Solderless cables might not be for everyone—but I love ‘em.
I tried my first solderless kit in 2009 after a couple frustrating years of failing to get standard, off-the-shelf cables to work just right with my (admittedly overcomplicated) pedalboard layout. Since that time, I’ve tried a variety of solderless offerings from most of the major players in the market, so while I wouldn’t call myself an expert, I certainly do have some experience to glean from.
Which brings us to DisasterPlugs, a joint, USA-made venture between North Carolina’s own Disaster Area Designs and G&H Plugs, a division of Texas-based Allied Electronics.
DisasterPlugs are marketed as an easy-to-assemble, ultra-low solderless solution that’s ideal for fully-loaded pedalboards and rack systems. For $80, you get 12 feet of cable, 12 plugs and a screwdriver—enough supplies to make six cables.
Jack Be Nimble
The longstanding rub with solderless cables is that they can be a complete pain in the ass to assemble. Some manufacturers require stripping, crimping, clamping and threading—and it’s all very time consuming (not to mention a little rough on the fingers). Plus, in my experience, these methods can be prone to user error—meaning that you spend however long it takes to make a bunch of cables, plug them in and… bupkis. Then you’re left to hunt down, troubleshoot, repair, and completely remake one or more cables—or all three.
DisasterPlugs are different. They’re easier.
Here’s a step by step primer on creating a cable with DisasterPlugs:
• Cut the cable to the right length
• Firmly insert one end of cable into the opening of the DisasterPlug
• Tighten the ground screw
And that’s it. Easy peasy. Done in seconds. Plus, if you want a right angle cable, you can just bend the 3.85mm diameter cable into the slot and you’re good to go.
Now, the one gripe I have here is with the ground screw. It’s really small. And I’ve tried several methods of trying to get it to work better, but have basically resolved to the fact that it’s just going to be a bit tedious. But hey—at least I don’t have to run a vacuum to clean up excess copper braid anymore.
On the positive side, the success rate is phenomenal. To fully wire up my board I need about 20 plugs. And as I mentioned, solderless cables can be prone to user error failure. Now, your results may vary, but I was thrilled (and completely stunned) to find that I didn’t have a single cable remake the first time I wired up with DisasterPlugs. That’s something I can’t say about any other solderless option I’ve used.
I’m kind of OCD when it comes to my pedalboard. I just can’t stomach dangling cables and asymmetrical layouts. And for those of you who have been reading Tone Report since the beginning, you may recall a “Hack Your Rig” feature that I wrote on how to clean up your pedalboard (Issue 14, published 3.14.14) that included a recommendation of solderless cables: “[They] allow you to use the exact amount of cable you need—no more, no less.” This is still as true now as it was then, so if for no other reason than fanatical tidiness, consider getting a DisasterPlug kit (or two).
What we like
These cables deliver on the Disaster Area promise: They’re small, they work well, and they’re easy to assemble any time you need to make a change. I’ve been using them on my board for a few months now and absolutely love them.
Outside of the set screw implementation that I mentioned earlier, my only issue is that it would be nice to have some a plug jacket of some kind to help the right angles stay a little tighter.