Solder-free cables are the ultimate DIY solution for serious pedalboard junkies. They let you use exactly as much cable as you need—no more, no less. If you want to tighten things up or customize your board beyond what typical 6” patch cables will allow, a solder-free kit could be just the ticket.
TightRope, the newest creation from the team at Lava Cable, is solder-free option that features .155 diameter cable with a 20-gauge, low capacitance solid copper core. Top that off with a new custom-designed, low profile plug that’s easier to put together than ever before and the results, both tonally and functionally, are pretty spectacular.
The new TightRope plug features a “tunnel” inside that threads the copper core of the cable with a twist and lock maneuver. What this means is that, unlike other solderless cables on the market, you can actually feel how secure the cable is inside the plug while you put it together. And as someone who has assembled countless solderless cables over the years—this is really impressive. Being able to give the cable a little tug and not have it pull free makes wiring up your board and taking it out to a gig about as worry-free as it gets.
Watch the Video!
I’d used the TightRope’s predecessor—the Mini ELC solderless kit—for several years, so I was pretty confident when I started in with the new version. I’ve made countless solderless cables in the past and figured I didn’t need to consult the instructions.
So heed this warning, learn from my mistakes and do yourself a favor: watch the instructional video on the Lava Cable site before setting out to make these (you can also find it on YouTube).
The process isn’t overly difficult—much easier than the old ELC kit, in fact, with fewer parts and less fuss—but there are some very handy shortcuts you can use to make assembly a lot easier—not to mention a whole lot more successful.
Without having watched the video, about half of my cables had issues. After watching it—perfect pretty much every time.
The standard TightRope kit runs just less than $60 and comes with enough cable and ends to connect five pedals. For some, that’ll work great—but I know plenty of players (like me) who couldn’t connect half their pedals with five cables. And that’s where Lava’s “Super Kit” comes in. The Super Kit comes with 30 feet of cable and 30 ends for $162, saving you about $18.
Or if you just need a couple more plugs or a few extra feet of cable, those are available through the Lava site as well at www.lavacable.com.
What we like: These are great cables. Whether you’re thinking about going solderless for the first time or are already a convert, Lava TightRopes won’t break the bank and are some of the easiest cables out there to assemble—not to mention, some of the most reliable. And if you’re feeling decorative, the cable comes in a variety of colors like black, white, red, green and blue—so you can get a little creative with them, too.
Concerns: The TightRope plug is advertised as having “the smallest circumference of any like plug.” That sounds nice and all, but I’m not sure it actually matters. The barrel of the plug is actually just a bit longer than the last version of their pedalboard kit—which could be an issue if your board is packed tight—but the less than a quarter of a millimeter difference isn’t significant and the low price more than makes up for the marketing fluff.