Rock legends are known for the electric guitars they play—Jimi Hendrix and his white 1968 Fender Stratocaster or Jimmy Page and his Gibson Les Paul “Number 1,” for example. Some musicians make their effects pedals famous, too, like the SC95 Cry Baby and the MXR SF-01 Octaver Fuzz pedals used by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash or the DigiTech Whammy pitch shifter pedal and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff used by Jack White.
Are there any musicians famous for the type of patch cables they use? No, of course not. But, the type of patch cable you use can still make a massive difference in the sound that your guitar and pedals produce.
An effects pedal alters the sound of your playing by altering your audio signal. Using multiple pedals allows you to craft a particular sound you want—some musicians use as many as ten! When you connect multiple effects pedals to create a sound, you use a patch cable, a shorter cable much like a standard guitar cable, to join them. Then you usually mount the array on a platform called a pedalboard to organize and protect your gear.
There are many options for patch cables, and more expensive doesn’t always mean better sound.
Features That Impact Cable Quality
As a basic tool, patch cables have three features to look out for:
- Length: Your guitar, pedals, and amp form a signal chain. When your guitar produces a signal, the more cable it passes through, the weaker it gets. So, cable length affects your sound, and the effect is additive: you have to take into account the sum of the lengths of every cable you use. In other words, “less is more” when it comes to maintaining your signal integrity. It’s critical that you look at the actual length of a patch cable before you buy it. Patch cables that are labeled six inches can be as long as 11.75 inches!
- Plugs: Patch cables can have straight plugs or right-angle plugs. Right-angle plugs take up less space than straight ones, and low profile or “pancake” right-angle plugs will give you even more space.
- Jacket: The thickness of the jacket on the cable and the type of material used will determine if the patch cable is flexible or stiff and whether it will resist tangles and kinks. The type of jacket also impacts the patch cable’s sensitivity to handling noise. Note that woven jackets are very flexible and resist tangles, but a patch cable doesn’t really get the same wear and tear as other cables, so a more expensive woven jacket may not be necessary.
Also, be on the lookout for how many cables come in a package and how much the cables weigh. If you often take your guitar on the road, these features will impact your travel experience—having multiple cables for replacements is wise, but some cables are heavy enough that they can add up to the weight of a pedal, making transport more difficult.
Here are our picks for patch cables that are great choices for your pedalboard rig.
Most Durable: D’Addario Classic Cable
The D’Addario Classic Series patch cables have molded plugs that provide substantial strain relief for ultimate durability, and they’re engineered for dependable contact between the cable and jack. With Planet Waves’ exclusive In=Out technology and 90% spiral shielding, these patch cables offer pure signal transparency and eliminate virtually all handling noise.
D'Addario Guitar Cable - Guitar Patch Cable - Instrument Cable - Guitar Accessories - Classic Series Cable - 0.5 Foot/152.4 MM - Right Angle - Dark Grey - 3 Pack
These patch cables have molded plugs that provide substantial strain relief for ultimate durability.
Best for Road Musicians: Hosa Low-Profile Right Angle Cable
This Hosa all-metal, low-profile patch cable allows close spacing of effects pedals on pedalboards. Sturdy yet flexible, this cable is budget-friendly, but still offers low-noise, oxygen-free copper conductors and spiral shielding. There are multiple lengths and buying options available.
Hosa IRG-100.5 Low-Profile Right Angle Guitar Patch Cable, 6 Inch
This all-metal right-angle plug allows close spacing of effects pedals on pedalboards.
Also Consider: Ernie Ball Right Angle Cable
Ernie Ball has been a high-quality name in guitar strings for decades, and they’ve recently branched out into other guitar accessories, like these patch cables. They’re very rugged and very flexible and have a dual-shielded, dual-conductor design for durability and low noise. Get three 6-inch cables in this pack.
Ernie Ball Patch Cable 3-Pack, Angle/Angle, 6in, White (P06051)
These patch cables have a dual-shielded, dual-conductor design for durability and low noise.