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Thread: Pickup Cable

  1. #1

    Pickup Cable

    Newbe to pickup wiring.

    What is the difference between the two types of pickup cable? (a & b below)--for normal outer and inner (live)? connection to standard two core 1/4 inch jack.

    a)Cable that has the outer connection not covered.
    b) Cable that has both the outer and inner covered in a sleeve.

    Any drop in output between a & b? No difference?

    What AWG cable do I ask for? Is the AWG size important?
    What is the best cable cutter to buy--what do you use?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    You want to go direct from the pickup to the jack, no controls? That's not common, but certainly possible. IME there is no difference in tone between coaxial cable with or without an outer layer of insulation. Cable size isn't particularly important, unless you get down to very, very thin conductors, where the tone might suffer slightly. For a cable cutter, I use whatever is handy - diagonal cutters, trauma shears, end nippers, whatever will cut the cable. For trimming the insulation, I have some wire strippers, but don't always dig them out. I generally have a scalpel or a knife handy, and they will do the job. After all these years, I don't often cut too deeply with a knife, but some care is necessary, especially in thinner wires with thicker and tougher insulation. I prefer cable that isn't too thick, because it's easier to solder, especially to the case of a potentiometer. I don't like heating those too high, afraid of possible internal damage from heat, so less wire is better for my taste. But it isn't critical.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    580
    I prefer using sheiled circuit wire. It helps in reducing hum. Shielded Circuit Wire - 25 feet | stewmac.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I usually use instrument cable wire, because I have it on hand already, and it's the same thing as what StewMac sells. Actually, because of other projects, I have a bunch of different sized coaxial shielded cable, and I use whatever seems best at the time. I've never been able to hear any difference between any of them. I certainly recommend using some variety of coaxial shielded cable. I have bought a couple of cheap guitars which just used single wires everywhere, and I replaced that with coax. I think that's especially important if the guitar has single coil pickups. Some manufacturers use shielded cable without the outside insulation, just the bare braid on the outside, and that is a little more convenient for connecting grounds without cutting the wire, but I don't think it's worth buying that, and I prefer having the insulation around the cable.

  5. #5
    Thanks for your useful info. Much appreciated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Toronto - GTA
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    14
    For humbucker pickups the total thickness of the coax shielded cable is usually not more than 1/8" so that it would fit into the pu bottom plate hole... As for the rest, if you need a coil-splitting feature, you should get a 4-lead plus shield version cable, if no coil splitting, then a single lead plus shield is fine. The inner leads are usually 22 or 24 gauge, doesn't matter as long as the total cable thickness is <= 1/8". I would go for a braided shield, covered or uncovered by plastic doesn't matter, but uncovered lets you see the braid (on-line when buying) and the inner leads may be 22G (i.e. a bit stronger) for the same 1/8" dia cable - many cheaper cables use aluminum foil in a cyclinder shape with a stranded bare lead for contact/shielding... structurally and electromagnetically less good, but for pickups maybe good enough. Nice, fine-braided cables are hard to find and/or are overpriced.

    For single-coils - well, Strats just use simple twisted-wires (or not even twisted, which is worse for EMI), anything goes... IMHO, the noise picked up by the wires in the Strat is insignificant compared to what's picked up by the coil...

    Cable cutters are far too many.. Electrician ones that go to 24G are ok. In a bind, it an all be done with an Exacto knife or similar just as well, albeit slower and with great finger care :-)

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