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Can You Use a Stereo Cable for Guitar? (The Truth)

Wondering if stereo cables are compatible with guitars? Read on to find out whether or not they'll affect your sound and or are worth the investment.

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If you play guitar, you probably shop around for mono guitar cables, but what happens if you accidentally purchase a stereo cable? Can you use a stereo cable for a guitar, and how can that affect your sound? And is stereo cable worth the investment for guitar players? Let’s take a look!

This article will cover mono audio, stereo audio, and whether you can use serial cables on a guitar, so you can make the right decision when shopping for guitar equipment. 

Image of red guitar cable connected to a black amplifier. Source: adobe stock
Image of red guitar cable connected to a black amplifier. Source: Adobe Stock

Can you use a stereo cable for guitar? Yes. You can use a stereo cable for your guitar using a stereo connection with your guitar rig is safe and has no negative effect on the sound quality of your instrument or your rig. It won’t have much of an impact on the signal at all. 

What is mono audio?

“Mono” is an abbreviation for “monophonic” or “monaural,” both of which signify “one sound.” The term “mono audio” describes a recording or playback system that only uses a single audio channel. When compared to stereo, mono tends to seem narrow and lifeless. This is because all the sounds are mixed into one channel and played at the same level. In most cases, the sound seems to originate from a single location on a flat, frontal, or central plane.

Some people may think that mono audio is a relic of the past, yet it’s still fairly common. Accessibility features for the hearing challenged, public address systems, AM broadcasting, and phone speakers all employ mono audio.

If your looking for a new mono cable for your guitar, here is a top-rated one to consider.

  • Mogami GOLD INSTRUMENT-R Guitar Pedal Effects/Instrument Cables provide crystal-clear tone and a drop-dead silent background. The top choice for wiring professional recording studios for decades, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables exhibit amazing clarity and preserve the unique personality of your instrument and effects.
  • Engineered for the highest level of transparency, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables are constructed with a conductive polymer sub-shield, an Ultra High Density (UHD) spiral shield, and an oxygen-free copper (OFC) core. For musicians on the move, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables are also designed with a carbon impregnated PVC anti-static shield layer to prevent all handling noise.
  • Wired with Mogami Guitar/Instrument High Impedance Cable, Mogami Gold Instrument Cables feature high definition sound ideal for use with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, pedal effects, and other unbalanced instrument cable applications.
  • This Mogami GOLD INSTRUMENT-10R Guitar Instrument Cable is a 10 foot length. The Mogami GOLD INSTRUMENT-R Guitar Instrument Cable series is also available in a 10 inch length and 2, 3, 6, 18, and 25 foot lengths.
  • Mogami Lifetime "No Excuses" Warranty: all brand new Mogami cables include Mogami's Limited Lifetime "No Excuses" Warranty to the original purchaser and are proudly supported by Mogami and their dedicated network of Authorized Resellers. Please reference the entirety of Mogami Cable's Limited Lifetime "No Excuses" Warranty specification for complete details.

What is stereo audio?

To hear sound in two separate channels, stereo equipment is used. The term stems from the Greek word “stereos,” which means “solid, substantial, and three-dimensional.” Stereo sound simulates three-dimensional space using two independent audio impulses sent via two channels. This configuration is the standard for the majority of headphones.

Because it uses two channels instead of one, stereo sound is often richer and more dynamic than mono. Having more than one channel allows for more separation between the various parts of a recording. Consequently, the resulting acoustic experience is richer in nuance, more lifelike, and more 3D.

To get somewhat unique recordings of the same sound, many microphones are positioned at various distances from the source. Nonetheless, the stereophonic output may be generated from a mono audio source. Pseudo-stereo is a type of sound that is made by copying mono recordings and then using audio software to add effects. To further enhance the sense of openness, you may pan the sound from left to right.

What are the advantages of using a stereo cable?

Most guitars have only one output jack, but some guitarists add stereo outputs to use two amps or channels simultaneously. This will give you a stereo effect, which may be better depending on the situation. It could also make the guitar signal more flexible and dynamic, whether it was recorded live or in the studio.

Balanced TRS cables are your best bet if you need to send your guitar signal a long way. Using a regular guitar connection makes too much noise and is too susceptible to RF interference from the outside to send a usable signal over long distances.

Signal noise is a common problem in studios due to the high concentration of radio frequency (RF)-producing devices. To avoid this problem and get highly clear signals for recording, stereo cables should be used.

A balanced connection keeps radio frequencies from messing up the signal, so the receiver gets a clean signal over long distances. This type of shielding is found in stereo cables, and it helps reduce RF interference. It also helps keep noise levels low during studio recording sessions.

Can you use a stereo cable for the guitar?

Mono-signal or TS (tip-sleeve) cables are the gold standards for guitars. These cables allow only one signal to go down the conductor, but they are shielded against interference by radio frequencies (RF) in the environment.

Most guitars only emit one line of sound. Hence they need to utilize mono-signal cables to connect to an amplifier. A mono cable is needed to connect an electric guitar to the rest of the equipment since the instrument’s sound is monophonic. For this reason, mono cables are often the best option for connecting an electric guitar to an amplifier.

However, what if you need access to a mono cable or accidentally buy the incorrect cable? Are mono cable isn’t the most effective option? In other words, can a stereo cable be used to connect a guitar?

Can you use a stereo cable for guitar? Yes. You can use a stereo cable for your guitar using a stereo connection with your guitar rig is safe and has no negative effect on the sound quality of your instrument or your rig. It won’t have much of an impact on the signal at all. 

Even though these cables may be used with guitar rigs, they will provide little functionality compared to the mono cables often used with guitar rigs. Even though guitars and guitar equipment may employ stereo cables, the balanced signal capabilities of these connections are rarely used. This implies that using a stereo cable for the guitar will make little difference.

Image of an unrecognizable guitarist and drummer playing using a guitar stereo. Source: dayvison de oliveira, pexels
Image Of An Unrecognizable Guitarist And Drummer Playing Using A Guitar Stereo Source Dayvison De Oliveira, Pexels

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Why Don’t Guitars Use Stereo Cables If They’re Better Than Mono?” from the Traveling Guitarist YouTube channel.

A video called “Why Don’t Guitars Use Stereo Cables If They’re Better Than Mono?” from the Traveling Guitarist YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about using stereo cable on your guitar.

Is stereo better than mono?

Not necessarily; regarding listening, stereo audio is superior. The effect is one of greater breadth, depth, and realism. On the other hand, using stereo in places with more than one speaker, such as bars, cafes, and restaurants, could cause phase cancellation, so mono may be better in some situations. And when discussing recording, particularly for guitars, mono is superior.

What’s better for listening to music: mono or stereo?

When listening to music on headphones, automobile speakers, home stereos, or other typical speakers, stereo is far superior to mono. Of course, it would help if you only used mono when putting up a complex system (like those seen in restaurants and bars), in which case it will be impossible to identify which speaker is on the left and which is on the right.

What’s better for producing music: mono or stereo?

Ideally, you’d create stereo recordings as a producer/mixing engineer. First, however, you should do a shallower dive and approach each instrument individually. Since each instrument uniquely contributes to the mix, it makes sense to have certain instruments in stereo and others in mono.

Conclusion

Using a stereo cable, your guitar and guitar setup will be unchanged, and the signal quality will not be compromised. In reality, it won’t have much of an impact on the signal at all. However, in most situations, guitarists won’t benefit from using a balanced output line like a stereo TRS connector cable. Such jacks are useful for those who need to transmit guitar signals over a great distance, for guitars with stereo-signal output settings, and for recording in a loud studio.

This article covered mono audio, stereo audio, and the advantages of using a stereo cable. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • “Mono” is an abbreviation for “monophonic” or “monaural,” both of which signify “one sound.”
  • The term stems from the Greek stereos, which means “solid, substantial, and three-dimensional.”
  • Many guitars have a single output jack, but some guitarists choose to install stereo outputs so they may use two amplifiers or channels at once.
  • You may not notice a difference between your instrument’s stereo and mono outputs if you go back and forth between the two.
  • Extra tips:
    • Spending a little extra on electric guitar wires might be beneficial even if you already have a cheap instrument, amp, and effects board.

So, do you use a stereo cable on your guitar? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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