If you’re shopping for electric guitar microphones, but you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for….
Or how to tell the difference between one and the next…you’ve come to the right place.
Because in this ultimate guide, we’ll look at the 7 best electric guitar microphones on the market to see just how they compare.
So here’s what we’re about to cover:
Table of Contents:
- The Cheapest Electric Guitar Mic Loved by Pro Studios
- The Industry Standard Electric Guitar Mic Aternative
- A Specialty Mic Designed Just for Electric Guitar
- An Industry Standard Condenser Mic for Guitar Cabs
- The Greatest All-Around Condenser Microphone…Ever
- The Most Famous Ribbon Microphone…Ever
- A Classic Ribbon Microphone Used by Guitar Legends
The Cheapest Electric Guitar Mic Loved by Pro Studios
Traditionally, the majority of engineers prefer dynamic mics as the default option for recording electric guitar amps.
Mainly because the sound of an amp is mostly in the mid-range, so the high-end shimmer of a condenser mic isn’t always necessary.
The dynamic mic long known as the industry standard for this task (and many other tasks) is the legendary Shure SM57.
Which is great news for most home studios because chances are, they already have one.
And even if you don’t, it should be one your shopping list anyway, because every studio needs at least one.
As to why this mic is so adored on electric guitar: One theory is that the low-end rolloff at 200Hz compensates well for the proximity effect from close-miking a guitar cabinet.
But regardless of why…the Shure SM57 is so-insanely-popular as an electric guitar mic, and so-cheap…it’s the only option I recommend for anyone on a budget.
The Industry Standard Electric Guitar Mic Aternative
Often considered to be standard alternative to the SM57 for electric guitar microphones…
Most people agree that the Sennheiser MD421 works just as well, yet sounds noticeably different.
In comparison, the MD421 has a wider frequency response, so it captures more highs and lows.
It also has a larger diaphragm, which results in greater off-axis coloration. And while that can be a bad thing…in this case, with good microphone positioning, it only adds more character.
And just like the SM57, the MD421 is so-versatile that most engineers say it’s a must-have tool in their arsenal anyway, whether they record electric guitar or NOT.
A Specialty Mic Designed Just for Electric Guitar
Do a Google search for electric guitar mics, and the Sennheiser e609 is likely the first name you’ll see.
Because unlike the SM57 and MD421, which are widely-known for their insane versatility on almost all recording sources…
The e609 takes the exact opposite approach, with a specialty design created for the sole purpose of being an electric guitar microphone.
Now here’s why it’s so unique:
First, its flat side-address design allows you to hang it by the mic cable from the top of your amp…no-stand-needed.
For live performances, this means one-less mic stand on an already crowded stage.
Second, it features the less-common supercardioid polar pattern, which is perfect on-stage because it allows for near perfect isolation of the instrument. It also allows for more tonal variations from small changes in positioning.
Third, its hum-compensating coil is excellent at blocking interference from nearby sources, which is a common problem on guitar cabs, especially when miking them super-close, which the e609 was designed to do.
So if you want a mic tailored specifically for this one instrument, it’s the obvious choice.
Also check out an updated version of this mic:
An Industry Standard Condenser Mic for Guitar Cabs
While dynamic mics are typically the go-to option for cabs, that’s not the case…always.
Because there are two classic condenser mics in particular, widely-considered to be among the best electric guitar microphones of-all-time.
Sometimes they’re used on their own, but most of the time in combination with 1 of the first 3 mics we covered.
The only reason you don’t often see them in home studios is their price.
The first condenser mic I’m referring to is the AKG C414.
Few would argue that this mic has long been known as the most versatile condenser mic ever. Simply because…it sounds good on almost everything.
And guitar cabs are no exception.
If you can afford one, I definitely recommend checking it out, because just like the SM57, and MD421, you’ll use it all the time.
The Greatest All-Around Condenser Microphone…Ever
The other condenser mic commonly recommended by experienced engineers is the Neumann U87.
Just like the C414, it has ranked among the top studio workhorses (and electric guitar microphones) for many decades now.
In fact, many people consider it to be the single greatest microphone in history.
Now with condenser mics on guitar cabs, there are two important features you’ll need to have (the U87 and C414 both have them):
- They should be large diaphragm condensers
- They should have an attenuation pad
#1 matters because:
For some reason, large diaphragm condensers almost always sound better than small diaphragm condensers when recording this particular instrument. It’s not clear why, but almost all engineers agree.
#2 matters because:
In order to get the best sound from many amps (tube amps especially), you need to play them at a high volume. Dynamic mics, with their more robust diaphragms, are typically better equipped to handle these extreme levels.
With condenser mics though, there’s a real potential for overloading and possible damage to mic. Which you certainly want to avoid with a mic as expensive as the U87.
That is why, you should almost always keep the pad engaged, just to be safe.
As long as you can do that, a condenser mic like the U87 or C414 can add an entirely new dimension to your guitar sound.
Here’s the link:
The Most Famous Ribbon Microphone…Ever
When you read electric guitar forums for long enough, you’ll eventually notice 3 patterns on the topic of best microphones:
- MOST people – prefer one of the cheaper dynamic mics.
- SOME people – (who can afford them) like one of the classic condensers.
- EVERYONE – loves the Royer 121.
You can literally search online for hours, and not find a single person who has tried this ribbon mic on guitar and not absolutely loved it.
So if there is one mic on this entire list the I recommend EVERYONE try, it’s this one.
Unfortunately though, it’s not cheap, and probably beyond the budget of most home studios.
However, if you can afford it, and you want the one mic that’s almost guaranteed to over-deliver on its promises…there’s no better bet.
A Classic Ribbon Microphone Used by Guitar Legends
While the Royer 121 sounds amazing on electric guitar, it’s also fair to note that most ribbon mics in general sound great as well.
And the one other ribbon mic in particular, used on countless recordings over many decades is the Beyerdynamic M160.
According to legendary producer Eddie Kramer:
The M160 was his absolute favorite option on electric guitar. And its the primary mic he used back in his days of recording Led Zeppelin and Hendrix.
And since those two names are perhaps the best examples of what an electric guitar is supposed to sound like, the M160 might not be a bad way to get one step closer to that sound.
Here’s the link