Dec 192015

I ran across a great tip for connecting unterminated wires like the Western Electric WE16GA to screw terminals like the vintage McIntosh amplifiers use.

Stripped WE16GA inserted into screw terminals.

Stripped WE16GA inserted into screw terminals.

If you look at the photo above you can see that the WE16GA inserted into the screw terminals doesn’t make good contact, and I’ve found if you do it that way it can degrade sonic performance.

Stripped end of WE16GA.

Stripped end of WE16GA.

So there’s a better way to do it and it is super easy!

Starting with the stripped end of the WE16GA wire, cut around the casing about a half inch down from the stripped end, as below.

Cut around the casing about a half inch below the stripped end.

Then pull up the trimmed end of the casing so it covers the end of wire, leaving about a half inch gap.

Then bend the wire around so you can loop it around the back of the screw.

Loop it around the terminal screw, then pull it down to seat it behind the screw.

Then snug the screw down so it is securely holding the wire in place.

Then repeat for the other connections. You’re done!

This approach gives really good contact to the screw terminals, with the side benefit of covering the pokey ends of the WE16GA tinned wire, which have drawn blood more than once from yours truly!

It turns out that this in an old recording studio trick, and is a much nicer way to connect the WE16GA wire to the terminal strips on vintage gear. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!

 Posted by at 9:03 am

  11 Responses to “A Handy Western Electric WE16GA Tip!”

  1. Any benefit from using two WE16G per channel?

  2. Hi Jeff!
    Thank you
    I bought some WE16G after you wrote about it. It is amazing that these vintage & inexpensive speaker wires are so good.
    Do you have any ideas why these work so good?
    The cost of these would not have even covered the tax on the other speaker wires we have paid for.

    • Hi Jim,

      I don’t know for sure, but I think it is just the combination of tinned copper conductors that both the Western Electric WE16GA & Belden 8402 share in common.

      I know what you mean, the cost is so affordable that it is rather remarkable, and the performance is so musically satisfying that even expensive wires pale in comparison.

      The combination of Western Electric WE16GA & Belden 8402 has completely changed my expectations of what I should expect from wire performance.

      Kind regards,


  3. Good morning Jeff-san,

    That’s a very good idea!!

    Shirokazu Yazaki From Tokyo / Japan

    • Dear Yazaki-san,

      Thank you! This has turned out to be a nice simple tip for making connections with the Western Electric wire.

      Kind regards,


  4. Hello,
    Would sanding the tin off the end strands help the sound?

  5. I am guessing the red wire with black stripes are the Western Electric WE16GA, if yes then what is the red only speaker wire? Can you send me the site / link where to buy both speaker wires. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Cris,

      The Western Electric WE16GA comes as a twisted pair, with red being the hot wire and red/black being the return.

      The vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire has been long out of production, and unfortunately you are about a year late on being able to buy ‘real’ vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire, as known supplies of the real thing have been exhausted.

      People have been passing fakes off as the real thing on eBay, so you need to exercise care in buying anything described as “Western Electric WE16GA” so you are not ripped off.

      A better alternative is the new Duelund DCA16GA tinned-copper wire, which is a modern and better sounding interpretation of the Western Electric WE16GA, and you can read more about it here, or by searching Jeff’s Place for “Duelund DCA” which will provide you the developing story of the various Duelund DCA wire gauges.

      Kind regards,


  6. HI Jeff,

    Where is the positive and negative of the Western Electric w16ga speaker wire?
    These are fantastic sounding cables sold my kk8tc after hearing the difference .


    • Hi Rommel,

      For my WRSE’s the positive (red) is on the 8 Ohm tap of the MC30’s, and the negative (red & black) is on the ground of the MC30’s. The WE16GA are fantastic sounding cables, and are what started the tinned-copper revolution in hi-fi – good stuff!



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