Are you searching for a microphone that will capture the nuances of the sound of your acoustic guitar, read on.
Today we review the best acoustic guitar microphones on the market.
Since different styles of playing require different mics, we’ll cover all sorts of mics, so there’s something for everyone.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best mics for your acoustic guitar!
1. Shure SM81 – Best acoustic guitar mic
Shure SM81 is hands down one of the best mics for acoustic guitar you can find.
After all, we’re talking about a reliable manufacturer that is widely known for making top-quality microphones.
This model is specific because it’s designed to record instruments such as guitars, pianos, and drums.
But the SM81 is primarily aimed at acoustic guitarists – it can capture transients and high-end shimmer, and it has an incredibly flat frequency response.
Self-noise is very low, and the output is high, in addition to minimum coloration.
It looks quite elegant too, with its vinyl-coated steel and thin construction.
All in all, if you’re looking for a reliable acoustic guitar microphone, the SM81 will meet your expectations.
2. Beyerdynamic M160 – Best ribbon microphone for acoustic guitars
Beyerdynamic M160 is another popular instrument microphone that won’t let you down.
This is a ribbon microphone, and ribbon mics are often used for recording acoustic guitars because they’re able to capture details without being oversensitive.
And when it comes to the best ribbon mics for recording, the M160 is hard to beat.
This award-winning microphone features a tight hypercardioid polar pattern that will allow you to pick up the sounds you want.
It also has a fantastic bass response, smooth mids, and silky highs.
It’s everything you need to record your guitar playing in a professional way.
But the M160 stands out from the crowd because of its unusual double ribbon design, which boosts output and guarantees better signal-to-noise performance.
That said, the M160 is a perfect mic for recording quiet finger-picking passages.
3. Aston Origin – Best for classic sound
Aston Origin is a legendary microphone that will certainly meet your needs, regardless of your level of experience.
It’s a high-performance cardioid condenser mic that is designed to deliver direct, smooth sound.
It has a broad 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, and it works great with acoustic guitars.
The Origin is also very versatile, and it’s ideal for singer-songwriters looking for a mic that can be used for recording vocals as well as acoustic instruments.
Condenser mics are generally great for capturing high-frequency and accurate sounds, and that’s why they’re often used in recording studios.
And the Origin will give you the best classic sound you can imagine.
It’s one of the most popular condenser mics for a good reason.
Plus, it’s reasonably priced, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to add it to your home studio equipment.
And one thing is for sure – if you decide to buy it, the Origin will serve you well for many years to come.
4. Neumann KM184 – Best stereo set
If you’re looking for a good acoustic guitar microphone, you should also check out Neumann KM184.
It has a cardioid pickup pattern and a small diaphragm, and it’s ideal for recording acoustic guitars.
It’s a great option for musicians who want to record with two mics, but if this seems too pricey, you can also get one KM184.
Either way, the KM184 is known for a natural, transparent sound, and the lack of coloration across the entire pickup pattern guarantees the consistency of the sound
Along with an ultra-low self-noise performance and flat response, you can rest assured you’ll get the results you want.
This is a high-quality, sensitive mic for acoustic guitars that is definitely worth the money, especially if you want to dive into professional waters.
5. Shure SM57 – Best dynamic mic for acoustic guitars
This is another fantastic Shure microphone you should take into consideration.
The SM57 is ideal for capturing percussive strumming, and it’s generally very popular among acoustic guitarists.
It’s a dynamic mic, and dynamic mics tend to be more robust – that’s why they’re often used for live performances.
That said, the SM57 may not be ideal for capturing small details, but it’s very versatile, and it offers exceptional value.
The advantage of dynamic mics is the fact that they’re designed to reject any unwanted noise, which is important during recording.
Finally, this mic delivers top performance and that iconic SM57 sound.
So if you’re looking for a widely used mic with a great reputation, you should put the SM57 on your shortlist.
6. sE Electronics Voodoo VR2 – Best active ribbon mic for acoustic guitars
Ribbon mics are a popular choice among musicians who want to record acoustic guitars.
However, most ribbon mics are passive devices, so they have no onboard active electronics or preamplification.
So if you want consistency with a range of preamps with different input impedances, you should opt for an active ribbon mic.
And sE Electronics Voodoo VR2 is one of the best active ribbon mics in the market right now.
It’s well-designed and durable, and it provides a remarkable, natural sound.
Another great thing about this ribbon mic is its active circuitry that enables low noise and high output.
The whole Voodoo series from sE Electronics is really amazing.
It has been developed by CEO and classical musician Siwei Zou with the goal to have a wide frequency response from 20Hz right up to 20KHz.
And the VR2 is hands down one of the best options for acoustic guitars.
7. AKG C451 B – Best for versatility
AKG C451 B is another excellent choice for acoustic guitars.
It looks very elegant and decent, and thanks to its small size and design, it’s very popular among drummers.
The C451 B is ideal for miking hi-hats and cymbals, but it also does a great job of capturing the sound of an acoustic guitar.
It provides an excellent transient response, which is very important.
And despite its fine diaphragm, it’s actually good for the road as well.
You can even use it for vocals – it works surprisingly well.
All things considered, if you’re looking for an acoustic guitar microphone that works well in any situation, the C451 is a great option for you.
8. Rode M3 – Best value for money
Rode is one of the most popular audio technology companies known for making top-notch microphones for instruments and vocals.
The M3 is an ideal mic for acoustic guitars, and it offers great value for money.
It has a small diaphragm and cardioid pickup pattern, and its frequency response of 40Hz to 20KHz is great for capturing acoustic guitars.
On top of that, Rode is reasonably priced – after all, condenser mics tend to be more expensive than dynamic mics.
And just like all Rode mics, the M3 looks amazing.
The only potential disadvantage is self-noise – some mics are a better option when it comes to that.
On the other hand, the M3 comes with numerous benefits that ultimately make it one of the best acoustic guitar microphones in the market.
9. Fishman Matrix Infinity Mic Blend – Best on a budget
If you’re looking for a piezo pickup plus condenser, you should check out Fishman Matrix Infinity Mic Blend.
With a small diaphragm and cardioid pickup pattern, this unique mic is a great option for miking acoustic guitars.
It’s very flexible and versatile, offering many tonal options through its controls.
There’s also a feedback control for live use.
All the controls, including tone, blend and volume controls, are accessible from the soundhole.
If you’re aiming for a cleaner sound, you can easily angle it towards the back of the guitar thanks to its swivel mount.
And if you prefer a warm tone, you can position it towards the neck end of the soundhole.
Either way, this mic will certainly meet your needs, and it’s a great choice for beginners as well as experienced musicians and producers.
On top of that, it’s inexpensive, so it’s a great budget-friendly option.
10. Aston Starlight – Best for innovations
We’ve already mentioned Aston – its Origin is an iconic mic that will provide you with a classic sound.
But if you prefer a lighter, pencil-like instrument mic, you should check out Aston Starlight.
This is a condenser instrument microphone with a small diaphragm, designed to capture all sorts of sounds, including acoustic instruments.
Thanks to its sintered head, it provides a perfectly linear off-axis response – so, there’s no coloration or high-frequency roll-off through the pickup pattern.
It also has three different voices (Vintage, Modern, and Hybrid) so it’s rather flexible and versatile.
But one of the best things about this condenser mic is that it’s laser-guided.
In fact, Aston Starlight is the first ever laser-targeting pencil mic that allows for recall of mic position.
Thanks to its laser targeting and multiple voicing options, it’s fair to say that Aston Starlight is one of the most innovative acoustic guitar mics on this list.
How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar Microphone
The truth is, acoustic guitars can be tricky instruments to record.
So whether you have some experience or you’re a complete novice, getting a good acoustic guitar microphone is the only way to capture all the nuances of your playing.
But how to choose the best acoustic microphone for you?
Condenser and Dynamic Mics
With so many options out there, choosing the right microphone for recording or live shows (or both) might seem like a real challenge.
But if you know what you’re looking for, we’re sure you’ll make the right decision.
Generally, condenser microphones are considered to be ideal mics for acoustic guitars, as they’re more sensitive than dynamic mics.
On the other hand, dynamic microphones are perfect for live stage performances – they are more robust, and they are designed to reject any unwanted noise.
Dynamic microphones turn sound waves into a voltage with the use of a magnet, so they’re like speakers but in reverse.
They’re also capable of withstanding high sound pressure levels, which ultimately makes them ideal for a live environment.
Since condenser microphones have active circuitry, they are more sensitive than their dynamic counterparts.
They often feature thin, fragile diaphragms which allow them to deliver outstanding frequency response.
And since they’re perfect for capturing high-frequency and accurate sounds, they’re often used in home recording studios and professional studios.
They tend to be more expensive than dynamic mics though.
Condenser mics come in three sizes: small, medium, and large – and the bigger the mics, the better the noise performance.
Mics with large diaphragms usually have incredibly small self-noise figures, and they often feature a subtle high-frequency boost.
Small diaphragm mics have a flatter frequency response so they do a great job of picking up every sound, so they’re commonly used for miking hi-hats, guitars, woodwinds, and classical instruments.
Another thing you should think about when choosing a mic is pick-up patterns.
Generally, pickup patterns determine where the mic picks up its signal.
Omnidirectional mics pick up audio from all around, so the signal will remain the same no matter where the sound comes from, while figure-8 mics pick up the sound from the front and back, so they’re ideal for podcast or radio interviews.
Cardioid mics are more directional, so they’re ideal for big live performances, small live shows, miking instruments, and other audio and vocal applications.
Besides condenser and dynamic microphones, there’s a third option: ribbon microphones.
A ribbon microphone is actually a type of dynamic microphone.
However, instead of a diaphragm that is attached to a moving coil that vibrates within a magnetic field, they feature a thin strip of metal suspended in a strong magnetic field.
The ribbon acts as both the diaphragm and the transducer element.
Now, most ribbon mics have no onboard active electronics or preamplification – so, they’re passive devices.
But there are some active ribbon mics available as well, so if you seek consistency with a range of preamps with different input impedances, this might be a solution.
Either way, one of the best advantages of ribbon mics is that they’re able to capture details, but without being oversensitive – and that’s why they do a great job of picking up the nuances of close sources while leaving out room noise.
That said, although they’re less popular than condenser and dynamic mics, ribbon microphones are an excellent choice when it comes to the best mics for acoustic guitars.
Acoustic Guitar Recording Techniques
Another thing that might help you figure out what type of microphone you need (and how many of them) is understanding basic acoustic guitar recording techniques.
There are two most popular ways of recording acoustic guitar:
1. Miking with One Mic
If you have one microphone in your home recording studio, it’s absolutely possible to record your playing.
Miking with a single mic can actually yield some great results, as long as you know how to approach it.
First of all, you should avoid placing the mic directly in front of the soundhole, as this will allow you to avoid all the ‘boom’ from the resonance built-up.
Try to aim the mic roughly where the body meets the neck instead.
You can also place it close (below or above) the soundhole.
Either way, try to put the mic about six inches away from the body – as you move the microphone closer, you’ll probably come across the proximity effect.
The proximity effect is a phenomenon that leads to an increase in bass or low-frequency response when a sound source is close to a microphone.
This occurs with cardioid microphones, and you can notice it when you put the mic too close.
On the other hand, the proximity effect can add more richness and warmth to the sound, so it all depends on what you want to achieve.
2. Miking with Two Mics
Miking your acoustic guitar with two mics will lead to a fuller sound.
However, using two mics requires more preparation and skills.
There are many ways you can set up a pair of microphones, so you need to opt for a way that suits you best.
For example, you can try a spaced pair (A/B) and coincidental pair (X/Y), both of which are very popular ways of using two mics to record acoustic guitars.
For a spaced pair, you need to position one mic at the 12th to 14th fret area, and another at the bridge.
If you have a large diaphragm condenser, you can place it at the bridge.
Either way, try to start with fine-tuning each mic’s position separately before monitoring the stereo mix.
And if you want to go for a coincidental pair (X/Y), you should position your mics with their diaphragms 90 degrees away from one another, while keeping them very close.
That way, one mic will capture the definition from the neck, and the other one will capture the warmth from the body of the guitar.
Best Acoustic Guitar Microphones – Final Thoughts
We hope our list of the best acoustic guitar microphones helped you find what you were looking for.
All of the mics we reviewed today are popular and reliable, and they will certainly help you achieve great results.
You just need to think about your goals and preferences and opt for a mic that suits you best.
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