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Plugging Along: Guitar and Instrument Cables

Christian Wissmuller • ArchivesSeptember 2022Survey • September 1, 2022

One thing is absolutely agreed upon when it comes to ¼” guitar and instrument cables: it’s a very crowded field. Aside from the sheer number of brands competing for dealers’ and customers’ affections, this has also been a market segment especially impacted by shipping and manufacturing delays, according to the participants in this month’s survey. As Davin Odegaard of Minneapolis’ Twin Town Guitars observes, “Supply chain issues hit cables hard. Many manufacturers are still trying to catch up.”

Another frequently expressed sentiment in this month’s dealer survey was the growing trend towards more expensive product. “While still not the biggest sellers, there has been an uptick in higher quality cables,” says Music Street’s (Marshall, Minnesota) Zach Haltvick. “More customers are prioritizing longevity, gravitating towards higher-end, cloth-covered cables especially.”

Read on to learn more about this important segment of accessory sales in the world of MI retail.

When compared to this time in 2021, sales of guitar/instrument cables at your store are…

Up: 42.8    

Down: 23.8%

Level: 33.4%



What types of cables are favored by your customers?

Straight to Straight: 71.4%

Straight to Angle: 23.8%

Angle to Angle: 4.8%



What length of guitar/instrument cables is most popular?

Under 1 foot: 5.8%

1 to 3 foot: 1.1%

4 to 9 foot: 1.1%

10 to 12 foot: 63.3%

13 to 19 foot: 22.1%

20 to 24 foot: 5.8%

25 foot or more: .8%                           



Which brands are the top sellers for your store?

D’Addario/Planet Waves: 27.9%

Pig Hog: 18.6%

Rapco: 18.6%

Fender: 16.3%

Hosa: 14%

Ernie Ball: 11.6%

Mogami: 11.6%

Quantum Audio Designs: 11.6%

Kirlin: 10.1%

On-Stage: 9.3%

Lava: 6.9%

Private Label/Store Label: 6.6%

Monster Cable: 4.7%

CBI Cables: 4.4%

George L’s: 2.3%

IK Multimedia: 2.3%

Klotz: 2.3%

Livewire: 2.3%

ProCo: 2.3%

PROformance: 2.3%

RockBoard by Warwick: 2.3%

Roland: 2.3%

Stagg: 2.3%

Yorkville: 2.3%



What’s the most popular price range for these types of cables?

Under $25: 54.1%

$26-$50: 39.9%

$51-$100: 5%

Over $100: .1%



Have you been observing any significant trends in this market segment?


Cable sales have been noticeably up over the past year. As more musicians are working live again, accessories are being replaced and upgraded.”

David St. John

Music & Arts

Glendora, California

Over the years we’ve noticed that the trend has always been skewed toward the ends of the bell curve; customers seek either inexpensive but durable cables or they want high-end cables. We’ve made a conscious effort to not stock cables we have deemed ‘disposable’ – every option stocked is suitable to gig with.”

Nick DuBaldo

DuBaldo Music Center

Manchester, Connecticut

“We devote a good deal of display space to our private label product. We have consistently done well against ‘name’ brands and offer a lifetime guarantee. Even discounted, our margins are generally higher on these cables and on the rare occasion when we n/c a replacement, the COG is usually offset with additional purchases. Most importantly, however, is the constant reminder of our store. Priceless.”

Jerry Vesely

Vesely Music Co.

Parowan, Utah

“Lots of the cables we’ve been selling have been for ‘bedroom players’ – just something long enough for basic, at-home needs.”

Mike Celmer

Mike’s Brass & Woodwind

Johnsburg, Illinois

“More use of 1/8″ or 3.5 mm connectors and adapters for connecting consumer computer devices to pro XLR,TRS, and 1/4″.”

Jeff Elias

Interesting Music Shoppe

Wilfrid, Ontario


“Cables have always been a significant part of our overall accessory business. With margins typically being 45% to 55% GPM, cable sales are very important to our bottom line.”

Ed Intagliata

Cassell’s Music

San Francisco, California

“The instrument and accessories market is still cool. I think people are still trying to recover from the financial stress of COVID. Most customers are not professionals. While professionals need to maintain their instruments and accessories, the common musician does not consider the purchase of instruments and accessories as a necessity. I am confident that the sales will start to recover, but I think that it will be slow.”

Karl Markl

South County Vintage Instruments

St. Louis, Missouri

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