5 Best Microphones for Acoustic Guitar – Buying Guide and Reviews

For an acoustic guitarist, recording your instrument can be a challenging task. Whether you’re playing a gig or recording an album, choosing the best microphone for acoustic guitars can make a world of difference to how well your guitar’s tone comes through in the end.

Choose a bad microphone, or even just the wrong kind, and you can be saddled with the unfortunate task of spending a long time tweaking the EQ later on and trying to recapture the lost frequencies and fixing unwanted noise.

Picking the best microphones for acoustic guitar isn’t easy, especially since there are so many different kinds and for a beginner it can be confusing to try and understand what all the terminology means - so we’ve made it as simple as possible for you to confidently choose one of the best.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Microphones For Acoustic Guitar On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best microphones for acoustic guitar 

  • Self noise (the ambient signal generated just by the microphone) should be as low as possible, under 18db is the absolute minimum requirement, and less than 10 is ideal
  • Cardioid pattern microphones are best for recording just a single guitar, which can be useful for live situations and studio. For two guitars, a Figure-8 is the best way to go without also capturing the noise of the room or venue
  • If you’ll be using one microphone to record multiple tracks one after another, a large diaphragm design is best for the versatility. On the other hand, if it’s just for acoustic guitars, especially smaller body types, then a small diaphragm design is ideal due to the better high frequency response
  • Finding a microphone that includes a shock mount is great if you’ll be in a live gigging situation where you need to minimize the disturbances of whatever else is going on in a room, such as people moving through a room or dancing close to a stage

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Microphones For Acoustic Guitar

1. Shure SM81

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

A cardioid condenser mic that’s been praised as one of the best microphones for acoustic guitar, but also for just about any acoustic recording needs.

  • Small, lightweight design makes it easy to position
  • Able to handle high sound pressure, up to 146dB
  • 3 settings for getting the best out of your bass frequencies
  • Very transparent due to the flat response curve
  • The microphones are not produced in pairs so there may be minor differences when used as an array for studio recording
  • Top end response is slightly reduced by the windscreen plate - removing it can be useful for improving the tone of your recorded track but also makes the microphone mor vulnerable to damage and air pops
  • No option to select other polar patterns than cardioid

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Rode NT2A

Rode NT2A Anniversary Vocal Multi-Pattern Dual Condenser Microphone Package

One of the most versatile mics for acoustic guitar recording.

  • Can switch between Omni, Cardioid and Figure-8 patterns, allowing you to use just this one microphone for single instruments or multiple instruments at once
  • Highpass filter that can be swapped between flat, 40hz and 80hz
  • Easily able to handle both acoustic guitar and vocals due to a high sound pressure level of 147
  • Comes with a shock mount, pop filter and cover
  • Extremely low self noise (7dB)
  • Less responsive to the nuances of acoustic guitar playing due to it’s large diaphragm design

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Shure KSM141 (Editor's Choice)

Shure KSM141/SL Dual-Pattern End-Address Condenser Studio Microphone

In many ways similar to the Shure SM81, but with a few upgrades that also make it a little bit more expensive - including two switchable patterns and three low frequency filters.

  • Switch between cardioid or omni polar patterns
  • Very small diaphragm making it perfect for small body acoustics
  • High SPL up to 159dB
  • More expensive than the SM81, so only get it if you absolutely need to be able to use both polar patterns or have issues with proximity effects
  • Low frequency response isn’t great compared to similarly priced large diaphragm mics

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Audio-Technica AT2020 (Budget Choice)

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Black

The best microphone for acoustic guitar under $100, which is incredibly useful for a beginner’s home studio or if you just need something to bring along to gigs that you won’t give you a heart attack if it gets damaged.

  • Very low price for a condenser mic
  • High SPL over 150dB allows for multiple uses alongside acoustic guitar, including vocals and other instruments
  • Great high end responsiveness
  • Fixed cardioid pattern, so you won’t be able to record multiple tracks at once
  • Doesn’t handle low frequencies very well
  • Doesn’t include an XLR cable

Let's take a look at this product...

5. AKG C214

AKG C214 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone with Samson Pop Filter and Cable

Although large diaphragm microphones like the AKG C214 aren’t normally ideal for use with acoustic guitars, the versatility of this one makes it an excellent choice.

  • Built in pad gives sound pressure level up to 150dB
  • Comes with a 20ft XLR cable, shock mount, pop filter and protective case
  • Very low self noise and has a switchable low cut filter
  • Less responsive for high freqúencies
  • Cardioid polar pattern only
  • More expensive than the Rode NT2A which is much more functional for acoustic guitar players

Let's take a look at this product...

So What Are The Best Microphones For Acoustic Guitar?

If you’ve got the money to burn, a Shure KSM141 is the best bet for getting the best quality recording of an acoustic guitar of any type - and thanks to its multiple patterns you can easily record not just yourself, but a second guitarist too.

On the other hand, if you also want something that can handle vocals and maybe other instruments too, the Rode NT2A is an excellent choice due to its extreme versatility - although it doesn’t have the ideal responsiveness for an acoustic guitar, it is pretty damn good all the same.

Finally, if you’re on a shoestring budget and can’t afford to drop a lot of money on expensive microphones, especially if you need more than one, then the Audio Technica AT2020 is a decent quality microphone that’s much cheaper than you would expect from the results it produces.

Featured image source: Adam Blunt CC BY-SA 2.0

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