Hands-On Review: Planet Waves Instrument Cables

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Keeping you well connected for a lifetime

By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

Holding a Planet Waves Circuit Breaker Instrument Cable

It’s high time we gave Planet Waves cables a big round of applause. They have played a critical role in countless performances—including those of such notables as Joe Satriani, Warren Haynes, John Petrucci, Peter Frampton, Robben Ford, and John Scofield—yet they never get any recognition for it. Only bad cables get any thought or mention. The good ones, such as Planet Waves instrument cables, humbly do their job night after night with a durability, dependability, and transparency that allow them to be taken for granted.

To make cables that perform so well and so consistently is no easy task, but Planet Waves has had it wired for years. Using the most advanced manufacturing techniques, the purest oxygen-free copper wire, double shielding, molded strain relief, and tough yet flexible outer jackets, Planet Waves cables set a standard of performance the company describes as IN=OUT, which optimizes capacitance for the purest signal transparency. Whatever your instrument puts in one end comes out the same at the amp end so that essentially nothing comes between your instrument and your amp. Planet Waves cables are also so durable that the company guarantees them for life.

There are many cables that have lower prices than Planet Waves cables, but they don’t work as well or last as long. Those three for $10 super deals save you a few bucks at the outset, but excessive noise, diminished signal content, susceptibility to interference, or outright failure during a gig are the real price you pay. For equipment as critical as an instrument cable, it pays to spend a few more bucks and get one you can count on. It improves your music by providing more of your instrument’s brilliance and sonic detail, and by freeing you to just play without having to worry about potential technical problems.

The Classic Series

Planet Waves cables are offered in four levels of quality. The most affordable is the Classic Series, which was Planet Waves’ original cable line and is an excellent performer and a great choice for the musician on a budget. While they aren’t as heavy duty as the Custom, Custom Pro, and Circuit Breaker models, they share the same basic design, the same 24 AWG copper wire, low capacitance, and a high level of signal transparency. The Classics are long-lived cables and come with the same lifetime guarantee.

The Custom Series

With the Custom Series cables you take a substantial step up in quality and design. These are cables made to hold up to years of use and maintain a high level of performance. They feature gold-plated plugs and a twisted pair of oxygen-free copper conductors in a double-insulated, double-shielded design with encapsulated solder points and a tube of copper shielding around the solder points. The wires are first encased in foam insulation inside a PVC jacket. These are covered with a foil shield, then wrapped in a dense braided shield to virtually eliminate triboelectric noise and provide a clean, full signal. Finally the cable is wrapped in a thick, very durable yet flexible polymer jacket that protects the shielding from damage. A flexible, double-molded polymer strain relief prevents any pulling on the terminals.

The Custom Pro Series

This is a new line from Planet Waves, designed for discerning pro players who are looking for the ultimate in accurate transfer of the most subtle details of their playing. Though it would seem nearly impossible to improve upon the Custom Series, Planet Waves did find a few ways. The main upgrade in the Custom Pro cable is the connectors. They are made by Amphenol—a company known for its precision manufacturing and innovative engineering and design.

These high-quality plugs feature gold-plated contacts, and utilize the patented “jaws” cable retention system that simultaneously grips and crimps the cable for unsurpassed strain relief. Shielding is doubled—a layer of foil under a web of tightly braided shielding—and provides total protection from interference. It truly is a cable that’s built to last a lifetime and deliver the highest level of performance.

Planet Waves Circuit Breaker Straight Instrument Cable

The Circuit Breaker

Planet Waves’ Circuit Breaker cable is a low capacitance coax cable featuring a built-in mute switch. The switch allows you to silence the cable during guitar changes onstage with your amp live. You push the button once to mute the cable, thus preventing loud pops or crunches that can potentially damage speakers and startle the crowd. Once the cable is muted, switch guitars, then push the button again to activate the cable. It’s very simple and an elegant solution to a real onstage problem every guitarist who changes instruments has experienced.

Like the Custom and Custom Pro cables, the Circuit Breaker’s plugs are gold-plated but use a set screw-style of strain relief, and the termination of these cables is a solderless die-cast design. Of all Planet Wave instrument cables, the Circuit Breaker has the lowest capacitance rating and best signal transparency.

Planet Waves must have determined this using sensitive instruments for measuring capacitance and such. Personally I couldn’t hear any detectable difference among any of these cables—even the Classic seemed perfectly transparent. No noise. No interference. Just great sound. Maybe some of you out there have bigger ears than me, but I would be happy to use any Planet Waves instrument cable. All are great cables and their lifetime guarantee of reliability is unbeatable.

Features & Specs

Classic Series:

  • Single conductor
  • Ultrapure, oxygen-free copper wire
  • Nickel-plated plugs
  • Molded connectors and strain relief
  • Special coaxial design for a clean signal and low capacitance

Custom Series:

  • Gold-plated plug
  • Encapsulated solder points
  • Copper shielding tube
  • Flexible polymer strain reliefs
  • Twisted pair of conductors
  • Foamed polyethylene wire insulation
  • Conductive PVC jacket
  • Double shielding (foil and dense braided shield)
  • Durable polymer jacket

Custom Pro Series:

  • Same cable features as the Custom Series
  • Precision Amphenol connectors
  • Gold-plated contacts
  • Jaws cable retention system

Circuit Breaker Series

  • Multi-strand single conductor
  • Gold-plated contacts
  • Unique On/Off switching mechanism on the instrument jack
  • Heavy-duty jacks designed to last a lifetime

Common features:

  • Ultrapure, oxygen-free, 24 AWG copper conductors
  • Extremely low capacitance
  • Highest transparency levels
  • Guaranteed for life


# Avik 2015-01-31 15:32
Thanks for this review :) ... it helped me choose my entry level instrument audio cables ... too many opinions on 'spending money on cables' make this a confusing choice to make, especially for newbies.

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