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General FAQs

Questions and answers so weird
that they don't fit anywhere else

Q: I have heard that G&H plugs are now hard to get. Will I experience any delay in receiving my Death Valley Cable?

A: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Our customers will see absolutely NO delay in receiving their cables. NONE! As always, many Death Valley cable orders ship the same day — or usually in two-three days at most. (We are closed weekends and holidays.)

We have plenty of both the gold-plated and nickel-plated plugs in stock. Death Valley Cables keeps a huge supply of G&H plugs on hand at all times to buffer any shortfall experienced by any supplier, not just G&H. It is the nature of all businesses that some inventory ebbs and flows, but Death Valley Cables protects our customers from those market fluctuations. We have never shipped a cable later than promised.

We order so many G&H plugs — and so far ahead — that delays in other sectors have never affected any of our customers or our cable manufacturing. So order in complete confidence.

We confirm each order with an e-mail, which includes an estimate of when your cables will ship. We also e-mail ALL customers when their order ships. We also provide USPS tracking numbers so you can follow the progress of your Death Valley Cables as they quickly wend their way to your door.

G&H Plugs was recently acquired by Abbatron. They moved manufacturing to their state-of-the-art facility in Pennsylvania, continuing to keep ALL aspects of G&H Plug manufacture COMPLETELY in the U.S. As word has spread about the best audio plugs available, demand for G&H plugs syrocketed. Coupled witn Abbatron's restructuring of G&H order fulfillment, some sectors experienced delays in acquiring plugs. Simply put: Don't want a delay in receiving guitar cables with the world-famous G&H copper-core plugs? Order Death Valley Cables!

Death Valley Cables has its customers covered, as always. DVCC customers will continue to experience incredibly quick turnaround times. Where else can you order a custom handmade guitar cable in any length and receive it in under a week? As far as we know, ONLY Death Valley Cables fulfills orders for any length cable in mere days. [Updated 3-24-11]

Q: Why don't you offer a special cable for each instrument, like a special cable for a bass guitar or a special cable for an acoustic guitar?

A: Our instrument cables are designed to be used with ANY instrument or device that uses a high-impedance instrument (guitar) cable with 1/4-inch mono phone jacks. Devices that use these cables include: electric guitars; bass guitars; acoustic guitars (with pickups); violins or cellos or wind instruments with pickups (saxs, oboes, clarinets, etc.); effects and "stomp boxes;" synthesizers; electric pianos, various audio mixers; Friends don't let friends use a $10 guitar instruments like drum machines or sequencers; plus many more audio devices and instruments.

Once again, our cables can be used with ANY instrument. Our instrument cables are designed to be totally transparent, i.e., the signal that goes in one end of the cable is exactly the same signal that comes out the other end, minus of course a tiny loss scientifically attributable to the physics of a signal passing through a cable. Our cables are NOT designed to color the sound of any instrument. For example, our cables are not designed to make a bass sound "bassier," or a lead guitar sound more like Hendrix's solo from "All Along the Watchtower." That is the job of your volume and tone pots, as well as myriad effects needed to achieve that "perfect" sound.

Just plain stupid
Matter of fact, we think manufacturing a cable to alter an instrument's sound is just plain stupid. More importantly, how would you manufacture a cable that is better for bass guitar than one supposedly manufactured for acoustic guitar? What exactly would you change in the cable to make it better for one instrument over another? Use "bass guitar cable?" Oh please! You have to be joking!

Okay, let's say, through some mystical manufacturing process involving planet alignment and animal sacrifices, you can manufacture a bass guitar cable that makes a bass sound "bassier." What happens if you want to play a funkier bass part with lots of highs? Do you change instrument cables in the middle of a performance? My, that's handy.

Why didn't you just turn down the highs with your tone pot? And then turn the pot back up when you need highs again. Makes a lot more sense than changing a cable.

High frequencies lost forever
If you are using this mystical "bassy" cable, you couldn't decide to just "turn up" the treble frequencies with your bass's tone pots, because there would be nothing to turn up. Once high frequencies have been filtered out of a signal, they are gone FOREVER. The high frequencies are not hidden in some special sonic vault for later use. Your special theoretic bass guitar cable has permanently removed the high frequencies from your sound!

We don't know about you. Everyone's sound is different. Maybe there is some limited use for a "bassy" bass guitar cable. But we think such a cable is just a plain dumb idea. Same goes for an instrument cable specially designed for a drum machine or a lead guitar .... if manufacturing such a cable is even possible.

How would you make a cable that is better for a bass guitar than, say, an acoustic guitar? Think about it. A normal instrument cable is a piece of wire and two plugs. What would you add or subtract to make a specialized cable? There is absolutely no cable that is optimized for a bass guitar or for an acoustic guitar.

Scientifically, we can think of ONLY two ways to manufacture a cable tailored for a bass instrument:

1. Physically insert a miniaturized tone-pot component into a guitar cable. In which case, highs would be rolled off, FOREVER, never to return.

2. Use some weird cable that rolls off high frequencies. Frankly, we think this is impossible. Even if it was possible, it would create a ton of problems: The longer the cable was, the more high frequencies it would roll off — because the frequency subtraction would have to work on some principle of resistance.

Specific cables for specific instruments
But, you say, "I have seen cables that claim they are made for specific instruments."

We can't go so far as to say that it's advertising crap because we have not inspected every such cable on the market. But think about what you just read here before falling for such utter bullsh .... Heh heh, we mean advertising hyperbole. We know of no way to manufacture an instrument cable so that it would be sonically better for one instrument over another.

If a cable could be manufactured to add or "roll off" various frequencies, the disadvantages would far outweigh the advantages. It would be far better to use a sonically transparent instrument cable — like a Death Valley Cable (hint, hint) — and control frequency roll-off with pots and effects in the traditional way. [Updated 1-26-11]

Q: Why do you recommend NOT plugging an angle plug into a guitar amplifier?

A: The answer to this question is one of those answers that is incredibly simple to explain visually, but very hard to explain in words.  If you were here with your amp, we could show you in five seconds, but to explain it takes many paragraphs.  However, Eight-footer with two gold-plated angle plugsbecause so many people have asked the same question, we have spent days writing a pithy and interesting response, which may well change the way you plug your guitar into your amp forever.

Here's the answer:

1. Either a straight or angle plug connected to the amp makes no difference in sound quality.

2. An angle plug connected to an amplifier in many cases can result in catastrophic and costly damage to your amplifier.  In fact, if someone has ever tripped over your guitar cable with the angle-end plugged into your amp, you most probably have already learned the hard way to never ever plug that angle end into your amplifier.  The result is that dramatic.

Here's the scenario:  A beautiful, wildly dancing young woman in the audience (let's call her Naomi) hears the first notes of your guitar solo, and goes bananas. She leaps on the stage, and runs toward you at top speed; successfully jumping over the fog machine and the laser array.  You are using a Marshall-type head atop two 4 X 12 cabs.

"Smoke on the Water" in 6/8 time
You just started the most difficult part of the solo, a super-fast shred fest to "Smoke on the Water" in 6/8 time at 210 beats a minute. So far you haven't clammed one note. The crowd is going wild.

Because of a bet with movie star Dirk Bonad, hundreds of people will toss balled-up $100 bills onto the stage if you finish the solo without a mistake. No prob, you think. You've practiced this for three weeks straight and can play the whole thing with the guitar held behind your head.

But let's not forget Naomi. She is approaching at top speed, with her arms open wide ...

Still no problem. She'll reach you after the solo ends, just as the $100 bills cascade onto the stage, making for a dramatic moment on live TV, simulcast to 78 countries, including the research station on Antarctica.

As you wind up to windmill your way through the last seven bars of the guitar solo, Naomi unfortunately trips over your guitar cable (tough luck, dude).  What happens next breaks your concentration, and you drop your pick.

The extreme force of Naomi's running trip is immediately applied through your guitar cable to the angle plug. The angle plug immediately transfers the considerable force to the jack in the amp head.

Why not to plug an angle plug into an amp
Because the force is applied offcenter (it's an angle plug remember), the jack and plug are instantaneously deformed and broken, requiring that the amp be completely disassembled later for repair (lucky you). The angle plug and cable are toast. But the carnage is only starting! The resultant force of the off-center cable "pull" not only deforms the amp-head jack and breaks it, but the force also bends the front panel, probably breaking the ground tab inside the amp. 

Further, because the cable pulls off center (it's that angle plug again), the plug cannot disengage from the amp head. Naomi's running momentum pulls the head completely off the amp. The head crashes to the floor.  Tubes break.  Sparks fly.  Smoke rises.  Now we have a very costly repair. Plus the whole thing is seen on TV by millions and will soon become the most-requested vid on YouTube for the next three years.

But let's roll that footage backward, and have Naomi try it again. This time you have a straight plug plugged into the amp. The "pull" would not be radically off
Tubes break.
Sparks fly.
Smoke rises.
center.  Plink!  The guitar cable pulls free of the amp.  No damage.  No problem.  Most probably, the cord wouldn't even be damaged. Naomi doesn't even trip, but her balance is thrown off by the cable. Unfortunately she misses you and flies off into the mosh pit. (Oh well, maybe next time.)

At least your amp is completely saved from devastation. And the close-up vid of your fingers show that you never missed a note, so you did finish the solo flawlessly, even though no one could hear it. You win the bet.

Different amp, same result
"But I have a  Fender Deville (or similar amp like an AC30)," you say.  At first glance, you might think this would result in no damage under the same scenario.  But, no, the same principle really applies.  The angle plug cannot pull free.  The amp topples.  Plugs and jacks break.  With a straight plug in a Deville, there is a much better chance that the plug will pull free.

Lets say, instead of a running Naomi applying a great amount of force to the angle plug in the amp, you simply jerk on the guitar cable.  Well, with an angle jack (simply because of the way ALL angle jacks are wired internally) there is a VERY good chance you will break the angle plug on the guitar cable — even if you don't apply enough force to break the amp jack.  Once again, if it were a straight jack plugged into the amp, probably no damage would occur.  Once again ... Plink!  The guitar cord plug would simply pull free without any damage at all.

Of course, there are many many different types of amp designs.  It would take several books to explore the physics of inappropriate plug removal from every amp type in the world.  But hopefully, having explained what can occur because of the way an angle plug pulls offcenter, you can extrapolate how an accidental hard pull on the guitar cable will or will not catastrophically affect your equipment.

Frankly, though, we have seen a lot of amps. There are very few that would not be ruined by an inadvertent huge jerk on the guitar cable if the angle end is plugged into the amp.

Angle plug + amp = flying amp

No advantage to using angle plug
And what is the advantage of plugging an angle plug into these amps?  None.  Zip.  Zero.

The only small advantage MIGHT be that in an amp like a Deville, an angle plug might (and we stress "might") turn to follow you as you move on the stage.  There are other scenarios where space might be limited, and an angle plug may help with that.  And, of course, there is little chance of misadventure with angle plugs in studio equipment as that tends to be stationary and not have people running back and forth near loose wires.

Yes, we are trying to explain a rather boring answer in a semi-humorous way, but the results of using an angle plug in an amp can be catastrophic.  And don't think: "Oh this can never happen to me."  We have seen this happen many times, all to people who said: "Oh this will never happen to me." [Updated 2-20-11.]

Q: Why don't stores carry your cables?

A: Because a retail store would not have the room to display and sell our entire cable line. More importantly, marketing and middle-man costs would at least DOUBLE the cost you pay for the same cable here.

186 different cable lengths and plug configurations
A display of all our cables would take up half the wall space in a normal-sized music store. We offer 186 different guitar cable lengths and plug configurations through this web site. Realistically, no brick-and-mortar store could devote that much space to our instrument cables. The display would be 50 feet long by six feet high. Eight-foot, 15-foot and 20-foot guitar cables are our most popular cable lengths, but not by much. Almost as many customers buy a 12-footer or a 17-footer or whatever.

We also offer eight, 15 and 20 foot cables on eBay, but the ad says any length is An affordable top-notch guitar cable handmade to any length .... yes wayavailable if you just ask, and most customers do ask. We probably only sell 25 percent of the "set" lengths, even on eBay. Most customers want a custom length.

More importantly, the main reason that we don't offer even a limited cable selection in stores is that they would sell for much much more than they do here on the web site. We'd have to tack on a couple bucks for fancy packaging, plus pay for a UPC code for every single cable. Bet you didn't know that those UPC codes can cost two grand each.

Then there's that humongous display rack. We'd have to hire more people to keep track of when to ship to stores to keep the display racks full, and more staff for a bigger shipping department .... Oh, yeah, and Giant Colossal Guitar Warehouse would want to make a big chunk of change off our cables. Routine markup on an item like a guitar cable is 25 to 100 percent.

Huge price increase for brick-and-mortar
That's right, kids, you'd be looking at a HUGE price increase for the privilege and dubious convenience of buying the same exact cable in a brick-and-mortar store, probably twice as much for the exact-same cable off this web site. No kidding, no exaggeration. A $35 guitar cable here would be a $70 guitar cable there.

And the really funny thing .... If we switched our emphasis to storefront distribution, all these added costs and price hikes really wouldn't make us much more money in the end. [Updated 10-26-10]

Q: Why don't you offer silent or switched guitar cables? I want to unlpug my guitar from my amp without turning the amp off and without that Xc%$#@ noise!!

A: A few points of clarification before beginning this discussion: When we use the terms "silent plug" or "quiet plug" or "cable switch," we're not referring to (or criticizing) any particular brand or trademarked name. We're just using the terms descriptively. In other words, we're talking about a cable that has the ability to have the signal to the amp disconnected (manually or automatically), before unplugging one end of the cable from the guitar.

Glad that's out of the way.

Death Valley Cables still
looking for a silent plug

Before we go any further: Yes. we have been looking for a silent plug that meets our stringent performance and longevity requirements. That's the good news. The bad news is that we have yet to find one after looking for over 10 years.

Why don't you
put switches on your plugs?

We're especially concerned about sound degradation after repeated use. Plus, we're still a bit concerned about item 3 below; there's still the potential problem of switching off a guitar cable when the amp is at high volume. Not to mention, we absolutely will not offer a switch that fails after a year or two. Not going to happen. We have cables still going strong after 15 years on the road, so we won't sell a throw-away cable with a silent switch that fails after two years and makes the cable inoperative.

Here's what Death Valley Cables sees as potential negatives of a switch on your guitar cable.

1. The switch can fail, which all switches eventually do. They're mechanical devices that eventually wear out. You're stuck with a dead guitar cable for your encore. Not good.

2. Secondly and more importantly, you are flicking a switch while your guitar cable is still plugged into your amp, when your amp could be turned up to 10 (or 11 if you're in Spinal Tap). This could — over time — cause damage to your amp or the speakers in the amp. Theoretically, here's why:

Is the switch really "silent," or is the switching action just happening so quickly that it sounds much lower in volume? If you unplug your guitar cable when the amp is turned up high, there is the danger that the sudden snap/bang of disconnecting the cable will damage internal electronics and the speaker cones. Most speaker cones are not designed to whomp forward and back in a millisecond from that cable disconnect.
Speaker cones
are not designed
to whomp ...

When you flick some switches on some guitar cables, you might still cause that rapid cone movement. It just might be happening quicker, so it might sound less loud. It still can be bad for the amp and the speakers, however. Just because the disconnect happens quicker does not mean that the effect is less deadly over time.

Truth is, we think, no matter how fast the switch, you need to turn down the amp volume before unlpugging your guitar cable; there's just no other COMPLETELY safe way to avoid hurting your amp. Plus, some switches have a "vague" switching action. You can slip and not push the switch all the way, creating a half-circuit and the usual horrible buzz (just like unplugging a guitar cable without a switch). And the damage is done.

3. Some guitar cable switches work because a tiny piece of who-knows-what metal clicks in place against another piece of who-knows-what metal. It is not a soldered connection. Over time, metal fatigue and corrosion can set in, and the switch connection becomes less and less sure and firm. In high-impedance guitar cables, a solid soldered connection — involving all of the hot wire and all of the ground wire — is necessary to prevent noise. A solid connection is also needed to transport all the signal (with its delicate highs and lows) from guitar to amp. As time goes on, some cable-switch connections become less than perfect, and sound quality suffers.

"Nah," you say. "Brand X guitar cables from Olde Hinky's Music Shoppe say their switches last forever!"

Has anyone in this class ever replaced a light switch on a lamp at home? How about a wall switch in your house, apartment or yurt? Please raise your hand if you have. So much for switches that last forever. Class almost dismissed ...

Use a switch-less cable for critical apps
Even if Death Valley Guitar Cables eventually does offer a switched plug in the future, DVCC will probably only recommend it for noncritical stage work and not for recording. Nothing the matter with that. You leave your $26,000 1969 Les Paul goldtop at home when you play live. But you sure use it when you record.

Same deal with guitar cables. Use the best cable possible in the studio and for other mission-critical work. That means a shortish Death Valley Cable Company guitar cable with hard-soldered connections on both ends.

And now the class on guitar cable switches is dismissed, but hey stick around. This next question looks mighty interesting. [Updated 1-31-11]

Q: If shorter guitar guitar cables sound better than longer ones, why do you even sell cables up to 30 feet — and 499-foot cables by special order?

A: First and foremost, we are NOT a cable-law enforcement agency. It is not up to us to dictate what guitar cable lengths people can and cannot use. If a customer wants a 35-foot guitar cable, should we refuse to sell it to him? Should guitar strings only be allowed in "approved" gauges, or should solid-state guitar amps that lack an overdrive circuit be outlawed?

Besides, there are PLENTY of applications where longish high-impedance guitar cords are just fine, if not downright necessary. For example, with active pickups, guitar cable length is less an issue. Or a 30-footer isn't a big deal when it's running from the output of an effect chain to your amp. The signal is "amplified" by some effects, and is no longer a weak whimpy signal from passive pickups.

Some guitarists use a large stage area as part of their performance but don't like wireless guitar hookups. In a noisy bar or a huge stadium filled with a million screaming fans, no one will notice the sound degradation from an extra 10 feet of guitar cable. And if you must extend your guitar cord, it makes more sense to use a high-quality cable like a Death Valley Cable than a 30-footer from a garage-sale bargain bin. [Updated 2-22-09.]

Q: Who died and made you the authority on what makes the best guitar cable? You’re a guitar cable company! You’re using slanted info to sell your guitar cables over other brands.

A: In all the Death Valley Cable Company FAQs, especially the technical ones, the learned guitar cable scholars at the Death Valley Cable Company have done all the research humanly possible to correctly answer ticklish questions. Every stated fact — to the best
Who died and made you the big cable kahuna?
of the learned scholars’ ability — was researched fully, and not just by copying some nutcase urban legend off a UFO web site. If the answer is iffy, we present both sides of the argument and in the end give our opinion.

NOTHING in these FAQs was invented to sell our guitar cables over other guitar guitar cables. In fact, ponder this novel approach: We used this information to make the best guitar cable possible. We didn’t use the information to defend our manufacturing methods or choice of parts. We used the information to design the best manufacturing methods and to choose the best parts. My, my, my … Wouldn’t every product be wonderful if all manufacturers thought like that?

Here’s another way to think about it: If cost was no object, how would we make the guitar cables differently? The answer: We would do NOTHING differently because we already make the best guitar cord without taking cost into consideration.

Having said that, we’re talking about cost-is-no object as it applies to copper-based guitar cables. There is a slight case to be made that a silver-based guitar cable“may” (not “will,” but “may”) sound better than copper-based guitar cable. But if you bought silver-based patch cords for your effects and your guitar cables, you are talking an expenditure of several thousand dollars. To our way of thinking, the miniscule gain in sound quality (if there is any audible gain at all) is not worth the thousands of dollars that a complete silver-based guitar cable setup would cost.

To recap: These FAQs represent questions answered to the best of Death Valley Cables’ think-tank ability, without fact skewing to make our guitar cables look better. We made our cables to fit the facts. [Updated 12-12-10]

Q: How can you be located in Death Valley? It's a national park.

A: The palatial Death Valley Cable Company world headquarters is in the closest town to Death Valley National Park — Darwin, California, about nine miles from the park border, so the name isn't just something we thought up to sound cool ... Or hot in this case, as Death Valley is the second hottest place on Earth, with a high recorded of 134 degrees F in 1913.

Actually Death Valley is most probably the hottest place on Earth. There just wasn't anyone there to record it when it happened. The 134-degree second-place record occurred at Greenland Ranch, which is always several degrees cooler than Badwater, also in Death Valley. But on that fateful day in 1914, there was no thermometer at Badwater, so no way to prove that Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth, not the second-hottest place. But this is a guitar cable web site after all and not the place to be arguing world-temperature records. So let's move along, shall we?

Darwin was once home to the second largest silver mine in California history and once boasted a population of 5,000 in 1876 or so, which meant it was larger than Los Angeles at that time. Darwin's population, however, has shrunk a tad since its heyday and now numbers 28 — give or take — on a good day.

Darwin is in the mountains above Panamint Valley and Owens Valley, equidistant between the highest place in the lower 48 states (Mt. Whiney) and the lowest (Badwater, minus 282 feet). As the crow flies, Badwater and Mt. Whitney are only about 80 miles apart.

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