Best Mics for Recording Acoustic Guitar: Top 5 Mics Reviewed With Buying Guide

TAKSTAR SGC-598 Photography Interview Shotgun MIC

So many options out there for the musician.

Every brand claims that their mic is the best and has the advantage over the rest of the competition.

While these brands are fighting over your money and trust, you’re just trying to get a high-quality mic that can do what you need it to do and that’s record your acoustic guitar. 

That’s why in this guide we don’t just cover the best mics for recording acoustic guitars but also exactly what attributes you should be looking for to make sure you’re getting a mic that is worth your time and money.

 
IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS 

 

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Microphone

  • Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 0 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Price: $
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AKG C 451 B Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
  • Pattern: Condenser 
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Price: $
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Rode NT2A Anniversary Vocal Condenser Microphone
  • Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz or 80Hz
  • Price: $
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 AKG Pro Audio P420 
  • Pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure 8
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Price: $
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MXL 990/991 Condenser Microphone
  • Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 30 Hz–20 kHz
  • Price: $
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The Top 5 Best Mics for Recording Acoustic Guitar

Offering low noise and a high output, the Shure SM81-LC is a high-quality mic for a number of reasons.

First, this microphone is unidirectional and offers a wide frequency response along with a low RF susceptibility making it perfect for acoustic instruments.

This mic also has the ability to provide maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds because of the cardioid polar pattern while the flat response curve gives off a very accurate reproduction of sound sources.

You have the option of selecting a low-frequency response of flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff and the durable steel construction enables usage over a large number of temperature conditions, making this microphone completely versatile and durable.

What We Liked
What We Didn’t Like

The AKG C 451 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone is a microphone made with the intent of capturing signals that are rich in transients and percussive sounding instruments.

This mic is insensitive to handling noise because of the light diaphragm, paired with providing great protection from RF interference due to the metal body, makes this mic usable in almost any circumstance.

Also included is a switchable highpass filter at 75Hz or 150Hz that blocks low-end distortion. All of these attributes makes the AKC C 451 an awesome addition to your studio setup.

What We Liked
What We Didn’t Like

The Rode NT2A Anniversary Microphone Package is a professional capsule studio microphone that embodies today’s modern recording practices with its built-in high-quality frequency and transient response.

This mic comes with three position variable polar patterns Omni, Figure 8 or Cardioid. The three position pad (0dB, -5dB or -10dB) allows for full customization of your sound and the included shock mount, pop filter and dust cover all contribute to the overall high durability of this Rode.

A downloadable tutorial video hosted by producer and engineer John Merchant giving a demonstration of the recording techniques that are tailored for the NT2-A.

What We Liked
What We Didn’t Like

The AKG Pro Audio P420 comes with a Dual-Diaphragm along with three selectable polar patterns to customize the mic to the settings and sound that is just right for you.

High SPL applications up to 155 dB are supported with this mic because of the switchable attenuation pad, and the detachable coil cable is just one of three extra accessories that are included with the AKG Pro to increase your recording sound.

The ergonomic design of the swivel ear cups allows for supreme isolation and minimal bleed. The durable steel arms and headband lets this mic endure some abuse and still stay intact.

This mic also comes with interchangeable leather and suede ear cup covers for extra added comfort.

What We Liked
What We Didn’t Like

The MXL 990/991 Microphone is superior to its counterparts not only because of the number of features it has but also because of its high-quality output.

The solid bass this mic has is perfect for recording acoustic and vocals that people can feel not just hear. The 22mm capsule along with the gold-sputtered diaphragm produces a powerful and crisp sound with sonic detail.

The MXL 991 is built with a fixed cardioid pickup pattern that is perfect for both digital and analog recording. The hard mount mic stand ensures stability and the rugged hard carrying case will keep your mic protected while on the road.

What We Liked
What We Didn’t Like

Important Components To Look For When Choosing Your Mic for Recording An Acoustic Guitar

Diaphragm Size

In most cases you only need to consider the diaphragm size when you are using a condenser mic. Small diaphragm microphones you’ll find are usually slim and pencil-shaped while the large ones are much bigger and produce side addresses.

The small diaphragm condenser has an extended high frequency, a consistent pickup pattern and can more accurately follow sound waves.

Large diaphragm microphones are much better at shaping the sound. This type of diaphragm is excellent for vocalists and certain instruments because it makes the produced sound come off more alive and vibrant and really focuses on the source.

Budget

With high-quality microphones ranging anywhere from $100 – $900 you definitely want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment.

The best way to do this is to understand exactly what you need and then conduct the proper research to make sure that you get what’s most important to you first and then worry about other features accordingly.

Accessories

Microphones can come with many different accessories. Carrying cases, pouch bags, shuck mounts and pop filters are just a few different accessories that are usually included with microphones.

Any accessories that are included with a mic should contribute to raising its overall quality whether directly or indirectly.

Durability

It’s not hard for a mic to become worn down over time, especially if you are consistently traveling and using your mic on a daily basis. Look for microphones that are made of metal for increased durability.

Adding an accessory like a shock mount or a pop filter can also add to the overall durability.

Polar Pattern

A polar pattern is the part of the mic that is the most sensitive to sound and it is a 3-dimensional space that surrounds the capsule. Two common polar patterns are the figure-8 and the omnidirectional pattern.

The figure 8 pattern mics are sensitive to sound from the front and rear, but are not at all on the sides. This type of pattern is able to record in stereo, record two voices simultaneously and effectively record guitarists.

The omnidirectional pattern has no directional information and is equally sound sensitive on all sides. This type of pattern is great for picking up the sounds of multiple instruments at the same time, so if you perform in a live band, this type of pattern could be great for you.

3 Frequently Asked Question

Are Condenser Mics Really the Best For Recording Acoustic Guitars?

Yes. Condenser microphones are focused on capturing every sound in detail because of their ability to catch a higher frequency range and effectively reproduce the speed of an instrument.

Should I Record My Guitar in Stereo?

Using stereo recording is going to be ideal, especially if you’re looking to capture the best range of high and low frequencies. There are also a few other steps you can take to raise your guitar recording quality. You can 

        • Use a bass cabinet
        • Double your tracks with a variety of guitars
        • Record with a prepared guitar

Does It Matter What Brand I Choose?

The brand you choose is not as important as the overall quality. While it may be a safer bet to go with a more well-known brand for quality, there are plenty of lesser-known brands that offer great quality mics at a cheaper price.

Final Thoughts

There’s no question that the best mics for recording acoustic guitars are condenser mics. They are able to capture a higher frequency range, also being able to reproduce sounds, which is needed when you’re playing acoustic. 

Knowing the type of microphone isn’t enough, you also need to know what specific qualities a potential microphone should embody. You should be taking into account the polar pattern, how durable the mic is and also what useful accessories are included. 

Every mic on our list has the capability to record an acoustic guitar but our top pick is the Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone because of its ability to not only capture a high frequency response but its effectiveness in providing maximum rejection and minimum coloration giving this mic a highly accurate sound reproduction.

Now that you know our recommendation for the best mics for recording an acoustic guitar, you can move forward knowing that your art is going to be captured and heard the way you want and the way it was intended to be.

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