review

Lava Cable 15 Foot Guitar Cable

Review by Mark Starlin

Lava Cable 15 Foot Guitar Cable

I started playing electric guitar at age 12, and got my first electric (a Fender Mustang) at 14, along with a Pignose amp. I used cheap guitar cables (cords) and never gave it much thought. When I was 16, I started working and saving up for my “dream” amp — a Mesa Boogie Mark I — like my guitar hero Carlos Santana used. Two years later, I had saved enough to buy one and put myself on the 6 month waiting list (they were built to order back then.) Half way through the waiting period, Mesa informed me that they were releasing the Mark II and I would be getting one of the first ones. Very cool. Finally the amp arrived. Since I got a separate head and speaker cabinet, I used a guitar cable to connect the head to the speaker cabinet. I figured, it was a guitar signal, so a guitar cable should work. Well, it did work. Then one day I made a significant discovery.

Cables Matter

The cheap guitar cable I was using to connect the head to the speaker cabinet went bad. I decided to try a Monster Cable speaker cable. It was a little expensive but I wanted something durable, and I heard they made a difference in the sound quality. I plugged it in and wow! It was like I had been playing through mud before, and now I could hear. From that day forward, I never used cheap cables again.

Lava Cables

Over the years a number of high quality cable companies have appeared. One of the newer ones is Lava Cable, a small operation based in North Carolina, run by Mark Stoddard. Mark asked me to review one of his cable, so here we go…

Fifteen Feet

I received a 15' instrument cable to review. For the techies in the crowd, Lava instrument cables uses Canare GS-6 cable along with Neutrik and G&H connectors. Lava uses silver solder, gold contact connectors, and heat shrinks each individual termination for durability. If this sounds like Greek to you, don't worry, it simply means they use high quality materials, high quality construction methods, and make them tough. They come with a lifetime warranty.

In Use

The first thing I noticed was the thickness of the cable. It is thinner than the other brands I own (Monster, Planet Waves, Whirlwind, Spectraflex.) I wondered if this would make then more susceptible to noise or less durable. It doesn't appear to be the case. The cable is as quiet as anything I have tried and has held up to gigging and regular use without incident. The only difference I have found is they are lighter (a bonus) then the other cables I have.

Sound Comparison

For testing purposes, I use a Fender Stratocaster with Kinman noiseless pickups and a Les Paul Custom. I used the same Mesa Boogie Mark II that I ordered back in '79 and a Traynor Custom Valve 20 amplifier. I compared the Lava cable to the cables I currently have on hand: a Whirlwind, a SpectraFlex, a Planet Waves, and a Monster “Rock” cable. I also compared a cheap “no brand” guitar cable (which I use for a footswitch cable) I got free with a purchase.

The Lava cable compared closely with the Planet Waves and Whirlwind. It did have a little more high end, and seemed to be a bit more detailed when I picked notes. It was subtle, but the Lava cable seemed to add more “air” or clarity to the tone. This would make it a great choice for those who frequently use clean tones.

I was surprised to hear that the Monster “Rock” cable was much “darker” then the Lava cable (and the others), and seemed to emphasize the bass. I had never done a side-by-side comparison with it before so it was informative.

Naturally, the cheap “no brand” cable produced a large helping of hiss and a muddy signal. I would never use it as a guitar cable, though it does make a good footswitch cable!

Overall, the Lava cable was clean, detailed, and sounded better than what I was already using. What more could you ask for?

Final Thoughts

Most brand-name cables do a good job, but high-end cables do make a difference in high end, clarity, and durability. Lava cables rank up there with the best of them, and cost less. That makes them a great value. If you really care about your tone, you should give one a try.

Reader Comments

Better Guitar encourages your input. Agree with this review? Think I’m crazy? If you have used Lava Cables, email me your comments and I’ll post them below. The more opinions we have available, the better our buying decisions will be.

Robert

Hello I read your review and just recently had a similar experience you might be interested in. I have used a George L cable for a few years (Because Eric Johnson promotes them) and because they can easily repaired and re-sized without soldering. I recently cut this cable to use in my effect loop and got a Monster Rock cable to replace it for the guitar. Wow! that monster cable sounds like mud! I was amazed that such a reputable cable sounds so poor. I headed down to get another George L and will Craigslist that Monster cable. I thought I was crazy. Thanks again for your review.

stats

  • • Oxygen free Copper conductor and shield
  • • Neutrik and G&H connectors
  • • Silver solder
  • • Gold connectors
  • • Stays flexible even in sub-zero weather
  • Positives
  • Increased high end and detail (clarity); light weight; affordable.
  • Negatives
  • None.
  • Rating
  • Performance: 10
  • Sound Quality: 10
  • Construction: 10
  • Overall: 10
  • Ratings Key
  • 0 = Worthless
  • 10 = Excellent
  • Approximate Street Price
  • $25.95 direct from Lava Cable.

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