When the first Pete Cornish Effects Pedalboard was built, for Peter Banks of “Yes”, the only guitar cables available were pvc “curlys” with molded jacks that would fail after only a few minutes playing. Pete realized that it was essential to make the cables as reliable as the effects boards he was building, but it was difficult to convince the musician who had just spent GBP 1,000 on a guitar that he must spend more of his hard earned cash to plug it in! It used to be common practice, in the 70’s, to give away guitar cables and so the shops would seek out the cheapest available, usually costing less that GBP 1 each.
Pete decided that he would make his own guitar cables of the highest quality and spent two years investigating different types of cable, but he could find no existing cable to meet his exacting specification. The only option was to ask some well known cable manufacturers to produce cable to his design and eventually, after many trials and ‘road tests’, the ultimate design was finalized. Pete’s requirements were for a cable with good handling characteristics, low microphony, low dc resistance, low capacity, good flexibility at low temperatures, easy to solder without “melt back”, screening as close to 100% as possible and two conductors for Pete’s “semi balanced wiring scheme.
Having found the ultimate cable the next part of the quest was to locate the most reliable jack plugs and this was more difficult than it would at first appear. Pete tested many different types from many suppliers and found countless problems: loose internal contacts, leaky insulators, fragile insulators, undersized plugs, wrong tip shape, missing or poor cable clamps, high resistance contacts, corrosion on ground contact etc. etc.
One type of plug, which at the outset seemed of high quality, had to be rejected as long term testing revealed that airborne contamination in industrial areas would produce a thin layer of oxide on the plug surface. This formed a very good insulator and thus prevented low resistance connection to the amplifier. Pete has since found that this contamination builds up to a certain extent on all plug and socket contacts, possibly due to high humidity in the venue leading to condensation when the stage gear is removed to the trucks after the gig. Pete now recommends all musicians to “Clean the plugs to Free the Tone”.