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I need an instrument mic.

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by sachit, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    I need a new multi-purpose mic to record my instruments. The most important application right now is recording my acoustic guitar, and also mic'ing my amp. I would also need to record my acoustic piano later, but that isn't a priority. And having a second vocal mic is always an advantage. What I own right now is a Shure PG58(a cheaper version of the SM58, I think...) which is good for my voice, but painfully limited otherwise. It's too harsh on the high end, making my carefully sculpted amp tone sound horribly sharp and nasal :mad:. And I never manage to get the sound I'm looking for when I try it on my acoustic guitar.

    I've done my homework on this(I actually planned to buy this sometime ago) and I've realized I might be better off with a condenser. By and large I've heard that dynamics don't work too well on acoustic guitars, and those which do are costly. I'm not sure whether I'll need a small or large diaphragm, though the mics I've narrowed down to are mostly LDCs. My budget is pretty low, $230 or so tops. But if a costlier mic would perfectly fit my bill(lol) then I wouldn't mind holding off the purchase until I can afford it.

    Right now, I'm looking at the Audio Technica AT2020/2035, the Rode NT1A and the Rode M6. I also keep thinking of the ubiquitous Shure SM57, simply because I can see that it's great to have one lying around, but I don't think it'll do too well on my acoustic, based on what I've read. Stereo pairs are out of the question sadly because my interface has only a single mic preamp.
    Which mic would suit me best?
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    There is no universal solution for acoustic guitar miking in a studio, as so much depends on the guitar itself, the musical style you are playing, the room acoustic and what else this track has to sit with in a mix, not to mention the sonic characteristics of whatever pre-amp you use for the microphone. That said, in the low-to medium price bracket, a dynamic mic like the Shure SM57 or its higher-bandwidth cousin the Beta 57A work very well, particularly if the guitar is only one track of a mix and especially if the studio acoustic is less than perfect. The SM57 is the standard mic for use on an amplifier cabinet.

    A condenser mic is going to be more demanding of where and how you place it and also of the room acoustic. It may give a more pleasing result than a single dynamic for solo guitar or guitar plus vocals, but for these conditions you would normally be looking at using more than one microphone on the instrument. This would not necessarily be conventional X-Y stereo, but could be Mid-Side (a technique I use a lot for solo guitar work) or a close mic plus an ambient pair further back. Ribbon mics can also give excellent results on acoustic guitar, but we are looking at a higher cost range here.

    My feeling is that you should go for an SM57 (or possibly the Beta 57A), which will only cost a part of your budget. You can then get a feel for what it will do well for you and where you may consider there are still gaps. However, before that, tell us a little more about what and where you are recording: the make of guitar, the type of music, solo or a track with other instruments, the room acoustic, the make and model of your interface.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    ADK S-7 or A6. Read about them and study. They are very good mics. Advanced Audio mics make a couple in close to your budget. Certainly the SDC is within. Avantone mics are solidly built and sound great. These all are direct competitors with those you listed. I like them because they sound great and have a robust quality to them.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    When I am involved with audio and video musical productions, I generally vacillate towards the SHURE SM57/58's not only for guitar amplifiers but actually on acoustic guitars themselves. And they have a beautiful full round smoot robust quality to them on acoustic guitars. In live shows, extraneous noise is even more apparent with condenser microphones. Whereas the dynamics like the 57/58's have just the right kind of bandwidth limiting, lesser sensitivity, to provide a better acoustic guitar sound that if a condenser microphone had been utilized. Plus they are extremely rugged and almost nothing can destroy these microphones. A condenser microphone is very fragile in comparison. So you get longer life and more for your money for less money.

    Not sure about the model numbers on those SHURE lesser expenses microphones? SM57/58 actually stands for Studio Microphone 57/58. Those lesser expensive ones the PG 58 may actually mean " Pretty Gross " 57/58? Not sure about the marketing idea behind that nomenclature? Maybe it stands for Pretty Goofy? But I never thought that Goofy looked all that pretty? Pluto looked prettier.

    I like Fritz the Cat best.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Oh? Maybe it means Pretty Good?
  6. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    Hello everyone, and thanks a lot for the insightful responses. I'm sorry for the delay from my side, I just about had enough time to check the replies I got.

    Boswell and RemyRAD, I had been pondering over the SM57 myself, but I hadn't reached a conclusion yet and I was going by the general idea that condensers do acoustic instruments well. After reading Boswell's reply I decided to visit my local music store and see their collection. I did see the 57, but I ended up looking around their acoustic guitar collection and I found myself really liking this Takamine EG260C with three acoustic preamps. And they had a really good deal on it too. So today I find myself with a brand new ultramarine blue Takamine guitar that has partly solved my mic problem right away.

    The signal from the preamps is quite beautiful: it's harmonically rich, deep and very detailed. I don't think I would need a special mic for the acoustic anymore.

    However, I still need something to record my amp. And I'm slowly leaning towards buying the SM57. It will obviously be perfect for the amp, and I think it'll allow me even more flexibility with my acoustic guitar. The internal preamps do not give the typical "acoustic" sound that has a lot of presence highs, so if I need those I think the 57 would do the job.

    I'm sorry for not including a few details in the initial post: I write progressive rock, blues and jazz, and most of the times my acoustic tracks will have a central role to play in the song, so I needed a rather "full" and detailed sound.
  7. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    Thank you for your suggestions. Like I said, I wouldn't need to buy a condenser immediately now, but your suggestions will be of great value when (later) I hunt for a condenser to record my acoustic piano. I will keep this in mind.

    And thanks a million for suggesting the ADKs. I knew there was a mic brand that I was missing in my study, and that the brand in question was founded by a group of musicians and they made reliable stuff. But I couldn't remember the name. Looks like you've found them for me! :)

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