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Unread 12-08-2010, 05:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Wire Gauge

Hey my fellow guitarists
A few months ago I built a 4x12 replica Marshall 1960B cab, with celestion vintage 30s. I love them and think they sound awsome.
When I built the cab I put cable in that wasnt very thick becuase I was using a 15watt head. But this week I have a 1959SLP that I ordered, and I want to re-wire the cab for some thicker wire to handle the 100w head. I have read about how different gauges effect sound quality, resistance and load. Also that it can damage the amp if its having to do extra work.
Im just wanting to know what the best gauge to use, ive heard 12, 16 and 18 are good gauges, I know that to check the gauge you have to measure the thickness, but is it the thickness of the actuall copper wire or the measuring from the complete thickness with the plastic insulator included?
I live in england, so im not sure weather it will be SWG or AWG.
Thanks guys .
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Unread 12-08-2010, 01:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

14 AWG is good enough, that is the same as 1.5mm.
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Unread 12-08-2010, 01:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

It is the thickness of the wire conductor itself that's important, not just the overall thickness of the wire + insulation.

As Kunnz said, 14 AWG is good. 16 AWG would probably be good enough, but 14 is a good upgrade. 18 AWG would be too small.
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Unread 12-08-2010, 03:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Thanks guys , I think ill play it safe and go with 14, is that whats used in real marshall cabs?

Its set my mind at ease now because i didnt want to damage my new amp head by having the wrong gauge,
Thanks.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

I'm pretty sure Marshall cabs come with 16 AWG from the factory.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 03:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Ive just taken the back off my 4x12 and it has 18gauge AWG, i built the cab my self but I used a real marshall jack plate on the back and that has 18ga, so im wondering if marshall use 18 gauge then surely it will be ok to re-wire my cab with it? Also im wondering if the jack plate wires have 18ga would it be pointless wiring it with something thicker when the current will still have to pass through the 18ga anyway?
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Unread 12-09-2010, 05:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

14 AWG is the stuff I use for 4x12's. Its definitely thicker than the standard marshall wire, which is probably 16 or 18. If you go any thicker than 14AWG you would seriously struggle to solder it onto the speaker terminals, it would just be too big.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 05:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Think I might play it safe and use what marshall use at 18, I could always upgrade, if I know the 100w heads can cope with 18ga then thats ok for me
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Unread 12-09-2010, 06:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Using 18 is not playing it safe, using something heavier is. Marshall uses 18 because it is cheaper.

Use whatever you want, even though we suggest 14.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 06:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

The only thing that put made me want to go back to 18, was i read that it can damage the transformer if you use thicker cable becuase "it adds more load" I dont really know about this stuff, but I spent alot of money on my head I just wanna make sure it doenst get damaged, if 14 will be good for my head then I will use it, does it matter if i use 14 and the jack plate cables are still 18?
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Unread 12-09-2010, 06:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

i'd reckon you'd have a better chance of destroying the transformer if the thin cable broke and you had NO load
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can somone tell my how to drain caps, I got a pretty good jolt last night.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 07:02 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Looking at the charts for the gauges, I think theres only something like .60mm of a difference between 18 and 14 anyway, i guess there isnt much in it
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Unread 12-09-2010, 07:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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....i read that it can damage the transformer if you use thicker cable becuase "it adds more load" ...
Where did you read that rubbish?
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Unread 12-09-2010, 07:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Just on google, I mean i dont have a great knowlage, but i would imagine using a thicker cable would make less work for the transformer, as wouldnt the cable have less resistance if it was thicker?, Ill go with the 14
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Unread 12-10-2010, 02:40 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

14 or 16 is fine id say for a 4x12.

14 is a bit thicker than most people are using in their cabs, but I think its the best option.
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Unread 12-10-2010, 04:10 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

ok so i have a marshall jack plate on my cab and the wires that came with it are 18ga, would it matter if i took those off and put my new wires directly onto the jack plate?
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Unread 02-11-2011, 01:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

I've heard that thinner wire gets better mids and highs were heavier wire sounds too dark. For example 18-20 Gauge will sound better than 14 Gauge. Makes sense that a heavier wire would tend to over saturate the tone. The really old cabs from mid 60s used 20 Gauge I've heard and those sounded pretty darn good to Jimi's ears and mine!
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Unread 02-11-2011, 02:22 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Okay I see a lot of recommendations and no reasons behind the recommendations will give you a little bit here. I just did some tests with the help of my daughter so you guys can see the actual amount of current going through the wires on a 412 Marshall cabinet.

First test was what that recent 20 W amp I built: minimum current was .077A maximum current was 1.347A

Second test 100 W JCM 800: minimum current was .093A maximum current and this is with a gain booster pedal (+ 12db) was 4.2578A.

So the maximum current wires going to the speaker with my daughter banging away on her Les Paul at the volume on the guitar maxed only yielded about 5 amps of current max.

With that knowledge what gauge wire is needed to carry 5 amps of current safely over the short distance of the speaker cables? Here are some examples of the max current wire gauges can carry and not in a sustained load:


Gauge 110V 12V
22 5 5
18 10 10
16 13 20
14 17 40
12 23 60

Last edited by MajorNut1967; 02-11-2011 at 02:26 PM. Reason: re-align colums
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Unread 02-11-2011, 02:32 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Wow, a bit of of misinformation here... the thicker the wire, the less resistance it will have. With regards to the output transformer, that's irrelevant anyway, because the load is the combined impedance of the speakers. Thicker wire is a better conductor (allows more of the input power to reach the speakers) and will also heat up less (less chance that it burns up), so it's a better choice. It has zero effect on tone (unless you're running super long lengths of wire, which will have increased capacitance. But why would you do that when wiring a cab? Use the shortest lengths feasible).

The really old cabs sound good due to the speakers, materials and construction, NOT the wire used inside them.

Cheers!
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Unread 02-11-2011, 02:37 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Originally Posted by Clammy View Post
Wow, a bit of of misinformation here... the thicker the wire, the less resistance it will have. With regards to the output transformer, that's irrelevant anyway, because the load is the combined impedance of the speakers. Thicker wire is a better conductor (allows more of the input power to reach the speakers) and will also heat up less (less chance that it burns up), so it's a better choice. It has zero effect on tone (unless you're running super long lengths of wire, which will have increased capacitance. But why would you do that when wiring a cab? Use the shortest lengths feasible).

The really old cabs sound good due to the speakers, materials and construction, NOT the wire used inside them.

Cheers!
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Unread 02-11-2011, 06:53 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

i must be a masochist.... i wired mine with 12 awg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charveldan View Post
I'm happy to pay my tech $40 buck to take the Zap for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smcgov View Post
can somone tell my how to drain caps, I got a pretty good jolt last night.
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Unread 02-11-2011, 07:12 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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i must be a masochist.... i wired mine with 12 awg
And how many watt is your amp? LOL
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Unread 02-11-2011, 07:19 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

i'm thinking i might need to build that 1kW amp that other dude was talking about now!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charveldan View Post
I'm happy to pay my tech $40 buck to take the Zap for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smcgov View Post
can somone tell my how to drain caps, I got a pretty good jolt last night.
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Unread 02-11-2011, 07:27 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Originally Posted by thetragichero View Post
i must be a masochist.... i wired mine with 12 awg
Well, that certainly won't hurt anything. Musta been a pain to solder, though!

Cheers!
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Unread 02-11-2011, 08:18 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

tell me about it!
plus it was parallel/series in a front-loading cab that my cats kept climbing in
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charveldan View Post
I'm happy to pay my tech $40 buck to take the Zap for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smcgov View Post
can somone tell my how to drain caps, I got a pretty good jolt last night.
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Unread 02-11-2011, 09:12 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Originally Posted by yes9310 View Post
I've heard that thinner wire gets better mids and highs were heavier wire sounds too dark. For example 18-20 Gauge will sound better than 14 Gauge. Makes sense that a heavier wire would tend to over saturate the tone.
lol wat?
Um... no it doesn't.

And we're talking about a maximum of about 18 inches of wire here right?

14 or 16 is the playing it safe route.
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Unread 02-11-2011, 10:02 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

Holy dogshit matiLda...did I actually read that stupid bullshit correctly?...Wire guage size between your head and your cabinet affects TONE? Who the hell is the idiot that said that? Bottom line=use a wire guage big enough to handle what your amp puts out...bigger is better....jeez.....read Ohms law for ****'s sake. E=IR. It dont get any simpler than that. The only way wire size will affect your precious 'tone' is if you way undersize and the shit melts in two and blows your output tranny.
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Unread 02-11-2011, 10:05 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Originally Posted by chuckharmonjr View Post
The only way wire size will affect your precious 'tone' is if you way undersize and the shit melts in two and blows your output tranny.
Now, would you say that is a NEGATIVE effect on the tone???

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Unread 02-11-2011, 10:48 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Now, would you say that is a NEGATIVE effect on the tone???

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Unread 02-11-2011, 11:15 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Wire Gauge

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Originally Posted by chuckharmonjr View Post
Holy dogshit matiLda...did I actually read that stupid bullshit correctly?...Wire guage size between your head and your cabinet affects TONE?
Actually, no, you didn't. The claim was that the gauge between the jack plate and the speaker affects tone, no less!
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