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Silktone Instrument Cables

How Clear is Your Signal Path?

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

  

There are two types of new instrument cables that cross my desk- “me toos” that focus on price or quality, and those looking to change the way cables work. Silktone, new cable maker and soon-to-be boutique amp builder, comes rolling into the world of guitar accessories with their new cable line with the specific goal of improving the way your pickups talk to your amp.

 

Silktone’s product differentiator for their cable line is being a “first-of-its-kind”  premium dual conductor guitar/instrument cable. By combining solid and stranded conductors, Silktone aims to strike a no-compromise balance of flexibility and tone. The theory is that whereas other cables pass the return through the shield, Silktone isolates the return and signal paths from the shield via dual copper conductors to keep the signal path pure.

 

 

What You Need to Know

 

  • Diving into the hard specs, the Silktone cable features dual 20 AWG 99.99% oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors: one solid core; one stranded 99.99% OFC braided shield with a capacitance of only 38pF per foot. G&H bigfoot 1/4" TS connectors on both ends (high clarity version on straight plugs) use copper core from solder point to tip to preserve the clarity and depth of sound. The cables are finished in a black nylon woven outer jacket with a Silktone logo badge on one side, and lengths range from 1’-30’ with straight and right-angle connectors. 
  • While not strictly “directional,” the shield terminates on the Silktone logo side, and best performance is achieved by treating that side as the “output” side. 
  • It’s hard to talk about something that is meant to be a neutral signal path in a vacuum, but I can state unequivocally after plugging directly from my RJ Super Vintage into an Effingood 0-Five 51F clone that I had no complaints and felt directly wired into the amp. Tele twang, Les Paul honk, and piano-like neck Strat tones all were perfectly passed through and highly responsive. If the goal of a cable is to be as invisible as possible, mission accomplished. 
  • A/B tests are incredibly helpful, but there are only so many hours in a day, so I decided if I was going to limit myself to comparisons they should at least be within the category Silktone is positioning themselves (transparent, high end). Compared to a Monster Jazz cable of the same length, not only was the Silktone much less bulky and significantly more flexible, but there was an appreciable difference in high end articulation and bass clarity. Especially in shorter chains, where the connection between the pickup and the amps was most important, the Silktone’s gave the pushed amp’s overdrive definition, punch, and nuance that I realized was missing in the Monster Jazz cables.

 

 

Maybe the term “pulling a blanket off the speaker” to describe the difference would be an overstatement, but there is certainly “more” to the Silktone cables, even as they stacked before and after a pedalboard.

 

When compared to similar length George L’s, the effect was similar; whereas the Monster Jazz was muddy in the mids, the George L’s had a more neutral and transparent EQ effect but still seemed to exhibit less presence and a slight drop in feel and immediacy. It’s felt more than heard in this comparison, but I was certainly able to get more out of the amp’s overdrive with the Silktone.

 

 

Limitations

 

None that I could find. Maybe introducing a line specific to pedal-boards in 6” right-right configurations?

 

Conclusion

 

Every component of your signal chain truly does make a difference, and Silktone cables are proof positive. While there is always a point where buffers and long signal chains will blunt the edge of any technology, why wouldn’t you want to give your tone every chance possible to shine? Plugging directly into my amp and letting it crank was a visceral experience, and made me a convert.

 

Resources

 

Silktone Instrument Cables Product Page

Buy Silktone Instrument Cables on Reverb.com

 

___________________________________________________

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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VictorScherrer  |  October 12, 2016 at 6:43 pm
In August I bought a pair of Silktone cables. The owner had promised full refund if I (or any customer) disliked his cables. So I gave a try and bought a pair. And I got dissapointed. Briefly: Silktone cables aren't properly isolated and, because of that, they behave like a piezo pickup, getting any impact on them and turning into amplified noise. I shot a video in order to show Charles (Silktone's owner) the problem I had, comparing the cables I bought with a Mogami Gold and an Elixir - both with no noise at all. His answer: "Maybe your amp has much more gain than mine." Not a reasonable answer, if I didn't have problem with any other cable.
So, after 2 months, he didn't put any warning about that. And the worst part: he didn't refund my shipping costs. I just used the cables at home. I shipped them back less than 48h from the time I received them. I lost 21 dollars and if I knew that, I didn't have bought them. If you want to see the video as well as a detailed comparison on the video description: https://youtu.be/rbBElgKJU1c
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jbreher  |  July 04, 2016 at 5:00 pm
Not to disparage what may be a perfectly fine product (and one which I have not yet witnessed myself), but the 'first of its kind' moniker is not only hyperbole, but false as well.

As just one example, ProCo was making cables of similar electrical construction (two conductors - hot and ground - plus braided shield connected at only one end) for guitar use back in the '70's. And those in the know were building their own well before that.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. See Transperformance vs. G-Force. See AKG D200 vs. Shure KSM8. While the misrepresentations are not egregious, and are really unrelated to the performance of the products themselves, the false claims of 'first' just cheapen the brands.
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