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Most electric pedals use the same instrument cables as other instruments like electric guitars and most pianos. So if you need to add some interesting effects to your sound, you just need to buy an extra instrument cable. 

All-electric instruments such as guitars, basses, etc., use a primary quarter-inch jack cable to pass the signals from instruments through the effect pedals into the amplifiers. 

I was very curious about using various cables for pedals and did try connecting using different cables to connect pedals to my instrument. I will try to share the results in as much detail as possible in this article! 

The following topics will be discussed in detail: 

  1. What is an instrument cable? 
  2. Different types of instrument cables 
  3. How to choose an instrument cable? 
  4. What makes a suitable instrument cable?

What Is an Instrument Cable?

An instrument cable is designed to carry low-level audio signals from one instrument or device to another. It is made up of a single wire which has a shield.

Instrument cables are mostly single or sometimes multi-pair elements designed to carry instrument-level signals. They are used for connecting instruments and electrical equipment such as pedals etc. 

A standard instrument cable comes with two ¼ inch plugs and can be used both at the amp or instrument end interchangeably. 

Long guitar cable

Instrument cables are universal

Difference Between Guitar Cable & Instrument Cable

A guitar cable is the same as a standard ¼ inch line-level instrument cable. The connector and the cables are the same – so they can be used interchangeably. 

A guitar cable and an instrument cable can be used conversely for any kind of purpose for all practical purposes. For example, they can be used in guitars to connect amps or pedals, working efficiently. 

Some people do believe that there is a difference in the sound produced, and others say that there is no difference, but it can be said that there is a negligible difference if the cable meets the bare minimum requirement.

Are All Instrument Cables the Same? 

All instrument cables function the same and also look the same. But internally, they can be designed differently for each instrument.

You could use the cable interchangeably but output may differ. For example, using a speaker cable in place of an instrument cable will produce extreme noise in the sound produced. 

All instruments require the same basic quarter jack cable to pass signals through the instruments to the effects. However, it is really important to use the right cable for the right instrument. 

Do I Need To Get An Extra Instrument Cable For a Pedal?

You do need an extra guitar cable to use pedals with your instrument. One cable connects the guitar to the pedal, and the other connects the pedal to the amp. 

Ensure that you have an extra instrument cable if you wish to add effects to your sounds using pedals. It is needed to connect the pedals with the amplifier. 

If you use more than one pedal while playing, it gets more complicated because you need more cables, and it is ideal for getting patch cables that connect different pedals. 

Related article: 3 Reasons & Fixes To Pedal Crackling, Popping & Buzzing

How Do I Choose An Instrument Cable?

When choosing an instrument cable, expensive cable doesn’t mean better. Just make sure the length is what you need and test to make sure the sound is what you expect.

The instrument cable price will not affect the sound that your instrument produces, so you do not have to splurge on a high-level instrument cable, thinking it will produce better sound. 

Instrument cables are usually inexpensive, and even though they won’t last forever, if you take good care of them, they will last a long time. 

It is important to make sure that you plug and unplug your instrument cables properly and carefully. The correct way is to plug or unplug when the amp is turned down, and the volume is off. 

How Much Difference Do Instrument Cables Make?

Cables are an integral part of the signal chain, and they can make a difference in the sound produced as the output of the chain. Good cables can lead to producing a clear and transparent tone. 

Whenever you play, you look for different opportunities to improve the sound and tone produced. Usually, most guitarists focus on the guitar itself or amps and pedals. However, overlooking your instrument cables’ quality, length, and condition might be a mistake. 

Good quality cables will release all the charge that it receives to the amplifier, but if you are using a low-quality cable, it will most likely hold the charge because they have capacitance. 

The length of the cable can also make a difference because longer cables tend to suck away the treble frequencies. As a result, the signal transferred to the amplifier tends to lose its strength if transferred to a longer distance. 

For a great guitar recording, you should use a suitable cable.

What Makes a Good Instrument cable? 

The main factors that make an instrument cable good for use are that it should be good at screening the noise, have low capacitance, and have high-quality connectors. 

Any good quality instrument cable should be appropriate, which can be done by shielding the conductor from electrical interference with the help of any kind of protective plastic jacket. 

Capacitance is described as the instrument cable’s ability to respond to changes in voltage, and lower capacity means higher frequency.  

Final Thoughts  

In conclusion, instrument cables can be used for pedals because they use the same standard cables for other electrical instruments like keyboards, basses, etc. So all you need to do is get an extra instrument cable while shopping. 

So if you plan on using pedals to add effects like distortion and chorus to your sounds, then just connect your guitar to the pedal before plugging it into the amp using the instrument cable and enjoy some cool and interesting effects!

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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