Best Mics For Guitar Amps
(Updated for 2019)
Written By James Quinn
Are you looking for the best microphone on the market for guitar amps?
- Do you need to get a new microphone for your guitar amp?
- Are you looking to gift someone you know with it?
- Have you been trying to train someone in the ways of the masterful guitar, and now you think he or she is ready to use the amp?
But before we take a look at the amplifier and the right microphone for it, and its role in your guitar playing let us take a look at your guitar playing skills.
Learning to play the guitar is not all ponies and rainbows. With the advent of the internet, most people rush to get an online "lesson" and this does not always go well.
Half the time you get to learn techniques that are not necessarily good techniques. Some are bad habits that get very difficult to kick and they can spoil the way you play.
It is important that you invest your time and money in a tried and tested way to learn how to play. Once you know how to get the right sound, then you can start looking at ways to amplify your new-found skill.
In a Hurry? Our Top Pick Is.....
The Superlux PRA-628 MKII
Are you looking for a microphone that will be great for your guitar amplifier?
It may seem like a daunting task when you look at the number of microphones you need to be buying so that you get the sound you need when recording or even performing live.
But we have narrowed it down for you, and come up with a comprehensive list of what you should look for in a good microphone for amps.
Look for a microphone with a good pop filter, a great frequency range, a durable one, a clear microphone and one that can withstand vibrations that will come with the sound produced.
Above all, look for the microphone that is compatible with your amp, and does not allow for feedback.
Our favourite is the Superlux PRA-628 MKII Microphone - check price here.
I'm sure this is no new name to you (pun intended). Sometimes it helps to go with trusted brands. This microphone will offer you clean sound with a wide frequency range and has a highly effective pop filter.
These Are Our 5 Best Mics For Guitar Amps
#1. OUR OVERALL TOP PICK
1. Superlux PRA-628 MKII
Superlux is not a brand that we were too familiar with. This always makes it interesting. There are no prejudices or preconceptions going into this. Let’s start with the product’s feature.
Aesthetically, there is not a negative word that we could possibly say. It feels as sturdy as it looks. The upper mesh is silver and black in colour, as you would have come to expect of mics.
The black side is the rear end of this mic. For the best results when recording, you want to make sure that your silver side is facing the source. The bottom is no surprise either.
It has a smooth black finish. This is a dynamic instrument microphone that is designed with wind instruments in mind. We have found that is does a great job with recording guitars as well.
It is a super-cardioid polar pattern microphone, which means that it isolates the sound from the direction in which it is directed. As a result, the audio that it captures is clear and devoid of background noises or interference.
This is not a condenser microphone. The frequency rate is 80 - 16000Hz. The impedance is 200 Ohms. There is a 150dB SPL maximum. There are no durability concerns of note.
There is a microphone holder included with this mic. It also comes with a storage bag. The bag is not one to write home about. It does not offer much insulation.
What you get is something that ensures that your mic does not get scratched. The lower part of the microphone tends to be susceptible to scratching. You also get a mic clamp with this.
- This mic delivers great versatility.
- It is reasonably priced.
- The clip stand is a great addition.
- Comes with a carrying bag.
- Produces great sound quality.
- It is a compactly designed product.
- Does not do as well as expected with electric guitars.
- The bass might be too heavy for some projects.
2. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
The Shure SM57 truly embodies what it means to survive the test of time. This microphone was initially released in 1965. Yes, you read that correctly. That is a heck of a long time.
They must have done something right because 5 years later Shure was tasked with the supplying of voice projection of the US president. This is a tradition that has continued since then.
You have got be reliable for the presidents to trust you for as long as the SM57 has been trusted. With the SM57 you are guaranteed versatility. Every musician will appreciate this about it.
No one likes the idea of having to buy a new mic for every bit of recording that you need to do. It delivers great quality recording in large venues as well as small ones alike.
This is a unidirectional dynamic microphone. It cuts out the background noise and interference to deliver you a clean sound. That is down to the cardioid pick-up pattern that is famed for its incredibly isolation capability.
It goes largely unbothered by the loudness of the amp when using the mic. You will find that the sound remains just as clear in these instances. There is minimal distortion. This makes it a great pick for working in with an instrument that needs to be played and recorded at high volume.
The SM57 does not come pre-tuned for any specific sound or frequency. This gives you much more freedom with the ranges in which you can operate. Whether it is strings, percussion or drums that you are looking to record. The output will be impressive.
It has a frequency response rate of 40 - 15000Hz. You will find that sound output will be identical to input. There are a lot of advantages to this. This can be purchased without a cable or as part of a microphone bundle. The bundle includes a stand, cable and windscreen.
- It produces a clear and loud output.
- This mic provides great value for money.
- The output is identical to the input.
- You will get a very warm sound.
- Does a great job with vocal recording as well.
- There are a lot of fake ones around.
3. Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
We have another pick from Shure. Based on our experience with the previous one, this one had to be done. As the title would have let you know, this is a cardioid dynamic microphone.
This is suitable for guitar amps mainly due to the directional nature of the recording. You have some room to manoeuvre the mic in order to get the best out of it. The SM7B is marketed as a mic that delivers a smooth, flat, wide-range frequency response.
At face value, this would limit it to vocal recordings. You will be pleased to know that this is not the case. The use cases vary, as they should. It is well shielded to minimise the electromagnetic hum that is generated when working close to other devices.
This is not the first iteration of this microphone. It is an improved version of the model. Shure took feedback from professional users as well from casual users to deliver a refined product.
From an aesthetic point of view, no one could possibly ask for more. It has a professional look. There is nothing on it that suggests any physical weakness in the structure of the mics. It has the sort of look that you will have seen with a lot of radio broadcasts.
This is perhaps what makes most users think that it is not suitable for guitar amps. Beyond excellent vocals, it offers the versatility of being able to do the same with other instruments.
The most underrated feature of the microphone is the pop filter. It is amazing how much further your sound goes when this is used well. There is also a yoke mounting included.
Although you may not need this for guitar amps. The frequency response is 50 - 20000Hz. You will need a preamp to use this mic.
- Thoroughly impressed with the product quality.
- It is well-made and durable.
- The proximity effect of the cardioid makes recording easier.
- Provides great value for money.
- The sound quality is very good.
- Comes with yoke mounting.
- There is inconsistency in product quality.
- On the pricier end of the scale.
4. CAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic Microphone
CAD Audio has been leading innovation where microphones are concerned. It has been this way for close to a decade. The design is compact and rugged. It is made entirely of die-cast metal.
This ensures that you have a durable product. You will find that it feels sturdy and well-made in your hand. It is a one-piece body microphone of the dynamic variation.
The manufacturers had versatility in mind when designing this product. Whether you are working with guitar or keyboard amps. There is a rubber mic clip attached to the bottom of the microphone. This is one of the key components for enhanced isolation.
There is not much weight to it which initially worried us. Most of the times this indicates weakness. In this case, you will not have to worry about it. By virtue of being super-cardioid, the pickup pattern ensures that there is clarity in your recordings.
It all but eliminates the surround sound and the common issue of ambient noises being picked up. As long as you place it directly in line with the amp, you are good to go.
From an aesthetic point of view, it is nothing out of the ordinary. It is smaller than most microphones that you will come across. The clip at the bottom also means that you can use it on all sort of mic stands.
The frequency response rate is 100Hz to 15KHz. It has a sensitivity of -56dBV and an impedance of 310 Ohms.
- This is an inexpensive microphone.
- Produces great quality recordings with the guitar amp.
- The build quality is very good.
- It is a compact mic.
- There is minimal interference.
- Offers reasonable versatility.
- Is largely dependent on mix effects.
5. Sennheiser E609 Silver Super Cardioid Instrument Microphone
Our final pick is from an incredible brand that we are fond of. The Sennheiser e609 is designed in homage to the MD 409 by the same brand. It is geared to ensure that there is minimal distortion.
There is a flat-profile capsule that makes it perfect for recording in confined spaces as well as with guitar amps. The nature of the super-cardioid is such that you will be able to isolate the capturing of the sound from the amp without getting mixed up with surround sound.
There is a wider frequency response that enhances the field that you would be able to capture.
The sturdiness of the microphone is mainly down to the refined steel that it is made of. This is also a key feature that makes it incredibly reliable for recording. Another key feature of reducing isolation is the hum compensation mechanism.
There is less electrical interference as a result. You may not realise how critical this is until you use the mic close to other equipment or if there is some interference of your guitar’s reverb.
This is not to say that there are issues where it comes to recording high sound levels. Quite the contrary. The e609 picks up loud instruments with great clarity.
The frequency response is 40 - 18000Hz. There is a sensitivity of 1.5mV/Pa. The impedance is 1000 Ohm. We already mentioned that it is lightweight. It comes at just 180 grams.
The dimensions are 55 x 34 x 134 mm. When you buy this you get a versatile microphone that is capable of performing in a wide range of scenarios. Through our testing, we can confirm that it is probably best suited for recording guitar mic amps.
That is in comparison to the quality that you get when recording other sources. There is a 10-year warranty included with each purchase.
- Captures great sound from a guitar amp.
- It is very easy to set up.
- There is great versatility in what you can use it for.
- Does well with vocal recordings as well.
- Comes with a mic clip.
- There is a good warranty cover on this.
- Tones output could be a lot better.
- Somewhat on the pricier end of the scale.
Why You Need A Microphone For Your Guitar Amp
A guitar amplifier, also known as an amp or sometimes as a speaker, is an electronic device or system, that does as its name says, it amplifies. Sometimes the natural sound that comes from the guitar is not enough, or it gets drowned by other instruments in the band. You need to have a way to bring that sound to the forefront. The amp makes the sound bigger, and louder and blasts it through one or more loudspeakers. Thanks to the amplifier, your guitar sound can be crisp, clear and loud, like it was meant to.
A guitar amplifier is usually a wooden or metal box that stands alone. Amplifiers come in various sizes. The great thing about guitar amplifiers is that they can actually modify the tone of the guitar by emphasizing particular frequencies. This is done using equalizer controls, similar to the ones on a hi-fi. It can also add reverb, electronic effects, and distortion, known as overdrive. Most guitar amplifiers, come with a quarter-inch jack, which is where you connect your guitar using a patch cord or a wireless transmitter. In short, an amplifier is there to make your instrument sound louder.
There are different types of guitars, what is your preferred one? Guitars come in all shapes and sizes, and each is usually best suited for a particular music genre. They can generally be divided into three main types, which are classic, acoustic and electric guitars. It is under these categories that we see the different types of guitars that we know. Once you understand and know the guitar you want to amplify, you will know which amp to get and therefore be able to find the right microphone for it.
There are different ways in which you can mic the amp. You can use a single microphone, or even five. In this article, we explore the microphones that are suitable and up to this task. We also look at how best to use the microphone that you will choose and the factors to take into consideration.
Best Mics For Guitar Amps - Buyer Guide
Guitar amps, serve the purpose of amplifying the sound of the instrument plugged into it. In this case, the sound of the guitar. The amp is there to make the sound louder and better. When it comes to electric guitars, the amp is actually part of the instrument. The electric guitar amp, is different from the stereo amp, as a stereo amp is meant to reproduce sound. The electric guitar amp, on the other hand, is used by most musicians to distort the sound slightly.
Distortion is when the signal is too powerful for the circuit. You may think that this may be an undesirable sound, but some electric guitar players, actually want this sound. Another unorthodox requirement that musicians sometimes have, is feedback loops between the amp and the guitar. The guitar strings can vibrate if the sound coming from the amp and speaker is loud enough. The guitar player can hit a note, and the amp will make the string continue to vibrate indefinitely. These are both guitar playing techniques, that are valued by most electric guitar players. The amp, and whatever distortion has been created, need to be mic'd.
How will you position the microphone?
On the amp:
The position of the microphone on the amp is often done wrong and it is misplaced. The sound from the amp changes depending on where you put the microphone. Where the microphone is positioned can make or break your set. It can make all the difference between a good mic'd guitar amp that gives a great sound and a total disaster. As you move away from the center, you can clearly hear the sound diminishing. This means there is no such thing as placing the microphone anywhere and getting an equally good sound.
Away from the amp:
We have established where to place the microphone, but now let us look at the distance the microphone needs to be from the amp. You can position the microphone or microphones, a particular distance from the cone of the amplifier. A fingers distance should be sufficient. If you want to measure in exact units, place them about 2 o 3 inches from the amp.
Another way people often mic amps, is by suspending them in front of the amp. This means that you need to look for a microphone that has a polar pattern that picks up sound from the side. If you get a microphone that ignores the sides then you will be in trouble. This is where it comes in handy to know the polar pattern of the microphone you are buying.
Understand polar patterns
Now that you have an idea of all the ways to mic an amplifier, you may now realize the importance of knowing the polar patterns. All microphones are designed with different polar patterns. These describe the directionality of the sound and how listeners will receive it. It also speaks of the sensitivity a microphone will have to sounds. Knowing the pattern your microphone has will help you choose which one you need to get for your guitar amp.
Now this polar pattern in a microphone, picks up sound from all angles, evenly. It makes it great if you want to suspend it in front of the amp. That issue with this type of microphone comes in when it picks up other sounds that you do not want to be picked up. Otherwise, it is great if you are using it in a controlled environment like a studio. It would give you a lot of trouble on the stage. Live performances do not auger very well with this type of microphone.
These have a heart-shaped pattern when drawn on paper. They pick up sound from all areas except the back. It isolates ambiance and has much more resistance to feedback. It is this characteristic that makes it a favorite for loud sound sources, like amps!
Microphones with this polar pattern have a narrower pickup than their cardioid cousin. They close out more ambient sound, but they also have some pickup at the rear. This makes them difficult to use in sauces with misplaced speakers that could be the cause of feedback. They are pretty good at resisting feedback.
What is your budget?
They are many options available for you, but it is not every path that needs to be taken. Your budget can determine the quality of the microphone you get and the accessories that come with it. For example, dynamic microphones are generally cheaper than condenser microphones. Now it is up to you to decipher what it is that you need and the purpose for which it is needed. If you are just starting out and just want to hear how your playing sounds when it is amplified, then maybe spending an arm an a leg is not the best thing to do. But if you play professionally then you want to get the best sound from your microphone and amplifier.
A good microphone for your guitar amp will offer you great sound amplification, communicated to your audiences or recorded the way you want it. Some may ask, why is it necessary to mic the amp. Well, if you are in a large venue, one sound source will not cut it. You need to mic your guitar amplifier and send that sound to the other speaker sets that you have. This way you know that what you are playing is finding its way to the audiences' ears.
Our product reviews will have provided you with a lot of information. This should put you in a great position for decision making. It is important that you would take the time to read each review and compare the product features. While there is no perfect product, you will find that there are certain features that you would appreciate. Consider your own needs when making your choice.
The way you mic your amp can make all the difference. And the microphone you choose will also add to your success or failure. You want to make sure you have the best microphones in your arsenal, tools that will allow you to deliver quality sound. We hope our top picks will help you add to your family of microphones. Happy shopping! And here's to great sound!