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SG101 2006-2017

SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Cable Lengths...

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So, I have a question about cable lengths. I have one effect (True Bypass) and a Reverb unit. I know I should keep things as short as possible, but I am wondering how some of you guys work out this issue live and in the studio. I'd like to get some Bullet Coiled cables, but they are about 10 feet each.

That would be:
Guitar > 10 Feet > Fuzz > 10 Feet > Reverb Unit > 10 feet > Amp

Is that too outrageous or wasteful?

To Boldly go where no Tiki has gone before...

I think 15ft is the best rule of thumb to abide by if you want to maintain tone fidelity (I can't believe I typed that outside TGP but there you go)

And that's with top-notch cables. Then again, this is only going off what I've read about such things over the years. I'm no expert. Currently mine is 20ft using decent quality, straight Fender cables.

Reverb unit to amp, I use 3ft cables... 10 feet from pedals to reverb unit, 10 feet from guitar to first pedal. More than enough, but not too much.

I normally run a 16' to the tuner, short jumper to the echo, 2' jumper to the reverb tank and a 6' or so to the amp. I have used much longer ones when the stage bouncing would trigger the reverb splash. This was always a problem at the Clarkston Surf Fest and we brought stools along to set the units up on off stage.

I've never been able to hear a difference in cables. I figure the greatest surf records of all time were recorded using nothing special and that's good enough for me.


Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I sill like big blonde amps?

I use the same cable lengths that Jake mentioned, with the difference that I use the 3' cable from the pedals to the tank and the 10' ones from the guitar to the pedals and from the tank to the amp.

I wonder why the coily cables are popular. You make the signal travel much longer than the useful length of the cable.

20ft from the guitar to the pedal board, 20ft board to tank and 3 ft. to the amp. More a practicality than a tone thing. Good quality cables are a must IMHO, but everybody likes what they like.

Anyone else? Thanks for all the input so far!

To Boldly go where no Tiki has gone before...

So I assume that you are asking with the idea of minimizing cable losses?

There are a number of factors but losses are increased by both length and by impedance. So because the impedance of passive guitar pickups is relatively compared to the output of other gear ( efx, pedals, preamps, etc) you will have much more loss ( of high frequencies) from the cable going from your guitar to whatever as you will in the same length cable running from a pedal to your amp (assuming the quality of both cables is the same).

Wrt your "true bypass" pedal... When you are bypassed then you have the losses of the total of it's input and output cable. When the effect is engaged the losses will be (roughly) half.

30 ft – you roam around a lot?
artdecade wrote:

So, I have a question about cable lengths. I have one effect (True Bypass) and a Reverb unit. I know I should keep things as short as possible, but I am wondering how some of you guys work out this issue live and in the studio. I'd like to get some Bullet Coiled cables, but they are about 10 feet each.

That would be:
Guitar > 10 Feet > Fuzz > 10 Feet > Reverb Unit > 10 feet > Amp

Is that too outrageous or wasteful?

Squink Out!

20 feet guitar to board > 20 feet board to tank > 10 feet tank to amp.

Seems like I have the longest one, haha! But seriously, we play a lot on different kind of stages and the worst thing that could happen is showing up with short cables. The rest of the band is standing at the front of the stage, while you are standing at the back...almost next to your amp. 'Yeh, but it's all for the better sound.' Looks stupid, doesn't it? I do spend money on my cables and I bought the snake-oil monster cables and never had any problem with tonal loss ever since. And I use the 10 feet from tank to amp because the problem Eddie described occured more than once. You never know if it's a bouncy stage until you get there. With a longer cable going from the tank to the amp you can always put the tank somewhere safe.
At home and in the studio I keep it as short as possible...

The Hicadoolas

Last edited: May 20, 2013 03:17:23

guitar> 30 ft bullet cable > amp.

Here's my tuppenny worth: I remember reading about a blues guitarist (I think it was Albert King) who used a really long cable so he could walk into the audience playing his guitar. He used stereo microphone cable (two core + shield) with one of the cores connected to the shield.

I would say 20ft is long enough. If it's a big stage, just set up closer together, bring your amp forward, whatever. When I saw Slacktone at Surfer Joes, the stage was really deep. Slacktone set up near the front, close together. Too much cable ends up coiled around your feet where it gets trodden on and damaged.

This is the downside of true bypass - it restricts your cable length. Add a Boss (or another buffered) pedal and voila! no more problem. From what I have heard, you can have all the true bypass gear you want; one buffered pedal will fix the cable length problem if you don't want to be restricted to 20 feet.


I want to use 10 feet of cable before hitting my only pedal and then another 10 feet back to the reverb unit. Once I hit the reverb unit, can I use another 10 feet before it hits the amp? Does the reverb act like a buffer - not in the standard sense - and allow me another bit of cable?

To Boldly go where no Tiki has gone before...

The reverb unit is a buffer, since your signal is going through the circuit at all times.

I run 15' from guitar to board. then I have 2 3' cables that I patch in the reverb unit into my pedals, then a 15' from pedalboard to amp. I patch the reverb unit after Echo and before my vibrato and tremolo pedals. I keep the reverb unit up front by the pedals because I change settings a lot during a set.

If I'm using the Magicstomp, it's 12 ft - effect -another 12 ft. I don't like long cable runs, and so arrange our sets so that all the songs using the Magicstomp are grouped together. When I don't use the Magicstomp, I plug straight into the amp with 1 x 12 ft cord. I don't know if anyone in the audience can hear the difference being plugged straight in but I can hear a (slight) difference.

Last edited: May 22, 2013 03:28:49

On the subject of cable length and quality, and their effect on tone, I came across the following article and thought it was a very interesting read, especially as it's very factual, easy to understand and debunks quite a few claims made by some manufacturers. It's translated from French and the translation is slightly awkward at times, but it's very comprehensible.

All you ever wanted to know about guitar cables (but were afraid to ask)

Old punks never die... They just become surf rockers.

Personally, I try to use as little cable as reasonable to do the job. I use soldered, solderless, and off the shelf cable and I always have varying lengths of cable available to make the connections between gear.

I would say having a buffer along the signal chain corrects the suckaage of the sparkle, but beware of how that buffer interacts with effects such as fuzzfaces. This is a topic on its own!
Top end cut off is not the worst thing for a guitar signal in a band mix. But excess cable is also a bother. One more thing to get tangled, longer to wrap up, more cost.

Mai Tai Surf on Facebook
'Destination Saturn' EP (Feb 2016 release) on iTunes

Fender Strat/CP Jazzmaster & Jaguar/'63 RI Reverb/'68 Custom Vibrolux Reverb/Strymon El Capistan & Flint/Xotic EP Booster/Surfy Bear Reverb

deadlands wrote:

The reverb unit is a buffer, since your signal is going through the circuit at all times.

This. I keep the first cable as short as possible, which means staying close to the reverb (short cable to a ge fuzz if I'm using one, then reverb) . Then a longer cable after really does not matter as much. I used to have a Sarno Black Box as a first buffer, but my friend immediately bought it off me for his pedalboard a soon as he heard it ( a few months ago) and I realized the reverb was basically the same. My guitar also has a buffer built into the guitar, which is nice when I need that.

I totally switched to high end cables (I buy Lava ones on sale) and it was like night and day compared to the regular ones I was using. For me it was like a "I did not know what I missing till I tried it kind of thing. "

I just read that article above, and it's spot on to what I found to be true as well, and what I do:

Passive pickups, shortest cable possible with a low capacitance, fuzz, short cable with a low capacitance, then buffered pedal, and as much cable as you want

The best is to have a cable called the "lead cable", with a low capacitance, and short as much as possible, that links your guitar to your first high impedance effect. "

Last edited: Apr 23, 2017 14:05:17

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