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Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of analog equipment. While analog gear can quickly become very expensive, there’s one way to upgrade your analog signal chain without breaking the bank – better cables.

But after you buy those cables, are you taking care of them?

Specifically, are you wrapping them like you would a 100-foot extension cord you use in the garage? (You know what I’m talking about, wrapping it over your hand, under your elbow, repeat.)

If you are, you could be seriously shooting yourself in the foot. When you don’t properly roll your cable, you’re twisting and potentially damaging that cable. You’re also ensuring that the cable will tangle next time you uncoil it.

Wrapping cable using the over/under method keeps you from wrapping the cable in one direction every time, which keeps the cable from twisting.

My buddy Randy Coppinger (@randycoppinger on Twitter), shot a quick video showing how to do this. Watch it a couple times. Practice on your own cables.

Nothing says, “Hey! I don’t know what I’m doing!” like someone who doesn’t know how to wrap cable. You’ll quickly make friends with your audio buddies if you can properly wrap their cables. 🙂

Check out Randy’s video here, then leave a comment and tell us if you agree that it’s important to know how to properly wrap your cable.

  • Joe

    When you see the stage hands throwing cables, this is why they can do that!

  • Yeah, we know that this is most basic thing but important as well and it is first step to be known to every photographer because who knows when any problem will occur due to unawareness.

  • I recently made a similar video –

    – in connection with a storyline in my music-recording comic. Randy’s is a bit more detailed, but mine takes place in a field. There is also a dog.

    Definitely one of the first things anyone should learn in a studio!

  • Andrew Bennekamper

    I just showed this video to my audio engineering students. I know they hate it, but it is one of the most basic skills you need in the industry. It’s like learning scales, it ain’t flashy, but you look pretty pretty silly if you can’t do it.

    • It should be the first lesson in every audio course. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Joe Rawls

    Thank you so much! It seems like a small thing but I hate fighting with cables always being tangled. I Have always wanted to know how to wrap a cable…. Now I can practice! Thanks for the awesome video.

  • Craigherbs

    Same end result, but a slightly different method…

    http://www.thelessonroom.com/LessonRoomResourceLibrary.Page?ActiveID=3033&MediaId=673

    Also, I keep all my cables in small, see-through plastic bags and, yes it is a bit more work but my cables never end up in an enormous ‘Rats Nest’ …

    and you dont need to use cable ties or those little velcro wraps that get stuck where you don’t want them to stick…

    and you don’t have to use bits of gaffer tape that leave their adhesive all over your cables…

    and you don’t have to tie knots in the cable to keep it together either (like I have seen done..)

    How do I know what is in the bag I hear you ask – simple really – I wrap a piece of insulating tape around the end of the cable, just where it enters the XLR.
    Use a different colour of tape for different lengths of cable (6m/20′ long use red tape, 10m/30′ long use blue tape etc.)

    All this may sound a bit over the top but believe me it works really well….

  • Thanks for video… I happen to own all of the band gear (cables included). Added all up, I have invested a bunch of money into cables (especially the long ones). I preach to them proper cable rolling (like in this video), and constantly get accused of being the “cable nazi”. I took the opportunity to forward this video to the band in hopes that they understand, to problem with just wrapping the cables around your wrists and elbow (hate that). Funny how the little things make such a difference in equipment longevity….

  • Bob Sorace

    Another thing about this is, if you try doing it with a cable that you’ve already been wrapping the wrong way for all long time, it won’t work. After being wraped the wrong way for so long, the cable develops a memory and there’s nothing that can be done about it. So when you buy some new cables start off the right way, and they last forever, and they won’t piss you off by getting tangled up (you know like when your playing your guitar and you walk away from your amp, and that big tangle in the middle snags and you unplug yourself).

    • EXACTLY! It only takes a handful of bad wraps to mess up a cable for life.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, if you take a cable with a tangled up “memory” and lay it out in the hot sun you can remove some or all of the problem. You have to keep pulling it straight over time as it finally lays flat, but you can improve the situation with enough time and patience. Obviously though, better to roll over/under and never have the problem.

      • Ah, the sun. It cures all. 🙂

      • D.J.

        Even better sun cure for twisted cables ext. cords etc. Grab your ladder and drape them across your roof, if your in a high-rise apt. hang them out the window or balcony…to hell with the neighbors just pray the ones below don’t need any cables…Not to mention the squirrels.

  • With over/under, it’s “twisting” in an opposite direction with each coil.

  • Mgjr73

    Hey, this is good stuff. I can use the technique on my pesky electrical cords too. Thanks!

    • Ben

      Yeah this has all kinds of applications. I was sitting in my office with an ethernet cable yesterday practicing on this. I don’t think I’m getting it right quite yet, as when I go “under” it wants to go around the backside of the cable, but I’ll get there.

    • Anonymous

      Oh it’s like a drug… I roll power cables, the water hose, everything this way.

  • Very interesting. I’ve been rolling cables a similar way for a while (after being taught) but I don’t switch between over and under (I just do the over move over and over again). I’m guessing that doing it this way helps prevent the cable from uncoiling itself?

    • Coiling the cable in one direction makes it twist up and stay coiled. Over/under keeps the cables from twisting, so you can uncoil them, and they’re still straight.

      • Fillippos

        I am used to work in theatre with quality cables Klotz, ussualy mic cable MY206, and don’t use this method, but only “over”. With Klotz a have never had problems of twisting after unrolling. That’s point of expensive cables opposite cheaper cables. But many good cables, only less cheaper could have this problem of twisting…

        • Donbosse

          Well I practiced this a few times and now I see the value:

          Over under method when you throw out the cable the wraps cancel each other out and you have a straight cable on the floor.

          Over over method you ‘twist’ the cable up so when you throw it out it is coiled and needs to unwind a few rotations AFTER it is thrown out.

          Try this method it works! I was always doing the over over method and I have to admit this is a better way! Cheers for learning something new!