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stolenband 18th April 2011 11:17 PM

Want to make cables
Hey all. I was wondering if it is perfectly ok to make my own cables. And where could i get a shielded cable with two wires. I am thinking home depot for the raw cable and ordering plugs from guitar center.

geraldfryjr 19th April 2011 12:51 AM

Yes it is okay to make your own cables.However it takes lots of practice to get a good clean and soild end that where the connections won't break off.I made all of my own cables and the only thing I regret not doing is to use some shrink tubing for a strain relief.It is going to be quite a job when I finaly decide to redo all +200 connectors.Use a quality cable for signals,the difference is night and day when it comes to the high frequency's.I know this by doing comparisons with different cable type with just my guitar running into the board.I don't know what kind of cable is at home depot, But the cable I used was from "West Penn".And at the time it was what most studios in my area where using. jer

jimirb 19th April 2011 02:09 AM

All the parts and cable you need are available from Parts Express or All Electronics at VERY reasonable prices. Both are reputable and sell quality'll save a fortune against Home Depot and Guitar Center. As Jer said, good strain relief is hard to attain in DIY cables compared to manufatured ones and building and testing them can take a lot of time. On the other hand, you can customize lengths. I haven't convinced myself that I can actually save money building them.HAve fun and good luck.

chrispenycate 19th April 2011 08:58 AM

If you don't count your own time in making the cables you can certainly save money, for an equivalent quality; but it might take you quite a while to save as much as the tools you need cost you.

On the other hand, you can customise cables to your own requirements, not merely lengths but non-standard connectors, ground connected at only one end, polarity inversion and such (be sure to label all non-standard wiring very clearly; I keep a special colour of cable just for that).

Most importantly, when they go wrong - and even good cables do go wrong from time to time, only yesterday I had to replace a cannon XLR I'd put on 49 years ago with a Neutrik you can mend them. You don't need to just junk them. If you have a repair kit on the road with you (strongly recommended) you can resolder a questionable connector between soundcheck and performance; if you've the confidence of knowing you did it in the first place.

The standard problems are to do with impatience: not waiting for the solder to spread itself evenly over the metal, or moving something before the solder has completely solidified (although overheating the conductor and melting the insulation further back in the cable or between contacts in the connector itself can be fun, too).

The heatshrink (and the glorified hairdrier for installing it) can neaten up a job enormously, but don't forget that a sleeve round a joint can hide a defective solder job, and keep the conductors in contact long enough to pass a test, then give up when real life intervenes. Transparent heatshrink (in various sizes for different cables or conductors) has the added convenience that it protects the label saying what the cable was made to do; yesterday's XLR was still labelled "Leslie top right" after having been used for a thousand jobs in between.:)

defect9 19th April 2011 09:51 AM

agreed that making your own cables is a great thing and the initial investment could be prohibitive. radioshack does have 2 conductor with shield if you don't need it to be large caliber wire (as in, big enough for patch cables, interconnects, etc, but probably not speaker wire).

for sprucing up the look of your cables beyond terminations and insulation, there are a wealth of places to get heatshrink and sleeving from, in all uses, shapes, colors, materials, etc. radio shack has some of hte basics of this (mostly heatshrink and ugly cable wrapping). I currently get cable sleeving from mdpc-x (the uv reactive stuff), but most people would probably look for a fabric sleeve (nylon multifilament) like you'd find at in the specialty sleeves tab

chris661 19th April 2011 04:00 PM

Go for it. There's some good advice here, especially about making sure you label anything non-standard.

Anyone else just use a lighter for heatshrinking? If you keep the flame moving, you can avoid scorching, but that takes a bit of practice in itself.

defect9 19th April 2011 08:38 PM

if you use a lighter, get one with a long/tall flame, and use more of the base of the flame, not the tip. definitely keep it moving.

heat gun is usually a better option if you're going to do more than a couple cables, though. I use the lower heat setting (about 700 degrees vs 1100) so I can adjust the shrink as it's shrinking if it moves where I don't want it to.

Nigel Goodwin 20th April 2011 12:23 PM

I would suggest you check the price of buying decent cable, it's cheaper to buy a complete lead - if you buy from the correct places.

If you really want to make your own (for whatever strange reason?), then buy a ready made lead and cut the ends of, it's cheaper than buying the wire.

chrispenycate 22nd April 2011 12:20 PM

I can't believe cutting costs are that high. Sure, I buy hundred metre reels, and have all the tools on hand, but I can easily build four cables, connectors included, for the price of one prefabricated. And if I want say a twin digital cable, one stereo send and one return ib one sleeve with XLRs in opposite directions, I've just about got to build it; no-one will have one in stock. So building several hundred ordinary mic cables is good training.

Nigel Goodwin 22nd April 2011 04:15 PM


Originally Posted by chrispenycate (
I can't believe cutting costs are that high. Sure, I buy hundred metre reels, and have all the tools on hand, but I can easily build four cables, connectors included, for the price of one prefabricated.

And how much per metre does good quality balanced mike cable cost you?.

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