Fender Koil Kords

Coil-style cables have a distinct personality, and a reputation that’s both good and bad. They certainly look cooler than straight cords—an opinion shaped by all those images of Beck, Clapton, Hendrix, and Page with coil cords draping from the jacks of their guitars—but those cool coils have typically delivered so-so quality, limited high-frequency response, and tended to be noisy.
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Fender’s new Koil Kords (a resurrected name from the ’60s) are designed to keep the groovy look and mellow sonic characteristics of the classic coil cord, while providing improved fidelity and durability. Standard and Premium Koil Kords are offered.

The Standard is white, and is available in lengths of 15' ($19 retail/$15 street), 30' ($29 retail/$20 street), and a 1' patch ($14 retail/$10 street). The Premium is black, and is only available in a 30' length ($59 retail/$40 street).

Standard Koil Kords are designed with separate signal and return conductors made of 99.99 percent pure oxygen-free copper to maintain noise immunity and sonic integrity. The Premium version is made of higher-grade copper, and features Differential Cable Architecture, or DCA. According to Fender, DCA “augments the stranded conductors with specially designed hollow treble conductors in order to deliver better frequency presentation.” All Koil Kords are sheathed in a PVC jacket, and have one straight and one right-angle connector—excepting the patch cable, which has two right-angle ends.

I connected the 15' Standard between a Fender Stratocaster and a Carr Vincent amp, and was transported back 20 years. I’d forgotten how flexible a coil cord feels, and there’s an obvious ergonomic advantage to a cord that picks up its own slack. The caveat is that you don’t reach the full length before feeling, well, stretched.

As advertised, the Koil Kords’ tone has the subdued highs of a classic coil cable, but it’s certainly not dull. To me, the sonic difference between a modern straight cable and the Koil Kord is much like comparing a digital-audio recording to vibey analog-tape sweetness. Impressively, the Koil Kord’s background noise was comparable to that of several straight cables.

The 30' Standard Koil buzzed more, and was even less bright, but its more compressed midrange helped me achieve feedback in more spots on my guitar neck. The major knock on the 30-footer is the significant increase in microphonic noise when the cable is stretched or shaken. By contrast, the 30' Premium delivers slightly more highs, and a ballsier overall tone. It’s also noticeably heavier, and its straight end is metal instead of plastic. The difference in handling noise was huge, as the Premium remains nearly silent no matter how much you kick it around. Such a hefty cable provides even more pull, however, and could easily uproot a non-secured stompbox. Though subtle, the Koil Kords patch cord also imparted an element of vintage warmth when compared to the more transparent sound of straight patch cables.

Guitarists going for full vintage glory will find Fender’s Koil Kords to be worthy wires for their classic rigs. Those who seek to funkify their visual presentation will love how they look, and anyone wanting to add some old-school sweetness to a modern system will dig what they do for your sound.