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Guitar and Amp Input Jacks - Stereo or Mono?

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Postby DylanBarrett » January 30th, 2010, 6:57 am

Hi all

Can anyone tell me whether all guitar jack sockets are mono or stereo, or can they be either?

How can I tell whether mine is mono or stereo?

And what about the amps?

Thanks

Rock on!
D 8)
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Postby Blue Jay » January 30th, 2010, 7:24 am

The vast majority or guitar input jacks are mono. You'd have to look at the positive pin or 2 pins inside the jack, and there is just one ground or sleeve connection.

I'm guessing that 99.9% are mono, knowing that some Gibsons, my Lucille and probably ES-345's or 355's, I dunno are stereo, and also some Rickenbackers with Ric-O-Sound Stereo - I have a 370-12.

So without being scientific, maybe 1 guitar in a thousand is a stereo guitar? Active, boosted and sustainer/sustaniac guitars, and basses might have a stereo jack for different reasons, because they either have 9V assisted pickups or a pre-amp/boost/sustainer. But acoustic guitars don't have a stereo jack, perhaps because the pickups are not active, so the pre-amp must be irrelevant, until your battery dies? :lol: I'm not that familiar with acoustics, or don't care as much - we don't hot rod them. :roll:

Stereo cords, let's say 1/4" as an example are rarely seen, except with large headphones. You will note a small insulating ring between 2 positive ends, whereas mono cords have a negative pin, insulator and a single positive point to them. Stereo cords are what you get with Discmans and MP3's in much smaller versions, 1/8" or less.

Check your amp's specs, look for 2 inputs for L and R channels, which would also be extremely rare, because they are usually mono - maybe something can be done with effects loops and some of the other members might tell you. 8)

Image

Here's a good clear and open (not sealed or concealed) example of a stereo jack with a unique midboost Fat Tuesday! :lol:

Image
Last edited by Blue Jay on January 30th, 2010, 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby DylanBarrett » January 30th, 2010, 7:40 am

Hey, thanks for the quick reply...

Ok, I thought that was the case as my leads are all mono jacks.

But I can use a lead with a stereo jack if I had one? I mean...it will work the same?

I have heard that stereo jacks actually have a better grip in the socket than a mono, but that just what I've heard.. :roll:

Rock on!
D 8)
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Postby Blue Jay » January 30th, 2010, 8:09 am

DylanBarrett wrote:Hey, thanks for the quick reply...

Ok, I thought that was the case as my leads are all mono jacks.

But I can use a lead with a stereo jack if I had one? I mean...it will work the same?

I have heard that stereo jacks actually have a better grip in the socket than a mono, but that just what I've heard.. :roll:

Rock on!
D 8)


I don't know the technical answer to that one, but it doesn't hurt to try. Nothing bad will happen.

I plug mono cords into boosted guitars like an Eric Clapton Signature, and edited my last post to include boosters and Sustainiacs. And we use mono cords with EMG's, so I think that the answer is yes.

But depending on how the product is wired, you can have failure, but not catastrophic. When you plug into the wrong jack of a stereo guitar you lose one pickup - that's just a general case scenario. You have to use the mono jack if you are playing normally.

I think your question is answered, though I''m open to be corrected by anyone else. I shouldn't complicate matters, but have noted that it is okay to use stereo cords in mono jacks, but that isn't what you asked. You'll just get mono if the rest of the circuit in the host is wired to stereo.

I think that the grip of a mono jack is fine - that naturally spring loaded terminal, whatever it's called, clamps into the depression or notch in the cord, which is intentional, and it should hold firm. The extra terminal or positive lug if that's close to what pros would call it, (I called it a pin in my last post because I grew up calling them end-pin jacks?) merely puts more pressure on the sleeve and scratches it more.

I like the way that a single lug catches in the notch on the cord, and they can be bent to your own 'feel' or taste.
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Postby gnease » January 30th, 2010, 8:29 am

a stereo jack can be used as a mono if wired with the tip live signal (as for mono) and then the stereo's ring or the sleeve (or both) contacts as the shield/ground. given a choice, I usually buy stereo for my parts bin, as they are more flexible. and you are correct, stereo jacks usually have more mechanical "holding" force.

BlueJ doesn't quite explain why an active pup (mono) guitar would use a stereo input jack, but he is correct: they very often do -- raising the 1% figure very substantially. for these, the stereo jack is wired to act as a virtual switch in the battery ground circuit: tip contact is active signal (normal use), sleeve contact serves dually as signal ground (normal use) and additionally as power power ground for the guitar's internal amp. for the switching function, the jack's ring contact is connected solely to the battery ground, which is usually the battery's negative terminal. proper use requires insertion of a mono plug (such a typical guitar lead). when the mono plug is inserted, its sleeve completes the connection between the jack's ring and sleeve contacts, thereby connecting the battery's ground to the active circuitry and firing-up the amplifier and other powered goodies.

amplifiers: I doubt you will find any wired to operate using a stereo input. it would cause many issues with active pups and switched guitar jacks if the player somehow managed to use a stereo guitar lead. and a mono lead would make the second input useless by simply shorting the ring connection to shield ground. but … as BlueJ says many EFX circuits and pedal switches use 1/4 '' stereo jack/plug combos -- tho not in stereo, but as compact (single cable) send/receive or to support multi-switches on a single cable.
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Postby StackTrayce » May 10th, 2010, 11:14 am

I replaced a mono jack in a fairly standard dual humbucker guitar with a stereo jack because that is what I had. Soldered leads to tip and sleeve and left the middle "ring" terminal disconnected. Works fine and it is a bit more tight/secure than the old mono jack. I use regular mono cables to connect to pedals/amps. Important thing is to use tip and sleeve and not ring to make a regular mono connection out of a stereo switch.
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