Connector Cleaning: Keeping your connectors (plugs and jacks) clean is very important. Dirty connectors can cause crackles and shorts in your system and can give you the appearance of your cable being bad or broken.
Follow these simple steps to give yourself the best, most reliable sound possible. These steps are detailed for guitar or bass set ups but are also true for your studio or rack gear.
On your pedal boards (and guitar or bass) it is a good idea to unplug and plug your cables every now and again. Monthly would be a good time interval more frequently won't hurt. This keeps the contact surfaces fresh and will break up any oxidation that may build up.
Depending on the weather in your area (dry areas less often, wet or salty area more often 1 year or less), unplug your cables and get some regular rubbing alcohol (or use electronic cleaner if you have some) and put some on a dry rag and wipe down your plug ends real good. While they are wet plug them into you jack on your pedal or guitar a couple of time and repeat until the cloth stays clean.
If your plug does not shine up real good or looks like it has cloudy spots on it you can polish it with 0.0000 steel wool to clean the plug and then use the alcohol to wipe it clean.
You will be amazed at how much junk collects on your connectors. You can get small brushes (they look a bit like eyeliner brushes) and these will reach the inside contacts on your effect pedals and guitar jack to clean them.
Also, don't forget your power sources!! Clean the connectors on your effect pedals and power cables. If those get dirty you can get funky crackling noises in your system that will drive you batty trying to find it.
Proper coil: Coiling elbow to hand may seem fast but if you remember back to when you first tried it you had to work a little to get the coordination of it. The same is true for properly coiling but the benefits are great! If properly coiled your cable will last a long time and when ready, will come uncoiled tangle free!
Start with an end in your preferred hand as if you are going to plug it in. Next, create a loop that when you look down on it will be a clockwise direction (counter clockwise for lefty’s). Next, take the cable in the opposite hand, palm up. The cable should be draped over your palm. Hold the cable then turn your hand over. Bring your hands together and place the reversed coil into the coil hand. The cable looks like it’s coming out behind the coil in front of it. Next, create another loop like the original (clockwise/counter for lefty’s). Then another reverse, and so on. Of course this will be perfected over time and you will eventually become used to how much cable you need to create the perfect coils. Now to uncoil, hold one end and lightly toss across the work space. It should unfurl, knot free! Invest in some Velcro strips or tie line to tie up your cables this will save damage and time.
here is a link to video showing this technique
(coming soon, the old link we had went dead . . . )
Strain relief: Why coil the mic line around the mic stand? Why tie speaker cables to the handles of the speakers? If your cables are constantly taut or bent at a sharp angle they will fail. If you take the time to insure there is enough cable to drape around obstacles or to hang loosely from a connection you can prolong their life. Just remember the paper clip test as you bend and unbend cables, how many bends will it take before the fine wires inside the casing snap?
Stage or Studio Dressing: The fewer things that run over, trip over or land on top of your cables the better. Dressing your cables simply means placing them neatly out of the way so they are not damaged or a hazard to performers/audience. Placing a mat over them works great, but if you’re backstage place some white tape stripes on them so the performers will be able to see them after coming off the brightly lit stage. Remember to place any electrical cables at least 3” away from signal cable or cross these cables at a 90 degree angle to prevent any unwanted hum’s in your system.
More to come . . .