Best microphones for guitar amps

Best microphones for guitar amps

If you are a guitar player or a beginner audio engineer, you are probably wondering how to record a guitar amp, and get a great result.
If that’s the case, you’ve come across the right article.
Firstly, in order to get a great electric guitar sound, you will need a decent guitar amp.
If you are interested in that, we have an article on the best jazz guitar amplifiers, so you can check that too. Then, you will need a good microphone.
There are many good microphones for recording guitar amps.
However, some of them are truly the best ones.
Continue reading so you can learn about the best microphones for recording guitar amps.

Shure SM57 (Best microphones for guitar amps)

Best Microphones for Guitar Amps
Shure SM57

Definitely one of the best microphones for miking up guitar amps, the Shure SM57 is the absolute must-have microphone for every studio in the world.
It is the industry standard when it comes to guitar amp recording, and snare recording.
The Shure Sm57 is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. Its Frequency Response ranges from 40Hz to 15kHz, and it has an Output Impedance of 150 ohms. It has a very good off-axis rejection and a very strong presence.
Because of that, it is extensively used for many different applications both on live stages, and in the studio.
It comes with a mic clip and a soft case.
We must mention, that this microphone is also one of the sturdiest – it can take serious abuse for years and years, and you won’t experience any change in its performance.
Also, the SM57 microphone is very affordable too!

Pros:

  • Excellent sound;
  • Flexible;
  • Sturdy and durable;

    Cons:

  • No cons

Sennheiser MD421-II

Sennheiser MD421-II

The Sennheiser MD421-II is a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.
It has a very sturdy body, which ensures the longevity of the microphone.

With an Output Impedance of 200 ohms and Frequency Response of 30Hz to 17kHz, the Sennheiser MD421-II can handle your loud amp without a problem, while reproducing the sound very effectively.

What makes this microphone a highly versatile one, is the 5-position high-pass filter switch set at the base of the microphone. This switch is awesome for decreasing the proximity effect, which can occur when using dynamic microphones with a cardioid polar pattern.

When you compare it with the SM57, the Sennheiser MD421-II sounds a little bit better balanced, and more present in the low mids. Due to the fact that this microphone handles loud sources extremely well, you can also use it for miking up drums, bass guitars, brass instruments, etc…
It comes with a mic clip.

Pros:

  • It handles high sound pressure levels extremely well;
  • Great off-axis rejection;
  • Five-position high-pass filter switch;

    Cons:

  • Poorly designed mic clip;

Sennheiser e906 (Best Microphones for Guitar Amps)

Best Microphones for Guitar Amps
Sennheiser e906

Due to its design, the Sennheiser e906 is a perfect microphone for recording a guitar amp, as you won’t need a microphone stand. Instead, you can just set the cable under the amp’s handle and just rest the mic against the grill cloth of your amplifier.
The body of the Sennheiser e906 is completely made out of metal.
Therefore, just by looking at it, you can tell that it is a very strong and durable mic.
Because of its Super-cardioid polar pattern, this microphone is great at off-axis rejection.
It has a Frequency response of 40Hz-18kHz, which is perfect for the recording of guitar amplifiers.
On the body of the e906, you can find a three-position presence switch, which indeed adds a lot of versatility.
It should be noted that this microphone comes with a ten-year warranty.
Undoubtedly, the Sennheiser is one of the best microphones for recording guitars.

Pros:

  • Great design;
  • Flexible;
  • Amazing sound reproduction;

    Cons:

  • Absolutely no cons;

Beyerdynamic M160

Best microphones for guitar amps
Beyerdynamic M160

The Beyerdynamic M160 is a double ribbon microphone.
Unlike most of the ribbon microphones, that have a bi-directional polar pattern, the M160 has a hyper-cardioid polar pattern. As a result of that, it provides a great off-axis rejection and can be used even on live stages.
Many people claim that ribbon microphones are the most natural-sounding ones.

Well, we guess that there is some truth to that – it might be because the ribbon microphones are actually very simply designed.
The M160 microphone has a Frequency Response of 40Hz to 18kHz.

It is a well-known fact that Eddie Kramer used this microphone in most of the sessions when he worked with Jimi Hendrix.
Today, many audio engineers use a ribbon microphone paired with a dynamic microphone for tracking guitar amps, which works great too.
Also, the M160 can be used on various different sources, like string instruments, brass instruments, drums, etc.

Pros:

  • Legendary sound;
  • Well-crafted;
  • Flexible;

    Cons:

  • Well, being a ribbon microphone, you must be a lot more cautious with it… It can be easily damaged by 48V phantom power – never forget to make sure that is off before using this microphone;

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS (Best microphones for guitar amps)

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS

The AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS is a condenser microphone with a large diaphragm.
It has a wide Frequency Response of 20Hz-20kHz, and a Dynamic Range of 152dB.

Moreover, on the front of the microphone, there is a five-way polar pattern switch that allows you to pick from Omni, Wide-cardioid, Cardioid, Hyper-Cardioid, and Figure-8 polar pattern, plus four polar patterns that are in-between those five.
On the back of the microphone’s body, there is a four-way PAD switch (0,-6db,-12db,-18db) and a four-way high-pass filter switch (0, 40Hz, 80Hz, 160Hz).

Because of its flexibility, you can use the C414 XLS as an all-around microphone in your studio. It works great with all sorts of sound sources.

Last but not least, it comes with a stand mount, a shock-mount, a pop filter, a windscreen, and a padded metal case, included in the price.

Pros:

  • Very well-crafted;
  • It can be used in all sorts of recording situations;
  • Impressive sound;

    Cons:

  • No cons

Royer R-121 (Best microphones for guitar amps)

Best microphones for guitar amps
Royer R-121


The Royer R-121 is a modern ribbon microphone widely used for tracking guitars by the world's most prominent audio engineers. Just as the vintage ribbon microphones the R-121 has a figure-8 polar pattern.
It has a Frequency Response of 30Hz-15kHz, a Nominal Impedance of 300 ohms, and a Max. SPL of 135dB.

As a result of its specifications, the Royer R-121 is way more usable than the vintage ribbon microphones.
Well, especially when it comes to very loud sources, such as cranked-up guitar amps.
In order to get the best out of both worlds, when recording amps, engineers pair this microphone with an SM57.
We must mention that the front of the microphone sounds a little bit brighter than the back.

Unlike most of the other microphone brands, the guys at Royer build their products with a huge amount of attention to detail and have very good quality control.

Pros:

  • Stunning build-quality;
  • Extra-ordinary specs;
  • Absolutely natural reproduction;

    Cons:

  • Well, the Royer R-121 is a bit pricey. However, all of the owners of this microphone claim that it is worth every penny;

Neumann U87 Ai (Best microphones for guitar amps)

Best microphones for guitar amps
Neumann U87 Ai

Without a doubt, the Neumann U87 is one of the best microphones for guitar amps, and generally, one of the best condenser microphones ever made.
Since its introduction in 1967, the U87 is a must-have for every high-end recording studio.
It is a condenser microphone with 1” gold-plated capsule with a double membrane.
On its body, there are three switches: a three-way polar-pattern switch (Omni, cardioid, figure-8), a -10dB PAD switch, and a Low-cut switch.
As a result of these switches, the Neuman U87 can be used in a wide variety of different recording applications.
Moreover, the U87 Ai has a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, which covers all of the frequency that a human ear can actually hear.
Also, it should be pointed out that this microphone is hand-assembled by Neumann’s technicians in Germany, which says a lot.
Of course, being a condenser microphone it requires phantom power.

Pros:

  • Outstanding reproduction quality;
  • You can record all sorts of sources with it;
  • Phenomenal build-quality;

    Cons:

  • Expensive

Conclusion

Altogether, you can comprehend that there are a lot of great microphones for recording guitar amps. However, not any one of them is best situated for every single situation. But, some of them are really great most of the time.
For the most part, audio engineers pair two or sometimes even more microphones for tracking a guitar amp. Usually, that’s a condenser/dynamic combination, or a ribbon/dynamic microphones combination.

Rick Beato on pairing a Shure SM57 with Royer Royer R-121

The absolute winner?

-Without a doubt – Shure SM57!
In most of the cases, engineers use a Shure SM57 for the dynamic microphone part.
Well, it is really the most widely used microphone of all time. Well, you can bet that there is a good reason behind that.
Of course, you can record an amp with a single SM57, or you can use it paired with a ribbon or condenser microphone.
The Shure SM57 will last you a lifetime, and you can use it in an infinite number of different situations both live and in the studio, and get great results out of it.
Indeed, it will provide you with clarity, and an awesome presence in the mid-range frequencies.
Obviously, it is a very affordable one too.
So yeah, we recommend the Shure SM57 microphone to every budding audio engineer and every guitar player out there.

Shure SM57

References:

  1. https://www.amazon.com/Shure-SM57-LC-Cardioid-Dynamic-Microphone/dp/B0000AQRST
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-MD421-II-Cardioid-Dynamic-Microphone/dp/B00GWTH2EU
  3. https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-e906-Supercardioid-Dynamic-Guitar/dp/B000AQHJQ2
  4. https://www.amazon.com/Beyerdynamic-M160-Instrument-Microphone-Systems/dp/B07QV2T7X8
  5. https://www.amazon.com/AKG-Pro-Audio-Instrument-Multipattern/dp/B003GUV1FE
  6. https://www.amazon.com/Royer-R-121-Large-Element-Ribbon-Microphone/dp/B00328HPIM
  7. https://www.amazon.com/Neumann-87-Switchable-Studio-Microphone/dp/B0016ZSIP2

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