One of the biggest performance restrictions for electric guitarists is the length of their cable. Short cables restrict your movement on stage and prevent you from putting on the best show possible. While you can always invest in a longer guitar cable, long cables may affect your tone due to the distance between your amp and your guitar.
Wireless guitar systems are the modern solution to this problem. Wireless systems have been around for more than 40 years, but the technology has been progressively improving and becoming more accessible to the average musician. In this article, I will discuss whether or not wireless guitar systems are worth it and go over some pros and cons. Let’s dive in!
What is a wireless guitar system?
A wireless guitar system is a device that takes on the role of a guitar cable by transmitting the sound signal between two electronic devices rather than through a continuous physical line. The device comes with two nearly identical parts: The transmitter plugs into the guitar, and the receiver plugs into the amp or pedalboard. Modern-day models generally have a range of 50-60 feet, but higher-end wireless guitar systems may range up to 120 feet as long as the transmitter and receiver are within the same line of sight. While older models of wireless guitar systems weren’t very reliable, the technology has improved exponentially, and newer models work just as well as a physical connection. To learn more about how wireless guitar systems work, read my article on the topic.
Pros of using a wireless guitar system
Here are some of the benefits of using a wireless guitar system over a standard guitar cable.
No need to worry about yanking the cable out
Stepping on your guitar cable may cause you to accidentally yank it out onstage, which is annoying, to say the least. Sure, you can tuck the cable behind your strap to avoid this, but this doesn’t fully prevent you or another bandmate from stepping on the cable and accidentally pulling it out of the amp. You won’t risk stepping on your cable with a wireless connection because, well… there is no cable.
Less movement restrictions on stage
When performing, you want to have as much mobility as possible. So being able to move freely around the stage without worrying about tripping on cables is a massive advantage of wireless systems that you just don’t get with regular guitar cables.
No more untangling cables
Tangled, poorly wrapped guitar cables are the bane of my existence. Even if you spend the time and effort to wrap the cable properly, it may get tangled up in your guitar case. Wireless guitar systems get rid of this headache. You simply need to plug in, and you’re ready to go!
Lasts longer and more affordable long term
Guitar cables go bad much more often than wireless cables because they are more susceptible to wear and tear and are easier to misuse. Improperly wrapping and stepping on the cable may eventually lead to the cable shorting out and needing to be replaced. While wireless guitar systems are a more expensive initial purchase than standard guitar cables, they generally last longer and cost less in the long run.
Cons of using a wireless guitar system
Here are a few of the downsides of using wireless guitar systems.
More expensive initial cost than standard guitar cables
Just like guitar cables, wireless systems vary significantly in price. But in general, you can expect to pay between $70 and $200 for a wireless guitar system. Guitar cables can cost as little as $15, but for a good-quality cable, you’ll typically pay between $40 and $80.
Budget options may affect the tone of your guitar
For the best results, I don’t recommend using one of the cheaper wireless guitar systems. The budget options generally have a shorter range and may affect your guitar’s tone. Some cheaper options also have a short sound delay. Even higher-end options have a slight effect on your tone. However, the change is usually insignificant, if even noticeable at all.
If you are experiencing a delay with your wireless system, try standing closer to your amp and ensure there are no obstructions between the transmitter and the receiver.
Need to change batteries
Wireless guitar systems either use rechargeable or disposable batteries, so you will have to change the batteries or recharge them occasionally, which can be a slight inconvenience.
Are wireless guitar systems worth it?
Wireless guitar systems are definitely worth it! Especially if you are a gigging musician. Wireless systems will completely transform your stage presence, allow you to move more freely around the stage, and cancel out the need to wrap up your cables. In my opinion, this makes wireless guitar systems one of the best guitar gear innovations and something every touring musician should use!
Do wireless guitar systems have a delay?
Wireless guitar systems may experience some latency which can cause a slight delay in the sound transmission between your guitar and the amp. There may also be a slight delay if you are reaching the range of your wireless system. So, I recommend investing in high-quality wireless systems and not standing too far away from the amp to prevent this from happening.
Do wireless guitar systems affect your tone?
Wireless guitar systems will have a slight effect on your tone since the connection is not physical. However, this can also happen if you use a guitar cable that is longer than 20 feet. If you are using a good-quality wireless system, the change in tone will be negligible.