Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to make a guitar cable

Today we're going to do a quick run through of how to make a guitar cable. It’s a pretty simple procedure, but if you’ve never made one before, it can be a little bit daunting at first.

To make a cable, you will need to following items:
  1. Some cable
  2. Two ¼” jack plugs
And the following tools:
  1. A soldering iron and some solder
  2. Wire cutters/strippers/pliers
 Here’s the cable we're going to use:

 And we're going to use two of these jack plugs:

I really like this design of plug (and I’ve used a tonne of different ones over the years). To open it, you unscrew the end cap/cable relief:

Then lift up the cover:

 Which reveals the following:

Obviously you can use a different design if you like.

Today we're making a short cable that will go between effects pedals. There’s nothing different between this sort of cable and a standard guitar cable, apart from the length.

This one, we're going to cut to 20cm (8”):

Then trim the outer sleeve back by 15mm (a little under 5/8”):

We trim the inner wire insulation back by a few mm and then twist the end of the wire together. The outer shielding wiring is also gathered and twisted together:

All of this is done at both ends, leaving us with this:

We then slide any necessary items over the cable before doing any soldering. You’ll get away with forgetting this for the first plug, since you can always slide it on from the other end after soldering. However, for the second plug, it’ll be too late and you’ll have to unsolder something to fix it. 

Next step is to melt a couple of healthy blobs of solder onto the two positions where we intend to attach wires.

Then we “tin” the wires, which is to say, we melt a little bit of solder onto them:

We're also going to cut the outer ground wire a little shorter, so that it fits its position on the plug better:

Now we solder the wires on. When doing this, try not to keep the soldering iron on the plug for an extended amount of time, as some of them can be ruined very easily.

Firstly, the ground wire:

And then the positive/tip wire:

Before closing up, we need to secure the cable by tightening the metal clamp as follows:

Then we place the cover back in place:

And tighten the end plug/cable relief:

We do the same for the other end of the cable:

And here’s the end result:

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