You Don’t Know Jack! Or do you?
Whether you’re running a full on recording studio, a PA system, or playing a guitar on stage, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING depends on your electrical signals going from point A to point B as unchanged as possible. On the ends of these signal carriers are connectors usually referred to as “jacks”. You are probably familiar with a number of these, but how well do you really know your friends and allies, upon whom you entrust everything, and yet probably take for granted?
Let’s look at one you probably interact with more than any other, the 1/4″ jack
Pictured here is a male, 1/4″ mono jack. It might also be called an unbalanced 1/4″ or a TS 1/4″
This is the type of jack you will normally plug into your guitar, and is often found at the end of speaker cables, and various unbalanced line level cables
At the very end on the left in this picture, is the tip or the T of the TS moniker, and to the right of the little dividing line, is the sleeve or the S part of the TS. When used on an instrument or line level cable, the tip carries the signal and the sleeve carries the ground (and shield if present). When used as a speaker cable, the tip usually carries the positive signal, while the sleeve usually carries the negative signal.
Here you can see one of these jacks taken apart.
Above the threaded section on the right side of the jack itself, you can see the eye hole where you would solder the positive or signal wire that goes to the tip.
Above the threaded section on the left side of the jack, is where you would connect your ground or negative wire. At the top end of this leg, you will often see two tabs that can be squeezed together to secure both wires once they are connected. Doing this adds a lot to the strain relief of the cable and makes the whole system far more durable.
On the bottom right of the picture is an insulating sleeve meant to keep the signal wires from shorting to the case.
And finally at the top right is the case itself, meant to cover and protect all the delicate insides from damage, when you carelessly toss the cable on stage, or step on it, or do any other of the various unseemly things musicians do to perfectly good gear.
Pictured here is a female, panel mounted 1/4″ Mono Jack or female 1/4″ TS mono or unbalanced female 1/4″ jack
In this case, the top eye hole would be where you solder your positive or signal wire to and the bottom eye hole would be where you solder your ground or negative signal to. But use your continuity checker to be sure….you DO have a continuity checker don’t you?