Monday, February 18, 2013

Armor Gold Cables Review

I got an email a couple of weeks ago that I had won an online contest for some Armor Gold Cables, sponsored by their sister company Railhammer Pickups. I got my choice of 3 cables. Sweet. I've been using the same brand of cheap cables almost as long as I've played. Why? Everyone's favorite two words Lifetime Warranty. I bought some cable some time in the early 90's and every couple of years I have to get one replaced. I tried some high end cables once and didn't care for what I heard. I have "bright" hands and I'm always fighting brightness, which probably explains my fondness of mahogany and rosewood. The high end brand I tried brightened up the sound of my guitars a lot and even sounded a bit shrill. So when I read that Armor Gold Cables have a smoky top end I was intrigued at the idea of trying out their product.

Let's start with the superficial and then I'll get to the good stuff. There is a yellow gold mesh that looks like a cloth braid, but it isn't, and I'll get to that in a minuet. I like things that look a little different, and most other players don't have gold cables, so if things ever walk off at gigs, these are easy to spot. In fact these cables almost don't look like instrument cables, they look like something you'd find in the contractors section of the local hardware store and they ARE that tough. The gold mesh is apparently a polymer mesh used in industrial and aerospace industries. It has a weird glow under stage lights, not distracting but you will see them. And it is super tough, and helps the cables not get tangled too. Both of those things help the cable itself not get a short, but most shorts happen at the plug. So the guys at Armor Gold took a few more steps. The double shrink wrapped plugs help with strain relief, and after soldering they inject some resin between the ground and the hot to keep them from touching. Talk about overkill. They also use Amphenol Plugs, which I wasn't familiar with, but a quick Google search told me they are industry leaders in wired connections.
Carefully wrapped cable on left, Armor Gold on right

Now lets talk about whats important, the sound. Are cables an important part of your tone? YES But finding the right cable for your guitar and amp set up can be tricky. I found an interesting article here that can explain it better than I can. What I found when I plugged in the Armor Gold Cables was interesting. The first guitar I plugged in had active EMG pickups. NO sound change! Which, I've now learned, is because the preamp in the pickups acts sort of like a buffer, active pickups have a low capacitance. So the next guitar I tried had passive humbuckers, I immediately noticed a fuller sound, more details, and more clarity but no overly bright high end. This made me wonder, about my strat. I really love my strat but it's a very bright guitar. This particular stat was built for a country artist, everything on it is made for bright twangy sounds. Wow, the sound was fuller, the top end sweeter, the details from the Seymour Duncan Alnico II's were just beautiful, and the Twang Banger in the bridge just kills it. It's worth noting that I ran these cables through a Marshall JCM800 and a Fender Twin. You can hear the difference more on the clean Fender than cranking up the 800.
Thank You Armor Gold Cables and Railhammer Pickups!
Time will tell how long before I have to replace these cables but I have my doubts, they are very well built. These cables not only sound great, but if I do need to replace them, they also come with a Lifetime Warranty. The 20' cable at Armor Gold is currently $44.99. Not a bad deal for a Made In The USA cable. $44.99 may sound like a lot if you've never looked at high end cables, but keep looking and you'll find them well into the hundreds of dollars. You have to try them yourself to see if you like the sound of them, but I don't think anyone can complain about the build quality. For me these are my new go to cable, I love the sound, the fact that they don't bunch up and that they look so utilitarian.

To learn more checkout armorgoldcables. I'd like to add that while I won these, I was not paid or given any other compensation for my write up. So any opinions are strictly my own.

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