Top 10 Microphones for Guitar Amplifiers

Dave Mostert
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Every guitarist enjoys to hear their playing on stage through an amplifier through a set of good quality speakers which creates the “amp sound.” Whether you own your own amplifier, or simply use a regular amplifier set up for your band, the quality of sound that the sound technician can give you largely depends on the quality of your microphone.

A great set-up will always ensure that the sound coming out of the speaker is clear, effective and loud.

However, not all microphones are created equal. A good guitar microphone is one that can capture natural sound, effective acoustic tones and crisp clean tones, as well as deliver on the high volume that you would need when playing live on stage or in the studio.

The point of a microphone when playing live is to reproduce live sound as clearly as possible, without any unnecessary interference and feedback. It is also just as important that the microphone is compatible with the system being used.

Not only does the microphone need to be the right choice to ensure good quality sound, but it also has to be mounted correctly and securely. Using a mic stand for instance can work to add more of a professional feel and take away the worry of something going wrong with the microphone at the most inopportune of times.

NameCategoryProduct
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic MicrophoneBest OverallShure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
CAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic MicrophoneBudget PickCAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic Microphone
Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio MicrophoneUpgrade PickNeumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone

1. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Our rating: 10 / 10

Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

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Pros:

  • Ideal for instruments such as guitar amplifiers, snare drums, and solo vocals
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Good quality construction
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Requires no special settings

Shure has long been known as one of the best manufacturers for professional mics, and the SM57-LC model is no exception. In fact, it’s become an industry standard for live gigs and music recording sessions alike.

The main reason for the SM57-LC’s popularity is its durability and versatility. It can be used in various applications, such as vocal tracking, musical instrument pickups, and sound effects. It can also be used on both loud and soft keyboards, as well as snare drums and acoustic guitar.

This particular model is fitted with a cardioid pickup pattern, which means that it will generally pick up sounds originating from the front of the mic and reject sounds coming from the rear. This is also one of the reasons why it’s considered to be one of the best microphones for guitar amps. Plus, it’s designed for sounds arriving from the front and sides, rather than from below the base or ceiling.

2. AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Instrument Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Instrument Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Extremely universal
  • Can be used for a variety of applications, including home studios, live performances, clect recordings, etc.
  • Can be used for vocals as well
  • Provides premium sound for high-quality recording
  • Can even be used as a kick drum mic

Cons:

  • Not for beginners; needs to have some experience with recording
  • Somewhat expensive

The AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS is one of the best studio microphones out there on the market. With a price that falls relatively close to most dynamic microphones, you’ll be shocked at the sound quality and versatility this microphone has to offer.

In fact, this is one of the most versatile microphones on the market, and can be used in a variety of different applications, including home recording, live recording, clect recording, and even as an extremely effective kick drum mic. This is especially useful for the serious musician or the band that has the money to invest in high quality equipment.

With a figure-8 polar pattern, this microphone offers enough quality to be used for vocals or any other source. It does an excellent job of reducing noise to the mic, and it offers an extremely clear sound to whatever you’re recording. This would be an excellent choice for recording a band with high output amps.

3. Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic

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Pros:

  • Striking mid-range detail
  • Clear and balanced tone quality
  • Comes with a wide variety of accessories
  • Ideal for recording any kind of instrument
  • Good price point for a dynamic mic
  • Comes with custom shockmounts
  • Ideal for close-to-the-mic guitar recording
  • Great for acoustic recordings
  • Ideal for recording vocals
  • Ideal for recording string instruments

The MD421 II from Sennheiser is an upgrade over its predecessor, the MD421. It boasts an integrated shockmount. This effective setup means that you get to enjoy trouble-free recording for a wider variety of instruments. This also reduces vibrations to the microphone for higher quality sound.

This dynamic microphone is part of Sennheiser's MK Series. It has a 3/4" diaphragm capsule, and yields excellent sound quality for its price.

4. Sennheiser E609 Silver Super Cardioid Instrument Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser E609 Silver Super Cardioid Instrument Microphone

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Pros:

  • Frequency range is 100Hz – 15kHz
  • Very good sound, everyone has said they are impressive
  • Equipped with a windscreen

This is the cheapest of the three microphones on my list but it has 100% positive reviews which is somewhat rare these days. The good reviews say things like that it is probably the best vocal microphone of all time.

It will work brilliantly with your guitar amp. It comes with a sturdy, standard mount clip and a neat little bag to keep it in. It can be mounted quite close to the speaker without causing excess noise.

The E609 isn’t going to make you sound amazing, but it is going to make your guitar amp sound better without costing a small fortune.

5. Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone

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Pros:

  • Nickel-plated finish that’s extremely durable
  • Unmatched transparent quality
  • Distortion-free frequency response
  • Great sound at a relatively affordable price for a one-inch ribbon mic

Most professionals will testify that the Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone, Nickel Plated is priced just right for the value that it offers.

The main feature of this microphone is its usage of a one-inch large-element ribbon. The element in this microphone produces a result with great transparency and detail. It’s also very versatile and works well with a range of musical instruments. At the same time, it’s also capable of making a smooth, rich sound for vocals. The result is a smooth and distortion-free sound.

Also worth mentioning is the point that this microphone is nickel plated, giving it a finely polished finish. This allows it to look and feel great in every way. It also keeps the outer elements from affecting how it sounds.

6. Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone

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Pros:

  • The M160 renders a more natural sound than its predecessors M149 and M157
  • Reports of this microphone having a "three-dimensional" soundstage
  • Hypercardioid directional pattern is ideal for isolating vocals that are at a distance

Cons:

  • Fuzz, noise, and hiss can be an issue with some units, but variances are mostly common among faulty/damaged units
  • Higher susceptibility to feedback

The M160 is designed for professional vocal use, specifically for mounted use onto a microphone stand. Because of its extreme rear-center pickup, instruments and other sounds behind the singer are rejected. This is especially beneficial in live performances.

The unit is designed with a centered hypercardioid directional pick-up pattern for getting rid of feedback easily. This is to say that the sound of the singer relatively comes from the center of the microphone. As the singer moves away from the microphone, the recorded sound becomes softer and softer, making it harder for other sounds to have an impact on your recording.

The microphone is also very robust and durable. The coil is wound with 14 AWG wire and has a large diameter of 2.5 mm. The double ribbon design is efficient for separating out the two sides of the frequency range.

7. AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Provides high sound quality
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comes with a shock mount
  • Comes with a free 10-year warranty
  • Made of pro quality parts

Cons:

  • * A bit expensive

Cardioid.

This microphone from AKG is available in a multipattern design, making it applicable for a variety of uses. The microphone is able to record in stereo, which is particularly useful for vocalists who want to record their voice for a live performance. It is also great for recording instruments such as the acoustic guitar.

This condenser microphone uses a cardioid polar pattern, which means that it will pick up sound from in front of the microphone the most. It will pick up some sound from the side and back of the microphone, but only if the sound is loud enough.

8. Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone

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Pros:

  • Well balanced frequency response
  • Very high sensitivity
  • Soft capsule reduces noise
  • Softer, warm sound
  • Includes a zip up pouch

Cons:

  • Holds up to 80-100db sound, thus only recommended for use in medium to large rooms that can provide good acoustics
  • Tough to use on vocals if the singer is too close
  • Does not work well with eminence speakers due to its high sensitivity, but if you place it and position it right it can deliver the sound you want

(E-Series)

This mic is perfect for guitar amplifiers. The sound is warm and balanced, and it reduces noise that comes from the amplifier and the room. It has a transformerless output and it is extremely sensitive, meaning that it doesn’t need a lot of power to reach the same output levels as microphones that are more difficult to drive. It has a high maximum sound pressure level of approximately 120 dB.

The Neumann TLM 102 features a TLM-C technology which allows high sensitivity and high SPL sound reproduction, which provides seamless, crystal clear sound up to the highest sound pressure levels. The capsule’s membrane material provides excellent sound reproduction while the integral pop filter reduces plosives, and its pick up pattern is cardioid.

9. Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone

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Pros:

  • Ideal for all kinds of recordings, including classical music
  • Can be used separately or in combinations
  • High sensitivity
  • Allows for crisp and accurate sound transmission
  • Can be switched between cardioid and figure-of-eight modes
  • 2 different capsule assemblies are available with different polar patterns

Cons:

  • More costly than other microphones
  • Comes with an XLR cable

The Neumann U 87 Ai is a multipurpose microphone that can be used for a variety of applications, such as recording acoustic instruments or vocals, in addition to capturing room ambience. The microphone is best programmed to give you the natural, flat response that you’d generally get when playing an instrument live, however, it’s no replacement for your main instrument microphone. On stage, it performs even better. The microphone makes it possible for you to hear yourself even from a distance, ensuring that you don’t stray from the electric guitar’s optimal attack position.

It’s also a part of a class of microphones known as pressure gradient transducers. This technology allows it to pick up sounds and reproduce them in detail. It’s ideal for recording classical music, and not necessarily for recording rock songs, which call for more volume.

10. CAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

CAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic Microphone

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Pros:

  • Great for the price
  • Lightweight
  • Works well in cardioid mode
  • Nice frequency response

The CAD Audio TSM411 is a fine microphone for guitar players. It has a dynamic pick-up and -3dB frequency of 80Hz to 13kHz, which puts it on the low end of the scale. It has a slight boost in the midrange, but in general offers a pretty flat response.

This is a cardioid microphone, which means that it is friendly to monitors (so no feedback) but it isn’t super-sensitive. If you are playing live with an amp at a reasonable volume (above whisper), then this mic will do.

Most importantly, this microphone is a reasonable price.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use guitar amp for microphone?

Yes, you can use the guitar amp as a microphone for a few hours.

They are not meant as microphones, but they work much better than many of the cheap microphones that come with guitar and chord packages.

With good soundcard and preamp, the results are comparable with the microphones specifically designed for high-quality vocals. Both of these items, however, must be of high quality, and the user must be experienced with them.

What is the best mic for guitar amp?

Amplifiers can be bad mics if you don't choose the right mics. Always remember, the best mic for guitar amps and the best mic for acoustic guitar aren't the same.

Today, we're going to tell you about the best use cases for amps, and how to achieve the best acoustic results.

There are four best uses for amps: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, and Drums.

We also talk a lot about the "Gain" control on amps, so if you aren't familiar with it, you might want to brush up on that video to familiarize yourself.

Once you've studied up on your gain, it's time to take a look at some of the best mics for each application.

Let's start with the vocals.

Let's quickly talk about what the headroom is for a great vocal take.

Where should I mic my guitar amp?

The best way to mic a guitar amp might not be the best for you, but if you're looking to buy a microphone for your amp, there are a few helpful guidelines to follow.

To find the best spot, you'll want to test some different spots on your amp to see how each sounds. Some microphones, when placed in front of the speaker, will not work.

Often, placing the mic closer to the speaker and slightly off center is your best bet. Sometimes, it's better to place the mic closer to the top of the cabinet as it's easier to match the sound of a guitar amp with a microphone than vice versa.

You can also try micing a bit below the top of your guitar amp for a more "midrange" sound. Experiment!

What Microphone do most YouTubers use?

Small condenser microphones. Popular brands include the Blue Yeti and the Neewer. These microphones work on either PC or Mac and are well-suited to a variety of applications within the world of YouTubing from vlogging to gaming. They do, however, require a stand to sit on and can be a lot to handle for smaller and weaker YouTubers.

What is the best mic for making videos?

In all honesty, you won't go wrong with any of the microphones discussed above. But, top-quality professional headphones can increase the quality of your videos to a significant degree. Other wireless headsets are also available.

Conclusion

The best microphone for your guitar amp can make or break the number of compliments you get from people when you perform in public. The type or brand of amp you have is less important than the type of microphone you use. That’s why we’ve given our list a strong bias for being a general purpose recommendation for almost every guitar amp owner with at least –above average” vocal (or guitar) capabilities.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic MicrophoneBest OverallShure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
CAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic MicrophoneBudget PickCAD Audio TSM411 Dynamic Microphone
Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio MicrophoneUpgrade PickNeumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone