As a guitarist who gigs occasionally, noodles daily, and creates or covers songs as much as possible, I spend an embarrassing amount of time researching the best guitar gear to get the sound in my head blasting out of the speaker cab on the end of my patch cable.
However, it took me a while to wrap my head around this: recording is part of the creative process, so recording gear choices also matter. As I’ve slowly transitioned my living room into a live room for home recording, I’ve begun to curate a collection of mics that, like my pedals, have their own unique quality and character. They might not make a sound, but the way they capture, interact, and respond to the guitar sounds I’ve created has made mics a critical item in my gear arsenal.
If, like me, your creativity far exceeds your budget, here are my top mic picks that will help you get more out of your guitar gear and extend your creative process in a home studio.
Shure Beta 57A
Some gear is standard issue for a reason, and we would be remiss if we didn’t start by recommending a longstanding staple in home and professional studios everywhere: the Shure SM57.
Its unidirectional cardioid pattern helps reduce background noise and focus at the source it’s pointing at, which—in combination with its flat-topped grille—makes it great for placing in front of your guitar amp to capture an articulate representation of your tone. But while the SM57 is certainly tried and true for this application (evidenced by all of the records it has helped make), it’s not the only Shure worthy of consideration.
The SM57’s cousin, the nearly indestructible and exceedingly versatile Shure Beta 57A, also makes a great choice for recording your guitar. It’s a lot like the SM57 (and similarly priced) but features a round-topped grille and extended frequency response, which makes it capable of delivering brighter, more sparkling highs and deeper, fuller lows.