You’ve put in the hours, and you’re finally ready to start recording, but with so many microphone options available, it can be hard to know where to start.
So many search results, so little time to capture that perfect guitar riff. You might be at home or in the studio, a beginner looking to buy a budget-conscious first mic, or a pro looking to invest in a brand new, high-end upgrade.
Experienced or not – you want the same thing: to capture the perfect electric guitar sound.
To make the process of capturing your carefully crafted guitar tone as simple as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the best microphones for recording electric guitars.
Regardless of budget, each mic on our list will deliver a professional sounding result. So turn it up to 11, and let’s get started.
(For a complete step-by-step guide on how to record electric guitars, check out our full guide).
The Audoix i5 dynamic microphone is a superb affordable option for recording electric guitar. It has the potential to fill in for just about any dynamic mic application you can think of – although notably, it can be used to mic a wide variety of musical instruments. In fact, you'll be hard pushed to find a source that this microphone doesn't sound good on.
Boasting a combination of solid build quality and good all-round audio performance, the i5 is a workhorse dynamic mic that easily rivals more established competitors.
Its VLM diaphragm is what provides you with that natural, accurate sound reproduction you’ve been searching for, and it can be used in the studio but is also perfect on stage.
The i5 is able to handle SPLs in excess of 140 dB without distortion, and boasts a wide frequency response of 50 Hz–16 KHz, providing clear sound on electric guitar that easily cuts through a mix.
Price: Approx £79/$94| Type: Dynamic | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connection: XLR
This list would not be complete without the Shure SM57 – a classic and affordable studio workhorse that's been used on countless records to record electric guitar. Despite there being many higher-end options available, studio engineers keep coming back to the 57 time and time again.
Its affordability means pretty much anyone can achieve a pro-sounding result, but it’s not just the cost that appeals:
This dynamic cardioid microphone remains a popular choice for musicians and engineers decades after it first appeared on stages across the world thanks to its sturdy construction and ability to handle high sound pressure levels (SPL). Its bright, clean sound and carefully contoured presence also make it the ideal mic for hassle-free studio recordings.
Boasting such high-end results at this price, this one is a no-brainer.
Price: £84/$99 | Type: Dynamic | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connection: XLR
The Sennheiser e906 is another industry-standard dynamic mic for electric guitar amps; in fact, it’s more versatile than the SM57 thanks to its high and low-pass filter options.
Based on the Sennheiser 409, the e906 is designed especially for electric guitars, snare drums and brass, and gives your amp that super-present, in-your-face sound.
These mics are specially designed to take extremely high SPLs while capturing high-resolution, natural sound without unwanted colouration.
The switchable presence filter with three sound characteristic options make this one of the most flexible mics at such an affordable price. Switch between a presence boost, a flat frequency response and a high-pass filter to attenuate low-frequencies.
A rugged design plus an affordable price point makes this a strong option for recording electric guitars.
Price: Approx £149/$200 | Type: Dynamic | Polar Pattern: Super-cardioid | Connection: XLR
Sennheiser MD 421-II
Another classic mic choice that demands a place on this list is the MD 421-II.
Thanks to its large diaphragm, dynamic element capable of handling high sound pressure levels, it’s easy to see why it’s a natural choice for recording electric guitars.
The MD 421-II is a recording classic due to its full-bodied sound and five-position bass control.
Key to its appeal is its ability to handle very loud sources without distorting – ideal for cranking the amp and letting rip.
The five-position bass roll-off switch gives you impressive power to sculpt the frequency response and helps you manage proximity effect when close-micing your amplifier.
Price: £349/$380 | Type: Dynamic | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connection: XLR
Earthworks ICON Pro
Although initially designed to act as a professional streaming microphone, the Earthworks ICON Pro is a good option for recording electric guitars due to the fact it can handle a surprising amount of SPL for a condenser mic (despite having no attenuation pad).
The hand-tuned small-diaphragm condenser capsule and a cardioid polar pattern captures a life-like sound that will blow you away.
ICON pro handles fast transients with ease, helping you capture your guitar sounds with clarity and plenty of headroom. It might get loud, but that’s alright!
Helping get that mic placement just right is the Triad-Orbit M2-R short-stem orbital mic adapter, bringing the convenience of a ball-swivel design to standard threaded mic stands, so you’ll easily find that sweet spot.
Price: £ 349.00/$499 | Type: Condenser | Polar Pattern: Cardioid | Connection: XLR
The AKG C414 is a true studio workhorse, with its multipattern design boasting nine polar patterns. It’s difficult to think of a more flexible microphone that every home studio should aspire to own as part of their arsenal.
The C414 has been used on thousands of hit records, as well as on stage by some of the biggest artists in the world.
It’s one of the most feature-rich microphones on our list, with its switchable multi polar-pattern design, three levels of attenuation (-6, -12, -18dB) and three different levels of bass roll-off making it ideal for controlling proximity effect.
Thanks to this feature set, you can put the C414 on pretty much anything and it’ll sound first-class in the right hands.
There’s no getting around it – it’s expensive, but if you’ve got the budget for it, it’s a must-have for any professional or home studio. This natural-sounding mic is worth every penny.
Price: Approx £699/$999 | Type: Condenser | Polar Pattern: Multipattern | Connection: XLR
Austrian Audio OC818
This (seemingly) new kid on the block has been making quite the name of itself in the last two years, mainly thanks to the OC818.
If it reminds you of AKG’s CK12, that’s because after AKG’s Vinenna offices closed down, Austrian Audio opened its doors in 2017, complete with a core team made up of 22 former AKG personnel.
Since then, the manufacturer’s OC818 has won over sceptics and music pros loyal to other more well-established brands. This mic has some superb engineering prowess behind it.
What makes it perfect on electric guitars is its high sensitivity, and its ability to handle everything from a whisper to extreme SPLs. There's an attenuation pad of either -10 or -20 dB and plenty of high-pass filter controls, making it a serious alternative to the previously mentioned AKG C414.
Made to the same critical dimensions as the classic CK12 capsules, you can easily switch between cardioid, omnidirectional and custom programmable polar patterns. It packs quite the punch considering its comparatively modest price point.
Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. Your guitar recordings (and much more) will sing beyond belief.
Price: £879.00/$1199 | Type: Condenser | Polar Pattern: Multipattern | Connection: XLR 3 pin
This is another of the most instantly recognisable large-diaphragm microphones out there, and it has been used on a plethora of iconic recordings over the years.
The reason this is a staple mic for anyone interested in recording electric guitars is its versatility, combined with its warm and well-balanced characteristics, three polar patterns and a unique frequency and transient response characteristic.
It has an attenuation PAD to help with high SPL sources (such as guitar amps) and is famed for its very flat and natural sound, even in the upper frequency range. You can position the mic very close to the amp, if required, without the sound becoming unnaturally harsh.
Yes, it’s certainly a costly investment, but it’s hugely versatile and will serve your studio needs well-beyond electric guitars – including vocals and acoustic guitars. If you’ve got the budget, it’s a true studio classic.
Price: £2,099/$3200 | Type: Condenser | Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional, cardioid and figure-8 | Connection: XLR
This double ribbon mic was inducted into the NAMM TEC Awards Technology Hall of Fame in 2019 for its contribution to the advancement of audio technology, and once you take a closer look, it’s easy to see why.
Its defining feature is the directional pattern. Most ribbon microphones are a figure 8 polar pattern by design. The M160, however, is hypercardioid, meaning you get the warm, classic sound of a ribbon mic that compliments guitars so well, but without the quirk of a figure 8 pattern that picks up sound equally from the front and back.
Famously, legendary producer Eddie Kramer used the M160 to capture classic guitar recordings from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
Price: £431.00/$699 | Type: Dynamic | Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid | Connection: XLR
Royer Labs R-121
The Royer Labs R-121 is almost universally loved by guitarists and engineers alike.
It’s the manufacturer’s flagship mic for a reason and has a classic ribbon sound that exhibits a warm, smooth tone and compliments almost anything.
Key to its appeal is the R-121’s proprietary offset ribbon transducer, which is the first of its kind. This arrangement gives the ribbon more room to move within the prime magnetic field while maintaining full frequency response during high SPL recordings.
Plus, its response is flat and well balanced, with a deep and full low end. The mids are well defined and realistic. The high-end response is sweet and natural sounding – never edgy or sibilant.
Price: £1,190/£1299 | Type: Ribbon | Polar Pattern: Figure-8 | Connection: XLR