How to make patch cables: step by step tutorial

Patch cables are expensive most of the time; making them yourself can save you a lot of money! Most of the times, high-end boutique patch cables do not have any datasheet or what so ever to really know their characteristics. By making patch cables yourself, you can choose whatever cable and plugs you want. Moreover, you can make it as long (or as short) as you need, and not be embarrassed with a too long cable. Here is a tutorial about how to make guitar patch cables for your pedalboard.

I would also suggest to make your guitar cables yourself! Here is a step by step tutorial.


What do you need?

You will not need a lot of materials to make good patch cables. First, cable of course! I used Sommer Tricone MK2, mainly because it is highly flexible. Capacitance of the cable does not matter because I am using a buffer at the beginning of my chain. To choose the good cable, read my post about guitar cables.

I used a standard cheap pancake plug that I found on Banzai Music. You can find cheap ones on ebay too. Beware that some of these pancakes are not functional, sometimes the tip and the ground sleeves are connected without any reason (2 upon 26 connectors for my Banzai music ones)... So buy a bit more that you actually need, and check them before soldering!

Finally, you will need some classical tools: a cutter, pliers, screwdriver, a wire stripper and of course a soldering iron and solder!

how to make patch cables guitar


First step: cutting the cable

Cut the cable at the correct length. To know how much length of cable you need, try to link the two pedals on your pedalboard with the cable. For side by side pedals, a 10 cm (nearly 4 inches) is enough.

how to make patch cables guitar

Then, you need to remove the external shielding. To know how much length you need to remove, unscrew the pancake jack plugs, and try to see how much length there is between the lugs of the jack and the part that will hold the cable.

how to make patch cables guitar

With a cutter or a razor blade, remove the external shielding. Do not press your blade too hard on the cable, or you will cut the ground wire. Do not hesitate to twist the cable to make it easier. You can see the shielding wire:

how to make patch cables guitar

Twist it, you should see the other shielding with the signal wire in the middle of it:

how to make patch cables guitar

Use your wire stripper to remove a bit of this shielding. Remove also a bit of the black layer: it is conductive, so you do not want it to make a false contact with the wire conducting the signal. I did not do it here because I am lazy (and have cheked that it was not making any false contact).


Second step: tinning everything

Twist the wires, and apply solder on every wire of the cable. Do not put too much solder, just enough to make it shiny. It will make soldering easier.

how to make patch cables guitar

Do the same on the lugs of the jack plug. Try to make small shiny solder pads:

how to make patch cables guitar jack plug



Last step: soldering, verifying and putting it back together

Use a third hand to hold the jack plug and solder the signal wire to the top lug, and the ground lug to the bottom one. It is easier if you start by soldering the ground wire. Beware: the jack plug can become very hot, so do not try to hold it with your bare hands before being sure that it is cold enough.

how to make patch cables guitar jack plug

Before anything, check that everything is well connected and that there is no false-contact. To do that, use a multimeter in "logic" mode, and verify that there is no connection between the tip and the ground sleeve of the cable ("1": no contact, "-1" or sound: contact). Sometimes, the wires can be too close and make a false contact. If there is a false contact, try to see whether the wires are connected in the jack plug or at the other extremity of the cable (it can happen). If everything is OK, you can close the jack plug with the screws.

how to make patch cables guitar

Verify again with the multimeter that everything is OK. Sometimes, the tip lug can touch the top part of the plug and create a false contact. (especially if you put too much solder). Try to bend a bit the lug towards the bottom of the plug if that happen, close it and check it again.

how to make patch cables guitar

Redo the same thing on the other side of the jack and boom! You have a perfectly fine and cheap cable!

how to make patch cables guitar

Here, you have it! A good patch cable, ready to go on your pedalboard!
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23 Comment
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helou im Juraj from TIPEK SOUNDS, the black isolation in the Cable is electrically conductive ??
I met some wine producers that has been conducting cables and played well , had deceived Peto care (sorry for not pure english)

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The black isolation inside the cable is electrically conductive. Pay attention to it in order to avoid false contacts!

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This comment has been removed by the author. - Hapus
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Thanks

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