We're going to answer a simple question about guitar pedals and effects: How much cable length should you have between two pedals? If you want to read more on the topic of effects pedals and pedalboards in general, checkout our full writeup on guitar pedal setup.
Otherwise we're going to focus entirely on cable length in between each pedal.
How much should there be?
Is it bad to use long cables in your pedalboard?
Let's dive in.
Read more: Best guitar pedals overall
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First, let's answer this question in a simple sentence:
You should have as little cable length in between your guitar pedals as possible. The shorter, the better. Usually, that ends up being somewhere between one and three inches.
Take the following pedalboard, for example:
On the other hand, the pedalboard below uses longer cables, creating an unnecessary amount of cabling between each pedal:
But why exactly does it matter? Is it going to hurt your tone if you use longer cables?
Why does it matter?
While it certainly won't ruin your rig or your tone, longer cables increase the possibility of electrical interference, especially if you're not using low capacitance cables.
As regular TS cables (mono instrument cables) cross over one another and get near electrical sources, either of the following issues are possible:
- Electrical interference and unwanted noise
- Loss of the natural tone of your guitar's signal
When playing an electric guitar, you want the signal passing through all your pedals to be as clean and pure as possible. That's why true bypass pedals are so popular and are highly sought after.
And while you might not be running only true bypass effects, you can easily shorten the cable length between the pedals you do have.
Best Cables for Reducing Length Between Pedals
Cables that are made for connecting pedals together are often referred to as "patch cables" or "pedal couplers." They're your best options for reducing signal length in between each pedal.
Right angle patch cables
Right angle patch cables are our favorite option when it comes to short, pedalboard-friendly patch cables. As you can see from the image, they're named for the flat, 90 degree angle connector that saves you a ton of space where each end connects to a pedal.
Simply because that end is flat, you get a lot more room that you would with a regular patch cable or - heaven forbid - a regular instrument cable, even if it's a right angle.
Remember, lots of cables can have a right angle, but we want to get that flattened end as well.
- Right-angle connectors
- Flattened connector tops
Pedal couplers seem smaller, but they actually don't save you as much space between pedals. At the same time, they're extremely strong and sturdy, and provide essentially zero cable length in between pedals.
If - for whatever reason - you can't do right angle patch cables, pedal couplers like the ones pictured above are a good second option.
What you should avoid using between pedals
With pedal couplers and right angle patch cables covered as our two favorite options, let's discuss a couple types of cables we recommend not using in between your guitar pedals.
Long TS (Instrument) Cables
The long instrument cables - like you would plug into an amp or guitar - should be avoided for a pedal to pedal connection.
Cheap Patch Cables
The little bags of patch cables - some of them come in different colors - or the discount brand of short patch cables usually aren't worth your money. Even the 12 inch patch cables are too long for most pedal to pedal connections. There's no reason you would need that much space. We'd recommend spending the extra money and getting decent patch cables.
To wrap up, we've shown that cables between guitar pedals (a pedal to pedal connection) should be as absolutely short as possible. In order to shorten your cable and reduce the excess, use right angle patch cables and pedal couplers.
If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we'll do our best to jump in and help out.