guitar cable on amp

The DIY Guide to Making Your Own Guitar Cables

Posted by GLS Audio

Are you considering making a DIY guitar cable but just not sure how to go about it? You've come to the right place. In this article, you're going to learn how to make your own guitar cables like a pro! 

Guitar cables are a big deal. More often than not, issues such as noise, tone problems, and signal drops can be traced to a bad cable. Therefore, it's very important that you use high-quality guitar cables to avoid these problems during your performance. You should also know the difference between guitar cables and speaker cables, if you don't already.

However, high-end guitar cables are prohibitively expensive for a lot of performers out there. The solution? Making your own guitar cables. The best part about DIY guitar cables is that they're relatively easy to make and will save you a lot of money. 

DIY also allows you to customize your guitar cables for an elegant and perfectly wired board. As a gigging musician, having multiple-sized cables at your disposal is also necessary to facilitate gigging requirements. So, why not just make them yourself. Read on to learn how.

DIY Guitar Cables: What You Need

The first step is procuring the parts needed to make your own guitar cables. You need to source the best quality materials so that the cables can produce great sound while lasting natural wear and tear. You can't just work with anything and hope for the best. For a quality guitar performance, you should have a high quality signal.

Here's a list of everything you need to make high-quality guitar cables:

  • A low capacitance cable
  • Mono TS cable connectors
  • Solder and soldering iron
  • Cutters and pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Multi-meter

When it comes to the cable, we recommend that you have one meter more than the required length to compensate for margin of error. For the jack plugs, get two high-quality mono connectors for each cable. Once you have procured all the items on the list, it's time to start making your own guitar cables.

tweed guitar cable

How to Make Your Own Guitar Cables in Five Simple Steps

Now let's take on the project. If this is your first time making a DIY guitar cable, don't worry. It's a relatively risk-free project. Besides, we'll be with you every step of the way. These skills will also be incredible valuable if you're wanting to make patch cables as well for your pedalboard. Let's get started.

1. Preparing the Cables

The first step is to prepare the cables. It's imperative that you cut and strip your cable in the right way. Using a pair of wire cutters, simply cut the ends of the cable to the right length. We recommend cutting the cable 1 or 2 cm longer than the desired length.

After that, you need to strip the cables down to the shielding. This part is slightly more delicate. Use the wire stripper to cut the outer sheath of the cable. You need to be a little more cautious to avoid cutting through the copper conductor. Carefully strip back the insulation along with some parts of the wire shielding. 

2. Tin the lug of plug and copper wires

The second step involves preparing the contacts for soldering. One of the key requirements when it comes to soldering is to ensure that both ends of the wires are secured, which can be done through tinning. 'Tinning' refers to the process of using solder to coat or cover an area.

Use your solder and soldering tool to apply some solder to the copper wires. Tin the wires together to make sure that they don't unravel or move too much during the actual soldering process. Apply some solder on the lugs of the plug as well, but be careful so as not to cover this area with too much solder.

3. Soldering

Now it's time for the actual soldering. First, put the cable inside the plug. Make sure that everything fits into its rightful place. Pro tip: don't forget to put the back of the plug on the cable. If you do, you'll have to unsolder the cable and do it all over again. Lay down the wire shielding and solder the shield strand wires to the outer terminal of the plug.

Solder the copper wires to the central terminal of the plug. Make sure that every strand is properly soldered into place. Don't use too much solder; apply just enough to maintain the cable in solder. Remember that the jack can get very hot, so don't touch it too quickly after soldering.

Under no circumstances should the wires come into contact with each other. Repeat the same steps for the other end of the cable. It's vital that you take all the time you need with the soldering. 

3. Reassembling the cable parts

Now it's time to reassemble the cable parts. We're almost done now. Tightly screw back the jack plugs to prevent the cable from moving. While at it, you should be careful not to dislodge the cable from the connector casing. Using pliers can help. 

4. Testing the guitar cable

After all the soldering and reassembling, it's time to verify that all the wires are connected to the right terminals and that there are no stray strand wires. You'll be using the multi-meter for this part of the project. You can confirm that the ground wire is indeed connected to the ground part of the jack and the copper wire is connected to the tip.

Alternatively, simply plug your homemade guitar into your amp to see if it works. If it doesn't, the culprit could be shorted shield and signal wires or failed solder joints. This is usually caused by stray shield wires that escaped tinning. But if you follow every step, your guitar should work just fine.

Wrapping Up

There you go, folks! We hope you enjoyed our simple DIY guide to making your own guitar cables. Keep in mind that a poorly made DIY guitar cable can negatively impact your guitar performance – which we, of course, want to avoid. For the best results, make sure that you procure high-quality parts and follow these instructions to the letter.

At GLS Audio, we understand that there's more than one way to do it, and not everyone is a DIY-er. If this project is too much for you, we invite you to browse our extensive selection of professional guitar cables and accessories.