Cables and Tonists who Pay $100 for Them
If I could point to one thing that I’ve learned in my 5+ years of the tone journey (yes, I’ve been playing for more than that, but sadly, the idea of actually ‘sounding good’ and not just ‘playing fast’ only entered my head about 5 years ago), it is that the small, seemingly insignificant parts of the rig are often times suprisingly pertinent. (That statement is loosely borrowed from a movie I enjoy, so I have to give it props, although I doubt anyone recognizes it.) Picks, strings, switches, speakers, pots, wiring, and of course, cables.
(The Lava ELC)
Now, I had always been one of those guys who couldn’t stand the jerks who would spend hundreds of dollars on cables. I saw it as more of a status symbol than a tone thing. But if you think about it, you’re tone is only as good as you’re weakest link…. and the extra $500 you spent for WCR PAF handwired clone pickups with ’50′s wiring is totally negated if that extra tonal push those pickups and wiring give can’t be heard because the cables and pedals in your board suck out too much treble and high mid frequencies.
So I went through a few different cables, and ended up with Lava ELC cables. I really like them. Your tone gets through…. they don’t add or take away, in my hopefully humble opinion. But I’m also running a grip (sweet ’90′s word) of pedals. So, for my acoustic, which I like nice and dry and clean (meaning acoustic –> cable –> direct box) I didn’t really think there would be much tone sucked through just one cable. So I would grab whatever extra one I had lying around at the time.
But the other day, I’m at church, and my acoustic cable (the one I happened to have lying around at the time, totally went out, and I didn’t have a replacement. So, since it was our acoustic service, I grabbed my guitar-to-board Lava ELC off of my electric rig, and used that. The difference, in just one cable, was astounding. And I’ve been thinking about selling my acoustic… it’s got an LR Baggs system in it, but it’s just never sounded the same plugged in as it does acoustic. With the Lava, brilliance. It’s amazing how much difference a cable makes, and how often I underestimate it. I mean, it’s just one cable, and I pay a lot for cables. But I was still completely dumbfounded when I used it with my acoustic.
(This is another cable I found….the Pro Oval Studio….and this one will run you $600 for a 20 footer…… ya, I haven’t gone that far yet, and hope I never will. Unless I’m 60 years old and it costs $200 just to see a movie. But for $600, I’d kinda like a better CGI rendering of my cable.)
And for those of you who are totally tracking with me right now……. I heard a guy say the other day that he’s amazed by people who buy $100 cables and then plug them into their $2000 ’60′s Marshall Bluesbreaker that has an input jack that hasn’t been cleaned in thirty years. Definitely made me think.
And lastly, I was trying to inject more anecdotes into this thing, to make it a little more humourous (mmm…. the British way to spell that word) and amusing, but the excitement over the cable tone is just taking over today and the post is a little more nuts and bolts. I am, however, worried at the level of excitement a cable can bring to me. But nonetheless…………. mmmmmmm……. tone.