Tips & Tricks: How to mic an amplifier (part 1) – Different types of mics


For a nice guitar sound on stage or for recording in the studio the quality of the microphones is decisive. Here are some classics that are used quite often:

Dynamic Microphones

Frequently amps are recorded with dynamic microphones. The most popular classics are the Sennheiser MD421, the e606 and the Shure SM57.
Dynamic mics are characterized by the fact that they are able endure high sound pressure levels.

They can be set right in front of a speaker without overdriving or being harmed. And in addition they are quiet cheap.

Because of the nonlinear frequency response and the inertia of membrane the treble will only be transmitted limited. But for the emphasis a of frequency band from 2 up to 5 kHz they are pretty suitable for the recording of amplifiers.

Condenser Microphones

Mostly Condenser microphones are only used in the studio because of the high quality of their sound-transmission but they are expensive and less robust than dynamic mics.
Legendary condenser mics are for example the AKG C-4000 or the Neumann U87. But there are also cheaper mics of Rode or numerous house brands of the big music stores.

Their sound pressure tolerance is quite low and therefore they are more suitable for clean guitar sounds or to be used as a room microphone situated at two (or even more) meters distance.

Because of a more linear frequency response condenser mics provide a natural sound.

Ribbon Microphones

Actually a relic of the good old times but right now they are in a great demand: the ribbon microphones.
They can be used as room microphone or even right in front of the speaker.
The sound of those mics gets characteristic by a softly cut treble and a flat frequency response.
The Royer 121 is legendary but there are also good mics that are less expensive like the Cascade Fat Head.

Studios that like to offer different voicings commonly combine diverse microphones.

The next part of this series you will learn how to place the mics in front of the amplifier.