Chances are, you're not using the right cables for your setup. Whether it's the guitar or bass cable you use to connect to your amp, or your cab cable or the cables running to your monitor speakers, it's easy and convenient to cheap out and just grab whatever you see laying on the shelf at your local Guitar Center or other music retailer. But listen up. (Seriously - listen) You're doing it wrong.
I talk to a lot of bass players. I play both guitar and bass, but mostly consider myself a bass player, so this article will focus on bass.
I have tried lots of cables over my lifetime. I have listened to other players describe their dedication to using the best strings (on bass that can be $40 or more a pop) and I've watched them agonize on which cab to use. Some even brag about spending $350 on the strap they use to sling the bass around their neck. But cables - I don't hear much about them. When I do, much of what I hear (back to that listening analogy) is bunk or junk.
I think I have a pretty good idea of what a bass is supposed to sound like. I have nearly two dozen basses after all. I think I am also pretty good at hearing the nuances between one rig and another.
So I am here to give you my opinion. I decided to do a test. Mind you, I don't have any sophisticated test equipment, and I am not an Electrical Engineer but I am someone who has spent decades in recording studios and at radio station production studios and as a player, even a player in a touring band when I was young. I know when something sounds good and when it does not. I can tell you that the cables you use are more important than you realize and if you are using the wrong cables, you don't even know what you are missing.
I purchased (using my own money) cables from all the big brands.
Monster Cable, Lava Cable, Mogami, DiMarzio, Rotosound, Vox, Live Wire Audio, Hosa, Spectraflex, Fender and Asterope. I did not receive these cables for review nor was I sponsored in any way by any of the involved companies. I wanted to do a test where I wasn't beholden to anyone. I just wanted to find out which cables worked and whether or not I think they are worth the money. I spent hundreds of dollars to do this test so please know that I take this work very seriously. I thought it out as best I could.
I tested the cables with several instruments. I used my Fender American Ultra Jazz bass, my Spector Euro 4 LX bass, my Ibanez SR2400 bass and an inexpensive Sire U5 short scale bass.
I tested everything on my Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 with Aguilar SL 210 400W 2x10 Bass Speaker Cabinet.
I ran directly into the Tone Hammer, by-passing any pedals. I wanted to get a listen to the most basic sounds.
I kept in mind the following criteria:
I was trying to test cables that had good components. So I wanted to listen for audible hiss or hum or electronically induced overtones, etc. On the bass side, I used cables exclusively made for bass. Some guitar cables can limit true electric signals emanating from your pickups – particularly your low end bass tones.
I kept all the cables to 12 feet in length or less. You want a cable that is long enough to the job but no longer than necessary. I considered this a sweet spot for the average bass player sitting in his/her home studio and practicing or recording. I also looked for cables that I consider to be rugged. I wanted cables that were well shielded/insulated and durable construction.
The cables I reviewed cost between $15 and $120.
The test was simple...
I played each bass with all the controls rolled on to 10, straight into my Aguilar Tone Hammer with all the EQ set flat. I played each of the four instruments with each of the 10 cables. I started to record this test but realized I don't have the right equipment in my home studio to faithfully reproduce the audio and knowing it would be listened to by people hearing it over everything from cheap headphones to computer speakers, I just decided that you'll have to take my word for it based on what I personally heard.
I had a helper plug in each cable (and wrap the end with electrical tape so I couldn't see the brand) and kept my back to the amp so I couldn't see which brand was being used. In most cases I was using straight to straight cables (which according to a guy I really trust is the best signal path.)
My test had only one goal. I wanted to listen for and decide which cable sounded BEST. I am not interested in second or third place. Once again, I remind you - that if you're spending $40 a month to change your strings or using a fancy strap, etc., you can afford any of the cables I selected. So price wasn't a consideration. I just wanted to hear the quality of tone.
I particularly listened for hiss, hum, distortion, changes in volume, cracks, crackles, pops, etc. I was particularly also listening for loss of frequency. (Remember cables don't generally ADD anything but they sure can SUBTRACT something from your sound.) So I wanted to weed out any cables that robbed me of frequency, particularly at the low end but I also want all the mids and highs.
I generally spend a lot of time listening to music and I know what's what. As I started testing the cables it was immediately clear to me that many of them were similar and almost all of them would do anywhere from okay to just fine in the studio of someone who doesn't know what to listen for. But one cable kept standing out. I heard it immediately and often. I really wanted it to be one of the less expensive cables but alas, you do in fact get what you pay for.
In all of my tests, one cable kept being selected as a favorite - no matter which bass I played, it was the winner. When I turned around and asked my helper which cable I kept picking, she smiled and said - well you know, the $120 cable from
I know it's hard for some of you to justify $120 for a bass cable (not really if you look at all the other crap you buy) but hear me out. On every bass I tested; from the super expensive $3000 Spector Euro to the $500 Sire U5, the Asterope cable sounded the best. No noise. No hiss. No hum. No nothing. No frequency theft anywhere in the spectrum. It's the kind of difference you can hear with your naked ear. The sonic clarity I hear using an Asterope cable makes me happy that I spent the money to buy one of their cables.
It turns out I am not alone. A host of artists, producers, recording engineers, etc., have noticed the difference as well. Check out the Asterope YouTube page - https://www.youtube.com/user/AsteropeTV - you can hear the testimonials of people who are a lot more famous than I am. And they all agree. There is a difference you can immediately hear. You don't need fancy test equipment. Moreover, it's a difference you can see and feel. This is one hefty cable. It's noticeably sturdier than any other cable I tried. The company uses extra durable, full flex, pressurized PVC jacketing, which helps provide superior conductor stabilization and abrasion resistance. It's guaranteed. It's designed and made in the USA. And you can hear why.
But there's more to the story. I was lucky enough to reach out to Asterope founder Dariush Rad. He filled me in on how each of these cables is lovingly, and expertly crafted. The Asterope Pro Bass cables are built with extensive braided shielding, non-metallic connector barrels, patented solid core, ultra-clarity nickel connectors, ultra-pure silver solder, and a durable exterior jacketing to protect the integrity of the cable’s architecture. The products undergo a proprietary process to increase clarity and enhance electron flow, delivering enhanced harmonic and frequency response. Even if you don't know what all of that means, don't worry. It just means there's a reason these cables deliver such a fantastic sound to your amp.
Dariush knows his stuff. He's been around the industry for a long time and I have never spoken with someone who is so committed to cable excellence. I was impressed with Mr. Rad and this is AFTER I had given him my money.
So I am not going to bother with second, third, etc. Just get the Asterope cables. I know they are spendy. I am slowly going to replace every cable in my studio with their gear, one cable at a time, and I am doing that because I am just as passionate about my sound as Dariush is his and you are yours.
I have no affiliate relationship with Asterope. They are not an advertiser on my blog or podcast. I get nothing from recommending them. I just think they make the best stuff and part of my mission here at the BigScottyMusic Guitar Podcast and Blog is to educate and inform.
Check out these cables. I am sure you will agree. Once you hear them, any questions you had after reading this article will be gone.
See ya in the shed.