The perfect guitar patch cable is a balancing act—flexible enough to work in lots of configurations but durable enough they won’t fail you in the middle of a playing session. Luckily guitar patch cables don’t get trampled on and abused as much as longer cords in your setup, meaning you can get away with a very thin layer of rubber insulation on the outside of the cable and giving you greater flexibility, which becomes arguably more important the more pedals are on your rack.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for good cables, the 4 on this list are all excellent options. We consider these among the best guitar patch cables for the money.
These cables use a thin pancake-style connector. Combined with their ¼ inch profile, this means they’re perfect for use in tight spaces. While they’re a bit more of an investment than other cables on the market, they’re also guaranteed by the company to last for five years, and each individual wire is hand-made to ensure each part is up to par. The cable is PVC sub-shielded to eliminate interference and feedback, and the oxygen free copper wire in the core makes sure your signal stays pure and strong no matter how many stops it makes along the way.
Hosa cables are well-known in the AV and recording worlds for consistency and reliability, and they bring that same high quality and attention to detail to their guitar patch cables. Whereas the cables above are aimed at being as flexible as possible, these Hosa patch cables are more aimed at durability and protection of your signal.
It uses oxygen-free copper wire in the core with OFC spiral shielding that’s some of the most effective shielding available for keeping your signal free of extraneous noise. Though the cable isn’t as flexible as some others on the market, it still uses right-angle connectors and allows for close spacing of your pedals. These are strong contenders for the best guitar patch cables period.
Fender Custom Shop Performance Series
You know a company that’s as thorough with its guitar equipment as Fender is going to offer a guitar patch cable that’s designed with the professional guitarist in mind. This model is designed for live performances. Its rigid outer casing keeps it from twisting up or warping even if you have it in an odd position for a few hours at a time. The PVC casing is also a bit thicker than most—around 8 mm—which reduces handling noise and signal interference. They’ll last longer than other cables at their price point and serve you well throughout their lifespan, with a clear, true signal uninterrupted by crackling or feedback.
Planet Waves Classic Series Instrument Cable
Even the top shelf guitar patch cables aren’t going to be very expensive—maybe around $30 for a 6-pack—but sometimes even $30 is more than your budget can bear. Don’t think you have to sacrifice sound quality for price, however.
With these Planet Waves instrument cables, you get 3 patch cables for less than ten bucks, making them some of the best-valued cables you can find. They’re fully-shielded with right angle nickel-plated ¼ inch jacks and a low capacitance that gives you a pure, transparent signal. And they use many of the same components as pricier cables, too—the wire core is oxygen free copper, and the spiral shielding blocks out handling noise as effectively as pricier models.
What to Look for When Buying the Best Guitar Patch Cables
Most guitarists are well-studied when it comes to the bulk of their gear, from the speakers used in their amp to the pickups installed on their instrument. Even a relative gear-head guitarist possibly hasn’t thought too much about what makes one cable better than another.
There are two main important aspects of the cable that have the potential to alter your sound: the material and technique used in making the wire that carries your signal and the material and thickness of the insulation around it. The insulation is generally thinner on patch cables than longer cords because they’re less likely to be subject to abuse and damage, but that’s not the only role of the insulation—it also prevents vibrations and other electrical impulses from adding unwanted noise or microphonics to your signal. This would be the main reason to choose a patch cable with thicker insulation, since durability is less likely to be an issue.
The wire material in the vast majority of cables will be some kind of copper. Copper carries electrical signals well and has impressive transparency—in other words, the cable itself will not have much impact on the ultimate sound of your signal. Most guitar patch cables you find will use oxygen-free copper, which has a higher conductivity than other forms of the metal. This is important in musical applications, where the relative conductivity of the wire determines how much of the signal will be lost or altered in transport.
In truth, the difference between the best guitar patch cables in on your sound is subtle—but it is noticeable, especially for someone with well-developed aural skills. The differences will be especially subtle between the four cables on this list, all of which use high-quality materials and craftsmanship, but if you’re currently using a sub-par or worn out cable to hook up your effects, you’ll notice an instant boost in clarity when you switch to a patch cable like the ones above.
In terms of choosing between your new cable options, the best one for you will depend on your situation. Players with limited space on their pedal rack will likely appreciate the slimmer profile and greater flexibility offered by the Mogami cable (see full specs); those who are more concerned with eliminating interference will find the Fender cables (see full specs) more beneficial. Whichever one you choose, upgrading your patch cables is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure you’re getting the best sound out of your gear.