Dec 2, 2013
That doofus is me, by the way.
Sure, I can replace a pickup and do relatively minor things like that… but every time I’ve tried to completely rewire a guitar from scratch, I’ve failed miserably, and have always had to go crying to a friend/tech to fix it. Plus, you know, burnt fingertips are never fun.
For that reason, I usually shy away from anything that involves me going anywhere near a soldering iron.
However, I recently started building a pedalboard again, and soon got tired of the MASSIVE cheapo patch cables taking up so damn much space.
And where I needed longer lengths than standard, I ended up with ridiculous amounts of too-long patch cable confetti dangling from the bottom of the board.
So I said fuck it, and decided I’d look into custom cabling.
Then I remembered how freaking useless I was at soldering. The last time I tried to make a 4-cable snake (back when I was running stuff in the effects loop, like a cool kid), I’m pretty sure at least one of the jacks crapped out on the first gig…
Lava “Tight Rope” Solderless Cables
Then I spotted these! Affordable, looked relatively easy to put together, and didn’t seem to have a reputation for spotty reliability like George L solderless cables seemed to, back in the day.
Now, there’s a great video by Lava Cable demonstrating how to do this. You may have already seen it. However, it’s done with pro-level skill and grace, and it takes the guy like 30 seconds to whip up one of these.
… that’s not how it goes in real life, though.
As with anything, there’s a little bit of experimentation and a learning curve when it comes to assembling one of these. You WILL end up sacrificing a couple of lengths of wire just as a test, and that’s fine.
To that end, for the “reality bites” version of how to assemble a Lava solderless cable, here’s a complete doofus doing it, warts and all… Though I did cheat a bit and sped the video up 2x, haha.
Here’s a vague how-to, with a few tips from my learning experience:
- Use the stripping tool for the outermost layer, but don’t press too hard otherwise you’ll cut off too much of the copper shielding wire.
- The instructions say to strip down the black wire, then the white wire, but I found that the provided stripping tool just takes it all off until you’re left with the core – so what I did was to do that first, then use a craft knife (or rusty box cutters, to call a spade a spade) to peel off the black wire. Voila!
- Put the nicely stripped wire into the jack, and do a little quarter turn until it’s locked in. Don’t let the core wire kink or bend, or it will have trouble locking into the plug.
That’s pretty much it, actually! It’s so easy even I can do it – so if you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge to custom patch cables, but have been worried about soldering and/or reliability/ease of assembly of solderless cables, worry no more! You get 10 plugs per kit (so you can make 5 cables to start off with) but there’s more than enough wire provided to make at least 5 more, if you buy the extra plugs to go with it.
Here’s a shot of my work-in-progress board. Sure, it looks messy, but LOOK HOW CLOSE ALL THE PEDALS CAN GET!