Zone Recording: Microphone Selection

Hello Guitar 9 readers. Thanks for stopping by again to Zone Recording. I would just like to make a small announcement that is up and running. Please stop by and visit.

I have always received many e-mails on the question of which microphones I use for recording. I will attempt to give some recommendations, but realize that there is nothing wrong with trying something radical with mic selection. Dynamic and condenser are the most widely used types of mics in recording. Of course there are a few other choices, but I will not get into that discussion for this installment.

Dynamic mics are generally very economical, very rugged, and can provide excellent sound quality. They can handle extremely high sound pressure levels: it is almost impossible to overload a dynamic mic. Also, they are relatively unaffected by extremes of temperature and humidity.

Modern condenser mics use an electret design in which an external power source is used to create a far more accurate recording of the original sound source. This external power may come from a battery, power supply, or from phantom power provided by any of several mic preamps on the market.

First off, for electric guitars, the main mic of choice is the Shure SM 57 which is a dynamic mic.


This mic is a great choice for guitar amps. You can never go wrong with this mic. Many people place it pretty close to the speaker cone. Another choice is the Sennheiser 421.


This mic is great for placing approximately 2-3 feet back from the cab. It will give you a little air in the guitar sound.

If you are going to keep the volume down on the amp, some condenser choices are in order. I have read that Allan Holdsworth records, or has recorded, his tone with a Neumann condenser microphone. I do not know what model, but I am sure this helps him achieve the tone that he is looking for.

I have the Rodes NT5 Matched set and a Neumann TLM 103.


These are the Rodes condenser mics. Some times I use them on electric guitar cabs. They can handle high SPL levels. I also use them on drums as overheads, room mics, bottom snare mics - they also work beautifully on acoustic guitars, nylon or steel. An awesome choice to have in your project studio.

Last but not first is the Neumann.


This mic just rocks. It is great on anything, I have used it on Electric, acoustic, vocals, all drums and percussion. It is a little pricey, but a brilliant multi-use mic.

As you can see, this has been a brief introduction into some of the choices that I have used with some success. Please remember though, if the performance going into any mic is great, you can work with it in the mix. If the performance is... a little dull... so will be the song/mix.

May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone