Can You Use Guitar Cable for Bass? Does it Really Matter?

Whether you’re a guitarist who started learning to play bass or an enthusiastic player who loves both instruments, it’s an obvious doubt whether or not you can use your guitar cable to play with the bass?

You can use almost any guitar cable for bass without any problem. Bass and guitar cables may come with slight differences in terms of capacitance, connector jacks, and construction type but that wouldn’t create a noticeable difference in the sound quality.

Bass Cable vs Guitar Cable: What’s the Difference?

Both the electric guitar and electric bass use pickups to transform the vibrations of strings into signals, which are then transferred to the amplifier via instrument cable.

Inside any instrument cable, there is a central conductive metal core wire surrounded by insulating materials. In the case of both electric guitar and bass, the instrument cable is performing the simple job of carrying signals to the amplifier.

1. Capacitance

Capacitance is nothing but the ability of the cable to store the charge. The bass cable has relatively high capacitance inside it due to its lower frequency, whereas guitar cables deliver better performance at low capacitance.

However, if you’re bass guitar has active pickups, you can simply forget about the capacitance and use any cable for either guitar or bass.

2. Connectors

Every cable comes with two jacks present on both sides that connect with the instrument and amp. Most of the budget-friendly cables come with steel jacks whereas some of the expensive cables come with gold-plated jacks.

Although that makes them very resistant to corrosion and enhances the lifespan but doesn’t really make any difference in terms of sound quality.

3. Screening

As I already mentioned, the key feature of the cable is to transfer signals from the instrument to the amplifier without picking up on external noise. It is done by screening the core conductor of the cable. There are few different ways for this. The manufactures may screen with a metal shield, plastic cover, or even a combination of them.

Screening could be different between bass and guitar cable but that would be just a difference in terms of construction. They still essentially do the same work.

Bottom Line: Whether it is a bass cable or a guitar cable, I would rather prefer to call it an instrument cable, and any instrument cable will work with both bass and electric guitar.

Do Guitar Cables Really Make a Difference?

As a whole, instrument cables don’t make a huge difference in the clarity of tone and the overall sound quality. Although a longer cable may introduce more noise into the setup but the electrical resistance of an instrument cable is very low as compared to the pickups and EQ controls and that allows you to use any cable without any major issue.

There is no real difference between the bass and guitar cables unless you argue about the subtle differences in capacitance, impedance, etc.

Although some expensive bass cables are specially designed to transmit the bass signals in a better way, but that doesn’t make any huge difference to most people’s ears.

The only thing you need to avoid is to confuse between instrument cable and a power cable that goes between amp head and cabinet. Almost in all the cases, instrument cables are rated for low-level signals, and connecting them in between the head and cabinet can also lead to a fire.

How Much Should You Spend on a Cable?

On average, most of the premium quality guitar cables cost you between $50 to $70 whereas a beginner can spend around $20, depending on your means and previous experiences. The expensive cables are good not only for the tonal quality but their reliability and long-lasting lifespan.

Affordable cables are often mass-produced to keep the cost low but can break easily (even without any warnings) whereas expensive cables come with a better quality of shielding and are designed to offer the best possible clean tone with minimal risk of external noise.

Personally, I have had this Earnie Ball cable (Link to Amazon) for almost one and half years now and I seriously don’t have any complaints so far.

Final Thoughts on Bass Cables vs Guitar Cables

If you don’t have an active bass guitar, you may notice a minimal difference in the tone due to the effect of capacitance. But these are very subtle differences that won’t even be noticeable to your audience’s ears.

That’s why I’m suggesting you: Instead of saving some money to buy a special cable for your bass, you should invest that money into high-quality instrument cables that you can use for both electric and bass guitar.

I hope you find this article helpful. if you have any further doubts or want to share your experience with instrument cables, feel free to write down your thoughts in the comment section.

Also, don’t forget to share this guide with other fellow players, you might end up saving their time as well as money. Happy Music!

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