Barrel Cables: Mono Vs Stereo used in 1/4'' Musical Applications

1/4’’ barrel (phone) cables are widely used in musical instruments such as guitars, keyboards, PA systems, electronic drums & mixing.

Mono cables are used for most all acoustic-electric guitars and single pickup electric guitars which are a two conductor, tip and sleeve (TS). Since single pickup guitars have only one pickup, they only need one signal line and a ground, and since most all acoustic-electric guitars have only one microphone inside the body of the guitar, they too usually only require a mono cable.

TS 1/4’’ (6.35mm) Mono Cable

Stereo cables are used for stereo output guitar jacks. Stereo jacks are sometimes found in dual pickup electric guitars which are a three conductor, tip, ring, and sleeve (TRS). There will be a signal line for each pickup and share a common ground. Keyboards, mixer boards, and electronic drums although are almost always stereo can sometimes be mono, the owner’s manual would have to be reviewed.

TRS 1/4’’ (6.35mm) Stereo Cable

Plugging a mono plug into a stereo jack will make the output mono which is typically okay in most low power signal jacks, however this may cause damage to equipment in active or amplified stereo jacks. Using a stereo cable from a mono jack to feed a stereo jack will most likely produce tone out of only one side and not the other, such as the right speaker in headphones but not the left as an example. However, a stereo cable will work fine in mono applications as long as both jacks are mono.

Click Here for a list of IO Audio Technologies high quality mono and stereo 1/4’’ phone audio cables:
Features: shielded, high tensile strength, high flexibility/durability, oxygen free copper (OFC), twisted wire for crosstalk reduction, easy on hands when coiling for storage.

See Also:
Barrel Connector Basics
Guitar Headphone Adapter (1/4” to 1/8”)
DigiKey Barrel - Audio Adapters
DigiKeyBarrel - Audio Cables