Finding the best microphone for recording acoustic guitar can be challenging. When recording with the acoustic guitar you want to ensure that you are able to get and maximize the best potential sound.
Now there are some that have acoustic-electric guitars and will just plug into their audio interface and record that way. However, if you do not have an acoustic-electric or want a different sound for your acoustic, then to mic the guitar would be the way to go.
Recording directly in will give you a more synthetic sound which is largely because it’s being funneled into the audio interface. You will be able to hear the notes no problem, but it doesn’t capture everything. Plugging in directly is ideal for when playing live though.
To mic an acoustic guitar will allow you to capture the overall warmth of the guitar. You will hear your hands move on the fretboard and even the guitar pick scraping on the strings. This creates a live performance feel.
Best Microphone for Recording Acoustic Guitar
Placing a mic in front of your acoustic guitar can be challenging as there are things to consider such as the room you will be recording in, how many mics should you use, where should they be placed, and of course which microphone is best for recording acoustic guitar.
The idea here is to get a very natural and bright sound while eliminating the chance of background noise.
In this guide we are going to look at the best microphones for recording acoustic guitar followed by some frequent questions asked. These microphones will range in price so they are an investment.
By the end of this you will have all the knowledge needed to make a smart decision about which mic is best for you.
1. Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
You cannot talk about microphones without talking about Shure. The SM81 is a super high-quality condenser mic (picks up sounds with great detail) that is designed specifically for studio recording.
This microphone also runs on Phantom Power. If you are unfamiliar with Phantom Power it is known as the process for delivering direct currents to microphones that require electric power.
This Shure model also comes with a swivel adapter, a switch lock, a case, and a foam windscreen.
You will get a low noise and high for clipping levels and a great response for precise sound reproduction.
If you’re looking for a mic that you can directly plug into the USB port, then it may be best to look at another mic. The reason is this mic is super sensitive and, as we mentioned, designed for the studio.
This mic has a smith directional pattern which means that there is a lesser chance of feedback. This is the mic for that near perfect authentic and natural sound that you have been looking for.
- Flat response for precise reproduction of sound.
- Designed specifically for studio recording.
- Low noise and high output clipping level.
- Able to use in a variety of temperature conditions.
- Comes with adapter, switch lock, windscreen, and carrying case.
- Durable and long lasting construction.
- Sensitive to wind noise.
- Requires phantom power.
2. Sennheiser Pro Audio MK 4 cardioid Studio Condenser Microphone
The Sennheiser Pro Audio makes our list for best microphone for recording acoustic guitar. This microphone has a 24-carat gold plated diaphragm. This mic is able to keep noise at a minimum due to its capsule shock that is mounted internally.
Having a large diaphragm makes this ideal to create studio quality recordings right in your home.
This microphone will provide suppression of that stubborn background noise. With the open front mount shape, it is able to be easily placed very closely to the sound source. The MK4 also comes with a microphone clip and protective pouch.
Using this on your acoustic guitar will really give it that warm sound that captures all the fine details of the instrument. Best results will actually occur in a small and quiet space. It’s also best to stay close to the mic in order to capture the lower ends of the sounds.
Like all condenser mics this will require phantom power which you can get via mixing consoles or preamps.
- 1 inch diaphragm capsule.
- 24-carat gold plated diaphragm.
- Perfect to record in studios and/your home.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Captures all the warm tones of an acoustic guitar.
- Comes with a clip and protective pouch.
- Will need phantom power.
- Super sensitive.
3. Rode NT5 Compact Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The Rode condenser is next up for the best microphone for recording acoustic guitar. This mic had a gold sputtered ½ inch capsule and a heavy nickel plated body.
It has a small diaphragm which is perfect for recording acoustic instruments. With dual power operation, low noise, and a full frequency response, this mic will capture all the natural sounds of your acoustic guitar.
Rode mics will create a very full sound and the perfect amount of air which really elevates the overall quality.
This mic is perfect for all those little details from the handling of the guitars fretboard to the pick scraping. With it’s bright and compressed tone it will be providing less of a “bass” sound.
It also comes with a custom case, 2 stand mounts, and 2 windscreens.
- Satin nickel plated body.
- Gold sputtered ½ inch capsule.
- Full frequency response.
- Small diaphragm condenser.
- Picks up all the details for your acoustic guitar.
- Comes with a case, 2 stand mounts, and 2 windscreens.
- Sensitive to wind noise.
- Provides less bass.
4. AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental
The AKG Perception is great for recording acoustic guitar. This is a heavy duty mic with it’s built-to-last construction.
With it’s small-diaphragm, this is great to get all of the details of what exactly you are playing and at a high quality.
At a affordable cost point, it has a great high dynamic range. Requiring phantom power and once placed perfectly, this mic is very responsive.
If you are wanting to record more than one guitar or musicians, you will need to focus on the microphone’s sensitivity and ensure it’s in the best possible location.
With a great frequency and the ability to limit the noise, it will capture all the warmth and great tone when recording.
Recordings will sound live with lower mids defined. With a nice and clean sound without picking up any background noise, this is a great mic for your acoustic guitar recording needs.
- Small diaphragm to get all the details.
- Heavy duty construction.
- Affordable price.
- Captures warmth of acoustic guitar.
- Delivers great clarity in tone.
- High dynamic range.
- Requires phantom power.
5. Rode NT2A Anniversary Vocal Multi-Pattern Dual Condenser Microphone
This is the second Rode mic to make our list. With this mic you will get a large 1” capsule and the incorporating of a three position pick up patterns.
The response of the mic was created specifically for today’s recording techniques. The Rode NT2A features flexible audio characteristics which make this very versatile.
It’s versatility will allow you to adjust the EQ until you arrive to your preferred setting for recording.
Sturdy construction with hi pass filters make this mic very attractive. Great sensitivity and low noise is exactly the type of qualities that you want when recording an acoustic guitar.
Whether you have a small recording studio at home or are in a recording studio this mic will meet your needs.
It’s not a cheap mic, but the quality that this will display will be an investment as opposed to a quick purchase. The Rode also comes with a shock mount, pop filter, and dust cover.
- Large 1” capsule
- Sturdy construction.
- Comes with a pop filter, shock mount, and dust cover.
- Great sensitivity and low noise.
- Three position pick up patterns.
- Hi-pass filter.
- Shock mount is not overly durable.
6. Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic
Another mic from Sennheiser makes and rounds out our list. With a five position bass roll-off switch and great feedback rejection this is a fantastic mic for recording acoustic guitars.
It’s a super popular model among studio engineers and musicians. With a rugged design this will give you the clear sound reproduction that you have been looking for.
The cardioid polar pattern is effective in rejecting any feedback that the monitors could cause.
You will need a USB interface to plus this into a pc/mac via a USB port. The XLR microphone cable is included with this purchase.
The versatility of the mic can be seen and heard in the high output level, large diaphragm, and a high pass filter ring.
Sennheiser’s MD 421 will capture all the details you are looking for and is a great addition to your mic collection or perfect for your one and only recording mic.
- Five position bass roll-off switch.
- Versatile with high output level.
- Rugged design.
- Clear sound reproduction.
- Dust and humidity resistant.
- Great feedback rejection.
- Clip design.
- Has some sharp highs.
Best Microphone for Recording Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide
We just looked at 6 really amazing microphones to record your acoustic guitar. Now it’s time to answer some common questions that we have seen that will help you even more when looking at these microphones or any microphones for recording.
What is the difference between a condenser and dynamic mic?
Condenser mics are used for capturing delicate sound and higher frequencies. This is why they are ideal for recording acoustic instruments as they will pick up all the details in the sounds.
In a studio setting (at home or in the actual studio), condenser mics are what is commonly used. Condenser mics also require power which we will get to shortly.
Dynamic mics are more ideal for capturing loud and stronger sounds. Think drums and loud vocals. A dynamic mic is best suited for a live recording situation.
What is phantom power and why is it needed?
Phantom power is a process where DC (direct currents) are delivered to mics via electric power. Since condenser mics have internal electrons, there needs to be something to power them.
This can be done by using a USB interface or a mixing board.
How many mics are needed to record an acoustic guitar?
This is going to be a personal preference. I’ve recorded my acoustic guitar by plugging right into an interface, using one condenser mic, and using multiple condenser mics.
It is more than possible to get a high quality sound with a single mic. It may take some tweaking and repositioning of the mic, but it can be done.
With two condenser microphones you can record in stereo which enables you to pick up on all available sounds for a professional quality. However, if you are like most people on a budget then you can totally make it work with one mic.
What is the best way to place a microphone for acoustic guitar?
This is a great question because the placement of the mic to your acoustic guitar is essential for getting the best possible sound.
You will want to start by placing the mic around the 12/14th fret and then pointing it towards the sound hole anywhere between 6-12 inches away.
It’s best not to place it directly in front of the sound hole. If you did want a sound that was more pronounced for bass, then you can try placing the mic a little above the sound hole. However, placing it by the 12/14th fret gives you the best balance.
Why do most people record acoustic guitar with a condenser mic instead of the internal guitar pickups?
As we mentioned earlier on in this article, utilizing the pick ups or plugging your acoustic-electric right into an interface will indeed work just fine. It’s just going to produce a different sound. That sound is going to sound not as natural. Why? Well it’s because it’s going to adopt the sound of whatever you are plugging it into.
Using condenser mics will again give you the most natural and warm tone. It will pick up on the fretboard movement and even your pick strumming the strings.
Here’s a quick YouTube video showing the different between the two sounds: Direct in vs Microphone.
Does room size matter when recording an acoustic guitar?
Room size does matter when recording an acoustic guitar. If you are able to record in a smaller room then it’s more idea as it results in a shorter room reverberance.
If in a bedroom, the mattress and pillows will help absorb and dampen the sound. Small rooms also tend to enhance the sound of the bass. Now if that’s for the better or worse is to be left up to your preference.
Best Microphone for Recording Acoustic Guitar Conclusion
In conclusion, we have seen that there are several options for the best microphone for recording acoustic guitar. Think of them as investments as these will last you a long time.
There are also different types of mics for recording (dynamic and condenser). However, if you are really committed to getting and achieving that beautiful acoustic sound then you will want to go with a condenser mic.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and hope that it has provided you with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision. Thank you for reading and as always HAVE FUN!
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