I just recently had one of my electric guitar cables slowly start to die on me, and like most people, I went out to search for a new one. However, the thought came to me that if I bought all the parts I needed I could simply make my own quality electric guitar cable and put it all together myself. If my custom-made guitar cable broke, I could simply repair it again instead of constantly buying new ones. If you want to make your own electric guitar cable, here is how you do it.
What you will need:
- · Coaxial Cable- This is a shielded cable that will help your electric guitar not lose any of its audio quality. There are different types of Coaxial cable, but most guitarists will either use a stiffer more durable higher quality cable like RG6, or the older more flexible RG59 Coaxial cable. I won’t go in detail here but you will need do research on the type of RG Coaxial cable you want to use.
- · Two 1/4″ connectors- You will need two ¼” connectors. One connector will plug into your guitar, the other end will plug into your amp. There are several places around the internet that sales ¼” connectors for your guitar, just make sure you get the right kind. I used the Valley Enterprises 1/4″ connectors
NOTE: You don’t want a guitar adapter plug because that is not the same thing. RadioShack carries ¼” connector plugs, so if you’re not sure what you are looking for ask a clerk about it and tell them why you need it, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
- · Solder- You will need electrical solder to hold your connections together, think of it like liquid metal glue. I used the Alpha Fry 60/40 rosin core solder.
- · Soldering iron- A Soldering iron is a must have for this project; any type of Soldering iron will do as long as it is at least 25w to melt the solder. I used a simple Elenco 25w Soldering iron.
- · Heat shrink- This isn’t necessary but it will work as a protective layer and give a snug fit to hold your connectors in place.
- · Wire cutters- You will need wire strippers/cutters to get the protective plastic and shielding off of your cable, a simple pocket knife will work just fine as well.
Building your Electric guitar Cable
For those that are new to soldering there are a few terms I will use in this article that you will need to be familiar with, to save on time I wrote an article about basic soldering techniques to explain most of it so I recommend that you read it. Alright, let’s get started.
- · 1. Heat up soldering iron- Turn on your soldering iron and let it heat up.
- · 2. Prep your cable- Use your pocket knife or wire cutters to strip the plastic and expose the Coaxial cable core wire.
- · 3. Twist shielding together- After you strip the wires you will see the inner shielding, most are either copper or a type of aluminum foil. Spread the shielding out and gather it all together and twist it up into a single thick strand of braided shielding wire.
- · 4. Tin wires- You will need to put a bit of solder on your wires and tin them so that the connection holds better. Remember that twisted shielding you braided together? Tin that too.
- · 5. Put on heat shrink and back connector cover- WARNING! This step is extremely important.
If you fail to do this step now you will not be able to do it later. You will need to put on the heat shrink for BOTH ends of the cable and slide it into place. Next, put on the back cover for BOTH ends of your ¼” connectors; make sure they are facing outwards in the proper directions. If you don’t do it now your cables won’t have any heat shrink or back covers on them.
- · 6. Solder wire to ¼” connector tab- After you unscrew the back cover, most ¼” connectors have a small metal tab with a hole in it for you to solder to. You will put your core wire from your Coaxial cable through the tab’s hole and hold it in place. Next, get your solder and touch it to the top of the tab. You will then bring your hot soldering iron and touch the bottom of the ¼” connector tab; the heat will rise up and melt the solder. Because you tinned the wire the solder will melt and create a small puddle on the tab and will slowly melt through the hole in the center to hold the coaxial cable wire to the ¼” connector. You don’t want too much solder, just a small dab of solder will do. Hopefully my pictures at the top of the article are clear enough for you to see.
- · 7. Solder shielding to bottom connector plate- Just like the above; you will do the same thing with your braided shielding that you tinned earlier. At the bottom of the 1/4″ connector tab there is normally a long plate with a hole in the center, place the braided shielding into that center hole and solder it together. If your braided shield is too thick and can’t fit through the hole just do your best to solder it to the bottom tab.
- · Final Step: Screw it all together and test it out- Repeat the above steps to solder the other end of your ¼” connector for your electric guitar cable. After everything is soldered together, all you need to do now is screw the back covers onto the ¼” connector, if you added heat shrink it will hold the connector snug to the cable without any wiggle room; tighter is better. Use a heat source- like a blow dryer, and shrink down the heat shrink so that it is nice and snug.
Voila, you’re done. Now go plug that bad boy in and test out your new custom made electric guitar cable.
If you would like to buy one of my cables that is already assembled click here: ANUsound guitar cable.