Guitar cords - what's important?
I think a lot of folks don't realize what's important in a guitar cord, and fall for the marketing hype and the prestige pricing.
- Quality - Will the cord hold up under normal use? Most of this has to do with the connectors and how they're attached to the cable.
- Handling noise - All cables are microphonic to a greater or lesser degree. Handling noise is influenced by the choice of dielectric (the insulator between the shield and the center conductor) and by the mechanical construction of the cable itself. The more gain you use, the more you should care about handling noise.
- Shielding - Another concern for high-gain users. Some cables pick up less electrical interference from the surrounding environment than others. Of course, most of the noise pick-up comes from your guitar unless you're using really long cables or the cable runs past a lot of electrically-noisy power cables.
- Capacitance - This is the one that causes cables to sound different. The pickups, guitar tone and volume controls, cable and amp input circuit form a RLC tuned circuit. By changing the C of the cable, you change the frequency of the resonant peak that gives your pickups much of their character. This is not a gnat's eyelash sort of thing, the peak can shift by as much as an octave if you go from a very low-capacitance cable to a very high-capacitance cable.
IMO, all the rest of the high-end cable claims are BS, a lot of it imported lock, stock and barrel from the audiophile world.