Best Mics For Recording Acoustic Guitar
(Updated for 2019)
Written By James Quinn
Are you looking for the best microphone for recording acoustic guitar?
Playing an instrument is something a lot of people would like to pick up. It is part of being cultured and worldly. It takes a lot of training and practice. There is more to it than just having a passion for the instrument.
Sure it helps when you like what you are doing, but it does not cover all your bases. Finding a tutor may help. If you are already looking for a microphone, then perhaps you are past this stage. You probably are a pretty decent player already.
- Do you need to be heard as you play your acoustic guitar?
- Are you looking for a microphone for your band's acoustic guitar player?
- Or perhaps are you looking to replace an acoustic guitar microphone that perhaps is no good anymore?
The guitar's origins are claimed by many civilizations. From Greece to Persia, they all have their different versions of where and how the guitar originated from. Variations of guitars are strewn across the globe.
This may also be attributed to the number of merchants that crossed their seas in those times. Thy not only travelled to different lands but also took with them, the culture, and cross-pollinated the places they visited.
In a Hurry? Our Top Pick Is.....
The LR Baggs Lyric Acoustic Guitar Microphone
If you are looking for microphones for acoustic guitars, there are a couple of factors you need to think about beforehand.
Firstly, think about where you will be playing. Is it for a live performance or for a recorded performance?
Will you be playing in an arena or in a small enclosed space? The space you are working with also determines what type of microphone stand you will have.
We have scoured the market and found some of the best microphones for acoustic guitars.
The LR Baggs Lyric Acoustic Guitar Microphone delivers great quality, and let's face it, some names like this one, have been around for aeons, for a reason - check price here.
Even though most microphones will do the job, acoustic sound is best recorded with condenser microphones. Ask for the label on the microphone package, so that you understand its polar pattern and what sound it will be picking up.
These Are Our 5 Best Mics For Recording Acoustic Guitar
#1. OUR OVERALL TOP PICK
1. LR Baggs Lyric Acoustic Guitar Microphone
One of the biggest challenges that most guitarist face when recording with regular microphones is that there is a lot of effort required in the EQing side of things.
To get you to a place where the sound is up to scratch, the level of skill required from the sound technician side is elusive to the average user. This is what LR Baggs sought to change with the Lyric Acoustic Guitar Microphone.
By virtue of being an acoustic mic, you will be aware that is was designed to capture the most delicate of sound, but to also be capable of going beyond this when required.
Those of us who love their sound will note immediately that the recording of the sound with this mic can be said to capture true sound. What you put into it is what you get out of it.
It is an incredibly lightweight device. The advantage of this is that it makes it easier to find places where you can mount it within your guitar with causing disruption.
To help with this it comes with an easy mounting system. This is anchored by a peel and stick adhesive. Placement can be within the guitar chamber or elsewhere.
As you use it you will also notice that there are an even balance and tone. This is one of the features that tend to be somewhat elusive, or at least is just left to the technician to deal with in EQing. It is always refreshing to see a microphone picking up the mantle.
There is also the option to implement high gain before any feedback is captured. The result of this is a louder output that is just as clear. You will also appreciate the fact that this mic is designed to reject that boxy reflection that is associated with acoustic guitars.
As a whole, it could not be more discrete. It fits seamlessly into your life. The only thing that you will notice is the improved sound output from your guitar.
- The mic is very easy to install.
- The sound quality of the pick up is very good.
- It produces a natural and true sound.
- The customer support team is fantastic.
- There are no feedback related issues.
- The pricing is just about right.
- It picks up handling noises.
- Sound users struggle to pick up natural sound.
2. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
The SM57 is no spring chicken. It has been around for over 5 decades now. A lot of new microphones have come onto the market since then. What makes it impressive is that it has remained one of the most trusted and reliable ones in the bunch.
Shure has continued to improve it over the years. Did you know that this is the same microphone that has been trusted by the US presidents over the last 5 decades as well? If that does not tell you something about the quality nothing will.
I will concede that none of the presidents is a famed guitarist. This is where our research and testing comes into play.
One of the most prominent characteristics of this microphone is the robustness of the design. Although it is by no means bulky, it is clearly compactly designed.
Durability is one of the main things that were considered. There is no reason to doubt that they have achieved it. This is a microphone that can take a few drops without malfunctioning. This has been proven through Shure’s very own drop test.
It is a test where the mic is dropped from a height of 10 feet and then tested. Yours will probably not be going through that sort of abuse. It is always good to know that if it were to ever occur your microphone would live to tell the tale.
You will not that this mic uses the cardioid pickup pattern. This is what allows it to focus solely on one source. Background noise and interference from other sources are largely cut out of your recording. It rejects audio that is outside of the pickup area.
Perhaps the most important place to engage this feature would be when performing live. There are usually multiple sources around you. To know that your microphone will deliver your sound accurately is a massive boost.
If you had to push you volume gauge up, the SM57 is geared to remain as accurate as ever in the sound that it picks up.
The frequency response rate is 40 - 15000Hz. Sound is picked up as played in most cases without the need for compensating through EQing.
- This is one of the stronger mics we have come across.
- True sound is produced without EQing.
- It performs very well in live situations.
- Background noises and interference are largely rejected.
- The price is fairly reasonable.
- It comes with a carrying bag.
- The popularity means lots of fake ones are on the market.
3. AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental Microphone
Any travelling musicians will appreciate the need for a rugged and well-made microphone. The last thing you need is one that will die on you as you travel.
The AKG Perception 170 has got you covered. It is a mic that was designed specifically for recording instruments. The body of the mic is all metal. This makes it a great companion for day-to-day use.
Aesthetically, it is quite a simple design. It is not one that we would champion as being the loveliest look that we have seen. However, there is no criticism that we can level at it.
If anything, AKG went with a minimalist approach to the design of this one.
The AKG Perception 170 is a condenser microphone that has a transducer diaphragm. What you get out of it are recordings that are very clear and deliver a transient response.
This is a mic that was designed to model the wildly successful and well regarded AKG C451 B. What the manufacturer wanted to change in this case was the pricing. This was designed to be a more affordable version.
Our testing was largely focused on capturing sound from one source is the way to go with this mic. It produces great quality recordings from acoustic guitars. The sound is as true to the source as it can get.
There is no need to add gain to get the clarity that you want. It comes with a mic bracket that you can use to connect it you a regular screw-on mic stand.
Although there is still some interference picked up when recording with this mic, it is kept to an absolute minimum. You will also be thrilled to know that your instrument does not have to be right next to be a microphone for you to get a good quality output.
This is a product that came out of a collaborative effort from various sound engineers across the world. You will need to use a mixer or phantom power to get the best out of this mic.
- The sound is captured and record true to the source.
- It is a reasonably priced microphone.
- Largely rejects interference.
- Great job when recording guitar and vocals.
- AKG provides incredible customer support.
- Some durability issues have been noted.
- Does not do as well with cymbals.
4. Sennheiser E609 Silver Super Cardioid Instrument Microphone
The e609 has one of the most striking looks that you will find of any microphone. It has a greyish upper mesh and a black handle area. Everything that you see and feel when you hold it indicates that it is well made. And why wouldn’t it be?
Sennheiser is a class act. We expect no less from their products. This is a super-cardioid microphone that was designed and manufactured specifically for recording instruments. There is no limit to what instrument you can record with it.
Well, that is not quite true. You see, the strength of a cardioid can also be its weakness. When working with louder instruments it can become overbearing. Seeing as its acoustic guitars that we are dealing with, this won’t be a concern.
There is a hum compensation coil that is used to reduce the amount of interference that is captured by the microphone. To ensure stability the manufacturer has made use of a neodymium ferrous magnet that has boron.
This is a key feature when it comes to the environment in which the mic can be used. For clarity of sound, the super-cardioid pickup pattern ensures that the sound from the source is isolated. This increases the clarity of the audio output while decreasing the interference that is captured from surrounding sources.
You will be able to record your guitar in places where there are other instruments.
By virtue of the lateral design of this microphone, you will not need a mic clip. There is a frequency response rate of 40 - 15000Hz at a sensitivity of 1,5mV/Pa. It takes the regular 3 pin XLR cable.
You will not need to use phantom power for this mic. Did we mention the 10-year warranty? Yes, there is that added advantage as well.
- Comes with a 10-year warranty.
- Uses the regular XLR cable.
- It captures great sound quality for guitars.
- The mic is well-made and durable.
- It is very easy to set it up.
- Provides the added advantage of vocal recording.
- The sound gets brighter as you record louder sources.
5. Superlux PRA-628 MKII
Our final pick is no slouch. The Superlux has a very distinct look to it. The first thing that caught our eye was the contrasting colour between the back and the front of the microphone.
The front is a grey/silver sort of colour. The back of the mic is black. This may be seemingly trivial until you consider the implication that this has on the mic being a super-cardioid.
Colours, in this case, are used to guide you into getting the best possible recordings that you could possibly capture. Pointing the silver side towards the source that you are looking to record will deliver the best results.
This is a better version of an earlier model, the PRA628 from Superlux. They have tapped into users’ experience and industry feedback to deliver an improved version.
The frequency response rate is one of the key differences in this case. It has been made wider than it was on the previous model. There is a lower and deeper bottom range.
This gives you the ability to push your gain quite high before you start receiving unwanted feedback. They have also implemented a flat pop screen design to minimise interference and handling noise.
You will get the best performance out of this mic when using it to capture sound from guitars, brass and other similar instruments. The vocal recordings were sufficient, but nothing to write home about. It comes with a mic clip and a carrying bag.
- Does a great job capturing guitar sound.
- It is a compact and portable mic.
- There is minimum interference captured.
- It is sturdily built and durable.
- Comes with a mic clip and carrying bag.
- It provides unbelievable value for money.
- The carrying bag offers very little insulation.
- Does not fare as well with electric guitars.
Tips For Picking A Microphone For Recording Your Acoustic Guitar
Musical instruments are a fusion of various cultures and hence different meanings are attached to them. As instruments go through the centuries, they are used for various events and hallmarks through time. They, therefore, attached cultural and historical significance.
In the 16th century, in Spain, the earliest known music for a guitar was written for the four-string chittarra. The chitarra had four courses of strings. Its Italian cousin had five strings. These instruments also have frets. Today, you may recognize guitars from the early 19th century, as they closely resemble the ones we see today. The starting point for all contemporary guitars is from the Spanish musician, Antonio de Torres Jurado. He adjusted the way the guitar was proportioned. He gave it a more pronounced waist and a broader body. He replaced wood pegs with mechanical ones. All this work culminated in louder richer sound than the previous guitars.
He then moved to the United States, after many luthiers in Europe were copying the design. The guitar sounded that good! As it continued to go through developments, the design was adapted and it then called for pick-playing rather than finger playing. It gave rise to the chord-based music, replacing the more elegant Spanish sound it had started off as.
Today, the flat-top design is still the most popular with most acoustic guitars. This is despite the fact that the archtop guitar has adjustable bridges, sound holes producing louder livelier sound. It is these reasons that made the archtop popular with country, jazz, rockabilly or big band.
Acoustic guitars are firmly rooted in contemporary music today. It has a sound that is irreplaceable. Most acoustic guitar lovers, will not want to replace that sound for anything. When it is missing in a performance, they can tell you. Its unique and irreplaceable sound has found its way into different genres of music.
Preserving and communicating the sound produced by the acoustic guitar, has become a dire need, as players now perform for a larger audience who gather to hear the soothing feel of the guitar. The microphone is a great way to communicate with your audience and amplify your great playing!
Acoustic guitars can be mic'd and you can get your audience to hear what you are playing. There are several microphones on the market, that do the job for you.
Best Mics For Recording Acoustic Guitar - Buyer Guide
Buying a microphone for an acoustic microphone? Then you need to look for a couple of characteristics that are found in the different microphones available. When choosing a microphone for any purpose, the first thing to do is to decide between a dynamic microphone or a condenser microphone.
Which microphones are best?
Most professional sound engineers, recommend using small diaphragm condenser microphones and larger diaphragm condenser microphones. Dynamic microphones tend to be great for live performances because they cancel out handling noise (which will happen a lot when you are live on stage).
Condenser microphones are really good with sound quality. They are actually considered to be the best by some. They are best suited for small room setups such as studio recordings.
If you want to record acoustic guitars, the best microphones are small-diaphragm condenser microphones and large-diaphragm condenser microphones. Small condenser microphones are the best for close mic'ing. This will come in handy when you need to mic an acoustic guitar. This will give you the best sound because it minimizes the amount of room noise you will capture, along with what is being played on the guitar. It will also help separate the instruments if you are playing and recording a band. These gems can capture a lot of details with minimal colouration and they pick up the beautiful depth and clarity of each instrument.
Large-diaphragm condenser microphones can also be used for close mic'ing and hence are ideal for acoustic guitars. If you want to pick up room noise, these microphones will do a great job of ht. Sometimes you want the ambience of the room to come through on the recording. It brings space and depth to the recording. You just need to be careful and make sure that the rooms sound, compliments the guitars sound and is not competing.
How can I plug a microphone into my guitar amp?
Look at the end of the microphone you intend to use (depending on whether you are recording in studio or performing live on stage). If the back end looks like the plug at the end of the guitar chord (a 1/4 inch jack), then you can plug it into the am. Should the plug be larger and has three visible prongs, it means it is an XLR connector and you have to buy a converter so that you can plug it into your guitar amp.
What accessories does the microphone come with?
Manufacturers know that you want more out of your microphone. Some accessories will allow you to get the maximum performance out of the microphone. Just remember that the more accessories you opt for, the higher the price. So if you are on a tight budget then this may not be an option for you.
The usual accessories that you will find for microphones include, but are not limited to microphone stands, shock mounts, pop filters and so on. Decide which accessories are more important to you, if you are on a budget. This is where you have to revisit the purpose of the microphone. In this case, you are looking for a microphone for acoustic guitar playing. If you will be using it to record in the studio, a pop filter and shock mount will come in handy. If you are using the microphone on stage, then these accessories may not be the first thing you want to get. The purpose will help you prioritize. If you are just starting out, then a microphone with a lot of accessories may not be the best for you.
Most people who play the guitar, name them. Deservedly so. You spend so much time practising on it, learning every inch of it and how it sounds. To be a good player, you have to be a good listener. Much like human interaction, to be a good friend, be a good listener (this will also work on your husband or wife). Listen to your instrument and it will tell you what it needs to be heard. The way you will mic it, will be detrimental to how far your music will go. There are microphones that are great with getting this sound out, and then there are some that just about manage to do the job. With the amount of time you have spent practising, surely you want more from your microphone, than just-getting-by sound.
The acoustic guitar is a beautiful instrument that is the staple for so many music styles. Many of the songs you know and love today would not be much without the acoustic guitar's sound. So it goes without saying that it should be properly mic'd. In as much as it undoubtedly one of the most soothing instruments, with a rich history, it is not the easiest instrument to the mic. People need to hear the magic you are creating. Even though it may not be an easy feat, if you have the right tools, you will be happy with the sound you get. The various microphones on the market today, offer different features that allow you to play in a live band and be heard, and also to broadcast your sound, they also allow you to record in the studio. It is important that you know where you intend to play and who you want to hear the sound. It gives you clarity in your shopping. We certainly hope that our picks will guide you to make the right buy and best fit for you and your guitar.