Can You Record Guitar With A Condenser Mic?

Are you trying to figure out the best microphone to record guitar with? You may be wondering, “Can You Record Guitar With A Condenser Mic?” Let’s take a look at some different microphones to help you get the job done right.

Can You Record Guitar With A Condenser Mic?

Yes, you can and probably should use a condenser microphone to record guitar. Condenser microphones are great for recording acoustic and electric guitars. Due to the extremely low mass of the condenser mics diaphragm, it can follow sound waves more accurately. Condenser microphones have a greater frequency response and lower noise floor than other types of microphones and are great for transients, (Quick bust of energy e.g., the quick pick of a string or striking a drumhead). In fact, condenser microphones are good for recording almost any instrument or vocal. The only drawback is that some condenser microphones can only handle so much SPL (Sound Pressure Level = Loudness). A good condenser microphone will add warmth and superior clarity to any recording project.

Video Credit: Paul Davids

Best Condenser Microphones To Record Acoustic And Electric Guitar

The term “Best” usually comes from tried-and-true results as prescribed by everyday users, professionals, and award-winning results.

Let’s take a look at some of the best condenser microphones for recording acoustic and electric guitar.

AKG C414 XLII

The AKG C414 is a multi-pattern condenser microphone. Multi-pattern meaning it has nine polar patterns to choose from.

The nine different polar patterns are: omnidirectional, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, and figure 8, you also get four intermediate settings that let you dial in the best in-between pattern.

The AKG C414 also has 3 bass cut filters built in and 3 pre-attenuation pads built in for extra loud recording environments.

AKG C414 XLII Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The microphone also has a clipping LED indicator on the face of the mic to let you know if the microphone is clipping.

The AKG C414 is a very versatile mic and gives you lots of options to decide which polar pattern, bass filter, and SPL level works best for your recording project.

The AKG C414 XLII will tolerate high Sound Pressure Levels up to 140db / 158db with the -18db pad.

This microphone has a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, and requires 48v phantom power.

This is a very versatile microphone and sounds great on just about anything.

Neumann U87 Ai

The Neumann U87 Ai is a staple microphone in almost every recording studio.

The Neumann U87Ai comes with the option to switch between 3 different polar patterns. (Cardioid, Omni, & Figure 8)

You also have a low-cut filter switch and a -10db pad.

Neumann U87 Ai Condenser Microphone

The microphone has a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz and a SPL level of 117db / 127db with the -10db pad engaged and requires 48v phantom power.

While the Neumann U87 Ai is an expensive condenser microphone, it also delivers some of the best industry recordings that you hear on many different genres of music and works very well for vocals, and any instrument.

If you are looking for a good all-around condenser microphone that will breathe life into your guitar recordings, The Neumann U87 Ai is a great pick.

Warm Audio WA-87 R2

Every studio needs at least one high-quality large-diaphragm condenser mic, and the Warm Audio WA87 R2 is designed after a legendary one.

The WA-87 RT is great for recording vocals, guitars and any instrument.

Warm Audio WA87 R2 Condenser Microphone

The microphone comes with 3 different polar patterns, (Cardioid, Omni, & Figure 8), and also has a low-cut filter and a -10db pad.

The WA-87 RT has a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz an SPL of 125db and requires 48v phantom power.

If you are looking for a warm classic sound and at a great price this is a great microphone.

Audio Technica AT4050

The Audio Technica AT4050 is another great sounding condenser microphone that is great for guitar, vocals, and just about any instrument you can think of.

The Audio Technica AT4050 comes with the ability to switch between three different polar patterns. (Cardioid, Omni, & Figure 8)

Audio Technica AT4050 Condenser Microphone

One reason I like this condenser microphone is because it has the ability to record at higher SPL levels 149db / 159db with the -10db pad.

The microphone also has a low-cut filter switch on the back if you need to make a bass cut at 80Hz.

The AT4050 has a frequency response of 20Hz – 18kHz and requires 48v phantom power.

Neumann KM184 Stereo Pair

The Neumann KM 184 Stereo Pair is the perfect matched set of small condenser microphones.

Neumann’s KM 184 Stereo Pair is capable of handling high sound pressure levels as high as 138dB before overloading.

The Neumann KM184 stereo pair is an excellent choice for capturing the subtle nuances of acoustic guitars and orchestral instruments.

Neumann KM184 Stereo Pair Condenser Microphones

The KM184 microphones have a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, a cardioid pattern, and require 48v phantom power.

The KM184 Stereo Pair of microphones are a great way to record your instruments in stereo.

If you are looking for a great stereo pair of microphones this is a great set.

AKG C451 B Stereo Pair

The AKG C451 B is a great stereo pair of condenser microphones for recording acoustic guitar, drums, choirs, and works great for piano and orchestral instruments.

The AKG C451 comes with two different low cut filter settings of 75Hz and 150Hz and two db pads of -10db and -20db.

AKG C451 B Stereo Pair Condenser Microphones

The microphones have a cardioid pattern and require 48v phantom power.

The AKG C451 has a higher SPL rating of 135db and 155db with the -20db pad.

The AKG C451 B Stereo Pair are a excellent set of microphones to record your instruments in stereo.

This is a great Stereo Pair of condenser microphones and will serve you well.

How Do I Get 48v Phantom Power?

If you are new to using condenser microphones you may be wondering, how do I get 48v phantom power to my condenser microphones?

Condenser microphones require 48v phantom power to properly power up the microphone for recording.

The phantom power is supplied from your audio interface, mixer, or DI Box.

The phantom power is fed through your XLR microphone cable.

If you are using an Audio Interface simply turn on the phantom power by pushing the phantom power button to activate phantom power.

It’s the same if you are using a mixer or a DI Box if the DI box is equipped with phantom power.

Simply turn on the phantom power from the channel that your condenser microphone is plugged into.

Relevant Article: Will An Audio Interface Make My Music Sound Better? Learn more about audio interfaces and phantom power.

Best Dynamic Microphones To Record Acoustic And Electric Guitar

Some sound engineers and producers like to use both a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone to record guitar amplifiers.

Depending on the type of amplifier you are using you may prefer to record your guitar amplifier at higher volume levels. Especially, if you are using a tube amplifier.

This double mic technique can add extra flavor to your recordings.

Here are some good dynamic microphones that will work well for your guitar amplifier and other instruments.

Sennheiser MD 421 II

The Sennheiser MD 421 II is one of Sennheisers best microphones.

The MD 421 II is a rugged microphone that handles loud sound levels very well and works great for guitar amplifiers, drums, vocals, and many other instruments.

Sennheiser MD 421-II Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

The MD 421-II has a cardioid pattern and offers outstanding feedback rejection, making it an excellent choice for live situations or recording environments where bleed from other instruments may be an issue.

The microphone has 5 different bass roll off selections and gives you excellent control over your low end.

The MD 421 II has a frequency response of 30Hz – 17kHz and no SPL max.

If you need to place a microphone in a loud overdriven guitar amp speaker this is a great choice.

You can then place your favorite condenser microphone further back from the guitar amp to capture the full tone of the amplifier in the room. Give it a try!

Sennheiser E609

The Sennheiser E609 is a dynamic microphone that was designed to mic guitar cabinets.

It has tight and punchy lows, the mids are thick and rich, and the highs are crispy without sounding harsh.

Sennheiser E 609 Supercardioid Dynamic Microphone

The Sennheiser E609 has a super cardioid pattern that rejects all other sounds except what it is aimed at so it’s great to cut mic bleed and feedback.

This mic has a frequency response of 40Hz – 18kHz and can handle high SPL levels so go ahead and crank up the amp.

The design of the Sennheiser E609 allows for flat placement against the guitar cabinet and can easily be draped from the top of the amp.

Sure SM57

The Sure SM57 is a legendary dynamic microphone known for great sound and the ability to withstand the toughest road conditions.

It’s great in the studio or on the stage.

Sure SM57 Dynamic Microphone

The SM57 is a great mic for guitars, drums, vocals, and about anything else you need to use it for.

This microphone has a tight cardioid pattern and a frequency response of 40Hz to 15kHz.

The SM57 can handle loud SPL levels and is great for guitar cabinets and works well for acoustic guitar also.

Best Ribbon Microphones To Record Acoustic And Electric Guitar

Royer R-121

The Royer R-121 Ribbon microphone may very well be the number one ribbon microphone for recording guitar, piano, strings, drums, and even vocals.

The Royer R-121 has a figure 8 polar pattern.

Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone

This is a great mic for recording guitars and also works great with a condenser mic on electric guitar amplifiers.

Thick low end, crisp mids, and smooth high end give you realistic sound.

The Royer R-121 has a frequency response of 30Hz – 15kHz and can handle high SPL sound levels greater than 135db.

Royer R-10

The Royer R-10 was designed with its big brother the Royer R-121 standards in mind.

The Royer R-10 gives you a great smooth, velvety sound and has a figure 8 polar pattern.

Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone

This is a great microphone for acoustic and electric guitars, piano, strings, percussion, drums, and vocals.

The Royer R-10 can handle high SPL levels up to 160db and has a frequency response of 30Hz – 15kHz.

If you are looking for a great sounding and very affordable ribbon microphone, the Royer R-10 is hard to beat.

Audio Technica AT4081

The Audio Technica AT4081 is an active ribbon microphone with a figure 8 pattern.

Active, meaning that this microphone will require 48v phantom power.

Audio Technicia AT4081 Active Ribbon Microphone

The AT 4081 is great for miking strings, horns, drum overheads, and guitar cabinets.

The Audio Technica AT4081 has a frequency response of 30Hz – 18kHz,

If you are looking for a classic thick sound and a ribbon microphone that can withstand a SPL level of 150db this microphone will serve you well.

Video Credit: Rick Beato

Is A Condenser, Ribbon, Or Dynamic Mic Better For Guitar?

A microphone is your tool of choice for recording instruments and vocals.

Some microphones will definitely do the job better than others but when it comes to recording your acoustic or electric guitar you may want to consider using a combination of Condenser, Ribbon or dynamic microphones.

The reason I say this is because most dynamic microphones are more durable and can take the punch of a loud guitar amp when you place the mic right up to the speaker.

The condenser microphone has a better frequency response and if you place the condenser microphone a couple feet back from the amplifier speaker you will capture a more full and detailed sound of the guitar and amp or the warm wood sound and fret board of an acoustic guitar.

Some ribbon microphones have a darker, warmer sound that can give you some real grit and smooth out the high end a bit.

This does not mean you have to record your guitars using a combination of different microphones, but a lot of great sound engineers go this route to get greater clarity and color.

If you just have a condenser microphone, a ribbon microphone, or you just have a dynamic microphone, go ahead and use what you have.

Try experimenting by moving the mic around to find the best sounding location.

It’s the same idea if you are using two different microphones. Try moving the mics around to find what works best for you.

Where Do I Place My Microphone To Record Acoustic Guitar?

Mic placement can really make a big difference when you are recording guitar. Especially, acoustic guitars.

First off, I would avoid placing your microphone directly in front of the acoustic guitars sound hole.

This might seem like the ideal location but often times placing the microphone directly in front of the sound hole is going to create a lot of boomy bass that can muddy up your mix.

Acoustic Guitar Microphone Placement

If you are going to be using a stereo set of microphones or a combination of microphones, try placing one microphone in position 3 and a microphone at position 2.

When you are using two microphones be mindful of the spacing of the microphones distance from the microphone to the guitar and the angles.

By keeping even spacing this will help you avoid the microphones being out of phase with each other.

You can listen through a pair of headphones to listen for phase issues.

If you are going to be using one microphone, I would try position 1 or position 2.

There are no hard fast rules, but I think these guidelines will help you out.

Try experimenting and do what works for you.

Where Do I Place My Microphone To Record Electric Guitar?

Microphone placement on an electric guitar amplifier will vary depending on the sound you are going for and the way the amplifier sounds in the room it is being played in.

Some amplifiers sound better when they are turned up on the louder side, especially tube amplifiers.

Again, it just depends on the style of music you are creating.

Let’s look at some general locations you can place one or two microphones to record your electric guitar amplifier.

Microphone Placement For Guitar Amplifiers

If you will be using one microphone, try placing the microphone right up on the grill of the speaker in position 1 or position 2.

You will notice subtle sound differences between the center and the edge of the speaker.

You can use two different microphones such as a condenser microphone and a ribbon microphone and place them in positions 1 and position 2.

A great combination is a dynamic microphone and a ribbon microphone right up on the speaker.

Another great combination is a dynamic or ribbon microphone up on the speaker and a condenser microphone pulled back from the speaker a couple inches or several feet back from the amplifier.

The condenser microphone will do a great job capturing the amplifier and the ambience of the room giving you a great warm, detailed, and full sound.

There are no rules set in stone here so try experimenting and do what works best for you.

These are general guidelines to help you get started in the right direction.

How Can I Make My Guitar Recordings Sound Better?

There are a couple of things you want to make sure you get right when recording guitar.

1. Prepare The Guitar

Before you start trying to record your guitar make sure the guitar is ready to be recorded.

Make sure the guitar is set up properly.

This means there is no string buzz, dead notes, and the intonation is set properly.

Put some new strings on the guitar and make sure the guitar is tuned.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Have you considered the guitar part that you want to record?

Can you play that guitar part flawlessly?

Play through the part a couple of times before you start recording. Make sure you are comfortable with how the part should be played.

You can hear hesitation and doubt in a recording.

Play and record until you get the part right.

3. Experiment With Mic Placement

We have already talked some about different microphones and mic placement.

Once you are at the recording phase of your project, put on some headphones and listen to your guitar and microphones through your headphones.

Move the microphones around and listen with your headphones on.

Find the spot that sounds best to you.

Experiment with different microphones and microphone placement.

4. Gain Settings

Can you hear me now?

Gain settings may be one of the most important things you can do.

If the volume level is too low when you record you will have a weak recording and the natural noise floor of your room and equipment will be more prevalent in your recordings. (BAD)

If the volume level is too high when you record your recording will Clip which sounds like popping and distortion. (BAD)

Take some time and make sure you set your recording levels correct. Not too loud and not too quiet but just right.

Put on your headphones and take a listen, check your led meter and make sure it’s not maxed out. Allow plenty of room for different dynamics.

Play the soft parts, play the loud parts and adjust the gain to accommodate the playing style of the song.

A good audio interface makes it super easy to set your gain levels and will provide phantom power for your condenser microphones.

5. Pre DAW-Thoughts

I see many articles online talking about how to do all sorts of really cool panning, doubling parts, effects, and amp simulators inside your DAW software.

Not many people are talking about the importance of getting the recording process right.

Once you get a good solid recording you can proceed with all the coolness inside your DAW software.

I’m a huge believer in the real magic happens in the art of getting a good recording. If your recording is solid, then you will have success with the rest of your project.

If you fail to get a solid recording, you will struggle with getting your project to sound right and it will sound like you tried to polish a bad recording.

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“As long as you keep it to a reasonable level, condenser mics do an excellent job of capturing detail and clarity, which works well for clean, crunchy or downright distorted tones.”https://www.audio-issues.com/recording-tips/how-to-record-electric-guitars-the-easy-way/#:~:text=Dynamic%2C%20condenser%20and%20ribbon%20microphones,amp%2C%20use%20a%20dynamic%20mic.
“Condenser microphones are well adept at capturing the slight nuances of a guitar. Additionally, condenser microphones provide precise attention to detail and are capable of recording the instrument’s higher-frequencies with impressive clarity.”https://stampsound.com/can-you-record-a-guitar-with-a-condenser-microphone/
“If you move the mic towards the middle of the speaker, you will capture a brighter sound with more bight. If you move the mic towards the speaker’s outer edge, the sound will get darker and smoother. By moving the mic closer to the amp, the sound will get more bass heavy.”https://www.mixinglessons.com/record-electric-guitar-with-condenser-mic/
“You will get nice results with a 57 right up on the grill and the NT1 a foot or two (or more) back, depending on what you are going for. Take the time to experiment with the positioning; the sweet spots may jump out at you.”https://www.reddit.com/r/audioengineering/comments/874d6y/recording_guitar_amp_with_condenser_microphone/
“Using a condenser on an amplifier is the best way to truly make your electric guitar tracks feel dynamic and lifelike. Capturing all the nuances of the attack, sustain, and tonalities, a condenser mic can transform even the smallest of amplifiers into larger than life monsters of sound.”https://soyuzmicrophones.com/articles/recording-the-perfect-tone
“Alan Parsons: “I always use condenser mics on a guitar amp, never dynamics — they’re too telephoney. That’s an unfair expression for a very good dynamic mic, but by comparison to a condenser, you’re not going to get the bottom end.” While this stance is more hard-line than that of most engineers, condenser mics are, of course, regularly used for recording electric guitars. However, in practice they rarely seem to be used on their own and are very often lined up alongside the trusty SM57.”https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/guitar-amp-recording
“Most professional acoustic guitar recordings are done with condenser mics (usually pairs of mics). Electric guitars can either be recorded using “direct injection” (DI) into an interface or with a microphone on an amp.”https://www.quora.com/Can-you-record-a-guitar-with-a-condenser-mic

Final Thoughts

Can You Record Guitar With A Condenser Mic? Absolutely!

You may also want to consider using ribbon and dynamic microphones as well.

Microphones, Audio Interfaces, Guitars, and Amplifiers are tools needed to get the best results in your profession.

Yes, they can be expensive. No, you do not need to buy the most expensive equipment to get great results.

Use what you have and plan for what you want.

If you like to play, write, record, and produce music then you are in the right place.

I have many great articles that you will find interesting and helpful.

Take some time and have a look around my website.

Feel free to leave your questions and helpful comments below.

6 thoughts on “Can You Record Guitar With A Condenser Mic?”

  1. A condenser microphone seems like the right choice if you want quality sound. It is interesting to note that the AKG C414 XLII, although it is a condenser microphone. is useful for recoding loud music.As a totally versatile microsphone, it seems to be the best choice if a peron is interested in flexibility in a recording device.For quality music, producers like to use both a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone. I would suppose that the value that these products have, even thou there id cost involved, is that quality music is produced and will eventually provide incredible rewards!

    Reply
    • The AKG C414 XLII is a great all around condenser microphone and has a good price point for what you are getting.  I like the fact that it can handle high SPL levels and can be used for any project. 

      I am a fan of using two different microphones on a acoustic guitar or a amplifier.  I think it gives you a much fuller and better colored sound. 

      Reply
  2. I got one of these for my nephew a couple of years ago for his youtube channel so when he is blogging his commentary has no echo and is better quality. These condenser mics are very useful and definitely worth having especially if you perform recording or podcasts 

    I personally think the more information we have about these the better and you have definitely given us a good amount of information and suggestions to look at and choose from. Shame they aren’t cheap like.

    Reply
    • Condenser mics are great for broadcast and voice projects.  There are some really good mics and condenser mics for podcast that cost less and will work great.  I will have some upcoming articles on this topic.  

      Every condenser mic needs a source of phantom power.  I have a great article all about audio interfaces if you want to learn more: Will An Audio Interface Make My Music Sound Better? Be sure and check it out!

      Reply
  3. Since January, I have recorded drums in my bedroom every night. Sennheiser MD 421 II provided me with a very clear recording. I bought it on eBay. When I sent my recorded song to my husband for feedback, he immediately noticed that the drums sound between my other microphone and Sennheiser was different.

    It’s expensive for me. Before this I didn’t think I would spend HK$1,175 for a microphone. But it’s really worth it.

    Reply
    • Hi Julia,  Microphones really do make a big difference in the quality of the sounds we record.

      A good recording makes it so much easier to complete your mixes and mastering. 

      What other kind of microphones do you use?

      Microphones can be an expense but if you are serious about getting great sound they are a necessary tool.

      Reply

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