Condenser Mic for recording guitar amp?


Right now, I'm using a SM57 to close mic my guitar amp for recording. I'm finding the guitar tone is a bit thin though, nothing like how I hear the amp. Does anyone use a condenser mic to record guitar amps? If so, what are some decent low cost options? Thanks.


A Tribe of One
Staff member
I think that the Marshall MXLs are pretty good in that application. I like the way they represent the sound in the room when placed about a foot off the speaker.


I have tried many condensers. I usually get a good sound with a SM57 or sennheiser 609 and then put up a condenser too to see what I get like it sounds like you want to do also.... Sometimes I use a octava MK 012 on another speaker, and sometimes I move it off in front a foot or so as aleclee stated.

+1 for the Marshall mics to. Excellent value in sound, especially for the money.


i've tried ldcs from 414s to u47s (carefully) for amps.

i'll take the royer 121 ribbon over them anytime for amps.


Chairman of the Bored
Platinum Supporting Member
I like Fet47's on guitars when I am lucky enough to have one around. Other than that, it's always seemed easy tomake a guitar cab w/ a 57 sit in a mix. I prefer to try other things though, and that leads to ribbons. Royers sound SO good on guitars.


Lots of people use condensors for guitar amps, usually in combination with a dynamic like, say, a 57. If the pro0blem is thin, I'd first try pointing the 57 a bit more towards the outside of the cone, then adjusting the tone settings on the amp, then moving the mic closer or farther, then adding a 421, then would come the condensor.


Silver Supporting Member
I've successfully used an SM57 on the speaker cab close to the grill cloth, and then a condenser (Okatava 319) about two feet back, to pick up some ambience. Sounds much more like what I hear when I play. No phase issues so far. ==K


The Blue "Baby Bottle" is under-rated for micing amplifiers. It approaches the Royer, in combination with a dynamic you can create a really huge guitar sound.



While a condenser or ribbon (*cough* Royer *cough*) would give you some good options, I'm surprised you aren't able to get at least a workable track with a 57. It sounds to me like a mic placement problem. Two things to consider when placing a 57 on a guitar speaker:

1. Aiming: Pointing directly into the center of the speaker, on-axis, will give you a trebly tone. Moving the mic towards the edge of the cone will attenuate the highs and give you more lows. Most people mic somewhere between the dustcap edge and the edge of the cone. A lot of people really like pointing the mic right into the edge of the dustcap, on-axis. I like it a little further out, but pointed towards the dustcap edge.

2. Distance: The 57 has a strong proximity response, which means more lows and low-mids when it's close to the source. I like a 57 right against the grill or grillcloth to get a lot of body. Moving it closer will get more lows, moving it further back will get more mids and highs. If an amp sounds muddy, moving it back can help, whereas in your situation, if it sounds too thin, so try moving it closer.

One more trick that may get better tone out of your 57: try draping the mic from the top of the cab so it lies along the grillcloth in front of the speaker, a little above the dust cone. Having it point somewhere other than right into the cone will mellow out the tone.

All that said, the MXL large-diaphrams are really worth looking into for a guitar amp... they're affordable, around the same price as a 57, and are pretty warm-sounding. Their major drawback is a little self-noise, but with a guitar amp, you'll never notice it.


I have used an Audio Technica 4033 large diaphram condensor with good results..........-10 if close proximity


Senior Member
Howdy, I Use condensors all the time for Recording Guitar Amps. But There are a few things that you need to do before trying this. First Off The style of music is very important. Loud Rock n Roll is not the style for this application. Stick with a SM-57 or even bettr an
EV RE-20 Or Sennheiser 421. For Jazz, Blues, Cleaner Tones all work very well with a Condensor Mic. Start by Placing the mic about 12" from the speaker, Angle the face of the mic slight off center of the Center of the speaker, Use a Quality Mic pre-Amp. I Prefer a Nice tube Preamp here. I Use a Manley or Old Telefunken V-72. I also Use Neve pres as well, But anything Decent will work. Dont Use compression for Tracking Guitar tracks. Keep that for the mixdown if you need it.
If your not getting the Sound you desire experiment by moving the mic around a bit. Try to Not Crank the Amp all the Way. Keep it at Medium Volume. An Old princeton reverb is Just About the best Guitar Recording Amp of all time. Listen to Jeff Becks Blow by Blow if your Unconvinced.
Make sure the amp sounds Good before begining the Recording process. Quality in means Quality out. If your tones sucks, you cant fix it later. Use a Quuliy Guitar - New strings, Properly tuned and intonated Guitars are the way to go.
As for Effects I reccomend using Effects only if it is an integral Part of the sound. If your Playing a Rythmic Guitar line with Rythmic Echo than you need to use the Delay effect for Tracking. For Reverb it is Usually best to apply that on mixdown. But there are no Golden Rules here. If it sounds Good than Do it.
A Quality Condensore can Give you Incredible guitar Sounds. My Personal Favorite is an AKG C414 TL-II, But I also love a Neumann TLM-193 as well. You can get an Incredible amount of Detail with a Condensor Mic that you cannoy achieve with a Dynamic or Ribbon Mic. If You Playing Lead lines or Intricit Rythym stuff the Condensor mic is Your Best friend. I would Roughly Catagorize these Playing styles to the type of mic you should Consider using.
* Loud Rock or Metal - Dynamic Mic
* Jangly Rock, Alternative Pop - Ribbon Mic
* Jazz, Blues, Complex Harmonies - Condensor Mic

Now go Record some Guitars!


I'd 2nd (or 5th) the Royer also, but because the question was about "low cost" mics, the Royer isn't really an option.


I am using an sm-57 right up to the grill of my amp, and then a Studio Projects B1 about a foot and a half away and slighly above the amp and I'm liking the results. Then I mix them together to taste.
I am recording a direct guitar track first (through my sebatron), then I reamp the guitar from my 16 track through a radial JDI, into the amp and adjust the sm57 first to the way I want it to sound, and I power the sm57 up with a safesound p1.
Then I do the same thing, but with the SP B1 while listening to the direct and sm57 track, I move the mic till It sounds good with the other guitar tracks.
I like doing it this way because I am able to focus on getting a good sound after I already play the guitar.



For an inexpensive mic for recording amps, I use the Oktava MK319. I have been pretty happy with them. I don't record at extreme SPL's.

I purchased two from GC a few years ago for $100.00 for the pair. They were a good investment.


daniel A

I would recommend the Blue Ball from BLUE. Keep them towards the center of the cone and you get a really (for lack of a better term) balsy tone. They can get a little washy if they are positioned to the side though. I like to back it up with a SM57 or even better an SM7a.


My personal choice for amps has been the 57 or 609 silver. I have heard a lot of engineers go on and on about the 609 Silver sucking but they are flat out wrong. Its all about the application and the tone you are going after. More recently I have been using an AT4050 in concert with the condensors.

The best solo tone I ever heard or recorded was done with a Duncan loaded low end Ibanez through a Marshall Guvn'or, Deluxe reverb and mic'ed with a Realistic electret condensor. Convential wisdomm would say that should never work but it did.


Silver Supporting Member
Your problem might not be the SM57, it might be that you are running it though a cheap/crappy mic pre-amp or console. Make sure that your levels are good at the mic input, if the mic pre is distorting it will sound small. SM57s are great guitar amp mics, but they sound a *lot* better through a Neve than they do through a Mackie.

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