For the third part of my series (see here for the first and here for the second parts of this series) about updating a pedalboard I thought I would talk about patch-cables.
Over the years I’ve used everything from pre-made molded plastic patch cables (such as these sold by Amazon.co.uk), cables that I’ve soldered and made-up myself and high-quality cables custom ordered from Award-Session (I’m still using some of my Award-Session cables and expect to continue doing so for some time to come – sometimes you don’t want your pedals too close together when you’re stomping around on an ill-lit stage!).
I’ve been happy with all of these solutions at different times – but when I was researching a custom-made pedal board I was shown a board which had the smallest jack plugs and slimmest cable I’d ever seen. This wasn’t a problem at the time because I’d just ordered a custom board that was big enough for my needs (taking into account the amount of space ‘lost’ to the patch cables used to link pedals together) but, inevitably, when I started thinking about re-configuring my own board a year later I decided to look into these tiny cables further
It turned out that they were cables made up from a solderless pedal board wiring kit (and there are a bunch of different kits available from various manufacturers). These are kits containing a length of cable and a number of jack plugs. The idea is that you push a clean-cut end of cable into the jack plug, then bend the cable at right angles and screw a cap on the plug, both securing the cable and cutting the insulation to make the electrical connection. Then cut the cable to the exact length required and attach a plug at the other end.
If this sounds complicated it actually isn’t as these videos from Diago and Evidence Audio (two of the manufacturers whose kits I looked at) demonstrate.
For the record I checked out products from Evidence Audio, George L, Lava Cable and Diago before settling on the Diago Patch Factory because I liked the coin slot they’ve machined into the screw-in cap for their jack plugs.
I’d like to take time telling you about how I cut the cable to length and screwed the cable into the plugs, but frankly the videos tell you pretty much all you need to know. It’s simple, easy and worked first time in each case!
The only caution I’d share is that I noticed that the barrel diameter of the jack plugs themselves seemed a fraction of a millimetre bigger than I was expecting (presumably to make sure they make a good connection when you plug them in) but this did make them a very snug fit when I plugged them into a pedal which has a cheaper plastic jack socket fitting. However I may treat this as a ‘heads-up’ that it’s time for me to be thinking about modding that particular pedal to replace the plastic sockets with metal ones.
I haven’t had the chance to test the other kits available, so do carry out your own research before putting your money down, but I’m very happy with the Patch Factory Kit I bought.