 25 feet available, an oxygen free copper core, carbon impregnated PVC casing and ultra high density sub shield ensure a pro spec. There are even some right angled jack options as well, so most guitarists' needs will be covered here.

Best guitar cables: Product guide

Best guitar cables: Mogami Gold series

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Mogami Gold Series Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable overall

Specifications
Launch price: From $40/£32
Reasons to buy
+Great build+Low noise+Low capacitance
Reasons to avoid
-Gold isn’t for everyone

The Mogami Gold Series Guitar Cable is already used throughout the world for professional audio work in recording and broadcast studios, so it’s unsurprising its range of guitar cables is pro standard. Manufactured in Nagano, Japan, the company publishes the Gold Series’ capacitance rating at a reassuring 39.7pF/Ft – and its build continues that quality.

A conductive PVC layer is placed under the shield conductor to drain away high impedance voltage and to reduce unwanted microphonic noise dramatically. It’s also available in shorter lengths with right-angled connectors for patch cable use.

Best guitar cables: Evidence Audio Lyric HG

(Image credit: Evidence Audio)

2. Evidence Audio Lyric HG guitar cable

It’ll cost you, but it’s worth it

Specifications
Launch price: From $115/£69
Reasons to buy
+Incredible signal clarity +Very durable +Perfect for studio applications 
Reasons to avoid
-Won’t have any money left over for beer 

Being the highest quality cable that Evidence Audio offers, the Lyric is the choice of industry stars such as David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and John Mayer, and for good reason.

EA very much believes that less is more when it comes to building their cables - and this is obvious through their intentions. The Lyric is a cable that, to our ears, almost disappears from the signal path. 

It contains a dual solid-core crafted from IGL copper, which ensures the audience will be bathing in a smooth, true-to-life recreation of your tone. The solid-core carries your signal far better than the braided alternative, but in turn the prices hike. If you’re after the purest possible tone money can buy though, then look no further.

Best guitar cables: D'Addario Planet Waves American Stage

(Image credit: D'Addario)

This best guitar cable for incredible value for money

Specifications
Launch price: From $29.99/£23
Reasons to buy
+Neutrik plugs+Made in the USA+Durable
Reasons to avoid
-For this price, no complaints

Planet Waves are a D’Addario brand that’s well established in the accessories market, and this is its flagship cable with specs to match. Plugs are built to Planet Wave’s design by the industry standard suppliers Neutrik, and we’ve had good experiences with the fit using a number of guitar models.

The American Stage cable also features an ‘In-Line’ solder process, which creates a permanent bond between wire and plug. This helps create a clear connection and enhances durability.

Read the full Planet Waves American Stage Instrument Cable review

Best guitar cables: Ernie Ball Braided Instrument Cable

(Image credit: Press Material)

4. Ernie Ball Braided Instrument Cable

Enjoy incredible value for money with this braided guitar cable

Specifications
Launch price: From $21.99/£23.90
Reasons to buy
+Braided cable jacket helps it stay tangle free +Comes in neon colours too+Highly visible in low-light gig conditions
Reasons to avoid
-Not available with two straight jacks 

Some guitarists prefer a woven guitar cable casing because it’s less likely to tangle. Let’s be honest, it also looks more exciting than the usual black, that’s for sure. Though black is available, funkier choices of Neon Pink and Orange will ensure you can see your guitar cable on low lit stages, though we’re rather partial to the red, blue and white design ourselves. 

If you are scouring our best guitar cables guide for a great value braided number, then you’re in the right place with option.

Best guitar cables: Boss Instrument Cable

(Image credit: Boss)

5. BOSS Instrument Cable

A great budget-friendly choice

Specifications
Launch price: From $19.99/£13
Reasons to buy
+Boss durability is highly regarded+Great value+24k gold-plated connectors for corrosion resistance 
Reasons to avoid
-There are better cables out there 

Boss has always been the benchmark of durability and reliability in the world of effects and accessories. At the end of the day, we all need to know that our cables are going to last a while and won’t die on us mid-gig.

Boss’ instrument cable comes in various lengths with various jack combinations, to ensure that you get the cable to suit your needs. Constructed with care and attention, the oxygen free cable and corrosion-resistant 24k gold-plated connectors ensure minimum signal degradation - keeping your tone sounding bright, lively and precisely as you like it. 

A highly durable braided cable jacket completes this crucial element of your setup, delivering strength that is surprisingly impressive for a cable of this price point. There is plenty of competition from other brands in this sub £/$25 corner of the market, but Boss has just as much of a right to be here as anyone else.

PRS Signature Guitar cable on a white background

(Image credit: PRS)

6. PRS Signature Instrument Cable

High-fidelity tone that won't break the bank

Specifications
Launch price: From $/£39
Reasons to buy
+Great sound quality+Durable+Classic look
Reasons to avoid
-A bit expensive

You just know it’s going to be good when PRS have put their name on it. Widely respected as one of the world’s greatest guitar manufacturers, their accessories are making a name for themselves too. 

The gold plugs are courtesy of Neutrik, and the cables are made in conjunction with Van Damme Cabling. This means that PRS instrument cables have low capacitance and fantastic noise rejection, so there’s no compromise in strength and tonal fidelity for the studio or the stage. There's also a 'Silent' version available just in case you want something even more perfect, and a 'Classic' version if you're on more of a budget.

Best guitar cables: Fender Deluxe Series Instrument Cable

(Image credit: Press Material)

7. Fender Deluxe Series Instrument Cable

The best guitar cable for classic Tweed lovers

Specifications
Launch price: From $/£16.99
Reasons to buy
+Wide range of length options for guitar and pedals+Good quality+Reasonable price
Reasons to avoid
-You don’t like Tweed

Yes, Fender makes guitar cables too – and if you own one of their iconic Tweed-covered amps, there’s a strong sense of satisfaction to be had from pairing this with it. Even more so for the reasonable price.

A lifetime warranty and built-in strain relief in the plugs offer peace of mind for durability and each longer length cable comes with a cable tie to keep it neatly coiled. There’s 6-inch and 1ft options for your pedalboard, and the 8mm diameter makes the Deluxe Series cable even easier to coil. Also, the quality for the price here does the Fender heritage proud. 

Best guitar cables: Vox Premium Vintage Coil Guitar Cable

(Image credit: Press Material)

8. Vox Premium Vintage Coil Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable for channeling vintage style

Specifications
Launch price: From $34.99/£22.28
Reasons to buy
+Sixties vintage vibe+High quality conductor wire+Improved clarity
Reasons to avoid
-Coil cables are longer than standard ones for your signal

Though they’ll give you the classic visual vibe of Jimi Hendrix, Brian May and Jimmy Page, coil cables have a reputation of being inferior due to the added length of cable used to make them and how it may be unnecessarily detrimental to your guitar signal. Vox helps offset that through investing in an unusual copper for an instrument cable.

The audiophile-grade 99.9% purity OFC copper conductors here offer improved clarity – especially in the mid-range. Vox also notes that the multi-gauge design uses bespoke conductor types optimized for specific frequency ranges for a fuller, more organic sound. Using two separate shields also improves noise isolation.

Best guitar cables: Ernie Ball Flat Pancake Patch Cable 6” three-pack

(Image credit: Press Material)

9. Ernie Ball 6" Pancake Patch Cable

The best patch cable for moving pedals closer together

Specifications
Launch price: From $16/£12
Reasons to buy
+Saves pedalboard space+Good build quality+Ace for mini boards
Reasons to avoid
-If you need longer custom lengths 

Pedalboard real estate is precious – every inch counts in a pursuit to add more stompboxes. That means we need patch cables to be… less! Ernie Ball clearly understands this because the flat angled ends of this patch cable help move your pedals closer together if needed. A real godsend if you have a mini pedalboard. 

We’ve had good experiences gigging with these great value patch cables, and Ernie Ball even makes the Flat Pancake Patch Cable in white as well as the ubiquitous black.

Best guitar cables: Evidence Audio SIS Monorail Patch Cable Kit

(Image credit: Press Material)

10. Evidence Audio SIS/Monorail Patch Cable Kit

The best patch cable kit for Noel Gallagher and David Gilmour fans

Specifications
Launch price: From $78.99/£69.99
Reasons to buy
+Easy to create custom lengths+Good build quality with strong connection+Noel Gallagher uses one
Reasons to avoid
-A bigger investment compared to standard patch cables

If you need custom lengths for your pedalboard, a solderless kit is an easy, accessible option that won’t require electrician’s skills. And if you’re skeptical about how Evidence get around the lack of soldering on the connections here, rest assured that it’s all about precision for a connection Evidence confidently claims is ‘better-than-soldered’.  

The inside of the tips of the brass SIS right-angled plugs (eight are included with the 5ft kit) are precision machined to have threads. These threads cut and re-shape the soft IGL copper conductor of the Monorail cable when turned around it several times. Need more convincing?  David Gilmour, Noel Gallagher, Graham Coxon, Guthrie Govan and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien all use them.

Best guitar cables: Buying advice

Guitar laying on the floor with a guitar cable plugged in

(Image credit: Future)

Will a better guitar cable improve my tone?

The quality of your guitar or patch cable will definitely influence your tone. You’ll feel the effects of different guitar cables much more if you're using passive electric guitar pickups rather than active. This is where ‘capacitance’ comes into play – capacitance is a buzzword you'll often hear around guitar cables, and for good reason.

Understanding capacitance

A capacitor is formed between two electrical conductors that are in close proximity. The larger the surface area of these conductors (in your guitar cable), the larger the capacitance. Large amounts of capacitance is measured in units of farads, so named after 19th century English physicist Michael Faraday.

Guitar cables contain smaller amounts of capacitance, which are measured in picofarads (pf); each one million-millionth of a farad. A decent quality audio cable should offer 40pf per foot with the highest quality offering around half that.

Most noticeably, capacitance has the effect of reducing high-end treble in your tone, but it can actually have an effect across the entire spectrum. Combined with the inductors that are your guitar pickups, it can actually add mid-range gain.

As a general rule of thumb, the longer your cable length, or the more capacitance the cable itself has for its given length, the more loss of high-end you’ll notice.

You may even want this, but if you’re lacking some high-end brightness, a low capacitance guitar cable could make a positive difference to your sound.

Understanding impedance

Impedance (Z) is the measure of the total opposition to current flow in an alternating current circuit. It is made up of the sum of two components, resistance (R) and reactance (X). The output from most electronic audio devices is usually low impedance (around 150ohms), but it can be much higher for passive guitar pickups. 

Active pickups contain a preamp that offsets any issues with impedance by converting it to low impedance, and it can drive a cable without any loss of high frequency.

And this means it is more adversely affected by capacitance from a cable to create a filter on your sound – as capacitance and impedance increase, this filter comes into effect more. In theory, the ideal set up for wide frequency response in your tone is a low impedance pickup and low capacitance cable. 

When it comes to smaller patch cables between your pedals, their capacitance isn’t as important as the cable that goes between the guitar and the first pedal in your chain. That’s because pedals have low impedance outputs, though if your pedals are true bypass, they’ll have more effect on the overall capacitance in your signal.

Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before that I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar.