Z Cable – the end of capacitance and impedance woes?

The more I learn about electronics in relation to guitar and amp setups, the more I find to worry about.

In a basic setup – if you’ve got a decent guitar, amp and cable – there is little complexity. So long as you know how to dial in your amp and guitar to get great tone, the only thing you really have to worry about is the length of your cable. For the simple reason that a longer cable equals more capacitance, and more capacitance equals a darker tone. The longer your cable, the more highs you’ll roll off your tone. Some guitarists, like Albert Collins, have been seduced by the dark side. Albert Collins is famous for using cables around 100ft in length. He liked the loss of high end that a long cable gave him. But if you want to retain as much of your guitar’s original tone as possible, use the shortest cable you can cope with.

This all seems quite simple, until you throw a pedal board into the mix. Then things take on a level of complexity that is mind boggling. Your tone will be affected by pedal order, whether or not you are using true bypass or buffered pedals, combinations of true bypass and buffered, the level of transparency if using buffered, impedance, capacitance, resistance, inductance, reactance…blah, blah, blah! The level of complexity seems endless.

I tend to buy high quality, true bypass pedals. They allow all the signal from the guitar to bypass the pedal’s circuitry when the pedal is off. This ensures that the integrity of my guitar signal is retained when the pedal is not active. But this can create a problem if there is a long signal chain between the guitar and amp. In such cases a dedicated buffer or buffered pedal should be placed at the end or start of your pedal board to avoid signal degradation. Search the web and you’ll find that advice differs. Some argue that you should place a buffer somewhere in the middle of the pedal board, after distortion boxes. Complexity upon complexity. Yawn.

Z Cable to the rescue. The folks at The GigRig appear to have invented a gizmo that will save us from all this hideous complexity. Relief!

The Z Cable is intended to sit at the end of your pedal board signal chain and, to put it simply, tricks your amp into thinking it’s seeing the signal direct from your guitar. According to The GigRig:

Even with a relatively cluttered effects chain, place the Z Cable at the end of it and, by mimicking the complex behaviour of a guitar pickup, this unique, ingenious device will send your amp a signal that is almost identical to what comes out of a guitar. The results are nothing short of revolutionary, bringing back all the sparkle, detail and depth of the original guitar signal but with your effects integrated into the sound.

For anyone who has ever found that plugging in all their favourite effects leaves their guitar sounding small, this is the answer. Instead of having to make a choice between big tone and cool effects, now you can have your cake and eat it too – Even if you’re not a pedal junkie, the Z Cable ensures optimum amp performance in any situation.

Reactance control
Use this knob to fine-tune the Z Cable’s performance to match the sound of your guitar, from warm and round to bright and sharp. This single control makes getting back the true tone of your guitar incredibly simple.

Cable switch
Use this rotary switch to select the length of guitar cable you want the Z Cable to imitate, with settings for long, medium or short cables or active output (zero cable length simulation).

Standard quarter-inch jack input, XLR output. An XLR to standard jack cable is included, with three length options – Studio (4 metres/12 feet), Stage (8 metres/24 feet) and Stadium (12 metres/36 feet). The XLR jack locks in place for added security.

The Z Cable is powered by a standard, Boss-style 9V DC, centre-negative mains adaptor, so it can be powered from the same supply as your pedals.

More at The GigRig

2 thoughts on “Z Cable – the end of capacitance and impedance woes?

Add yours

  1. “Albert Collins is famous for using cables around 100ft in length. He liked the loss of high end that a long cable gave him.” Liking the loss of high-end that came with the long cable had nothing to do with it. Albert Collins (The Iceman/Master of the Telecaster) wanted to go “walkabout”. Besides, he was playing a Telecaster with a maple neck which is notoriously top-endy from the get go.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: