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Best Mic for Acoustic Guitar

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Best Mic for Acoustic Guitar

Whether you're a seasoned recording engineer or just getting your feet wet in the craft, choosing the right microphone to capture the full range and depth of your acoustic guitar can be a daunting task. 

Acoustic guitars have a very complex sound, from warm to bright to deep and beyond. 

Plus, with so many different types of microphones available, each with its own unique characteristics and capabilities, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

In this guide, we'll take a closer look at some of the best mics for acoustic guitar, so you can start capturing high-quality recordings from your home or studio!

 

If you're in a hurry:  
 
 

 

Note: this article may contain affiliate links, which mean that I receive a commission for any purchases you make, at no added cost to you.

 

Best Mics for Acoustic Guitar

 

Here are the best microphones for acoustic guitar recording in your home studio. Each of these mics is a good choice, depending on your price range.

 

Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic for Acoustic Guitar - AKG C414 XLS

 

The AKG C 414 is widely regarded as one of the best large diaphragm condenser microphones for recording acoustic guitars. As one of the most versatile microphones on the market today, you get nine polar patterns to choose from, allowing for a wide range of recording techniques and applications. This mic has be come an industry standard in recording studios, due to its flexibility, transparency, and ability to cleanly capture the entire frequency range.

From focused cardioid pattern recording to roomy, omni pattern recording, to figure-8 pattern you can truly do it all. The ability of this large-diaphragm condenser microphone to switch between so many polar patterns is invaluable for getting the most bang for your buck.

 

 

 

The C414 has a smooth and extended frequency response, capturing the full range of the guitar's tone with exceptional detail and clarity. This is great for solo acoustic guitar performances, where you want both the high-end detail and the low-end body. It’s also great for fingerstyle recordings, as it can capture the subtle nuances of each string pluck.

The microphone also has a high SPL handling capability, making it ideal for capturing loud and dynamic performances without distortion. If your acoustic guitar part moves from soft to loud throughout the course of the track, you won’t have to stress about clipping or overloading your mic. 

Lastly, the C414 has a switchable db pad (with three level of attenuation) and a high-pass filter (with three modes to switch between cutting out low end rumble, wind, and even minimize the proximity effect), providing even greater flexibility in studio situations. 

While it certainly isn’t the cheapest mic on the market, the AKG C414 is a top choice for anyone looking to capture the rich and natural sound of an acoustic guitar, and one of our top picks.

 

 

What I love about this mic is its versatility. It is just one of the most usable all-around mics, meaning it's also one of the best mics for recording piano and one of the best mics for rap vocals.

Note that there are actually two versions of the AKG C414.  The preferences between AKG C414 XLS vs. C414 XLII depends on your tastes, but here's the short of it: the XLS is warm and neutral, while the XLII has a bit of a high frequency boost that adds a touch more treble and air. 

 

Best Value Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone for Acoustic Guitar - Warm Audio WA-47 

 

If the thought of spending more than a grand to get a high-quality recording makes your stomach hurt, then I highly recommend checking out the WA-47 large-diaphragm tube microphone from Warm Audio. At this price point for large-diaphragm mics, Warm Audio hits the sweet spot between great value and great results.

Warm Audio is one of my favorite companies for replica microphones, and the WA-47 delivers a vintage tube sound without the insanely high price you’d expect. 

Truly, when it comes to getting the best value for your money, the Warm Audio WA-47 is a top contender for recording acoustic guitars. 

 

 

 

This microphone is modeled after the classic Neumann U47, a legendary microphone that has been used on countless recordings for its warm and natural sound. However, the WA-47 features a custom-made K47-style capsule, a vintage-style transformer, and vacuum tube circuitry, all of which contribute to its rich, detailed, and distinct sound. 

The vacuum tube circuitry sounds killer on acoustic instruments, adding harmonic distortion and subtle saturation, resulting in a more pleasing and natural tone. 

As with the C414, this microphone also has switchable polar patterns, allowing for numerous recording styles. 

Despite its vintage-inspired design, the WA-47 is surprisingly affordable, making it an excellent value for anyone looking for a high-quality large diaphragm condenser microphone for their acoustic guitar recordings.

 

 

Best Stereo Mic Pair for Acoustic Guitar - Neumann KM 184 

 

A solid stereo mic pair can capture the full width and depth of the soundstage, giving the listener a sense of being in the same space as the player. This is particularly beneficial for acoustic guitar, which often has a wide range of tonal frequencies and subtle nuances that can be difficult to capture with a single microphone

One of my favorite stereo pairs for capturing the full sound of an acoustic guitar is the Neumann KM 184 microphone pair, which you'll often find in a pro recording studio. 

These small-diaphragm condenser microphones offer exceptional clarity and detail, with a natural sound that accurately captures the full spectrum of your guitar’s tone. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a company like Neumann. 

 

 

 

Surprisingly enough, the KM 184 is also well-known for its ability to handle high SPL levels without distortion, making it ideal for recording loud and dynamic acoustic performances. It’s worth noting that it only has a cardioid polar pattern, providing good isolation and reducing unwanted room noise, though not so great for capturing immersive recordings alone. 

When all is said and done, the Neumann KM184 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality stereo microphone pair for acoustic guitar recordings.

 

 

Runner Up Stereo Mic Pair for Acoustic Guitar - Shure KSM 141 

 

There’s no getting around the fact that Neumann microphones are pricey. 

So, if you're looking for a less expensive option for a stereo mic pair for recording acoustic guitar, the Shure KSM 141 is a great choice. 

Shure has been in the business for over 95 years and has built a reputation for delivering reliable and durable microphones that provide exceptional sound quality.

This small-diaphragm condenser microphone set offers a similarly clear and natural sound, with a relatively wide frequency response and low self-noise. You’ll also find a switchable polar pattern, making the recording options a bit more versatile than the KM 184s. The cardioid pattern, in particular, provides good isolation, which helps to reduce unwanted room noise, which can become a real issue when using multiple condenser mics in an X-Y pattern. 

 

 

I absolutely love the compact size of the KSM 141, which makes it easy to position for optimal stereo recording. Plus, the included accessories, including the stereo bar and foam windscreen, make it a convenient and practical option for recording acoustic guitars. 

Overall, the Shure KSM 141 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality stereo microphone pair for acoustic guitar recordings.

 

 

Best Value Stereo Mic Pair for Acoustic Guitar - Rode NT5 

 

If you’re on a serious budget, look no further than the Rode NT 5. Many of Rode's microphones are known for their high-quality construction and innovative features, all of which you can access at exceptional value, making them a top choice for amateurs and professionals

The Rode NT5 has long been one of my favorite budget stereo pair recommendations for acoustic guitar. 

This small-diaphragm condenser microphone set delivers incredible detail and clarity, allowing you to capture the natural sound and full spectrum of the guitar's tone as accurately as possible.

 

 

 

The NT5 is similar to the KM 184 in that it only features a cardioid polar pattern, providing solid isolation and reducing unwanted room noise. You also get a variety of included accessories, including a stereo bar, windscreens, and a carrying case, making it a convenient and practical option for recording on the go. 

Even with its high-quality construction and top-notch tone, the NT5 is affordably priced, perfect for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile stereo microphone pair for their acoustic guitar recordings without breaking the bank.

Overall, the Rode NT5 is a top choice for anyone looking to get the best value for their money when recording acoustic guitar with a stereo mic pair.

 

 

Best Budget Microphone for Recording Acoustic Guitar - Audio-Technica AT2020 

 

When it comes to finding the best budget microphone for recording acoustic guitar, you have plenty of options to choose from. 

However, after my many years of experience, the Audio-Technica AT 2020 is still a go-to. 

This cardioid condenser microphone offers a clear and detailed sound with a wide frequency response, making it well-suited for capturing an acoustic guitar's subtle nuances and tonal characteristics. 

 

 

 

You would never know it’s a budget-friendly microphone by holding it, as the AT2020 features a durable metal construction and a pivoting stand mount, allowing for easy positioning and total stability during recording. 

It’s worth noting that the AT2020 is an ultra-sensitive microphone, meaning it can pick up a lot of background noise and handling noise if not positioned correctly, which can be a problem if you are recording in a noisy environment or if you are not able to keep the microphone steady while recording.

At around $100, the Audio-Technica AT2020 is an excellent choice for anyone on a tight budget who wants to get the best possible sound quality when recording acoustic guitar. That said, it certainly does not compare with some of the more premium mics in this article.

 

 

Best Dynamic Microphone for Acoustic Guitar - Beyerdynamic M 201 

 

Dynamic microphones can be great for recording acoustic guitar, depending on the sound you want to capture. They are often more durable and rugged than condenser microphones, perfect for live performances and touring. Plus, they don’t require phantom power to operate.

On the downside, however, they typically have a narrower frequency response range compared to condenser microphones, which may result in a less detailed and less accurate representation of your acoustic guitar's sound. 

With all of that in mind, I recommend checking out the Beyerdynamic M 201.

 

 

 

This super compact and rugged microphone offers a balanced, natural sound and a hypercardioid polar pattern, which provides excellent isolation and rejection of unwanted background noise. 

As with many dynamic microphones, the M 201 has a high SPL handling capability and is built to last, with a sturdy metal construction that can withstand the rigors of the road. 

Overall, the Beyerdynamic M 201 is one of my top choices for anyone looking for a high-quality dynamic microphone for recording acoustic guitar, delivering excellent sound quality and durability in a compact and affordable package.

 

 

Best Mic Acoustic Guitar for Live Performance - Shure SM 57 

 

Mic’ing acoustic guitar for live performances presents an entirely different list of challenges, from noise to feedback and beyond.

This is where a mic like the Shure SM57 comes into play. 

This legendary dynamic microphone has been a workhorse in the music industry for decades, and for good reason. Beyond the fact that it can work on almost anything, it offers a clear and present sound that is well-suited for capturing the sound of an acoustic guitar in live settings.

 

 

 

The SM57 uses a cardioid polar pattern, delivering excellent isolation and rejection of unwanted background noise, perfect for bars, clubs, or any other types of live performances. It also has a super durable construction. I’ve probably dropped my 57 a million times over the years and it still functions like the day I got it.

Versatility is a huge selling point of this mic, as it can be used for a variety of other instruments, including drums, brass, and guitar amplifiers, making it a great all-around microphone for live performances.

To this day, the Shure SM57 is THE top choice for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile microphone for live sound. 

 

 

Best Ribbon Mic for Acoustic Guitar - Royer R-121 

 

Ribbon microphones offer a warmer and more natural sound, perfect for a deep or vintage acoustic guitar tone. One of the most iconic ribbon microphones on the market today is the Royer R-121, which is widely used in professional studios and live sound settings worldwide.

One of the key features of the R-121 is its figure-8 polar pattern, which captures sound equally from the front and back of the microphone while rejecting sound from the sides. This can be particularly useful for recording acoustic guitar, as it allows you to capture both the direct sound of the guitar and the natural reverb of the room.

 

 

 

In addition to its undeniable sound quality, the R-121 is also known for its rugged build qualit. Compared to many ribbon mics, it can handle relatively high sound pressure levels without distortion.

Overall, if you are looking for a high-quality ribbon microphone to capture the warm sound of your acoustic guitar, the Royer R-121 is the best choice. 

 

 

Runner-up Best Ribbon Mic for Acoustic Guitar Shure KSM313/NE 

 

Like the Royer R-121, the Shure KSM313/NE has a natural and warm sound.

One of the unique features of the KSM313/NE is its dual-voice design, which allows you to choose between a brighter or warmer sound by simply rotating the microphone. Essentially, you get more flexibility in finding the best sound for your particular recording situation

 

 

 

Another Royer similarity is the figure-8 polar pattern, which helps you capture the direct sound of the guitar as well as the natural reverb of the room. Plus, with high SPL handling capability, you can record at far more dynamic levels without clipping.

If you like having the flexibility to adjust the microphone's sound with the dual-voice design, the Shure KSM313/NE is a great choice. And, while it may not be as widely used as the Royer R-121 in professional studios, it is still a high-quality microphone that can deliver excellent results. That said, it is one of the coolest looking mics out there!

 

 

Top 3 Challenges of Mic’ing an Acoustic Guitar

 

Mic'ing an acoustic guitar can be challenging in many ways. To help you get the most from your microphone purchase, be sure to check out my in-depth guide on how to record an acoustic guitar. When it comes to home recording, here are a few things engineers often struggle with:

 

  1. Mic Placement: The placement of the microphone is critical in capturing the natural sound of an acoustic guitar. For example, placing a microphone too close to the sound hole can result in a boomy and bass-heavy sound, while placing it too far away can result in a thin and weak sound. 
  2. Room Acoustics: The acoustics of the room where the guitar is being recorded can also pose a challenge. Room reflections and resonances can color the sound and add unwanted reverberation. Plus, ambient noise from other sources in the room, such as air conditioning or outside traffic, can be picked up by the microphone and interfere with your recording.
  3. Feedback: If you’re mic’ing a guitar in a live situation, you’ll have to consider feedback. When the sound from your acoustic is picked up by the microphone and amplified through the PA system, it can create a loop that causes a nasty, high-pitched squeal, which can be particularly problematic in live performance settings where high volumes are required.

 

Acoustic Guitar Mic FAQs

 

Can I record with my acoustic guitar pickup? 

 

While recording acoustic guitar with a pickup can be a good option if you need consistency and simplicity in your recording setup, it won’t provide the same natural and dynamic sound as recording with a microphone. 

With that said, you can certainly experiment with both options to see which works best for the needs of your particular track by recording both simultaneously and blending them together when mixing.

 

How many mics should I use?

 

The number of mics you should use to record acoustic guitar will depend on the sound you want to achieve and the equipment you have available. You can capture a great sound with just one microphone if it is positioned correctly. However, If you have two microphones, you’ll get a much wider stereo image that can provide you with more control over the tone. I wouldn't recommend more than two mics, though! You'll start to run in to serious phase issues at that point without any appreciable improvement in sound.

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