For every piece of guitar gear or equipment exists a manufacturer or a local dealer responsible for producing the benchmark. Not the designer of the most talked about model or the brand leading market turnover, but rather the maker who simply relies on the quality of their product to do the talking. For guitar cables, this is Divine Noise. Used by the likes of J Mascis, Jack White and our very own Tame Impala, the Portland, Oregon manufacturer is a musician’s definitive choice for dependability and cultivating tone. Behind the niche dealer is owner and engineer Gil Divine – a former guitar tech for the likes of Yo La Tengo and Lucinda Williams – who turned to producing cables with the know-how and knowledge to do it exceedingly well.
“Basically, in my experience you can’t play an electric guitar without a cable. And you can’t play an electric guitar with a broken cable,” he says. “Reliability to me has always been first and foremost. That’s why I still continue today to make every single cable... Because of reliability. You know, our cables, they don’t fail.
“Every once in a while we get a cable return that’s literally been beaten to hell, but it’s really rare that we get a cable that’s broken. I could probably count on one hand, in [the] seven or eight years that we’ve been around, how many cables we’ve had break. I still have cables that bands that I used to work for still tour with today. Yo La Tengo, most of their cables are from 2003 that are still in use today. That says a lot – I don’t know any other cable company that can say that.”
The beauty of Divine Noise’s success stems from the fact that it’s a word of mouth operation; one that continues to defy the lack of attention musicians tend to pay to cables. Evidenced by the fact that one of our biggest indie exports, Tame Impala, initiated a relationship with the sought after manufacturer.
“Tame Impala’s been with us [since] their record [Lonerism]... The one that really broke them came out,” Divine explains. “So that was four years ago, maybe five years ago. And they’ve used our stuff ever since. The important thing [is] all of our endorsers, they use our cables but everybody pays for them – we don’t give out free cables... So in order to support us everybody pays for cables. So those bands they believe in what we’re doing enough to pay for them.”
In the case of Divine Noise it’s a construction process done without compromise, and an attention to detail that ensures consistent quality, and differentiates them from bigger competitors. "I still refuse to do solderless cables, because I don’t believe in (them),” Divine affirms. “This company is kind of based on my beliefs. We don’t do things to make money, because, you know, we could sell a ton of solderless cables, I’m sure of it.
“Cable manufacturers make a lot of money on solderless cables because there’s no labour involved. You count how many feet of cable you get, you count how many plugs, and boom – that’s it. I think a lot of the time it can be kind of shotty and a lot of times they’re unreliable. I don’t build anything that I wouldn’t tour with. We don’t do anything to make a fast buck. We do things because it’s the right way to do things, as far as I see it.”
A product of this diligent approach towards design and assembly is the hand-built Divine Noise curly cables, the construction of which is distinctive to the manufacturer. “Another thing is that our curly cables are wire that is curled,” Divine explains. “We’re the only manufacturer to do that. Normally with a curly cable the manufacturers use kind of already prefabbed, it’s almost like telephone chord a lot of it; it’s really crappy wire. But ours, when the demand was there, the only way I would do it was if I found a place that would coil our existing wire so whether it’s our guitar straight or curly, it’s the same cable... So we’re the only cable company to do that and it’s quite expensive but it’s worth it because, one, it’s not gonna crap out on you. Two, it sounds great...”
In a similar vein, Divine Noise only sells through selected dealers, careful not to dilute the level of care instilled into each and every one of their cables. “Fretted Instruments is the only place in Australia you can buy our cables. We don’t want to be in every guitar store. I literally couldn’t do it, unless I hired a team of people to build cables. So we pick our favourite shops in the area, or they contact us. I like to do exclusives with companies, that way the market’s not just saturated. I would much rather people sought us out than it be just something off the shelf that someone grabs.
“You know, like I said with building every cable, there’s a lot of myself that goes into every cable. So whether or not you see Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys using it or Tame Impala, or one of the cables in Fretted, I made that cable and that cable’s built exactly the same.”
Divine Noise Cables are available in Australia via Fretted Instruments. For more details, head to frettedinstruments.com.