If you are a guitarist and want to record yourself or just want to improve in your craft, why not start recording yourself playing your guitar?! This way you will know where you need to improve and where you actually excel. We should start by choosing the best guitar microphones, headphones or studio monitors, and other equipment.
You can start by checking out this guide about how to record at home or in your studios.
Direct In vs Microphones for Recording Guitars
When it comes to recording acoustic, electric, or bass guitars, we have a few different options. But today, we will talk about 2 options – direct in and guitar microphones.
Before we start, it might be easier to understand the difference between recording acoustic guitars using a microphone vs a direct in approach. Here’s a YouTube video by C-Threep Music comparing the 2 techniques.
Let’s start with the most common technique which is using microphones. This is the most classic and proven method to make sure you get great-sounding guitar recordings.
Producers and musicians have been using this technique in their home or professional music studios for a very long time.
This process begins with placing your chosen microphone in front of an amplifier cabinet. Then, making the necessary adjustments to its position. This makes sure that you achieve the sound you are aiming for.
What makes this method appealing is the number of various tones and EQ patterns you can get by simply changing the position of your microphones. Using this technique, you can also get different room sound. Also, you can use more than one mic to capture a stereo recording. All you need is to experiment and try various things.
For example, if you pull your mic further away, you will be able to blend the natural air and atmospheric reverb from your room. This can give your recordings a much more personal touch. You just have to find the right combination for you to show your own touch making your recordings more personal and unique.
While using mic is the most popular method, direct in is the less popular option. But let’s make it straight, it is definitely worth checking out.
Direct in recording requires routing the signal directly out of your amp via your audio interface and into your computer.
Bear in mind that the sound might never be as good as what you get when you use a guitar microphone. The reason is, by doing this method, you are getting the processed signal before it runs through your speaker cabinet which makes up to 50% of the amp sound.
Direct in will never give you the same sound. But do not be afraid of this technique because when you EQ the sound right, you can still get a very decent recording. Despite the inferior sound, this method has its advantages.
For example, if you are recording a guitar in a noisy or reverb-laden room, miking an amp will give you a lot of unwanted sound bleeding. in this situation, it is better to use direct in method. Direct in technique when recording guitars will give you a “thinner” and lack body but the tone and sound will always be consistent.
Ultimately, no matter which technique you choose, you can achieve the sound you want. If you are a beginner or a pro, you just have to do a little experimenting, some trial and error to know which one works for you. And a lot of patience my friend!
Best Guitar Microphones for Beginners
With the vast collection of guitar microphones in the market, it is quite hard to choose which ones you need for your acoustic, electric, or bass guitars. But we are here to help you out! Here are our top 5 best guitar microphones for beginners and professionals.
Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone
Shure SM57 is one of the most popular professional and recording instrument microphones of all time like RØDE NT1A. It is a unidirectional dynamic mic perfect for recording instruments or vocals with its clean, bright, and carefully contoured presence rise.
Featuring its highly effective cardioid pickup pattern that isolates the main sound source while reducing background noise. It has a very durable bulletproof design which makes it ideal for travel and lasts for a long time.
Combining this acoustic guitar microphone’s wide frequency response and tight cardioid pattern, it is ideal for close-in speaker miking.
Because of its natural presence boost, Shure SM57 is widely used from top recording studios to the presidential podium. If you are looking for a well-reviewed and durable while giving you a clear and bright acoustic, electric, or bass guitar recording, Shure SM57 might be the one for you!
Heil Sound PR40 Dynamic Microphone
Heil Sound PR40 is a great dynamic microphone perfect for recording vocals or bass instruments like bass guitars. Its large dynamic element produces a smooth frequency response with a clear and natural midrange.
Combining the large size and low weight of the mic with a very powerful NdFeB magnet structure gives this mic the ability to record high SPLs while giving a wide dynamic range. It has 4 rear ports designed to reject off-axis noise giving a more smooth, tight cardioid pickup pattern. This dynamic bass guitar microphone has an unusually wide frequency response.
PR40 is famous for its depth, richness, and resonance which are the things that you need when you are recording your bass guitars.
AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Condenser Microphone
AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS is a great condenser microphone. This mic’s 5-pattern c414 is one of the most universal and versatile large-diaphragm condenser mic around the world.
It has 9 pickup patterns making it easy for you to choose the perfect setting for your chosen application. In addition to the 5 patterns (cardioid, figure eight, hypercardioid, omnidirectional, and wide cardioid), you will also enjoy 4 more intermediate settings to dial so you can enjoy the best pattern to suit your environment.
Featuring an amazingly low noise floor and 152dB dynamic range, this vocal or guitar microphone is ideal for any musical environment. Also, if you are performing live, a locking mode lets you disable all of the C414 XLS’s controls for a live-sound application.
AKG C414 XLS is widely used for accurate and detailed pickup for acoustic instruments.
Sennheiser E609 Dynamic Microphone
Sennheiser E609 is a dynamic guitar microphone perfect for recording electric guitars. It captures a killer electric guitar sounds, perfectly. This mic is specifically developed for miking guitars, face on and super close to the source. This guitar mic captures the raw energy of guitar amps and loud brass instruments.
Its supercardioid pickup pattern and famous low-mid growl provide isolation from other signals. Making your recording clear and clean. This is a great combination with this mic’s laterally mounted capsule, making it easy to get extremely close to your speaker or amp.
The sensitivity of this mic is 1.5mV/Pa with its voice-coil construction and rigid dome diaphragm provides extended high-frequency performance and very durable. Which also makes it suitable for miking drums.
Sennheiser E609 has an identical construction and side-address configuration with its predecessors. All you have to do is hang it in front of your amp’s speaker and this guitar microphone will record the sound your amp produces.
RØDE NT2A Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone
RØDE NT2A is condenser vocal or guitar microphones with a professional large capsule. Combining variable pick-up pattern, variable highpass filter, and variable pad, you will have more room for creativity and versatility. It is a multi-pattern FET condenser microphone. Compared to its predecessor, RØDE’s NT2, it is a huge upgrade. Because of its 3rd pickup pattern, onboard pad and filters, and a better capsule.
Also, its 3-position switches provide freedom for you to step from Figure 8, Cardioid, or Omni polar pick-up patterns; from flat frequency response to 40Hz or 80Hz filter; and a Pad adjustment of 0dH, -5dB, or -10dB attenuation.
The RØDE NT2A studio microphone is manufactured with TYPE HF1 dual-diaphragm capsule, 25mm edge-terminated design with gold-sputtered 5-micron membranes. Which complements today’s modern recording methods but still holds the silky smooth punch of legendary microphones from the ’50s and ’60s.
Choosing the Best Guitar Microphones
When choosing the best guitar microphones it is imperative to know its features and reviews so you can compare it to your needs. Some people might want the rich bass sound while some likes the clean but smooth sound. It will all depend on your preference and needs.
But for you to maximize the usage of your chosen guitar mic, you have to know how to use it. First, do not place your mic directly in front of the soundhole of your guitar. You can place your mic about 12″ – 16″ away from the 12th fret to achieve a balanced sound to get the high-end. And for a balanced sound but with a little more bass, you can try positioning your mic a little about the soundhole or behind and below the bridge.
These are just some of the tips and reminders when you are using your guitar studio microphones. It is necessary to experiment and try various stuff to know which placement or microphone meets your needs.