Acoustic guitar recording is a skill that takes time to master. When it comes to recording, almost every engineer (or simply a music fan) has their own unique workflow that they’ve developed through time. Choosing the appropriate equipment is often the first step. We’ve looked at the best mics for recording acoustic guitar in this post. First, we’ll go over what makes a microphone ideal and high-quality for recording acoustic guitar, followed by a list of our best 10 mics for the job. This article also places a strong emphasis on budgeting. We understand that not everyone wants to spend a lot of money to receive good outcomes. You might have a budget of $100 or an unlimited budget if you’re reading this. Within the list, there are options for every price range.
Table of Contents
Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone for Guitar
- This microphone requires phantom power and performs best with a 48 Vdc supply (IEC-61938). However, it will operate with slightly decreased headroom...
- The SM81 is ruggedly constructed. It operates on phantom power and performs over a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. It is furnished...
- 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources.
Due to its small-diaphragm condenser construction, the Shure SM81 is a lightweight microphone. This acoustic guitar microphone is lighter and easier to set than previous mics, weighing only 1.63 pounds. It contains a three-position highpass filter switch and a lockable -10 dB pad for a range of applications, as well as good off-axis rejection. There’s also a consistent cardioid pickup pattern that provides isolation with little off-axis colouring.
This mic has a low RF susceptibility, which reduces radio interference and ensures that your recordings aren’t spoiled by unwanted noise. Despite the fact that many small diaphragm microphones have a limited frequency response, the SM81 has a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, therefore it doesn’t have this issue. Because it is not a large-diaphragm mic, it may not sound as warm as other mics right away, but this is easily remedied using EQ.
The SM81’s versatility is enhanced by the fact that it may be used on mandolin, violin, banjo, piano, and even as drum overheads. This mic comes with a swivel adaptor, a foam windscreen, and a carrying case, and it’s ideal for field work because it can withstand humidity and temperature changes. The Shure SM81 is our top option for this list, thanks to its low noise and high output, superb sound, and convenient features. This is the Best Microphone for Recording Acoustic Guitar in 2023.
Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone
- High SPL capabilities
- No internal active electronics to overload or produce distortion up to maximum SPL rating
- Extremely low residual noise
This microphone is not an exaggeration when it says it is an institution. The Royer R-121 Ribbon mic has long been a favourite of discerning engineers and producers looking for a high-quality, adaptable microphone. The Royer R-121 is ideal for acoustic guitars, guitar amps, percussion, woodwind instruments, vocals, and pretty much anything else. As a result, it is our top option for this list.
The Royer R-121 is an excellent choice for recording acoustic guitars, among other things. You might think its price is high, but once you test it and hear how fantastic and versatile it is, you’ll agree that it’s well worth the money. This is Royer’s flagship product, and it has a figure 8 polar pattern, like most ribbon mics. It has the sensitivity of a decent dynamic mic and produces a warm, natural tone with a fairly flat frequency response.
This mic is great for capturing acoustic instruments, but it can also handle recording very loud sources like a fully cranked guitar amp. The Royer R-121 features a unique feature as well. The back of the mic is brighter than the front side at a distance of two feet or less. When recording guitars, vocalists, and other sources that require a bit more top end, this variation in sound can be incredibly handy. The R-121’s sound quality, functionality, and portability make it an excellent choice for people that require the best. This is the Best Mic for Acoustic Guitar in 2023.
Shure SM57-LCE Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone with Pneumatic Shock Mount
- EXEPTIONAL VOCAL PERFORMANCE - The SM57-LC delivers high-quality vocal reproduction, thanks to its tailored frequency response and brightened midrange...
- INDUSTRY STANDARD - The first choice for performers around the globe, the SM57 Dynamic Vocal Microphone is ready to bring any performance to life....
- CLARITY & CARE - The uniform cardioid polar pattern reproduces every note as it was intended, delivering warm, crisp sound time after time.
Shure SM57 is a dynamic microphone, not a condenser, which means it’s mostly utilised for on-stage applications. However, it is also one of the most versatile and well-rounded mics available for a low price. As a result, it’s difficult to find a recording studio in the globe that doesn’t have at least one SM57 hanging around. For decades, they’ve been the industry standard.
The cardioid pickup design performs an excellent job of filtering out background noise and focusing on the instrument. Because the SM57 is so popular, we’re used to hearing things recorded with it. While it could perhaps be a little more detailed to make it the perfect option, it’s quite good at capturing a variety of instruments and handy to have around. Because it is a dynamic option, it does not require phantom power. The frequency response of acoustic and electric guitars is contoured, which means it rolls off the lower end and bass frequencies to better serve the higher end and shine of the instruments. This is the best acoustic guitar mic in 2023.
Audio-Technica 20 Series AT2035 Condenser Studio Microphone
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The AT2035 is a fantastic-sounding mic with unbeatable pricing. This mic is for those on a tight budget who want terrific sounding guitars, vocals, and other instruments. This mic is one of the greatest budget options on the market today due to its low price. It has a lot of positive reviews and is our cheap pick on this list.
The AT2035 is a budget-friendly large-diaphragm condenser microphone that will faithfully capture your acoustic instruments and vocals. It comes with a bespoke shock mount and protective pouch, as well as a switchable 80 Hz highpass filter and a 10 dB pad. I’ve used this mic on numerous recordings and have had excellent results with acoustic guitars and voices. This large-diaphragm condenser mic has a big diaphragm and can handle high sound pressure levels while providing excellent sound quality at a low price. It has a 120 ohm impedance, a cardioid polar pattern, and a tough, sturdy construction.
It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with a little presence peak about 12 kHz, but the frequency response is otherwise fairly flat. This results in a mic with a generally neutral character that can be used with a wide range of instruments. The AT2035 can withstand sound levels of up to 148dB SPL (1kHz) without the pad, which is quite outstanding. You can add extra 10dB by turning on the pad. At 1kHz at 1Pa, self-noise is a respectably low 12dB EIN, equal to a signal-to-noise ratio of 82dB.
The AT2035 is a popular choice among owners of home and project studios because of its functionality, sound, and dependability. This mic is manufactured to a very high level and can handle very high SPLs, making it ideal for larger studios. The Audio-Technica AT2035 is designed to record acoustic guitars, but it also works well with powerful guitar amps, wind instruments, and drums.
Rode NT4 X/Y Stereo Condenser Microphone
- Stereo X/Y condenser microphone
- Dual externally biased 1/2” capsules with gold sputtered diaphragm
- Capsules closely matched with full frequency response
Stereo recording is a fantastic technique to capture a realistic acoustic guitar sound, but many individuals lack the resources to set up several mics (for instance, an audio interface may just have one XLR input). Multiple microphones might also produce phasing issues.
You may use the Rode NT4 to get the benefits of stereo recordings without the difficulty. This microphone features two capsules, which is unusual for a microphone. The clarity is outstanding, and obtaining a complete, well-rounded sound from a single microphone has never been easier (technically).
This microphone requires phantom power, which may be supplied by a 9V battery if necessary, making portable recording significantly easier than with many other condenser mics. The connection isn’t simply for usage in an audio interface or mixing console; it also comes with everything you need to link into a camera or, if necessary, a laptop. The NT4 is pricier than many of the other options, and you won’t find one used for less than $500. That said, you’re getting two microphones for the price of one!
Shure KSM44A/SL Multi-Pattern Large Dual-Diaphragm Side-Address Condenser Studio Microphone
- Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology: Class A, discrete, transformerless preamplifier provides transparency, extremely fast transient response and...
- Groundbreaking specifications: 4dB of self-noise and max SPL of 131 dB for a total dynamic range of 127 dB – an increase of 7 dB that defines the...
- Multiple polar patterns–cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional–for maximum flexibility in a wide variety of recording applications
The Shure KSM44A has a dual-diaphragm architecture that makes it a unique option. Because of its unique design, its huge diaphragm may act as two paired small diaphragm mics, handling both low and high-frequency transients. This is a versatile microphone with multiple pickup patterns that is perfect for capturing acoustic guitars, singers, and other sources.
The KSM44 is a workhorse microphone with excellent quality and features at a great price. It has a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, no crossover distortion, little harmonic and intermodulation distortions, and high-quality electrical components. It also has gold-plated internal and external connectors, which is a nice addition for audiophiles.
This Shure side-address condenser mic also has some of the company’s most cutting-edge current technologies. The ultra-quiet Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology, for example, helps to maintain recordings noise-free. The transformerless output, on the other hand, reduces undesired colouring. The dual-diaphragm design of the KSM44 allows you to choose between cardioid, omnidirectional, or figure-8 pickup patterns. As a result, it’s extremely adaptable and beneficial in a wide range of scenarios and sources.
The integrated pop filter on the KSM44A is ideal for offering extra protection to vocals or any other source that requires it. This mic also has a switchable pad and a highpass filter that may be selected. At this price point, this is one of the greatest condenser mics on the market.
AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone
- Sonic character of the famous AKG C12 delivers astounding sound quality for lead vocals and solo instruments
- Nine selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting for every application
- Three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) for close-up recording or high-output sources of up to 158dB SPL
Many people consider the AKG C414 to be a famous microphone, and we have to agree. While $1,000 won’t get you much, it offers all the features to justify the price. Few microphones offer such a wide range of options on the mic itself. The controls allow you to flip between an incredible nine different polar patterns with a single switch. If you prefer to concentrate on the higher frequencies, there are three different bass frequency roll off settings.
The mic includes a high-quality carry bag, a windscreen, a pop filter, and a shock mount that can be used with any mic stand. This microphone is difficult to fault when recording most instruments; it has excellent dynamic and frequency responses and is suited for acoustic and electric guitars, piano, vocals, drum overheads, and more.
The C414 can be your best friend when it comes to recording your guitar because of the extensive control it provides. You can select the pickup design that most accurately reproduces your guitar and is appropriate for the environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is choosing the right microphone important for recording acoustic guitar?
Recording acoustic guitar requires capturing the instrument’s natural sound accurately. The choice of microphone significantly impacts the final audio quality, so selecting the right microphone is crucial.
What types of microphones are suitable for recording acoustic guitar?
There are mainly two types of microphones for recording acoustic guitar: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. Condenser mics are popular for their sensitivity and accuracy, while dynamic mics are more durable and handle high sound pressure levels.
Can I use a USB microphone for recording acoustic guitar?
USB microphones are convenient, but they may not provide the same audio quality as XLR microphones with an audio interface. However, there are some high-quality USB microphones suitable for acoustic guitar recording.