Jim West is well known as the versatile guitarist for “Weird Al” Yankovic, but he is also recognized as one of the world’s top “slack key” guitarists, bringing his own unique musical perspective to this great acoustic guitar tradition.
West recently acquired some new guitar cables designed and manufactured by Sommer Cable of Germany. “I did some test recordings with three of these cables, using both clean sounds and distorted sounds, and it's amazing. Cables really do sound different.”
Here is the Soundcloud link to the cable comparisons: soundcloud.com/jim-3-1/sets/sommer-cable-test/s-4qGE0
“I found the SC Silver Spirit cable to be really rich sounding, full range, with a lot of low-end response, and very quiet.” explained West. “That's the great thing I have learned about cables. When I rewired my studio a few years ago, I spent the money and got really high quality cabling for the whole studio, and it really makes a striking difference. These Sommer guitar cables are all very, very quiet. The SC Silver Spirit has a certain tone that is fat and round, extremely quiet, and solid, too. It's a standard instrument cable with a 90-degree end jack for your guitar.”
Jim West is a 61st Grammy Awards nominee, a recent winner of the Hawaii Music Awards, a Na Hoku Hanohano (Hawaiian “Grammy”) nominee, and a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of ki ho’alu. “Kimo,” as he is called in Hawai’i, has performed at most of the Slack Key guitar festivals in Hawaii and on the mainland. His playing has been featured in a number of films, TV spots, the Disney Channel and National Public radio and he has shared the stage with most of the living legends of ki hoa’lu slack key tradition.
A second guitar cable tested by West was the SC Silver Spirit LLX. “The cabling they use is a high-flex wire, and it's extremely flexible,” says West. “When you're on stage having really flexible cables is great, because they just fall naturally onto the floor. If a cable is stiff, you will have a big loop rise up and you can trip over it. But this one just falls in place just right. It has a great sound; again it’s extremely quiet, with great response and not quite as much low end as the SC Silver Spirit.
“But the special feature on this cable is the noise-free plug on the 90-degree jack. It's got a little switch built-in, so when you plug or unplug it from your guitar, there's no sound at all. You can have your input hot, your amp turned up to 10, and when you plug this cable in there's not a single noise. You don't have to mute anything. This is especially handy in a situation like a festival with different performers coming on stage one after the other. If the sound engineer has them all use this cable, he never has to worry about muting the feed when somebody plugs in.
“This cable is super durable and it sounds great. Very quiet, with no noise that I could perceive of at all. I did test recordings with each of these cables, using both clean and distorted tones with the exact same input. We’re going straight into a Neve preamp right into my system.”
SC-Spirit LLX NOISEFREE 2-pole metal-male connector, Solid gold-plated jack: sommercable.com/product/en/Cables/Instrument-Cables/Instrumentenkabel-SC-Spirit-LLX-LX3C-6-00m-black.html
The third Sommer Cable model tested by West was the SC Classique. “This is a limited edition version of a vintage-style cable. The shielding looks like the tweed cover of a vintage Fender amp. And the plug covers are made of real wood -- I've never seen that before. The Classique has a gorgeous, but different sound with a little more of a compressed range -- less highs and a little less lows, more mid-range, making it really sound vintage.”
SC-Classique, Limited Edition: sommercable.com/product/en/Cables/Instrument-Cables/Instrumentenkabel-SC-CLASSIQUE-HICON-WOODPLUG-CQU8-6-00m-yellow.html
West sums it up: “At first, you might think, ‘Oh, what's the difference -- you just plug them in.’ But when you do critical listening tests like I did, you really do hear the difference.”
Learn more about Jim Kimo West and listen to his music here: mokumaluhia.com