It’s no surprise that Fender made its name producing high quality guitars and basses, namely the Stratocaster and Telecaster. Strats and Teles have been a critical part of the rock and roll movement, and even today the iconic shapes of Fender’s flagship products symbolize the rocking lifestyle. Realizing the branding potential, Fender has since released a number of other products that fit into the traditional rock vibe. For instance, the company has rolled out a few different amplifiers that are specifically designed for loud, distorted performances. The classic Twin Reverb would be an example of this. Fender has also released a handful of instrument cables, including the California series. Though this cable’s performance is on par with other similarly priced products, most consumers purchase the Fender California Series cables due to its flashy style and association with a name brand. Read on to find out what we think about all aspects of the Fender California Series.
With a name like the California series, it’s hardly surprising that this cable seems to color the signal a bit. Through attenuation of the higher frequencies, the California series cable sounds warmer and more mid-heavy. Seeing as this cable is most often used by rock players, this effect could be considered desirable, though it’s typically subtle enough that any amount of distortion or signal processing will mask its presence. With a clean signal, this effect is actually pleasant and serves to make an electric instrument sound more “acoustic.” Note that this effect is not strong enough to make a signal unclear, and players will have no trouble articulating through the warmth.
On the other hand, the warmth makes the cable totally unsuitable for any application besides connecting an instrument and an amplifier or pedal board. The cable’s unstable frequency response makes it a poor choice for connecting a mixer to monitors or a PA system. Based on Fender’s history and strategic direction with this product, it’s unlikely they intended the cable to be used in this way, and it seems that the California series is best suited to connecting a guitar to an amplifier.
The California Series feel quite sturdy to the touch and is easily capable of standing up to hundreds of hours of playing time. The jacket is made of a thick plastic, which offers fantastic protection for the internal wiring. The plastic material is somewhat prone to stick to itself, and a handful of users have reported issues with the cable sticking to itself or other cables which can prevent mobility. However, this problem is by no means universal.
Internally, the California Series uses an ultra-pure copper core surrounded by a generous layer of ground shielding. This serves to preserve signal integrity and mitigate the effects of external electromagnetic fields on the cable. Note that the internal workings of the California Series is virtually identical to that of Fender’s other cable series.
As we’ve alluded to, the California Series main selling point is its stylish color, rather than any significant change in functionality. The cable comes in three colors: Surf Green, Lake Placid Blue, and Candy Apple Red. Fender aficionados will recognize these colors, as these exact hues have been used a variety of Fender instruments. Additionally, the cable comes in a handful of different sizes, with the 15’ variety being the most popular. There is also a patch cable in the California Series lineup which rounds out the collection nicely.
Like most Fender products, the California Series cable enjoys widespread distribution. Many of the big box retailers will carry this cable, though they may not always have the ideal lengths, colors, or prices. As always, the cable is widely available online and tends to be cheaper. Amazon.com tends to have pretty nice deals. Expect to pay between $14 and $20 for this cable, with the price depending mostly on the cable’s length and any shipping charges. At this price point, the California series is competitive with Fender’s other cables series, which makes this product a great value. If you’re looking for a cable to complete your band’s rock image, the California series is without a doubt a great option.