Over the years the argument has come up time and time again – does the coiled guitar cable make any difference?
The first guitar I ever had was a Squier Bullet for $99. The first amp I had I bought from the neighbor. It had a homemade 4×12 bottom that was giant, and a cheap (maybe 50 watt) solid state head. A fuzz pedal and a coiled guitar cable came with it. That was my first guitar amp. The few times I played with that rig, people said “you’ve got the Hendrix guitar cable”. One of the pieces of gear that Jimi Hendrix was known for was the curly coiled guitar cable (in addition to the fuzz and the wah).
When it comes to the coiled guitar cable – there are really only 2 main things to talk about.
1. Does it affect the tone?
I’ve heard the argument a lot. My initial reaction was usually “how can the mere shape of a cable affect the tone”? I does seem odd, doesn’t it? Many claim that part of Hendrix’s actual tone was that cable. If you talk to someone that knows what they’re talking about they’ll say that the curly coiled cable has added capacitance.
What this really means is that generally speaking, a well-made coiled cable of the same length as a straight one usually has more copper wire in it. Capacitance occurs when something has the ability to store a charge. A wire with an insulator (guitar cable) carries the electrical guitar signal and can store a charge. The higher the capacitance (the more charge it stores) the more the “highs” in your guitar tone get rolled off. So the Hendrix guitar cable did affect his tone, because the coiled cable had the affect of rolling of some highs. If you use a low capacitance cable (which many are), your tone may seem “brighter”. D’addario has a little article about cable capacitance here.
2. Are there other benefits (easier to use)?
A lot of coiled cables seem to have at least one, and sometimes two right angle plugs (which is convenient). The coil seems to keep the cable out of your way (a bit), and is also a little less prone to getting tangled up. There’s also that factor that “people think it looks cool”!
Now that you’re a little bit more “in the know” – are you going to try a curly coiled guitar cable? Every guitar player should have one in his gig bag – in only to give it a try! You can usually buy them anywhere from $15 – $35. The only advice I would give is if you’re going to get one, get one that is of good quality that will last for years (like Lava, GLS, or Vox). Check the auctions on ebay for coiled guitar cables.
If you don’t find what you are looking for there Amazon is always a safe bet. I guy a lot of guitar accessories there because it’s easy, quick, and I can use PRIME for free shipping. Picks, cords, strings – usually get them all on Amazon.