Best Microphones for Recording Acoustic Guitars in 2022

Dave Mostert
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Many first-time guitarists are surprised to hear that the sound they hear from their guitar is not fully representative of the sound they are actually producing.

Most of the sound is lost in the body resonances of the guitar as it is a classical-style acoustic guitar.

Whether you’re a serious pro or just a hobby player that wants to record your videos or even songs and improve your overall sound without upgrading your guitar, the best microphones for recording acoustic guitars will make all the difference.

NameCategoryProduct
Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallShure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
MXL 990Budget PickMXL 990
AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser MicrophoneUpgrade PickAKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

1. Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

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Pros:

  • Great sensitivity resulting in high-quality recordings
  • Suitable for both professional and home studio use
  • Wide frequency response
  • High SPL capacity without distortion
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comes with a carry bag and stand mount
  • Durable construction
  • Comes with 10-year manufacturer’s warranty

No extra accessories included in the package (i.e. pick-up, mic clips, etc.)

This is a cardioid condenser microphone from Shure that offers high-quality recordings. It is suitable for both professional and home studio use. It has a wide frequency response without any of the distortions that you might experience with cheaper models. Its high SPL capacity also allows you to capture high sound pressure levels without distorting the audio. With a polar pattern of pick-up, it captures sounds form a specific angle and rejects sounds coming from all other directions.

The Shure SM81-LC is lightweight and is easy to carry around, so it perfect if you are a mobile musician who makes a living by recording clients at different venues. Because it’s so light weight, you can hold it for long periods of time without feeling awkward.

2. AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Comes with a screen and shock mount for the mic
  • Excellent customer service
  • Tiny grille gets good reviews from users
  • Works well for recording other instruments and vocalists too

When it comes to recording acoustic guitars in the home or studio, microphones are essential. If you have a good mic and preamp, you can create some incredible recordings. The AKG P420 is a solid choice for recording acoustic guitars.

This mic comes with a pretty nifty additional attachment – a shock mount. This helps eliminate sounds from touching the body of the mic while you’re playing.

3. MXL 990

Our rating: 8 / 10

MXL 990

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Pros:

  • Very compact microphone
  • Professional XLR connector

Properly placed on a guitar, the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is an ideal choice for recording acoustic guitars in 2020.

This is one of the few condenser microphones that you may find suitable to record all detail of your acoustic guitar even when you are away from the sound source.

The built-in capsule provides flexibility with the ability to tilt while staying in the desired working angle.

4. AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental

Our rating: 8 / 10

AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental

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Pros:

  • High-quality mic
  • Clear sound
  • Durable (abrasive resistance)

Cons:

  • No instructions or manual
  • Head might be too big for some?

Our mic pick would be the AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental, which is a high-quality mic at an affordable price. This unit is a condenser mic, so you’re able to pick up on the smallest of noises. It features a cardioid pickup pattern to eliminate background noise, so you should be able to pick up on a lot of detail in your recordings. This unit comes with a shock mount, as well as a carrying case, for easy transport.

On the downside, this microphone isn’t super easy to use. There isn’t a manual included in the package, and the head might be too big for most standard guitar cases. This happens because the unit itself comes with a separate windcover.

Overall, the sound quality is crisp, clear, and picks up without any issues. It’s a great purchase if you’re not familiar with recording guitar sound.

5. MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 7 / 10

MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Comes with a shock-mount
  • Compatible with various digital and analog recorders
  • Comes in bundle with other recording essentials
  • Price-effective
  • Well-designed
  • Professional sound quality
  • Ideal for various recording applications

Cons:

  • Heavier than other microphone designs
  • Sound quality is not suitable for professional applications

What are the best microphones for recording acoustic guitars in 2020? For in-depth reviews of the most trusted brands click here.

This mic will give you excellent sound quality if you’re just looking to record simple acoustic guitar performances. However, if you’re looking for a more professional sound quality, you might want to consider a more expensive option.

As this is a condenser design you will need to place it within a few inches of the acoustic guitar to get a good recording. This is a great option for home recording enthusiasts looking to improve their recordings and get professional levels of sound quality.

6. Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 7 / 10

Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Ideal for capture vocals, acoustic guitars, and high-resolution music sources
  • Warm and clear sound
  • Legendary performance

The AT4040 features a dual 40mm diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern to ensure accurate audio reproduction no matter what you’re recording. The cardiod polar pattern will improve isolation and reduce pickup of spill and noise in non-frontal directions. This is one of the top reasons why this is one of the best microphones for recording acoustic guitars.

The 1-inch thin-wall capsule with a gold-evaporated 25mm diaphragm is ideal for high-level sound sources. Its internal three-stage filter offers three different high-frequency pattern settings, as well as stage for 10dB pad, which is helpful for reducing sensitivity to sound sources that are over 90dB.

It features a swivel mount that allows 180 degrees of rotation along with a 25-foot XLR cable that is terminated with a locking connector.

7. AKG Perception 170 Professional Instrumental Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

AKG Perception 170 Professional Instrumental Microphone

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Pros:

  • Offers a premium level of performance
  • Ideal for acoustic guitars, percussion, or brass instruments
  • Ideal for recording at close up distances (1 and a half inches to 2 feet)
  • Sturdy construction
  • Ideal for high-quality performances with minimal distortion

Cons:

  • Might require an additional pop filter to ensure crisp vocals
  • The overall quality could be better

A brand that has been synonymous with quality mics is AKG, and their Perception 170 Instrumental microphone is one of the best that we have found when it comes to best microphones of this type.

This high-quality microphone will allow you to capture instruments and vocals in your home studio or live performance setting, which is exactly what you would expect from this brand.

The components used on this microphone have been tuned to enhance sensitivity, so you can expect to get clear, crisp sounds with minimal distortion. The design makes these perfect for close up recording, so if you're a musician that likes to lay down tracks solo you'll love these.

8. Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones

Our rating: 6 / 10

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones

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Pros:

  • Low noise performance
  • Competitive price
  • Perfect for capturing acoustic guitar
  • Excellent frequency response
  • Comes in black or blue metal finish

Cons:

  • Can sound thin when vocals are the focus
  • Not suitable for handheld use

Samson C02 Is a great microphone for recording acoustic guitars because of the frequency response. It also has a wide frequency response range which is excellent for studio recording. This microphone offers a flat frequency response, meaning that the sound reproduction matches the exact frequency response of the original source. For recording instruments like acoustic guitars, being able to reproduce the tone and clarity of the instrument without color is ideal.

The C02 features a pencil condenser that has a large diaphragm of 2 inches across with a solid 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. It’s ideal for capturing acoustic guitars and also is great for vocals, horns, strings, and drums. This microphone is a nice choice for recording acoustic guitars where the main goal is to capture the whole sound of the guitar instead of focusing on vocals.

9. Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphone Pair Bundle w/Case

Our rating: 6 / 10

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphone Pair Bundle w/Case

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Pros:

  • No pad or roll off switch needed for acoustic guitar recording
  • Top quality audio recording that will suit almost every need
  • Includes everything you need to start recording – mic clips, XLR cables, and case
  • Extremely affordable

Cons:

  • You need an XLR cable to connect it to your device
  • You still need a mixer or audio interface to connect them to your computer

The C02 from Samson is a high-quality pencil condenser microphone that’s ideal for recording acoustic guitars. If you don’t have much money to spend on a new mic, the C02 from Samson is a great budget option.

The C02 is a condenser microphone that features a wide dynamic range that’s ideal for recording acoustic guitar. The C02 is made with a capsule that’s specifically designed to capture the warmth and rich tones of the acoustic guitar.

The sound that comes out of the C02 is crisp without being too bright or harsh. If you listen to its audio samples, you’ll find that the C02 is one of the best budget mics for capturing the natural tone of the acoustic guitar.

10. AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Versatile and great for recording all kinds of instruments
  • Great level of acoustic detail
  • Detachable cable
  • Comes with a sturdy carrying case
  • Noise compensation switch comes in handy
  • Well-made and durable
  • Available for a reasonable price
  • Top-notch customer service

No matter what kind of instrument you need to record, the AKG C214 condenser microphone may be able to fit your needs. It can record anything from a full drum set to a solo guitar part, offering subtle nuanced changes in tone along the way.

This microphone is most commonly used in a variety of recording and broadcast applications, especially voice overs. It is a robust and durable device, with the inside parts protected by a reliable mesh screen and the outside wrapped in a sturdy housing. The housing is molded into an ergonomic shape to make it easier to manipulate and hold, improving your workflow.

Some of the features we like include the noise compensation switch, the cardioid pick-up pattern, the -10dB pad, and the high sound quality. The windscreen and the generous, long cable also make this a good option for if you’re looking for top rated microphones for guitars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What type of microphone is best for recording acoustic guitar?

One of the best microphones for recording acoustic guitar doesn't give you the best sound. In fact, it can sound terrible! However, it provides a certain texture that helps evoke emotion in the listener.

A great example of a microphone used for this purpose is the Shure SM57. It's a dynamic microphone designed to record instruments.

Another example of a mic used in this manner is the Sony MS-50-C2. It's a condenser microphone designed to capture the most detail of any acoustic recording.

Where do you put the microphone when recording an acoustic guitar?

There are two common locations to put a microphone when recording an acoustic guitar. These locations come from the assumption there are two musicians present: the guitarist and the singer. If you are just recording the guitar by itself, then these guidelines don’t apply.

In both cases, you want to have the microphone setup where the sound it records is “true” to the sound of the guitar. You also want to avoid any extraneous noise. In the first setup, the mic is placed under the bridge of the guitar; in the second, it is positioned in front of the sound hole.

If you have a chance to listen to these songs, the former is the one where the microphone is in front of the sound hole, and the latter is where it is under the bridge. If you look closely, the sound hole is slightly obscured in the second example.

What type of microphone is best for recording instruments?

The type of microphone you use will depend on the sound you are trying to capture. While fancy or expensive microphones will have better sound compared to less expensive microphones, there are instances where cheaper microphones have proven to sound better.

There are many different applications for microphones. They all capture sound, but the manner in which they do is different, and there are lots of different ways to interpret sound.

A quick rundown: Condenser microphones capture an electric signal and are extremely sensitive (they can sense the slightest amount of sound). That makes them a good choice for capturing sound at a short distance ie.., acoustic instruments.

Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, also capture sound but are extremely durable and therefore perfect for taking to live performances.

Know your sound and where to record to optimize your budget for a good microphone that will deliver quality sound.

What equipment do I need to record acoustic guitar and vocals?

Assuming that the guitar and amp you use are both capable of playing at reasonable volumes and have decent tone, you'll need microphones. This is where your budget will find itself rapidly increasing or decreasing depending on your desires.

The best microphones for recording acoustic guitar are going to be either condenser or ribbon mics. Condenser mics are generally considered best for acoustic guitar because they possess extremely responsive mic diaphragms and, thus, are able to capture the sound of an acoustic guitar with minimal coloration.

While this produces excellent quality on acoustic guitar, ribbon mics tend to respond more to a musician's attack, giving a sense of life to the recording. In this way, they add more dynamism or energy to the recording.

Luckily, there are some high-quality mid-range as well as low-cost mics on the market today, so you should be able to find a few candidates that fit into your budget.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to get that crisp, detailed recording is to record the acoustic guitar using a high-quality condenser microphone. Our research and testing has identified the Blue Microphones Lola Microphone and the CAD GXL2200 USB Studio Condenser Microphone as the best two options available to you in the market right now.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallShure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
MXL 990Budget PickMXL 990
AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser MicrophoneUpgrade PickAKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone