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Soldered vs. Solderless Patch Cables - Which One Is Right For You?

Since the beginning of time, guitarists have been debating whether or not soldered patch cables are better than solderless patch cables. Do a quick internet search and you’ll find countless threads on the topic and all the reasons why one is superior to the other. However, the question shouldn’t be which on is better, but rather which one is right for you. In this article we’ll break down the differences between the two types of cables and why you might want to choose one over the other when building your pedalboard.

Soldered Patch Cables

The most common type of patch cable, these cables use solder to connect the cable wire to the ¼” jack of the patch cable. These come in prebuilt lengths or if you’re handy, you can solder your own to your desired length. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each.

Prebuilt patch cable

Prebuilt Patch Cables

Go to any music instrument store and you’re sure to find prebuilt patch cables. These cables can be cheap or expensive depending on the brand you choose, but one thing they all have in common, is that their lengths are fixed. Sure, you can get cables that range from 6” to a couple of feet, but if you’re building a customized pedalboard and don’t want your cables to dictate your signal chain, prebuilt cables won’t cut it. However, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t care if there’s excess cable all over your board, these are probably your best bet.

Pros

- Can be affordable depending on the brand.

- Are durable. 

- Don’t require assembly and are ready to use out of the package.

Cons

- Can be expensive depending on the brand.

- Lengths can’t be customized and can clutter your pedalboard.

- Can’t be repaired if they fail.

- ¼” jacks can be large and take up valuable pedalboard space.

- Cheaper brands can suffer from signal loss.

DIY patch cables

DIY Patch Cables

Generally affordable, these cables have the best of both worlds… their lengths can be customized and like prebuilt cables, they’re durable. However, they’re not the complete package, because you’ll need to know how to solder and have the right tools to do so. If you have the skillset and time, DIY patch cables are a great option. But if you’re like most and don’t know how to solder or want to spend the time and money on the tools, then these aren’t the best option.

Pros

- Are usually affordable.

- Are durable.

- Lengths can be customized.

- Can be repaired if they fail.

- ¼” jacks are usually small and take up less space on your pedalboard.

Cons

- You need to know how to solder.

- Can be time consuming.

- You may need to spend extra money on soldering tools.

Solderless patch cables

Solderless Patch Cables

If you want the customization of DIY cables without the hassle of soldering, then solderless patch cables are the perfect choice. These cables can range from affordable to extremely expensive and only require a screwdriver and pair of scissors to assemble. The jacks are usually low profile, making them perfect for saving valuable pedalboard space. The downside of these cables is that they’re only as good as the person assembling them. So, if instructions aren’t followed correctly or the build is rushed, they can short out… especially on pedalboards that take a lot of abuse.

Pros

- Can be affordable depending on the brand.

- Durable if assembled correctly.

- Lengths can be customized.

- Can be repaired if they fail.

- ¼” jacks are usually small and take up less space on your pedalboard.

Cons

- Can be very expensive depending on the brand.

- Can have a higher fail rate if not assembled correctly.

- Cheaper brands can suffer from high capacitance and signal loss.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many reasons why you might choose one type of patch cable over another. If you have the skillset, we recommend DIY patch cables for their customization and durability. However, if you don’t know how to solder, solderless patch cables are a great option for building a pedalboard that’s as unique as your playing style.

If you feel like solderless patch cables are the right choice for you, check out our Solderless Pedalboard Cable Kit. You can also watch the video below to see just how easy they are to assemble.

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