I’m always surprised when I change something as simple as a cable and the sound lights up. That’s because there’s much more to cables that you’d ever think (check out my interview with Larry Smith from Wireworld Cable Technology for a great explanation between the differences in cables). The one thing that most guitar players aren’t used to though, is being able to directly change the tone of their instrument via the cable, and that’s just what the Undertone Audio Vari-Cap cable does.
The UTA Vari-Cap cable allows the guitar player to vary the amount of capacitance of the cable to produce a much wider variation in sound than you would ever expect. Basically you’re tuning the inductance of the pickups of the instrument and the capacitance of the cable to make a tuned bandpass filter, with generally surprising results. The cable has a small box at one end with a 15 position switch that adjusts the capacitance from 150 pF to 1,650 pF in 100 pF steps.
For many guitarists and engineers, it’s easier to just adjust the tone control on the instrument or amp, but the Vari-Cap does give you a different way to adjust the EQ to produce results that you won’t necessarily be able to duplicate with EQ alone. Although the changes are subtle from selection to selection, it’s pretty dramatic between position 1 and 15.
There’s not a lot of info about Vari-Cap cable itself on the UTA website. It does say that the connectors are made by Neutrik, but it doesn’t say how long the cable is (it looks like around 10 feet). That said, the price is $99.95. That seems pretty expensive for a guitar cable, but there are many high-end cables that cost twice this much and more, yet won’t give you the same amount of control.
Check out the UTA website for more information and some good explanatory videos, although the one below tells you pretty much all you need to know.