Chinn on Cable Wrapping

By Rick Chinn

Audio people have long been divided on the proper way to coil a cable. Rich Chinn’s provided some insights  on cable wrapping that come from experience. pb


I’m in two camps. For short cables, I prefer “around-and- around,” but for longer cables, say > 50-feet, I use “over/under.” I’ll use around-and-around if I have an area where I can stretch the cable out full length. Ignore this subtlety and you’ll fight the cable all the way to the cable box.

Regardless of the method, I always start at the female end, and I tie the loose end around the bundle in a clove hitch or an overhand knot. Mating the two ends is optional.

If I’m in a big hurry (like between sets at a festival), then I use the double-and-double method (double the cable up successively, a bit shorter each time (keeps tangling down), then tie an overhand knot in the whole bundle when it is maybe 3-feet long.

The “elbow-method,” even if figure-eighted, marks a rank amateur, and they are not allowed to coil cables (or much else). I don’t like figure-eighted cables on an elbow because it is a subtlety that gets lost to other onlookers, who then think that the pros wrap their cables around their elbows.

When stagehands tie my cables, most of the ones that I know use a clove hitch to finish the end. It’s nice, and stresses the cable less than the overhand knot that I use. I came to use the overhand knot after spending 20- years at Seattle Center, (home of the Space Needle), and maybe had one cable fail at the knot.

I start at the female end because of the knot tied to finish the cable. The knot does put a bend in the wire that tends to remain after the cable is in use. That bend is unsightly when you see it at the microphone end, but nobody sees it plugged into the snake box.

Leather ties are okay, but my method is faster. Anything loose tends to get lost. The propensity for loss seems to be proportional to the cost of the tying device.

3 variations of cable wrapping


If you know the method of wrapping (which is another reason for being consistent, and usually the only way to be consistent is to do it yourself), then you know the method of unwrapping.

If you unwrap an over/under cable correctly, it just pays out – totally wonderful.

If you unwrap an over/under cable incorrectly, it ties itself into a series of overhand knots – totally frustrating.

The best way to unwrap an around-around cable is to rotate the coil of wire, paying out the male end (cause that’s the end you started with). The easiest place is between your legs (Guys, watch out for the loose connector!).

Always pay out the entire length, don’t leave the coil at the base of the mike stand; if you have to move the mike, you’ll regret it. Figure-8 the remaining length if needed.

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