When it comes to the cable you use to connect your bass guitar to your amplifier, unfortunately they are not all built the same.
While a more expensive cable won’t suddenly turn you into a god of bass guitar, it can make a noticeable difference to your bass’ tone. And hey, some of them are simply more durable and better designed than others.
But which bass guitar cables offer the best value for the price, and which are actually worth considering?
In this article, we’re going to review some of the best bass guitar cables on the market, and provide some tips and insights that will help you make your decision.
Let’s get into it!
Why Cheap Bass Guitar Cables Should Be Avoided
A cable is a cable, right?
Many bass guitar kits come with an included bass cord. While it’s nice to be able to start playing right away, these patch cables are generally made from the absolute cheapest material possible, and simply aren’t built to last for very long – especially if you’re a serious bassist that plays frequently.
All cheap cables eventually experience a number of issues. Most commonly:
- Electrical interference
- Pieces of the connector becoming unhinged, or otherwise falling off
- The tip of the cord bending
- Tearing of the outer material
They can also affect the overall tone of your bass, particularly in the high and low ends. This difference is not significant, but it is there.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a cable, but at the very least, you definitely want to avoid the bottom-of-the-barrel offers. This is especially true if you use a passive bass rather than active bass, as passive basses benefit more from quality cables due to the weaker signal.
If you aren’t sure whether you have a passive or active bass, look for a compartment that holds a 9 volt battery. Generally, if you don’t have one, your bass is passive. If you do have one, you have an active bass.
General Bass Cable Buying Tips
Before we go into detail with specific recommendations, I wanted to share some general tips to keep in mind when making your decision.
1. Generally Speaking, Shorter Is Better
As a general rule of thumb, you should only buy as much cable as you need. Cable length matters when it comes to your overall tone, and adding extra cable length unnecessarily can slightly hurt your sound.
This is due to in an increase in capacitance. Higher capacitance means that the cable is less able to hold an electrical charge. When it comes to bass, this usually means that higher capacitance damages the ability for the higher frequencies to come through. Listen here for an example:
Therefore, purchase a length that you’re comfortable with, but there’s no need to purchase anything longer than that.
And hey, not having to deal with a giant mess of cable on the ground is an additional benefit.
2. Don’t Fall For Marketing Gimmicks
Cables are passive, meaning that they cannot add anything to your sound in any way. They can only take things away.
There are cables that advertise a boosted bass presence for example, but these don’t actually add any additional bass to your sound. Instead, they achieve this by removing higher-end frequencies.
This is something that you’ll be better off controlling with your amp or bass itself.
3. Analyze Yourself
Are you casually playing at home? Are you taking your equipment on the road? What about recording in a studio?
Have you been playing bass for a long time, or is this something new that you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll stick with?
Maybe you’re buying this cable as a gift for a child who is a little bit more destructive than they need to be.
All of these factors come into play when justifying how much to spend on a bass cable. Some of our recommendations will be built to last a lifetime, so for the serious bass player, they might be worth it. For others, it may not.
4. Most People Don’t Need An Extremely Expensive Cable
There are cables that cost several hundred dollars, and elitists / marketers will try to convince you that you need it.
It’s simply not true.
There may be an ever-so-slightly improvement that a professional ear can make out, but anybody who isn’t a musician probably won’t notice the difference.
Instead, you’ll be better off using this money towards a better bass, a better amplifier, or pedals to shape your sound.
Our Top Picks For Bass Guitar Cables
Having said all that, here are our picks for the top bass guitar cables available on the market!
1. Planet Waves American Stage Guitar and Instrument Cable
First up on our list, we have our favorite Planet Waves / D’addario cable, a brand that’s known and loved by many for its great quality and incredible durability.
Planet Waves was started in 1994 and later acquired by D’addario in 1998. Since then, it’s become an incredibly popular choice for guitarists and bassists that want to take things a step up from the cheaper brands.
Every Planet Waves cord comes with what they call, ‘In=Out’ cable technology, meaning that the signal that goes into it should be exactly what comes out of it, every time. In a musical sense, this doesn’t seem to mean much – except that the cord accurately preserves all of the frequencies that go into it.
Additionally, Planet Waves cables use a Neutrik plug rather than a standard plug, which are more durable.
Finally, Planet Waves also uses a patented design for their tip, which they claim will fit nicer inside of your bass, and help to prevent it from falling out.
This cable is available in 10ft, 15, 20ft, and 30ft options. Additionally, you can choose whether you want straight ends or right angle ends.
2. Monster Cable Classic
Although Monster Cable has had a controversial past, there’s no doubt that they make exceptional instrument cables.
The real strength in Monster Cables lies in their durability, and in its warranty. It can be argued that the price of Monster Cables is a bit higher than what they’re probably worth, but their cable is backed by a lifetime warranty. So if for whatever reason it does break, you can take advantage of that and have it replaced for free.
There used to be a program where you could walk into Guitar Center with the broken cable and walk out with a new one, but unfortunately it seems that the program has now ended.
Still, this is an exceptional cable you can’t really go wrong with!
3. Mogami Gold INSTRUMENT-18R Guitar Instrument Cable
Mogami is another brand that is known for making exceptional instrument cables. And while they do offer more higher-end cables than this one, most people won’t benefit in paying 2-3x as much for the increase.
Still, this cable is pretty freaking great.
The contacts are entirely gold plated and while it only helps slightly with the sound, it does prevent corrosion of the material. The material is strong, and it’s incredibly rare for any of them to break.
In fact, Mogami cables are so dependable that Adam Day (the guitar tech for Slash of Guns N’ Roses) uses them for everything that he can:
If for whatever reason your Mogami cable does break, it’s backed by a lifetime ‘no excuses’ warranty. Send it back to them or take it to the nearest Guitar Center, and they’ll replace it completely hassle-free.
That’s pretty powerful, which makes this cable a pretty great ‘buy it for life’ option.
This Mogami cable is available in 2ft, 3ft, 6ft, 10ft, 18ft, and 25ft options.
4. GLS Audio 10 Foot Guitar Instrument Cable
If you’re looking for a budget option, this bass cable from GLS Audio is perfectly acceptable.
It probably isn’t going to be as great as any of the other cables mentioned in this article, but it is still a huge step up from the cheap junk you would find for only a couple of dollars. So while it may not be anything fancy, it will serve you just fine if you’re just playing bass as a hobby in your own home.
The bass cord comes with a braided tweed cloth jacket, which helps to protect the inner wiring from both tearing and electrical interference. Additionally, small velcro straps help you to keep the cord organized, and aid in transporting it.
It might not be my first choice for the traveling or studio musician, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with it!
5. Lava Retro Coil 20 Foot Instrument Cable
You don’t really see coiled cables used much anymore.
They are heavy, they break more easily, and they suffer from the capacitance issue mentioned earlier, which means less high-end frequencies come through.
Still, I wanted to include one of the best ones on this list, because some people really enjoy them. And although coiled cables are more popular on electric guitar than on the bass, you can still get a great sound with them.
Lava is known for making some of the best coiled cables, and the only coiled cable that’s made entirely in the USA.
If you prefer a coiled bass cable over a straight one, than definitely consider the Lava Retro Coil!
We hope that you’ve found our review of the top cables for bass guitar helpful.
To be honest, you really can’t go wrong with any of these choices, and which you decide to go with will be largely up to your personal needs and preferences.
We’d love to hear more about which you decided to go with, or any personal experiences you have with any of these cables. Do us all a favor and share your thoughts through the comment form below.
Thank you, and enjoy!