The vast majority of cables used for guitars, keyboards, basses and anything else that needs connecting to an amplifier are dreadful. They are badly made, poorly shielded, and use the cheapest materials available.
There are ways round this of course. Almost every amplifier or instrument has tone controls and often lots of them. There are effect pedals too, often with more tone controls. So somewhere along the road you end up with an approximation of the sound you want.
With magnetic guitar pickups there is no getting around the issue of impedance, but there are an awful lot of things a well-respected cable company can do to make a better instrument cable.
First of all we use larger, high quality conductors – in the case of Cream we use two, one for the signal and one for the return. They are both identical and it’s a configuration that’s called pseudo-balanced.
Secondly, instead of PVC we use a decent insulation material like low density polyethylene and arrange the conductors in a twisted pair configuration, wrapped in cotton spacers to reduce mechanical noise.
Then we use a really good quality shield. Cream has a heavy duty foil plus a high density metal braid. Thanks to the two conductors, the shield only needs connecting at one end of the cable, so it’s not part of the circuit.
Finally we add a dual layer outer jacket. The internal layer is soft PVC which helps to minimise handling noise. The outer jacket is hard to help prevent damage. Then of course we fit Neutrik jacks and XLR plugs – still the best option.
With an electro-acoustic, active guitar or bass or keyboard the improvements that a properly made, well shielded cable bring are instant and easy to hear. The whole frequency range sounds far better, notes are more detailed – particularly the leading and trailing edges – and timbre and tone are very much improved – the difference a Cream cable makes to an electro-acoustic is really big, they sound much more natural and realistic.
With an electric guitar you’re going to have to fiddle with the tone controls, start with everything flat and go from there. Firstly, you’ll get a better tone and one with more complexity. You’ll also get to hear and find out so much more about how you play. You’ll be able hear your touch and the dynamics of your playing. It won’t make you a better musician instantly, but the more you can hear, the more you have the potential to improve.
Cream cables are available fitted with Neutrik jacks.