We all have gone down the tone chasing rabbit hole. The perfect pickup, the perfect tube, the perfect pedal, even the perfect cable. Admit it, it's okay. Guitar players have a tendency to overthink their gear looking for piece of magic that's missing. Sometimes the magic is real and tangible, sometimes it's all smoke and mirrors. What category do the extremely expensive boutique guitar cable fall into? You can get a standard run of the mill cable for 6 bucks while a Mogami Gold tipped cable will cost close to $70! This article will discuss if there is any real difference between a standard everyday guitar cable, vs high priced gold tipped cable cable, and more importantly if any perceived improvement in tone is worth the extra cash.
In the list of the "Top 5 Most Conductive Metals" Gold ranks #3 below Copper (#1) and Silver (#2). Also on that list was Aluminum (#4) and Zinc/Brass (#5).
So if a superior electrical connection (which is what manufactures claim) is the magic of Gold-Plated cables, then why haven't we seen an influx of Copper plated or Sliver Plated in-put jack cables?
Just for reference in July of 2022 the price per ounce of Copper is only 23 cents. The number two metal, Silver is 19 dollars per ounce and some change. But the number three metal for conductivity, Gold is $1921 per ounce (1/20/2023) which definitely makes it the most expensive choice for a guitar cable. Why use gold when silver or copper would be less expensive and would perform better in theory?
One Major Problem
For the sake of argument, let's assume that a gold tip guitar cable provides a better signal which results in better tone coming out of the amp. There is still a big problem that most people overlook. A Gold tipped cable is only one half of the connection. Your guitar jack is the other half. The contact in your guitar is almost certainly NOT gold plated. If Gold is the answer (we will talk about that later) the contact on your guitar jack would also need to be gold plated. Since it's not, this whole discussion is moot.
Is Gold a Marketing Ploy?
In my professional opinion I believe the Gold tipped cable is not much more than a marketing ploy. Here is the bottom line:
- There are two more conductive metals that can be used.
- Both of those metals are cheaper in raw form
- Unless your guitar jack is also gold plated (it's not) then any improved electrical conductivity is lost anyway.
Listen, I'm a "Tone Chaser". I get it. We are willing to try anything to get any perceived bump in tone whether its real or imaginary. At the end of the day your fans don't care what cable you use and wouldn't be able to hear the difference even there was one. Do yourself a favor and let this one go. There are plenty of other thing you can spend your money on that might actually improve your tone. Keep on makin' music my friends.