Making your own amp to cab speaker cables

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GuitarseGuitarse Frets: 161
Is it safe to make your own speaker cables, if so, what grade of cable to use, and are standard 1/4" jacks OK to use? (or shall I stop being a tight arse and buy some?)


Cheers

Al
Never ever bloody anything, ever!
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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13762
    Standard jacks are fine.

    For cable, either some bog standard speaker cable or some mains will do fine. I bought a reel of Pro Power stuff from CPC a few years back - it's more flexible than most mains, but electrically either will do the job.
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3523
    edited October 2013
    Yeah, Neutrik 1/4" jacks are pretty much the standard, well built and easy to work with.

    As for the cable, it can be anything. Use cut up extension lead cable if you have a spare. All that really matters is that it's conductive metal and not too narrow a gauge.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    2-core mains cable and the proper turned Neutrik plugs.

    There's nothing better for guitar amp to speaker no matter how much you spend, and you can easily spend a lot more for something inferior.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3523
    edited October 2013
    Case in point: I spent £15 each on two really thick 1m cables with huge jacks. Looked DA BOMB. It's got to be good, right?

    Only it's actually stupid.

    The cable is heavy enough to potentially band/ warp amp and cab sockets.

    The jack plugs are so thick I can't use them with my AC30 without them catching on the wooden back panel

    The turning circle of the cable is daft: I need a good 30cm of clearance behind my amp and cab to plug them in.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • vizviz Frets: 4951
    Mods, can we sticky a "use orange lawnmower cable for speaker cable" thread please?
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  • GuitarseGuitarse Frets: 161
    Thanks for the tips! 2 core mains cable and Neutrik plugs, here we come!
    Never ever bloody anything, ever!
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  • ROOGROOG Frets: 407
    I use reused (thick) 2 core multi-strand HiFi speaker cables and a bundle of old telephone exchange 1/4" patch plugs I seem to have acquired, they're chunky!  

     

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  • I have taken the mains leads off various consumer durables (and some industrial equipment) that was being junked. Ordinary jack plugs from Maplins, cut wire to length, solder. Job done :)
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4851
    Neutrik make a jack plug specifically for speaker cables. Dunno what makes them different, or if they are any better, but they are reasonably priced.
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  • I keep a power cable off our old vacuum cleaner specifically for when I next need speaker cables
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  • martmart Frets: 2792
    Neutrik make a jack plug specifically for speaker cables. Dunno what makes them different, or if they are any better, but they are reasonably priced.
    It's designed to cope with very thick speaker cable, and I think it has a consequently larger casing, which might give problems plugging into certain amps.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    Neutrik make a jack plug specifically for speaker cables. Dunno what makes them different, or if they are any better, but they are reasonably priced.
    Larger cable entry. Unnecessary for a guitar amp though... and it's still not as good as this one:


    NP2C


    The reason this one is the best of *all* plugs for speaker connections is because both the tip and the sleeve connections are single, turned piece of metal with no joins. This makes them the most reliable, which is the most important factor in speaker connections - since an open circuit can blow the amp's output transformer.

    Any other plug type will have a riveted metal-to-metal contact in the ground side at least, which introduces a potential failure point.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Cirrus said:
    Yeah, Neutrik 1/4" jacks are pretty much the standard, well built and easy to work with.

    As for the cable, it can be anything. Use cut up extension lead cable if you have a spare. All that really matters is that it's conductive metal and not too narrow a gauge.


    most jacks have that horrible thin little bit in the middle with a hole drilled through (to solder to) for the tip

    the Neutriks are so much better. My soldering skills are weak, but even I can solder well into the lovely bucket in the middle of the Neutriks. Well worth the money.

    I have made quite a few using these - also the socket version to make a cable for when you want to use a cab's driver with a different head

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  • GuitarseGuitarse Frets: 161
    I thought the amp to cab speaker cables that you can buy always seem unnecessarily long, so making up my own shorter ones seemed like a good idea, until it was pointed out to me that the reason why they're longer is because people would pick up the cab, forgetting to unplug the cable and snap them off, leaving a load of hassle getting the snapped jack out of the socket.

    Good tip, and an easy mistake to make, so longer cables it is!!




    Never ever bloody anything, ever!
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3523
    Guitarse said:
    ...the reason why they're longer is because people would pick up the cab, forgetting to unplug the cable and snap them off, leaving a load of hassle getting the snapped jack out of the socket.

    See my post from a couple of weeks ago...  :\">
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • bignormbignorm Frets: 155
    Ive always used orange garden two core mains extension cable and Neutrik jacks, its cheap, not too thick and coils easy enough.
    Its orange for easy visual recognition for numpty roadies, but thats not a problem these days.
    I now use a speakon connector on the cab end coz i had a problem with the plastic socket making an intermittant connection with the heavier neutrik jack.
    Its over kill for a 60 watt amp but at least it doesnt play up anymore.

       
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  • dannyboy82dannyboy82 Frets: 14

    Hi,

    Bumping up this ancient thread as I have just had a speaker cable made for an extension cab to be used with my Princeton combo.

    It was custom made by designacable.com (really good service by the way) as surprisingly no one else seems to sell them.

    Is this safe to use with the multi strand HiFi cable?
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  • ecc83ecc83 Frets: 820

    +1 for the solid shafted Nukies in fact best for any "gigging/portable" cable*. Good point also about making sure they cannot go open circuit but do also put a bit of silicone sleeving down the hot pin, especially if a transistor amp is a possibility. A shorting 'whisker' will not bother a valve OP stage but could quickly wreck a transistor jobbie.

    *For 'fixed site' semi-static use, home recording, patch bays e.g. cheaper plugs and foil screened signal cables are fine.

    Dave.

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  • dannyboy82dannyboy82 Frets: 14
    <a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/149177473@N06/28315500248/in/dateposted-public/" title="04E8F48F-8977-47AE-B6FF-6C0762C7F0E5"><img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/912/28315500248_fe3ac22832_k.jpg" width="2048" height="1536" alt="04E8F48F-8977-47AE-B6FF-6C0762C7F0E5"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
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  • dannyboy82dannyboy82 Frets: 14
    Hopefully that worked! Thanks
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3580
    It pains me that guitar amps use the jack for speaker connections ..... I can't think of any other device which would let the end user plug something in wrong cos all ins and outs use the same connection type ... and destroy the output stage

    I mean you can plug a push to make footswitch into the speaker output socket ... I saw a guy do that with a solidstate Fender amp. Insane really ! The amp used those TDAxxxx IC's for the output stage .... short circuit protected apparently according to the data sheet :)  ...Not !

    The jack isn't a safe connector for higher wattage higher impedance cabs either, being easy to touch. You could get a tiny belt from a 100 watt 16 Ohm connection  
     
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • dannyboy82dannyboy82 Frets: 14
    Anyone have an idea if it’s safe to use the cable in the pic?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    Anyone have an idea if it’s safe to use the cable in the pic?
    I don't see any reason it shouldn't be. It looks well made.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • dannyboy82dannyboy82 Frets: 14

    Thanks ICBM, it is very well made and as I mentioned the service was excellent. I’d just never seen multi strand cable used in this application before. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861

    Thanks ICBM, it is very well made and as I mentioned the service was excellent. I’d just never seen multi strand cable used in this application before. 
    The type of cable doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of the fittings and how well they’re fitted which does.

    From an electrical point of view anything thicker than bell wire is all the same at these currents.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • DJH83004DJH83004 Frets: 173
    This is the cable I use in the workshop to make up speaker leads and the only reason I use this rather than ordinary mains flex is that it is red and black, which I think looks better inside the cab. As IC says the important thing is the quality of the plugs and the termination that counts.   
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2-CORE-ROUND-TWIN-12V-RED-BLACK-ELECTRICAL-AUTO-CAR-AUTOMOTIVE-MARINE-CABLE-WIRE/182948804313?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649
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  • ecc83ecc83 Frets: 820
    Danny1969 said:
    It pains me that guitar amps use the jack for speaker connections ..... I can't think of any other device which would let the end user plug something in wrong cos all ins and outs use the same connection type ... and destroy the output stage

    I mean you can plug a push to make footswitch into the speaker output socket ... I saw a guy do that with a solidstate Fender amp. Insane really ! The amp used those TDAxxxx IC's for the output stage .... short circuit protected apparently according to the data sheet :)  ...Not !

    The jack isn't a safe connector for higher wattage higher impedance cabs either, being easy to touch. You could get a tiny belt from a 100 watt 16 Ohm connection  
     


    The voltage is around 100V pk to pk but in practice there is no shock hazard. People were playing ducks and drakes with 100V line speaker systems in muddy fields for close to 100 years and I have never heard of anyone being injured other than a guy who got a tickle and fell off a ladder!

    No, the 1/4" jack is not a good connector for much about a few watts of 'lecktric but you would have a hard time replacing them on guitar kit. In practice again though, has anyone here had any speaker jack in otherwise good condition get hot?  Amps are not kettles, you don't pull 100watts continuously.

    I WILL concede that we should not switch speakers with them other than sub about 5watts but the fact is the CARRYING capacity of a switch contact is many times its SWITCHING capacity which is why perhaps I personally never had trouble with them in cabs (plus they were all spanking clean and new!)

    Dave.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    ecc83 said:

    In practice again though, has anyone here had any speaker jack in otherwise good condition get hot?
    Yes, on a fairly high-powered bass amp. I forget what type exactly, but probably about 300W into 4 ohms.

    ecc83 said:

    I WILL concede that we should not switch speakers with them other than sub about 5watts but the fact is the CARRYING capacity of a switch contact is many times its SWITCHING capacity
    Exactly, and this is why things like extension speaker jacks and headphone jacks should not be used to switch the speaker off in a combo. You can simply have the speaker plugged in with a standard 1/4" jack, and unplug it if you don't want to use it.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ecc83ecc83 Frets: 820
    ICBM said:
    ecc83 said:

    In practice again though, has anyone here had any speaker jack in otherwise good condition get hot?
    Yes, on a fairly high-powered bass amp. I forget what type exactly, but probably about 300W into 4 ohms.

    ecc83 said:

    I WILL concede that we should not switch speakers with them other than sub about 5watts but the fact is the CARRYING capacity of a switch contact is many times its SWITCHING capacity
    Exactly, and this is why things like extension speaker jacks and headphone jacks should not be used to switch the speaker off in a combo. You can simply have the speaker plugged in with a standard 1/4" jack, and unplug it if you don't want to use it.


    Not quite my point IC. The fact is, jacks do carry currents way above the switch rating (and in the case of the 300W >4R bass rig, way above the connector rating!) and 99.9% of the time "we" get away with it. Indeed, until the advent of the Speakon there was no alternative* .

    The guitar industry as a whole AND especially its customer is rabidly conservative (small c) and cost conscious. It would be a brave amp maker that fitted switching Speakons to their amps and cabs!  The better connectors are some 3-4 times the price of jacks and I doubt will ever have the same economies of scale nor be as common.  There are some very, very expensive 'booteek' amps around, still fit jacks.

    All this is "practical" engineering.  Any major modern car's power train will do 100,000 miles without being touched bar oil and filters (and Mercs use synthetics that get changed at 75,000m intervals!) with reasonable sane driving. Put the same car round the Top Gear track a few times and you will knock out the clutch PD bloody Q!

    We get what we are prepared to pay for and WANT convenience, i.e.  you can almost always blag a jack lead from someone! Personally I would like 'better engineering' but we all has to eat!

    I wonder what the rating of the old GPO jack switches was? These had 'stacked' bifurcated contacts. Mind you, plugging a standard "type A" plug into a GPO (small tit) jack buggered it instantly!

    Dave.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    ecc83 said:

    Not quite my point IC. The fact is, jacks do carry currents way above the switch rating (and in the case of the 300W >4R bass rig, way above the connector rating!) and 99.9% of the time "we" get away with it. Indeed, until the advent of the Speakon there was no alternative* .
    I assume you meant to add (*XLR) :).

    As you probably remember these were commonly used on bass amps, especially in the 1980s by Trace Elliot, for speaker connections. 

    Although there is the problem that like a 1/4" speaker cable being substituted with an instrument cable, you can sub a microphone cable for an XLR speaker cable, at least the connectors are rated higher (15A, from memory) - and a lot of mic cable is surprisingly robust, you probably remember the old RS stuff with the fully-braided shield and hefty cores, which I think is rated for something like 10A! I keep a couple of spare cables made with this in my 'gig kit', one XLR and one 1/4", because they can be used for anything the plugs fit...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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