We all know that sound from recordings. Folk, singer-songwriter, storyteller, you name it – the acoustic is just as pure sounding as your favorite song. But how does one record the quality that good? Read more to know some of the best microphones for acoustic guitar.
Overview (Recording Acoustic Guitars)
Arguably one of the most popular instruments in the music world is the acoustic guitar.
It simply has that element of bringing out the musician in you. This is why the instrument is popular among singer-songwriters. It allows the artist to freely express their emotions in the form of melody and lyrics.
Aside from all of that, it’s also fairly easy to learn. And to top it all off, it’s also a very portable instrument!
You can take it with you during picnics, long trips, and even hangout sessions with your friends.
Because of all of these advantages, the acoustic guitar has also become quite a popular instrument to record. A lot of our favorite songs have acoustic guitar parts in them!
A lot of famous artists also rely heavily on the acoustic sound to produce some of their iconic songs. Modern musicians such as Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver, and Foy Vance all have the sound of acoustic guitars etched into their songs in a beautiful and delicate manner.
Because of the distinct tonal characteristic of the acoustic guitar, it’s important to understand how to record such an instrument.
It’s a known fact that capturing the complete sound quality of the acoustic guitar can be fairly challenging.
Unlike electric guitars, acoustic guitars are made up of different components. You do of course have the option to record it the traditional way via an audio interface straight to your PC or Mac. But there are just some parts or sounds of the wood of the acoustic guitar that you simply can’t pick up while being plugged in.
This is where microphones come into play.
I like microphones that take little space, but do the job equally well. I like being able to bring it during recording sessions, or whenever I get to perform live. Of course, not everyone of us has the luxury of heading into a recording studio and letting them record our acoustic sound.
Thanks to a lot of genius minds and a lot of intuitive methods, it’s now possible to record your own acoustic audio right in the comforts of your own home.
But as we said earlier, it can be a bit challenging.
This is why in this feature, we will be rounding up some of the best microphones to use when recording acoustic guitar. We will also be looking into some of the most asked questions regarding buying guide and some other aspects like USB microphones.
At the end of this feature, you will be equipped with some of the ideas and aspects you should look out for when purchasing a microphone to record acoustic guitar.
Let’s get right into it!
Recording acoustic guitars can be easy if you know what to look for. Right off the bat, it’s important to understand that not every microphone is compatible with recording acoustic guitars.
I mean, yes, you can still pick up their sound. But once you hear it, you’ll realize that it doesn’t actually pick up all the characteristics that make the acoustic guitar sound great.
When shopping for a microphone for the first time, you are going to be introduced to two types: condenser and dynamic.
In a nutshell, dynamic microphones are much more sturdy, making them perfect for live setups. Condenser microphones on the other hand require extra care as some units can be really sensitive. They also require what is commonly referred to as phantom power, or an external source of 47v power.
In terms of sound, condenser microphones can detect and pick up audio much clearer. This is why a lot of the microphones used for recording acoustic guitars are labelled as condenser mics.
Another thing you should consider is the polar pattern of your mic choice.
One of the most popular polar patterns is cardioid. This is because it is relatively simple and effective to use, especially when aiming to pick up single sound instruments, such as the acoustic guitar.
Next up is build. If you are only going to use the microphone for home use, then you can compromise on physical quality and invest more in sound performance. Then again, you’ll always want to opt for the perfect bang for your buck feature.
Speaking of buck, we have your budget. It isn’t a smart move to invest in the most expensive mic just to find out you won’t be recording acoustic guitar for a long time! You can always consider budget friendly alternatives, especially if you’re only just starting out.
Ah, yes. The curious case of USB microphones.
A lot of recording experts and audio engineers may tell you that USB microphones are not so reliable when recording acoustic guitars. Although you are going to sacrifice a few ounces of clarity and detail, you can never deny that they can be convenient, especially for recording artists that are always on the go.
In addition, thanks to a lot of ever-so-evolving brands, there are USB microphones available that are as equally good as your standard mics. It’s only a matter of preference and the type of recording you will be doing.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get right into the good stuff – the actual list of the best acoustic guitar microphones!
Starting off our list is a popular offering from Shure.
The SM81-LC is known for its flat frequency response. This makes it easier for audio engineers to tweak and toggle on certain frequencies when mixing the acoustic guitar signal.
It boasts a cardioid pickup pattern. This means that you can record your beautiful acoustic guitar signal without having to worry about pickup up unwanted room noise.
It’s also housed in a rugged steel construction, so you can record acoustic guitar and move it around with confidence.
One of the most affordable items in our roundup is an offering from AKG.
The Perception 170 is one of those no fuss, no frills types of equipment. It doesn’t have that much features, but what makes it stand out is the quality of the audio recorded.
It’s also built to withstand a fair amount of moving and beating (not literally, of course).
If you’re looking for a cost-effective workaround to achieving quality acoustic guitar tones, then this one could be the one for you.
Coming in at number four is a popular offering from one of the most famous microphone names in the world.
Rode brings us the NT4 – a stereo microphone that is known to combine two microphone capsules into a single enclosure.
This can be perfect for people who don’t have the means to setup multiple microphones in one recording session.
Although it doesn’t come cheap, it helps to think that purchasing a Rode NT4 is like having two microphones in one go!
Shure is back in the list with a more affordable offering.
Right from the name itself, the SM57 is a dynamic microphone that you have already probably seen laying around studios or being used in live gigs and concerts somewhere.
They’re just that popular!
It’s known for having more top end making it perfect for clear and pristine signal recording. It also is a perfect choice for micing up drums, too!
Completing our roundup is something that Sennheiser made specifically for recording guitar amplifiers!
The E609 has garnered a reputation for being one of the go-to microphones for rock and metal guitarists. It was designed to mic up amplifiers, but this doesn’t mean it won’t work for acoustic guitars!
It’s great at handling frequencies and high volumes. It also has a unique design – with the mic having a flat face shape. This means you will have little to no trouble positioning it for your acoustic guitar or amplifier.
It’s always fun and exciting to continuously experiment with different audio recording equipment. But sometimes, it also helps to just sit down and assess what can work for you as an artist and what you’re trying to sound like.
Thanks to evolving technology, it’s possible for you to translate the sounds in your head into actual audible masterpieces!
We hope this feature helped you out in finding that perfect microphone for your acoustic guitar sound. Have fun experimenting and exploring!