This is a post I would have been very interested in reading 18 months ago when I was putting together my current rig, and is a lesson in why ‘better’ is not always ‘best’.
The rig in question is built around a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, with a Keeley TS808+, xotic BB Preamp, Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Cry Baby, and a fancy RJM switching system, because coming from 10 years of Mesa/Boogie Mark IV I just couldn’t deal with learning to tap dance. One of the big treats that I gave myself (other than a whole new rig) was an Evidence Audio Lyric HG cable, a solid-core, very high end, and very expensive cable. Buying a high end cable is an effort to maximise the tonal bandwidth between the guitar and the amplifier by minimising the loss of signal at this crucial stage in the chain. The Lyric HG is an incredible cable, and performs this task absolutely flawlessly. The difference between the Lyric and the merely very good Van Damme that it replaced is dramatic – and if that’s what you’re after then I cannot recommend the product highly enough.
In addition to the Lyric, the RJM Effect Gizmo has a buffered input, which means that anything past that jack isn’t going to lose any signal no matter how long the cable run – what goes in the front stays true into the front end of your amp, which is nice when you’ve got pedals racked up and not necessarily right next to the amplifier. So where’s the beef? A perfect reproduction of your guitar’s tone through the Lyric, and preserved into the front end by the buffer on the RJM…can’t complain, right?
This is where too good comes into the equation. There’s so much top coming off the Telecaster, and through the Lyric it isn’t going anywhere but into the front end of the pedalboard. With so much tonal bandwidth coming from the guitar, super-high-order overtones don’t get lost like they do with a merely mortal cable, and with some distortion chucked in the mix it adds a distinct metallic ‘squink’ on the top end. Yuck.
So this week I decided so mix some stuff up, and learned a very important lesson about ‘the best’, and how doing it ‘wrong’ is sometimes the right way to go. I stuck the Cry Baby out front, and used the standard input instead of the buffer. The tone – rounded out on the top, still really pronounced in the middle…a touch less bottom, but a serious step in a very tasty direction.
Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan had the same idea, using Radio Shack guitar cables with his mega-bucks Dumbles, vintage Vibroverbs, and Marshalls. Of course, with a dark rig and humbuckers it might be a very different story, but if you’re in the Telecaster business, you might be well advised to save your cash – and improve your tone.