How long can a guitar cable be?
Old 21st October 2009
  #1
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Thread Starter
How long can a guitar cable be?

I've been meaning to build myself some new instrument cables from quality material(mogami and neutrik probably) and was wondering how long a guitar cable can be before it goes bad ? I've been using a 20ft cable as my longest cable when I need it. And for rehersal and gigs it is usually enough. But it happens I'm playing at "my own" hall, that is where I work as a FOH enginner, and during the soundcheck it would be a plus if I could be able to reach the FOH position (if i remember correcly it is about 10-13m from bass amp to FOH)

How long can i make the cable without compromising sound quality ?

Maybe I should just make two cables, one long one to use during soundcheck and another a bit shorter to use during the gig, that is long enough to get me to every part of the stage I'd need to be at without stretching in the air ?

And maybe the third one for studio use ? (since I'm using a DI for most of my work I could just pull the DI closer to the instrument)
Old 21st October 2009
  #2
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dysenterygary's Avatar
 

I think you can go about 100feet before the sound quality starts to fade. but have fun keeping that thing untangled!
Old 21st October 2009
  #3
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Ben B's Avatar
 

I was taught that they should not exceed 25 feet.

-Ben B
Old 21st October 2009
  #4
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben B View Post
I was taught that they should not exceed 25 feet.

-Ben B
same here.
Old 21st October 2009
  #5
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A guitar cable???

Man I get nervous after 10 ft. Some of the new HD instrument cable (redco/mogami) is pretty good though and you can go longer.
Old 21st October 2009
  #6
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dysenterygary's Avatar
 

yeah, sorry I was thinking something else. Guitar cable shouldn't go more than 20-25 feet. I think its high quality speaker cables that can go 100 or something. Now I'm just confused.
Old 21st October 2009
  #7
Gear addict
 

The only guitar cable I have heard that really keeps it together over a longer run is the Vovox Sonorus. I was recently at a shoot out and even the 10 m Sonorus was killing 3 m Planet Waves etc. Otherwise keep it as short as possible.
Old 21st October 2009
  #8
b0b
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For such a long run I would use two passive DIs (I think I've seen some purpose built units for this but I can't find them right now).

GTR - instrument cable - DI - XLR - DI reverced - instrument cable - amp. You might even be able to use tielines for this. Then you wouldn't need any custom cables except the one XLR to XLR sex change cable for the reverced DI.
Old 21st October 2009
  #9
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Rabbit's Avatar
 

Some like them very long. As I recall Albert Collins used a 150' long cord.
Old 21st October 2009
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b0b View Post
For such a long run I would use two passive DIs (I think I've seen some purpose built units for this but I can't find them right now).

GTR - instrument cable - DI - XLR - DI reverced - instrument cable - amp. You might even be able to use tielines for this. Then you wouldn't need any custom cables except the one XLR to XLR sex change cable for the reverced DI.
Having a really long cable with a DI in the middle is in my opinion beating the purpose of a long cable, since you're tied to the distance from the Instrument to the DI (unless you strap the DI on your back and just drag the XLR around) for any other purpose than what I'm describing (being able to get to the FOH, altough I'd like to be running between the FOH and stage)

btw. thanks for the info, Noone really ever told me, but i kind of figured that 20-25feet was in the upper range of acceptable guitar cables
Old 21st October 2009
  #11
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stafs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0b View Post
For such a long run I would use two passive DIs (I think I've seen some purpose built units for this but I can't find them right now).

GTR - instrument cable - DI - XLR - DI reverced - instrument cable - amp. You might even be able to use tielines for this. Then you wouldn't need any custom cables except the one XLR to XLR sex change cable for the reverced DI.
You will get signal degradation and maybe some strange noises anyway.
Old 21st October 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addni View Post
...
How long can i make the cable without compromising sound quality ?

Maybe I should just make two cables, one long one to use during soundcheck and another a bit shorter to use during the gig, that is long enough to get me to every part of the stage I'd need to be at without stretching in the air ?
...
This is your best solution-- use the proper length cable for the task at hand. If you value being able to stand at FOH while playing, that outweighs the problem of the long cable. When you are closer to the amp, use a shorter cable.

A good rule of thumb is to use the shortest cable that is appropriate for the situation.

The problem with long cables on high impedance instruments is that you're unintentionally building a passive low pass filter using capacitance (between the signal conductor and shield) and serial resistance (ohms per unit length of cable). The capacitance and resistance values increase as the cable length increases, therefore if you keep them short you can decrease the effect of the filter.

The idea to use a pair of passive DIs or transformers is reasonable if you want to run a signal all the way up the FOH snake. I've done this countless times in the studio to track electric guitars in the control room with amps out on the studio floor.

Guitar > [HiZ In > LoZ Out] > snake balanced line > [LoZ In > HiZ Out] > Pedals > Amp

For convenience try one each Shure A95UF and A95UM. It will work good enough for soundcheck.

But when you're standing close to the amp, just use a normal length cable.

Last edited by ultrasonic; 21st October 2009 at 07:14 PM.. Reason: edit for clarity
Old 21st October 2009
  #13
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The question is, for what purpose do you need it?
for live purposes i would not mind using 50ft... in the studio, keep 'em as good and short as possible.
Old 21st October 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeGrand View Post
The question is, for what purpose do you need it?
for live purposes i would not mind using 50ft... in the studio, keep 'em as good and short as possible.
for that long, a wireless unit is my go to.
Old 21st October 2009
  #15
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a must for crowd-surfing
Old 21st October 2009
  #16
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vernier's Avatar
Short, 6 ft or shorter if you have passive pickups.
Old 21st October 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Short, 6 ft or shorter if you have passive pickups.
6ft.. My bass amp input is like 5ft from the floor :P

Got active pickups tough
Old 22nd October 2009
  #18
Gear Guru
 

Little Labs STD

is a box you plug your guitar into to send the signal to a distant amp

It supposedly can reach 100 feet and give noticeable improvement in sound at middle distances like 20 feet where a passive cable might have audible problems

a friend has one and he really likes it
Old 22nd October 2009
  #19
js1
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People are talking like using a long cable will make the amp blow up. The longer the cable, the more high end rolloff you'll get. That's it. Sometimes that can be a good thing.

You're playing bass live? Don't think you'll notice the slight rolloff. Turn up the treble a bit. Using an active bass? You won't have the rolloff.

If you're recording, then the subtleties come through, and I wouldn't use a too long cord. I'm careful about everything when recording. But live?

I learned my lesson when my band was sharing the stage, and the other bassist was using my Eden rig. He had a pedal board which he was constantly dancing on, he changed basses.

In the audience, zero difference. The live acoustics, the less than optimum PA, the bass heavy palm muting guitarist, the ringing kick drum all wiped out the difference between his basses and pedals. Cable length? Gotta be joking.

I use a very long cable during band soundcheck. At the earliest opportunity, I switch to a shorter cord. So I don't get tangled in the long one.

js
Old 22nd October 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by js1 View Post
People are talking like using a long cable will make the amp blow up. The longer the cable, the more high end rolloff you'll get. That's it.
the guy I know who has the Little Labs box is using to record his amp in the garage while his guitar is another part of the house. A 100 ft cable will not make your amp blow up, but it will make your recorded guitar sound like crap.
Old 22nd October 2009
  #21
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Dude, if you want to be at FOH just for the soundcheck the easiest solution is just lug the amp to the mixer and plug in there really quick. Once sound check is over move to the stage.
Old 22nd October 2009
  #22
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As short as it can be.

As short as it can be.
Old 22nd October 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
Dude, if you want to be at FOH just for the soundcheck the easiest solution is just lug the amp to the mixer and plug in there really quick. Once sound check is over move to the stage.
But isn't that really ****ing up the sound, since the amp is no longer were it would be during the gig, thereby making the soundcheck inaccurate for most parts ?

I'll think i'll go with making the long cable for soundcheck, middle length for stage and a short one for recording.

Thank you for the help all
Old 22nd October 2009
  #24
js1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
the guy I know who has the Little Labs box is using to record his amp in the garage while his guitar is another part of the house. A 100 ft cable will not make your amp blow up, but it will make your recorded guitar sound like crap.
Yeah, but the original poster wanted to go 40' (13m) from the stage to the mixer with his bass. THAT's what I was referring to. 15 more feet than a 25 foot cable. With a passive bass you'd get a bit of rolloff, nothing that you would notice live.

However, he has an active bass, so he's driving the cable with a buffered low impedance source so cable capacitance is less of an issue, and rolloff will be minimal.

The advice people are giving are keeping him from getting a slightly longer cable and walking to the mixer. Dude, do it.

js
Old 22nd October 2009
  #25
About a foot. Then the cable capacitance starts to eat away the top end. Back in the 1980's when that clear, plinky 2 pickup on a strat through the chorus pedal sound was popular I would stick the DI in the pocket of the player with a 1 foot cable.
If they used a 6 footer to the floor the top end was lost.

All my guitars and basses are active. I have no cable issues. I like a long one, 50 combined feet works great for me. It sounds the same as if I used a one footer. They also give the guitars more level, that helps drive the amp and lowers system noise as I don't need as much amp gain = less noise.

They also drive headphones directly for silent practice. They are a 200v/us slew rate, low noise and the battery lasts about a year. I gave up on passive guitars back in 1972 and have never looked back. My guitars go to "11".

Jim Williams
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