All of us who take guitar playing seriously get to the point in our lives and career where we feel the need to start recording. It doesn’t happen because we become overambitious or overconfident, it’s because we understand our music and the creativity flows effortlessly. We reach the level of craftsmanship that enables us to write new pieces and eventually start recording them on our computers or dedicated equipment.
You might know all the gear that you’ll need for that purpose, but you might not know that you need a mic to capture the true essence of your amp and sound. More often than not you’ll see guitarists using that technique because it helps them retain the full character of their layered tone (which would be lost otherwise). A mic can be used for diverse purposes: for vocals, keyboards, and any other instrument. Today we’ll focus on the selection of the best mic for the guitar amp, but that doesn’t mean the chosen one won’t have any other applications. Let’s talk about that later, since now it’s time to get this journey started!
Table of Contents
- What’s The Best Mic for Guitar Amp
- All About Microphone Polar Patterns
What’s The Best Mic for Guitar Amp
|Shure SM-57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Sennheiser MD 421 Dynamic Mic||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|AKG C414 XLS Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Sennheiser E906 Supercardioid Dynamic Mic||(4.6 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
All About Microphone Polar Patterns
If you’ve never had a mic before and it’s the first time you actually started looking for them, the chances are you’ve no idea what the hell is polar patterns. You’ll see these two words in every description, but since manufacturers assume that you know what you’re going for, they rarely explain what they are and why they matter. It’s important to make a reasonable decision, and for that, you need to have some necessary information. So let me explain everything with simple words and show you how to choose the best mic for guitar amp depending on the polar patterns.
To put it simply, a polar pattern is a ball surrounding the capsule. It’s the most sensitive part of the microphone. In other words, that space is the tool for it to pick up sounds. A polar pattern defines what shape that “ball” will have. Depending on that, you’ll get dramatically different results. If the mic can pick up sounds from all directions, it might also reproduce noise and be susceptible to feedback. On the contrary, a model that is sensitive only in a certain area can be way more precise. It’s a bit hard to explain without getting specific, so let’s dig deeper and discuss the most common types of polar patterns that you’ll encounter these days.
A cardioid pattern belongs to the directional microphones. The name stems from its shape (resembles heart) and characteristics. This type of mic is the most sensitive from the front (0˚), it’s completely insensitive from behind (180˚) and more or less sensitive from the sides (90˚/270˚). You should pay a lot of attention to the positioning of such mics since the angle makes all the difference. Place it with 180˚ and you’ll hear nothing – and if you don’t have information about that, you might think that you were given a crappy model.
A cardioid polar pattern is the one you’ve seen the most in our list of best mic for guitar amp. The reason is simple: due to the narrower pickup, they can be directed precisely to the amp, making sure that no other noise or sound will be amplified. Such mics are resistant to feedback and can even be used on large stages. You’ll encounter super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid polar patterns as well. They are similar to the cardioid, but their pickups are even narrower.
The best way to describe the figure-of-eight pattern is to think of the shape of 8 (duh). Once you do that, you’ll understand that such mics are the most sensitive from the front and back. They pick up virtually no sound from sides, enabling you to record two sounds simultaneously. They can be really handy in many applications and they might not be your primary choice as a guitarist, however, they can yield fantastic results if you think about their stereo potential.
The easiest pattern to understand is omnidirectional. Remember how I mentioned a ball while defining a polar pattern? Well, this is the type that is literally shaped like a ball. In practice, that means that it can pick up sound from every direction. It’s also susceptible to feedback. What does that mean for guitar players? That means that apart from amp, your mic will reproduce all the existing sound.
It’s always up to you which shape you choose, however, I would suggest going for cardioid (or one of its types). That way you’ll make sure that the recorded sound is as clear and transparent as possible.
I’m guilty of ignoring the necessity of microphones myself. If you’d asked me a couple of years ago whether I liked them or not, I would say that they are useless devices. But as time passed by and I started to understand my tone better, I figured out just how much I needed them. If you have never played with them before, I strongly suggest picking out your favorite one from our list and giving it a shot. The difference you’ll see will literally blow your mind, and I’m not even exaggerating. Be it for stage or for recording purposes, you absolutely need the best mic for guitar amp. Take a look at the options you have, make a purchase and let purity pour into your life. Good luck!