We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Rich Sound from the Best Guitar Microphones

  1. Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
  2. Audix I5 Dynamic Instrument Guitar Microphone
  3. Sennheiser Silver Super Cardioid Guitar Microphone
  4. Shure Cardioid Handheld Guitar Microphone
  5. Sennheiser e906 Supercardioid Dynamic Mic for Guitar Amps
  6. Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone
  7. AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Instrument Condenser Microphone
  8. Beyerdynamic M160 - Hyper-Cardioid Handheld Ribbon Microphone
  9. Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone
  10. Audio-Technica PRO 35 Cardioid Condenser Clip-on Guitar Microphone
  11. Buyer's Guide

Whether you are operating your own home studio or are a guitarist who has taken studio/live recording into your own hands, having the right microphone to record the guitar is a crucial component to getting a great sound. This tool must be able to handle the loud sounds that amplifiers need to make in order to provide a natural tone, but most also be dynamic enough to capture the full range of sound that the instrument produces. Whichever aforementioned category you find yourself in, budgets can definitely be a concern, especially when there are so many other costs in operating a studio or having a fully functional and superb guitar rig. Luckily, there are several great guitar microphones that exist today that won’t break the bank. We've selected the best budget guitar microphone out there, with each item listed here having a cardioid-based pickup pattern to provide a direct sound while eliminating unwanted background noise. Each has been manufactured with durability and ruggedness in mind, making any of these mics a great option for both live and contained recording environments. Lastly, these best guitar microphones in 2022 easily connect to the rest of your system with commonly-found XLR cables.

The Best Guitar Microphone Models of 2022 in Detail

Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

The benefits to using the Shure SM57 for recording guitar are numerous. For one (like all Shure microphones) it's built like a tank so you don’t have to worry about putting it in danger wherever you use it. The SM57 also comes equipped with a high maximum SPL so this unit easily handles the loud volume of a cranked up amplifier without distorting the actual signal itself. The tight cardioid pattern of this microphone offers a direct, in-your-face signal of whatever you point it in front of. The SM57 is also able to be easily paired up with other microphones, giving users the ability to customize and experiment with their recording sounds.

Audix I5 Dynamic Instrument Guitar Microphone - Runner Up

Audix’s i5 dynamic cardioid microphone provides a superior, accurate sound reproduction that is great for live guitar amplification signal. Its pickup pattern ensures great isolation, so you won’t have to worry about unwanted bleed-through from other instruments onstage. The mic’s SPL handling of 140dB allows you to really crank up your sound without driving the signal into distorted territory. The i5 was built to last on the road, so you’ll never have to worry about being too delicate with its rugged design while the flat cap build allows you to place the microphone very close to the speaker cabinet. In addition to being a great tool for electric guitar amps, the i5 is also a good choice for vocals, percussion, acoustic instruments, and more.

Sennheiser Silver Super Cardioid Guitar Microphone - Honorable Mention

The Sennheiser e 609 silver is a dynamic supercardioid microphone that was built specifically to be set up in front of guitar cabinets. This mic takes much of its spec and design from the Evolution 609 and MD 409 dynamic microphones. Both of the aforementioned microphones were revered for their low-mid frequency growl and punchy, clarity-favoring sound. The e 609’s pick-up pattern allows for optimal isolation from other nearby audio signals, making it an ideal tool for use onstage as well as in the studio. The microphone also is built from metal, making it a reliably rugged road component.

Shure Cardioid Handheld Guitar Microphone - Consider

The Shure SM58 holds the distinction of being one of the most popular handheld dynamic microphones in the world, but it also can be very useful for recording guitar amplifier signal both onstage and in the studio. The SM58’s cardioid pickup pattern eliminates unwanted background noise and provides a direct signal. This mic also is equipped with an internal pneumatic shock mount system that cuts down on any handling noise, so your signal should be clear and precise. Because the mic was made with vocalists in mind, it has a built-in spherical wind and pop filter to reduce unwanted noise, which can often be useful to the aggressive, pointed sound of the electric guitar. Like all Shure microphones, the SM58 is built like a tank, which is always an advantage for those recording rock bands and in other scenarios where you don’t want to be walking around on eggshells while creating/playing music.

Sennheiser e906 Supercardioid Dynamic Mic for Guitar Amps - Best Budget Guitar Microphone

Sennheiser’s e 906 dynamic microphone can be used to capture the sound of many different types of instruments, including guitar coming through an amplifier. This mic produces a full sound with a very fast attack response. A switchable presence filter gives users the ability to tweak the mic’s sound to best fit the scenario in which the unit is being used. Choose from three settings: a presence-boosting range setting for louder, more aggressive rhythm guitars, a normal position that works well with classic rock sounds, and a third setting with a mid-frequency of 4 kHz that sounds great with warmer, smoother tones found in jazz and blues. The 906’s flat front design also makes it very easy to position in front of amps. And its durable reinforced metal body ensures that you can use this mic in a variety of settings without having to worry about doing any damage to the device.

Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

It’s almost unfair to compare the Neumann U87 to other microphones used to record electric guitar. To put it simply, this device is a classic staple of almost every professional recording studio. The U87’s large diaphragm design captures a wider and more encompassing sound from the instrument that it records, which results in a fuller sounding tone. The mic can be switched between omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8 settings, making it great for those who want to experiment with placement in their recording techniques. The U87 also provides a switchable 10dB pre-attenuation pad, which helps to protect the delicate nature of the condenser microphone from being blown out by the type of loud and unruly signal that we typically associate with the electric guitar. In addition to being a great option for recording amplifiers, this mic can also be used to capture vocals, room noise, and more.

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Instrument Condenser Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

AKG’s C414 XLS offers a balanced, accurate, and neutral sound that has made it a top choice for those trying to tackle the beast of recording great-sounding electric guitar. The mic’s 9-pattern design ensures that you’re getting way more than you might figure from a single unit. Find the appropriate setting for each room, instrument, and project by switching between omnidirectional, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure eight, and four intermediate settings in the pickup pattern. The unit’s maximum SPL clocks in at 140dB (158dB with its 18dB pad), so you can turn your amplifier up to a volume loud enough to truly convey the natural sound of the instrument without walking on eggshells about overloading the microphone that is recording the performance. And just in case things do get overloaded, a handy “peak hold” LED display gives notice of even the most minuscule peaks.

Beyerdynamic M160 - Hyper-Cardioid Handheld Ribbon Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

The Beyerdynamic M160 holds the distinction of actually using two ribbons in its build. This mic offers a hypercardioid polar pattern, which gives it an extended frequency response and direct, clear sound. While many are quick to point out that nearly every ribbon microphone available on the market will produce a solid-sounding guitar sound, the M160 holds the distinction of being favored by legendary recording engineer Eddie Kramer, the man who recorded classic records by Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of legacy that comes attached to this little microphone, particularly if you’re using it for rock music. The M160 also offers a non-glare black surface, which grants it something of an invisibility factor. Due to its unobtrusive nature, this is a great microphone for use in film and television studios.

Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

The Royer R-121 ribbon microphone provides its owner with a great-sounding, detailed response that also excels in areas that other mics of a similar build simply can’t handle. Part of that is due to the 121’s maximum SPL rating which exceeds 135dB; feel free to crank up your amplifier as loud as you’d like without fear of overdriving and ruining the signal (and doing damage to the microphone itself). This mic has equal sensitivity from its front and back, with its back offering a slightly brighter sound than the front; this gives users more options to play with finding the perfect sound. The mics price definitely makes it something that excludes it from some of the smaller, more low-budget home studios. However, its warm and balanced sound instantly shows why it is such a beloved and essential tool for those looking to get a great performance when recording electric guitar.

Audio-Technica PRO 35 Cardioid Condenser Clip-on Guitar Microphone - Best Guitar Microphone Overall

The Audio-Technica AT4060 is a large dual-diaphragm tube condenser microphone that packs a warm and accurate sound that you would expect from any tube-driven technology. Its larger size allows it to extend its frequency response, giving its recordings a wider-sound which is especially great for recording guitar amplifiers. The mic itself also offers a wide dynamic range and high SPL capability, so you can really capture the nuance (both quiets and loads) of a performance without being concerned about overloading the device itself. The tubes in this microphone have been hand-selected, aged, and individually tested to ensure that it provides a warm and vintage sound, which certainly speaks to the level of care and attention that Audio-Technica puts into this product. Honestly accurate, this is a microphone for those want to really deliver a warm guitar sound to their audience.

Buyer's Guide

If you are a guitar player and you want to record your electric guitar for a studio track or album, you’ll need to invest in some good-quality gear. Unfortunately, there are so many guitar microphones available on today’s market; it can be difficult to make an educated decision, particularly if you are a beginner.

Luckily, we are here to lend a hand. We have taken the time to develop this hand buying guide where we’ll cover everything you need to know about picking the perfect microphone to record your tastiest licks and grungiest riffs.

If you know what you are looking for, it’ll make the recording so much easier. If you’d like to know, check out the rest of the article below.

Things to consider when choosing a guitar microphone

There are numerous things you need to keep in mind when purchasing your next guitar microphone. These include:

Polar Patterns

The polar patterns of your microphone head dictate where the microphone will pick up sound and from which side it should mute any background noise. The most common patterns include cardioid, bi-directional, omnidirectional, and super/hyper-cardioid.

The most common type of pattern is the cardioid pattern. It rejects any sound from behind and picks up on any sound in front. This is the best type of mic for loud stages and confined studios. Similarly, super-cardioid microphones pick up on sound in the same manner, but they are much better at rejecting background noise. They also have a narrower pickup.

As the name suggests, omnidirectional microphones feature sensitivity on both sides of the head, making it the best microphone for picking sound from multiple directions. Unlike the cardioid-pattern mics, this type of microphone does not feature a rejection mechanism.

Finally, bi-directional microphones can pick up on any noise coming from the front or rear but will reject any sound from the sides.

Frequency response

You should also consider the frequency response of your microphone, as different microphones are built for recording different instruments. For example, if you’re looking to record your guitar, we recommend choosing a microphone with a similar frequency response somewhere between 80Hz-5kHz.

Response Curves

A response curve is a graph that shows the frequency range of your microphone. This is a great way to understand quickly how the mic will perform and how well it will cope with your musical requirements.

Proximity Effect

Every microphone comes with a feature known as the proximity effect. Essentially, this means that the closer you are to the microphone, the more prominent the bass response. This ensures a warm tone and offers plenty of room for experimentation, particularly if you favor a vintage vibe in your musical stylings.


SPL stands for sound pressure. This is measured in decibels. Basically, the lower the decibel, the more sensitive the microphone will be. On average, most microphone sensitivity tends to be around 100dB.

What are the different types of microphones?

There are many different microphones available, but the top three most popular types for recording guitar are condenser, dynamic, and ribbon.

Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic microphones can handle high SPL and come with internal shock mounts. As such, they are usually held in your hand. In addition, their polar patterns do a great job at blocking any surrounding noise that doesn’t come from your guitar or amplifier. As such, they are perfect for live performance. They can be used for studio work, but they are much better suited to playing live. However, these are the microphones of choice for recording guitar, both electric and acoustically.

Condenser Microphone

Condenser mics are very responsive and capture all those intricacies and details of your performance. As such, they are favored in the studio due to the high-frequency response. They are the preferred microphones for acoustic guitar amps, pianos, and vocals, but they will also do a great job recording the electric guitar.

Ribbon Microphone

Ribbon mics are the most sensitive and delicate microphones out of the main three options, softening the sound and enrich performances with a warm tone. They are designed with a small strip of aluminum on the head, compared to the coil of a dynamic mic, which connects to the microphone.

Ribbon mics are the most delicate type of microphone out of all of these three options. They are known to soften the sound of the recordings and performances to enhance them with a warm, rich tone. However, they do not cope well with high SPL’s, and they need several preamps to sound their utmost best.

Guitar microphone price range

When it comes to your microphone, you pay for quality. Sure, you can find some budget dynamic mics for as little as $100 (sometimes even less). However, you’ll want to spend at least $200 if you are looking for quality. It is not uncommon to find microphones that far exceed the $500 price range.


What is the most popular type of microphone for recording electric guitar?

Two of the best microphones for recording your electric guitar are the Shure SM57 and Shure SM58. These offer fantastic sound quality and durability. In addition, the SM58 comes with a pop filter which also makes it fantastic for vocals. Both of these microphones are considered to be the true workhorse mics of the live and studio scene.

What is the best way to place a microphone by the guitar amp?

Firstly, you need to consider where the speaker exists inside the amp. If you place the mic close to the speaker, you’ll get deep bass sounds in your mix. Conversely, the further away, the less the bass tone. If you move the mic to the speaker’s edge, you’ll reduce the mid frequencies. Also, if you move the mic to the center, you’ll get some lovely bright tones.

Do you need good monitors for recording music?

Of course! A good monitor is the best way to hear any mistakes and accidents. As such, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and record better quality music all around. So if you want to avoid lots of frustration, invest in a good quality pair of monitors straight away.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top