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Best guitar cables 2021: 9 guitar leads and patch cables to suit all budgets

Best guitar cables 2021: 9 guitar leads and patch cables to suit all budgets
(Image credit: Future)

Your guitar cable is a critical link in 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 use an old or sub-par cable, you’ll likely lose tone - and we all want to avoid that. It's for this important reason that we've rounded-up the best guitar cables (and patch cables) on the planet for everyone from bedroom shredders to arena-filling pros. 

Guitar cables 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 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 on wire, 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.

Before we run you through our top picks and impart our expert advice, here’s a look at our current top choice…

Best guitar cables: Our top picks

The Mogami Gold Instrument Cable is already a familiar sight in recording studios around the world, and the company’s claims of clarity and wide frequency response are founded on a solid reputation – with a lifetime guarantee to boot. Crucially, the price is decent too, which is why it tops our best guitar cables guide right now.

An oxygen free copper core, carbon impregnated PVC casing and ultra high density sub shield ensure a pro spec. And with lengths available from 2- to 25-feet, and right angled jack options too, most guitarists needs will be covered here.

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?

A guitar or patch cable can definitely change 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.

The smaller amounts found in guitar cables 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.

Capacitance has the most noticeable 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.

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.

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. 

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. 

Best guitar cables: Full round-up & reviews

Best guitar cables: Mogami Gold series

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1. Mogami Gold Series Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable overall

Great build
Low noise
Low capacitance
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: Ernie Ball Flat Pancake Patch Cable 6” three-pack

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2. Ernie Ball 6" Pancake Patch Cable

The best patch cable for moving pedals closer together

Saves pedalboard space
Good build quality
Ace for mini boards
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: D'Addario Planet Waves American Stage

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3. D'Addario Planet Waves American Stage

This best guitar cable for incredible value for money

Neutrik plugs
Made in the USA
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

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4. Ernie Ball Braided Instrument Cable

Enjoy incredible value for money with this braided guitar cable

Braided cable jacket helps it stay tangle free 
Comes in neon colours too
Highly visible in low-light gig conditions
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.

PRS Signature Guitar cable on a white background

(Image credit: PRS)

5. PRS Signature Instrument Cable

High-fidelity tone that won't break the bank

Great sound quality
Classic look
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

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6. Fender Deluxe Series Instrument Cable

The best guitar cable for classic Tweed lovers

Wide range of length options for guitar and pedals
Good quality
Reasonable price
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

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7. Vox Premium Vintage Coil Guitar Cable

The best guitar cable for channeling vintage style

Sixties vintage vibe
High quality conductor wire
Improved clarity
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: Evidence Audio SIS Monorail Patch Cable Kit

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8. Evidence Audio SIS/Monorail Patch Cable Kit

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

Easy to create custom lengths
Good build quality with strong connection
Noel Gallagher uses one
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: Lava van den Hul Hybrid Instrument Cable

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9. Lava van den Hul Hybrid Instrument Cable

The best guitar cable if you're looking for high-end design and price

Superb build 
Audiophile cable quality
Serious specs list

While a reasonable investment will get you a quality, professional grade guitar cable, paying significantly more can get you extra. Specifically, more of that ‘open’ sound that allows the character of your guitar to be represented in a less filtered way. 

Lava’s reputation is strong as it is, but this 10ft guitar cable is made for it by Dutch specialised high-end maker van den Hul. So it’s made in the Netherlands and completed in the USA, and it’s got some serious specs…

The Fusion Technology here uses four stranded conductors with an ‘extremely pure’ alloy of zinc as well as copper and silver, embedded in a conductive layer containing Linear Structured Carbon to preserve low level sound detail. Hulliflex is used for the jacket, a material van den Hul regards as a superior insulator to PVC in the long term.