12 Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Tone Masters (2024)

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Capturing the essence and power of an electric guitar, whether it’s the gentle strums of a ballad or the ferocious riffs of a rock anthem, requires a microphone that can handle its wide range of tonalities and dynamics.

When recording electric guitar, the choice of microphone can significantly influence the final sound. From the warmth of vintage tube amplifiers to the sharp clarity of modern solid-state setups, every aspect of the guitar’s tone needs to be authentically reproduced.

This article delves into the world of microphones that excel in recording electric guitars, presenting 12 of the best options available. From industry standards to innovative newcomers, here’s a curated list to help you find the perfect microphone for your guitar recording needs.

Our Top Picks
  • Shure SM57
  • Sennheiser e609 and e906
  • AKG C414
  • Audix i5
  • Austrian Audio OC818
  • Beyerdynamic M 160
  • Mojave Audio MA-201fet
  • Neumann U 87
  • AEA R84A
  • Royer Labs R-121
  • Sennheiser MD 421-II
Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone
(Image Credit: Shure)

Shure SM57

The Industry Standard for Electric Guitar Recording

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Dynamic
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Benefits:

  • Renowned for its ability to capture the nuances of electric guitars.
  • Durable construction suited for studio and stage.
  • Cardioid polar pattern focuses on the sound source and reduces ambient noise.
  • Excellent at handling high SPLs without distortion.
  • An industry favorite for miking guitar amplifiers.

Overview:

The Shure SM57 is arguably one of the most recognized and widely used microphones in the realm of electric guitar recording. Its prominence is not without reason – the SM57 is praised for its ability to capture the natural tonality of an electric guitar without coloring the sound. Whether it’s used in professional studios or home setups, the results are consistently impressive.

With its cardioid polar pattern, the SM57 effectively captures sound coming directly from the front, minimizing side and rear noises. This ensures that the distinct tones and characteristics of the guitar and amplifier come through clearly, without interference. Given the dynamic nature of electric guitars and amplifiers, which can sometimes reach high sound pressure levels, the SM57’s ability to handle these without distortion is a notable advantage.

Its rugged construction ensures that it withstands regular use, making it suitable for both studio recordings and live performances. Many professional guitarists and sound engineers swear by the SM57 for its reliability, durability, and exceptional sound quality.

Final Thoughts:

The Shure SM57 stands out as a testament to quality and reliability in the world of microphones. Its reputation in capturing electric guitar sounds is unparalleled, and it remains a top choice for many professionals worldwide. If you’re looking for a tried and tested microphone that promises outstanding results for electric guitar recordings, the SM57 should be high on your list.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Sennheiser E609 and E906
(Image Credit: Sennheiser)

Sennheiser e609 and e906

Dual Powerhouses for Guitar Amplifier Miking

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Dynamic
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid (e609) / Switchable (e906: Cardioid, Super Cardioid, Bi-directional)

Benefits:

  • Specifically designed for high SPL sources, making them ideal for guitar cabinets.
  • Flat-fronted design allows for close positioning against amplifiers.
  • e906 features a switchable presence filter with three sound characteristic options.
  • Durable metal body suitable for intense live applications.
  • The sharp attack and smooth decay make them perfect for capturing electric guitar nuances.

Overview:

The Sennheiser e609 and e906 are both celebrated choices when it comes to miking guitar amplifiers. Their unique design, characterized by the flat-fronted shape, allows them to be hung in front of a guitar cab without the need for a stand, facilitating optimal positioning.

While both mics have their roots in capturing the essence of electric guitars, there are subtle differences between them. The e609, with its supercardioid pattern, promises a focused sound with reduced ambient noise. It is renowned for delivering a precise representation of a guitar’s tone, especially when placed close to the source.

The e906, on the other hand, offers a tad more versatility with its three-position switchable presence filter. This switch allows sound engineers and guitarists to select between different tonal characteristics – bright, moderate, and dark. This makes the e906 adaptable to a broader range of tonal requirements, from the jangly highs of a clean guitar to the saturated mids of a distorted lead.

Final Thoughts:

The choice between the Sennheiser e609 and e906 largely comes down to individual preferences and specific needs. The e609 is straightforward, delivering consistent results every time. The e906, with its added flexibility, caters to those who like to tweak their sound and have more control over the mic’s response. Both are built robustly, ensuring longevity even in the rigorous conditions of live performances. If capturing the authentic spirit of an electric guitar is your goal, either of these microphones will serve you impeccably.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Audix i5
(Image Credit: Audix)

Audix i5

Tailored for Instruments with Punchy, Clear Tones

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Dynamic
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Benefits:

  • Specifically designed to handle the sound pressure levels associated with electric guitars and other instruments.
  • Precise cardioid polar pattern minimizes background noise and focuses on the main sound source.
  • Solid, rugged construction ensures durability and reliability during live performances and studio recordings.
  • Clear, consistent sound reproduction across a variety of sources.

Overview:

The Audix i5 is often hailed as an excellent alternative to other industry-standard instrument microphones, making a name for itself especially in capturing electric guitar tones. The i5’s unique strength lies in its ability to deliver a clear, punchy sound, making it ideal for not just electric guitars, but a wide range of instruments from snare drums to brass.

The cardioid polar pattern of the i5 ensures that it focuses on the sound directly in front of it, effectively reducing ambient noise and potential feedback issues. This makes it especially useful in live settings, where isolation from other instruments is crucial.

What sets the i5 apart is its ability to maintain a consistent sound profile across various instruments. Whether you’re miking a guitar cab or a snare drum, you can expect a clear, detailed sound reproduction. The wide frequency response ensures that every nuance of the instrument’s sound is captured, from the deep lows to the bright highs.

Final Thoughts:

For those looking for a reliable, versatile instrument microphone that won’t break the bank, the Audix i5 is a commendable choice. It’s particularly well-suited for electric guitars, delivering a punch and clarity that can be hard to find at its price point. Whether you’re setting up for a live gig or recording in a studio, the i5 ensures your instrument’s sound is captured faithfully and powerfully.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: AKG C414 XLII Condenser Mic
(Image Credit: AKG)

AKG C414

A Versatile Legend for Guitar Recording and Beyond

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Condenser
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Multi-Pattern (Omni, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure-8)

Benefits:

  • Offers nine selectable polar patterns for versatile positioning and sound capturing.
  • Highly accurate and detailed sound profile, ideal for capturing the nuances of electric guitar tones.
  • Overload warning with audio peak hold LED to detect shortest audio peaks.
  • Lock mode disables all controls for trouble-free usage.
  • Astounding dynamic range and extremely low self-noise.

Overview:

The AKG C414 is not just a microphone; it’s an institution in the recording world. Lauded for decades for its versatility and pristine sound quality, it’s a top pick not just for vocals, but also for recording electric guitars. The C414 captures the character of an amplifier like few other microphones can, making it a favorite for many sound engineers and guitarists.

One of the most impressive features of the C414 is its multiple polar patterns. With five main patterns and four intermediate settings, it provides unparalleled flexibility when miking a guitar cab. Whether you want the focused sound of a cardioid pattern or the spaciousness of an omnidirectional setting, the C414 delivers.

The microphone’s wide frequency response ensures that every nuance of the electric guitar is captured. From the deep lows of rhythm parts to the piercing highs of solos, the C414 reproduces the sound faithfully. Its high maximum SPL ensures that even the loudest amps can be recorded without distortion.

Final Thoughts:

The AKG C414 is an investment, but it’s one that pays dividends in sound quality and versatility. It’s as much at home in a professional studio as it is in a home recording setup. Its adaptability makes it ideal for a range of genres, from clean jazz tones to gritty rock riffs. If you’re serious about capturing the best possible sound from your electric guitar, the C414 should be on your shortlist.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Austrian Audio OC818 Condenser Mic
(Image Credit: Austrian Audio)

Austrian Audio OC818

Cutting-Edge Technology with Versatile Sound Capture

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Condenser
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Multi-pattern (Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8, etc.)

Benefits:

  • Advanced dual-diaphragm technology for capturing intricate details of electric guitars.
  • Multiple polar patterns offer versatility in different recording setups.
  • Exceptional transient response ensures quick sound capture without missing any nuances.
  • Open acoustic environment provides a natural sound reproduction.

Overview:

Austrian Audio’s OC818 stands out as a revolutionary microphone in its class, with innovative features tailored for precise and versatile sound capture. Designed with a dual-diaphragm, the OC818 is particularly adept at capturing the intricate nuances of electric guitars, making it a favorite among professional recording engineers and guitarists alike.

One of the hallmark features of the OC818 is its ability to switch between various polar patterns, from cardioid to omnidirectional to figure-8. This flexibility allows the user to adapt the microphone to different recording environments and requirements, ensuring the optimal capture of the electric guitar’s tones.

A standout aspect of the OC818 is its transient response. When recording instruments like electric guitars, which can have sharp, sudden sound changes, a fast transient response is essential. The OC818 excels in this area, ensuring that every detail, from the strumming of a string to the intricate finger movements, is captured with precision.

The microphone’s design also incorporates an open acoustic environment, which helps in reproducing the guitar’s sound naturally, without any unwanted coloration. This authentic sound reproduction ensures that the guitar’s tone remains true to its source, making the OC818 an excellent choice for purists.

Final Thoughts:

The Austrian Audio OC818 combines cutting-edge technology with traditional craftsmanship, resulting in a microphone that meets the demands of professional recording. Its versatility, combined with its ability to capture the essence of electric guitars, makes it a valuable tool in any recording setup. For guitarists and engineers looking for a top-tier microphone that doesn’t compromise on quality, the OC818 is undoubtedly worth considering.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Beyerdynamic M160 Ribbon Microphone
(Image Credit: Beyerdynamic)

Beyerdynamic M 160

A Unique Ribbon Mic Perfect for Electric Guitars

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Ribbon
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

Benefits:

  • Double ribbon design delivers a warm and natural sound.
  • Hypercardioid pattern focuses on the sound source, reducing ambient noise.
  • Compact and robust construction suitable for studio and stage.
  • Especially adept at capturing the nuances of guitar amplifiers.

Overview:

The Beyerdynamic M 160 stands out in the world of microphones due to its unique double ribbon design. As a ribbon microphone, it inherently offers a warm and full-bodied sound, but the M 160 takes this to the next level, capturing the rich textures of electric guitars with remarkable clarity and depth.

A significant advantage of the M 160 when recording electric guitars is its hypercardioid polar pattern. This ensures that the microphone primarily picks up sound from its front, minimizing any ambient noise or unwanted reflections. This focus on the primary sound source is especially beneficial when recording guitar amplifiers, capturing the guitar’s pure tone without any distractions.

The M 160’s robust construction ensures longevity and reliability, whether it’s used in the studio or on stage. Its compact design also means it can be positioned closely to guitar amplifiers, capturing the true essence of the instrument.

Final Thoughts:

For those seeking a microphone that can deliver a natural and warm representation of an electric guitar, the Beyerdynamic M 160 is a prime choice. Its unique design and characteristics have made it a favorite among professional musicians and recording engineers. From its focused sound capture to its rich tonal qualities, the M 160 is a testament to Beyerdynamic’s commitment to audio excellence.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Mojave Audio MA-201fet
(Image Credit: Mojave Audio)

Mojave Audio MA-201fet

ersatile FET Condenser with a Rich Tone

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Condenser
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Benefits:

  • FET design delivers a warm, smooth sound.
  • Excellent transient response, perfect for capturing the dynamics of electric guitar.
  • Built with a high-quality cardioid capsule for focused sound capture.
  • Robust construction ensures longevity and performance stability.

Overview:

Mojave Audio’s MA-201fet is renowned for its ability to produce a warm and smooth sound characteristic of FET-based microphones. Designed with versatility in mind, it can handle a variety of sound sources, but its attributes make it particularly adept at recording electric guitars.

One of the key strengths of the MA-201fet is its exceptional transient response. When recording electric guitars, capturing the instrument’s dynamics accurately is crucial, and this microphone does just that, ensuring that every strum, pick, and nuanced detail is reproduced faithfully.

Featuring a high-quality cardioid capsule, the MA-201fet primarily captures sound from its front, minimizing ambient noise and room reflections. This ensures that the guitar’s pure sound is recorded, free from distractions or unwanted coloration. The robust construction of the MA-201fet ensures that it stands the test of time, delivering consistent performance across various recording sessions and environments.

Final Thoughts:

The Mojave Audio MA-201fet is a reliable choice for anyone seeking a microphone that can capture the true essence of an electric guitar. Its warm FET character, combined with its excellent transient response, ensures that the guitar’s sound is reproduced with authenticity and clarity. Whether you’re recording in a professional studio or a home setup, the MA-201fet promises to deliver results that exceed expectations.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Neumann U87 Condenser Microphone
(Image Credit: Neumann)

Neumann U87

Iconic Studio Workhorse with Unparalleled Versatility

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Condenser
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8

Benefits:

  • Renowned for its transparent sound with a slight emphasis on midrange.
  • Multi-pattern design allows flexibility in capturing different sound sources and recording setups.
  • Established reputation as a studio standard for countless recordings across genres.
  • Robust build quality ensuring durability and consistent performance over the years.

Overview:

The Neumann U 87 has long been recognized as one of the most iconic microphones in the recording industry. With a lineage that speaks volumes about its quality and performance, it has found its way into countless studios worldwide, capturing everything from vocals to instruments with unparalleled clarity.

When recording electric guitars, the U 87 shines with its transparent sound character, ensuring that every nuance of the guitar’s tonality is captured in its truest form. A slight emphasis on the midrange frequencies adds warmth and depth to the recordings, making the electric guitar sound rich and full-bodied.

One of the standout features of the U 87 is its multi-pattern design. Offering cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 polar patterns, it provides users with the flexibility to experiment with different recording setups, be it close miking, room miking, or stereo miking. This versatility ensures that the microphone can adapt to various recording scenarios and still deliver impeccable results.

Built to last, the U 87 boasts robust construction, ensuring that it can withstand the demands of a studio environment and continue to perform consistently over the years.

Final Thoughts:

The Neumann U 87’s reputation as an industry standard isn’t just based on its history, but also its consistent performance and versatility. For recording electric guitars, it offers a combination of transparency, warmth, and depth that can elevate the sound to professional levels. While it carries a premium price tag, the investment in a U 87 guarantees a microphone that has proven its worth time and time again in countless legendary recordings.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: AEA R84A
(Image Credit: AEA)

AEA R84A

A Ribbon Microphone Masterpiece with Active Electronics

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Active Ribbon
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Figure-8

Benefits:

  • Offers the classic sound of vintage ribbon microphones with modern enhancements.
  • Active electronics provide higher output and compatibility with a wider range of preamps.
  • Figure-8 polar pattern delivers a natural and open sound, capturing the room's ambiance.
  • Exceptional at taming transient peaks, making it ideal for sharp and loud electric guitar sounds.

Overview:

The AEA R84A carries forward the legacy of classic ribbon microphones while integrating modern features to meet the demands of today’s recording scenarios. This active version of the acclaimed R84 series ensures that the nuances of electric guitar recordings are captured with warmth and precision.

One of the standout attributes of the R84A is its active electronics. This design choice provides a higher output, ensuring compatibility with a broader range of microphone preamps without the need for specialized high-gain ones. It also means that the microphone can handle longer cable runs without signal degradation.

When recording electric guitars, the figure-8 polar pattern of the R84A captures sound from both the front and back of the microphone, allowing for a more open and natural recording that integrates some of the room’s character. This characteristic can be especially useful when looking to capture a more ambient or “live” feel to the guitar recordings.

Moreover, ribbon microphones like the R84A excel in scenarios where transient peaks need taming. The ribbon element’s inherent nature ensures that sharp sounds, like those from strumming or plucking on an electric guitar, are captured smoothly without harshness.

Final Thoughts:

The AEA R84A presents a harmonious blend of vintage ribbon sound characteristics with modern enhancements. Its ability to capture electric guitar recordings with a mix of warmth, clarity, and ambient depth makes it a top choice for those seeking a unique sonic character. Whether you’re tracking clean tones or distorted riffs, the R84A promises to deliver recordings that resonate with both authenticity and detail.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Royer Labs R-121 Ribbon Microphone
(Image Credit: Royer Labs)

Royer Labs R-121

A Renowned Ribbon Microphone for Lifelike Guitar Captures

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Ribbon
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Figure-8

Benefits:

  • Delivers a realistic, uncolored representation of electric guitar tones.
  • Exceptional side rejection due to figure-8 polar pattern, perfect for isolating guitar cabinets.
  • Handles high SPLs, making it suitable for close miking of loud amplifiers.
  • Smooth frequency response that minimizes harshness and accentuates warm mids.

Overview:

The Royer Labs R-121 is a ribbon microphone that has carved a niche for itself in the realm of electric guitar recording. Its unparalleled ability to capture the true essence of an electric guitar, with all its nuances, has made it a favorite among professional producers and engineers.

What sets the R-121 apart is its uncompromised fidelity. When positioned in front of a guitar cabinet, it reproduces the tone without adding any coloration, ensuring that the sound coming from the amplifier is captured faithfully. This natural tonal reproduction can be especially advantageous when recording guitar tracks that require minimal post-processing.

The figure-8 polar pattern of the R-121 offers impressive side rejection. This means that sounds coming from the sides of the microphone are effectively reduced, making it a fantastic choice for isolating guitar cabinets in busy studio environments or during live recordings.

Another defining feature of the R-121 is its ability to handle high sound pressure levels. This makes it a safe choice for close-miking guitar amplifiers, even when they’re cranked up to their loudest settings. Despite this capability, the microphone produces recordings with a smooth frequency response, ensuring that guitar tracks sound warm and full-bodied, without any piercing highs.

Final Thoughts:

For those seeking a microphone that captures electric guitars with unmatched realism and warmth, the Royer Labs R-121 is a top contender. Its design and performance characteristics make it a staple in many professional studios, and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re recording clean, ambient textures or raging rock riffs, the R-121 promises to encapsulate the heart and soul of your guitar’s sound.

Best Electric Guitar Microphones: Sennheiser MD421 II Dynamic Mic
(Image Credit: Sennheiser)

Sennheiser MD 421-II

Dynamic Microphone with Versatility and Clarity for Electric Guitars

Specifications:

  • Type of Microphone: Dynamic
  • Diaphragm:
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Benefits:

  • Recognized for its clarity and versatility across various instruments, including electric guitars.
  • Cardioid pattern ensures focused sound capture with reduced background noise.
  • Five-position bass roll-off switch tailors the microphone's response for different applications.
  • Durable design makes it suitable for both studio and live settings.

Overview:

The Sennheiser MD 421-II is a dynamic microphone revered for its adaptability and precision across a broad range of instruments, making it an excellent choice for electric guitar recordings. With its clear tonal quality and ability to handle high SPLs, this microphone is particularly adept at capturing the raw energy of electric guitar amps.

One of the standout features of the MD 421-II is its five-position bass roll-off switch. This flexibility allows sound engineers and guitarists to sculpt the microphone’s response based on the specific tonal requirements, ensuring optimal results for every recording or performance situation.

The cardioid polar pattern of the MD 421-II is beneficial for isolating the sound of the electric guitar, minimizing the capture of ambient noise and reflections in the studio. This focused capture ensures that the intricate details of the guitar’s tone are faithfully reproduced, from the warm lows to the shimmering highs.

Beyond its performance attributes, the MD 421-II is known for its robust and durable construction. This makes it equally suitable for demanding studio sessions and rigorous touring schedules. The microphone’s iconic design, combined with its performance prowess, has solidified its reputation as a classic in the world of professional audio.

Final Thoughts:

The Sennheiser MD 421-II stands out as a trusted choice for capturing the electric guitar’s essence. Its combination of clarity, versatility, and durability has cemented its position in the arsenal of many sound engineers and musicians. Whether used in studio recordings or live performances, the MD 421-II consistently delivers results that resonate with warmth, clarity, and depth.

FAQ Buying Guide: Best Mics for Recording Electric Guitar

Electric guitar recordings are a cornerstone of countless music genres. From pristine clean tones to roaring distortions, capturing the essence of an electric guitar requires the right microphone. This guide addresses frequently asked questions for those seeking the best mics to record electric guitars, helping you achieve that studio-quality sound.

Recording electric guitars is an exciting journey of exploring tones and techniques. Whether you’re aiming for a vintage blues tone or modern metal crunch, the right microphone is your trusted ally. With the insights from this guide, you’re well on your way to achieving recordings that truly embody the spirit of the electric guitar.


  • Why do I need a specific mic for recording electric guitars?

    Electric guitars have a unique tonal range and characteristic. A mic designed or suitable for electric guitars will capture its nuances, ensuring that both the highs and lows are represented accurately.

  • Dynamic vs. Condenser mics for electric guitars – which is better?

    Dynamic mics, such as the Shure SM57, are popular for guitar cabs due to their durability and ability to handle high SPLs. Condenser mics can capture more detail, but they’re generally used for clean or lightly distorted tones.

  • What is the best position to place the mic when recording an electric guitar?

    Mic placement can vary based on desired sound. As a starting point, positioning the mic off-center and a few inches from the speaker cone can yield a balanced tone. Experimenting is key.

  • Is it necessary to have more than one mic for recording electric guitars?

    While one mic can suffice, using two mics (e.g., one dynamic and one ribbon) can add depth and versatility to the recording, allowing blending of the different tones in post-production.

  • What is the significance of polar patterns in guitar recording mics?

    A cardioid pattern is common as it focuses on sound directly in front of the mic, minimizing room reflections. However, omni or bi-directional patterns can capture more ambiance, if desired.

  • How do I deal with unwanted noise or feedback?

    Ensure the recording environment is quiet. Use pop filters or windshields, and ensure cables and equipment are in good condition. High-pass filters can help eliminate unwanted low-frequency noise.

  • Do vintage mics offer a different sound for recording electric guitars?

    Yes, vintage mics can introduce a characteristic warmth and coloration, often sought after for particular genres or tones.

  • How important is the room acoustics when recording electric guitar?

    Room acoustics can greatly influence the recorded sound. While some prefer the sound of room reflections, others opt for an isolated, “dry” recording to have more control in mixing.

  • Can I use the same microphone for recording both the amplifier and direct input?

    Yes, but remember that miking an amp captures the coloration of the amp and speaker, while direct input records the guitar’s raw signal. Depending on the desired outcome, choose accordingly.

  • What are some reputed brands for electric guitar mics?

    Shure, Sennheiser, Royer, Neumann, and AKG are among top brands known for microphones that excel in capturing electric guitar tones.

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