Making a Connection: TTK talks with Paul Koski About His Custom Cables
Marc Johnson for TheToneKing.com
Players are always chasing tone. I’ve even seen some guys order custom string sets so that they can get plain strings that are half a gauge thicker for a “bigger plunk.” All the while, searching for the gear that’s going to get them that tone. But, with all of the fuss over tubes, strings, and even picks, very few pay any attention to the one piece of gear that carries the tone from their axe to everything else in the chain. Whenever there’s talk about gear, almost nobody talks about cables.
“I would consider a good cable one that sounds consistently good, will last you for years, and won’t turn into a roll of barbed wire to trip you on stage,” Paul Koski says in an interview with TheToneKing.com.
Koski’s mantra of consistency seems so simple, but it eludes most of us just the same. Between the crackle and pops of a grounded solder connection, to the enraging silence of one that’s been completely severed, cables can be replaced as often as strings and often are. Most of us can’t afford the heavy price tag that usually comes with a cable that we’re not going to throw out in a couple of months. And while we plug in using our dime-store cables, we complain about how the growl from our Les Pauls and Dual Rectifiers sounds like it’s coming from an Esteban guitar tied to an empty soup can.
A friendly note from all of us here at TTK, there are two places were you will definitely notice a huge difference between the quality of cables; the speaker cables running from your head to your cabinet, and the patch cables in your pedal board. That’s why companies can charge so much dough for them, because they know that you’ll notice a difference. As Paul mentioned, Koski Pro Gear is trying to set themselves apart from these other companies. “You will still pay a lot less for our cables than you would for a comparable cable at the massive chain store, and get the same lifetime guarantee.”
With one look at his website, you can tell why Paul started making cables. A guitar slinger from way back with an affinity for “leather pants, big hair, and face melting solos,” Paul was always taking his gear apart and putting it back together again just to see how it worked. It’s that kind of curiosity that really drove him to try and build his own gear. Where to start? Well, as Paul says, “everybody needs cables.” Now, Koski Pro Gear is seeking to make a name by offering custom cables without the heavy “custom” price tag, offering custom options from length and color to connector choices.
Probably one of the most obvious benefits of custom cables is for patching pedalboards. No matter how many shows we go to, we’re always amazed to find the one guy who has his pedalboard wired with ‘odds and ends,’ leaving excess cables hanging off the sides like a tripwire, waiting to ensnare some energetic and unsuspecting bass player. So, if nothing else, help save the millions of bass players a year from being tangled in a mess of mismatched chords and clean up your pedalboards!
Sorry. Had to get that off of my chest.
Speaking of patch cables, Koski’s are built with gold Amphenol connectors. “I recently switched to the Amphenol ends for the short cables because they are very good quality ends and they don’t take the abuse of the longer cables so they don’t require strain relief, or heat shrink tubing. Plus they just look classy.”
Koski’s Battle Zone Cables are the workhorses of their line up. Built for durability as well as sound, these cables are for the gigging musician. With braided shielding and both inner and outer heat shrink tubing, Battle Zone Cables are built to be quiet and durable enough to endure even the most brutal gigs. Paul is particularly proud of the durability of Koski cables. “As far as our mic cables go, I would be comfortable swinging it around in circles and would be more worried about the mic flying off than the solder connections coming loose.”
Even in their Pro Custom instrument cables, Paul opted to use Neutriks connectors, because of built in strain-relief that ensures that “when the cable is yanked, it doesn’t pull the solder connections apart.” Which is good for those of use who have been caught with fifteen minutes until show time frantically searching for a soldering iron to reconnect the ends to our only instrument cable. Because the Pro Customs use a ‘serve’ or spiral shield, they are more flexible and less likely to tangle or kink. Paul opted to use Pro Co 120sx Musicmover cable for the very purpose of flexibility as well as a thick outer jacket that can take a good stomping.
In addition to instrument cables, Koski Pro Gear also has Speaker cables where you can opt for ¼ inch, speakon, or combo connectors. They also offer TRS cables for stereo guitars or guitars with two separate signals. TRS cables also work for analog amp switching or as a send and return signal in the same cable for running effects. Mic cables are built with 95% coverage braided shield to help kill noise and black Neutrik xir connectors with gold contacts.
As our loyal readers know, TheToneKing.com loves to have choices. With your choice of length, color, and connector type, Koski seems to be running down the right road with that one. It also doesn’t hurt that all of their instrument, mic, TRS, patch, and speaker cables come with a lifetime guarantee, either. When asked where Koski Pro Gear will go next, Paul replies, “Be on the look out for ‘the world’s best sounding’ guitar cabinets.”
As we keep chasing after our tones, let us not forget the smaller parts of our rigs. Like the companies that are out there working to give us the best tone for our buck, sometimes it’s the small ones that have the mightiest growl.
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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.