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Guitar leads with stereo jacks


cedd

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Hi all

 

I need some guitar leads for an open mic night I'm helping out with on Sunday (not my usual line of work, and I've never needed more than a couple of emergency spare guitar leads before). I'm making them up out of my scrap connector boxes.

 

I've got 20m of mic cable to make up 4 x 5m cables, and I've got 8 jack connectors. Only thing is they're stereo jacks (really quite good quality ones - better than I'll ever get on an affordable guitar cable).

 

It's a straightforward job but I've got a vague memory of having been bitten by a stereo jack lead before. I believe it was coming mono out of a keyboard or synth (the classic "left is mono if nothing's plugged in to the right" carry on) in to a DI box and I think I'm right in saying that I didn't have any output until I switched to a mono lead instead. It's a long time ago but has made me a bit nervous of wiring it up as a stereo/balanced (depending on usage) cable. It seems a waste to wire them as mono (shorting sleeve and ring together) when a stereo/balanced lead may come in useful in the future, and I'm sure with just guitars on Sunday that it won't cause any issues at all, but thinking long term I don't want to bite myself in the bum if I come to use one on a synth/keyboard that's doing something funky in terms of mono output detection. My memory of the past event is very vague and was probably in a rush before a band call trying to get the thing working, so I may have missed something obvious at the time, but it's just stuck in my mind.

 

Anybody think I'll have any issues wiring them stereo/balanced?

If I end up wiring them mono I'll short the sleeve and ring together but might employ both conductors as signal with the screen as ground (or assign one conductor as an additional ground - what do you think will be most robust?).

 

Just for reference - I'm saying stereo/balanced with the firm understanding that they're 2 different ways of using the same cable - I know that a stereo jack lead isn't balanced and vice versa that a balanced jack lead isn't carrying stereo. I'm likely to use these leads for both at some point in their lives but if that'll cause problems I'll just go mono.

 

 

 

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Wire them unbalanced/mono - short ring and sleeve together.

Guitars with active pickup (battery) sometimes use the sleeve of the jack to link the ring+sleeve terminals to power up the pickup/preamp so will not work with a stereo jack.

Mono/stereo detection on keyboards sometimes works the same way.

 

Sometimes they use switched jacks and use the switch terminal to do this in which case stereo jack would work, but if you want to be sure then stick with wiring like a mono jack.

 

Edited by timsabre
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At work, I lend guitar leads out to students all the time, and have found occasionally that a TRS cable has gone onto the wrong hook and been used for guitar or keyboard. This, just occasionally, leads to me being told they had a "funny" sound, or that it doesn't work.

 

I made up some high quality (bright green) guitar leads a few years ago for my own PA business , including some with the Neutrik muting jacks on, and even invested in the different coloured boots for quick identification. £100 or so seemed like a lot to spend at the time, but I've not lost any, and being able to provide good reliable leads ever since has taken some stress out of my life!

 

I probably do a lot more open mic, or mini festival type shows than you though.

Edited by MarkPAman
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Also of course if the jack gets plugged into a mixer input rather than a DI, most mixers have balanced jack inputs so a stereo jack cable connected to a mono jack socket at the source end would give some weird half balanced signal which would not sound right, as the ring terminal would just be floating about.
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Using it as signal would add to your capacitance. But also give you a core redundancy, although 90% of the leads I have repaired have failed at the connector!

Would it improve noise rejection like starquad cable does for balanced sources?

Edited by skinda0
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Signal, to give extra conductor area when someone tries to use it as a speaker cable.

(does anyone use jacks for speakers any more??)

Ground, so the signal isn't shorted out if a jack hasn't been pushed all the way in. (My Bose 402s only have jack sockets :()

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Signal, to give extra conductor area when someone tries to use it as a speaker cable.

(does anyone use jacks for speakers any more??)

Ground, so the signal isn't shorted out if a jack hasn't been pushed all the way in. (My Bose 402s only have jack sockets :()

 

I think he meant the extra conductor in the cable, not the ring terminal on the plug.

 

If he meant the ring terminal on the plug then I agree with you.

 

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I think he meant the extra conductor in the cable, not the ring terminal on the plug.

You are of course right, he's already got the plug sorted (but I DO go to Specsavers !!)

 

Would it improve noise rejection like starquad cable does for balanced sources?

No - it's still unbalanced, though if using 22-carat gold conductors hand plaited by virgins it might reduce the thermal noise by another 0.001dB.....

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No - it's still unbalanced, though if using 22-carat gold conductors hand plaited by virgins it might reduce the thermal noise by another 0.001dB.....

 

I'm sure there is a company trying to flog them! It's not the gold, its the carbon you need! £525 for a pair of 0.5M RCAs?

 

 

Back to the question - I'd add a label so they aren't confused for a balanced lead though.

Edited by skinda0
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Personally I've been bitten far too many times in the past by the original 'Cliffe' style of mono sockets where the ground contact sits exactly at the gap between sleeve and ring of the stereo plug, so now I will never consider using a stereo plug for a mono cable. It is also a brilliant way of knowing what the lead is without having to start reading labels.

 

In a tobacco tin of assorted bits I used to carry where some thin 1/4" washers which was a quick way of preventing a stereo plug going all the way in to overcome the problem.

 

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Yes, what you're proposing will generally work But Sunray's example of sockets that might not play ball, along with the confusion about what kind of lead it really is, would make me question whether it's worth the saving...

 

In the end, the wrong cable at a bargain price is still the wrong cable.

 

Make it with a pair of Neutrik NP2X plugs (~ £4 for the pair) and it will always be the right cable for the job, and not get confused.

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