The acoustic guitar is an instrument endowed with so many harmonic resonances that make its sound so special and rich, it is not easy therefore to correctly resume the timbre characteristics and to return the personality of the instrument.
Furthermore the sound comes from a combination of vibrations of the sound box plus those of the handle.
To get a correct image of the ideal execution is to use a stereo recording.
The ideal is to also place a microphone on the handle to give that crunchy effect of the hand that moves over the keys and that does so much live acoustic guitar shooting.
When it comes to recording the acoustic guitar you can't avoid thinking about the splendid recordings of Nick Drake's Guild.
As always when dealing with acoustic instruments, there are various possibilities: you can opt for A / B configurations, or two microphones positioned parallel to record the stereo effect of the room, the X / Y or another stereo ambient technique that involves the positioning of the capsules of the "crossed" microphones, or even a shot with dynamic microphones positioned very close to the sound box and to the handle, another alternative is a mono condenser recording with a nice microphone kneading the sound and making the shot homogeneous without the need for tweaking during the mix phase.
Best Microphones for recording acoustic guitar
Shure SM81, transparent and reliable
Here is a very famous cardioid microphone, with an unusual uniformity in the response frequency to the sides that translates into a minimal off-axis color.
With its transparent and clear it is comparable to the best tube microphones.
It has a small diaphragm, it is very light and easy to position, it manages very noisy sound sources, reaching as much as 136dB (or 146 if the Pad function is activated) without any problem.
He succeeds in capturing the nuances of the guitar in an excellent way, whether it is determined strumming or a very delicate fingerpicking.
This microphone is also capable of doing a great job on the mikes of guitar amps and other acoustic instruments. For example, it is often used on the battery charlestone.
The shortcoming of small diagram microphones is usually their lack of frequency spectrum, the Shure SM81 does not present this problem, since its frequency response is 20Hz-20kHz, practically the whole audible range.
This microphone is very well known among the experts because it enhances its performance for a reasonable price.
The manufacture is of high quality typical of the Shure, which has accustomed us in these years to decidedly solid and resistant microphones (think of the Shure SM57 which is practically a tank).
Being a small microphone obviously you will not have the same emphasis on the low frequencies of which a large capsule condenser microphone is capable,
but if you are looking for a reliable microphone that does not color the sound the Shure SM81 is one of the first recommendations that come to mind.
Recommended also used in pairs for X / Y, ORTF, or Mid / Side configurations (used as Mid obviously).
A great microphone to have in your arsenal as it can be used in a myriad of different situations.
AKG Perception 170, excellent value for money
A condenser microphone with small diaphragm ideal for acoustic instruments like drum cymbals, guitars, pianos and so on.
The low price of this AKG 170 is undoubtedly its strong point, in fact in the face of a small expense it is possible to have a competitive quality with that of much more famous microphones.
It has a 20dB pad, so it can also be used in the presence of very noisy sound sources.
Can also be used as battery overhead.
Very dynamic, even if it doesn't have a uniform frequency response like the Shure, it will tend to lightly color the sound, but this may be a desired effect for some, depending on your style of recording and production, I personally prefer microphones with personality to those analytical and very precise.
It has a cardioid pattern and can be used as always in X / Y, ORTF or Mid / Side configuration.
Regarding the recording of the acoustic guitar I recommend using it in pairs, for those who are just starting out and want to put up a beautiful microphone arsenal for their home recording studio without spending a fortune, this is certainly a microphone to have.
Rode NT2A, extremely versatile
The RØDE NT2A is probably one of the most versatile microphones on this list. One of the best mid-range microphones is considered in the phonic environment.
If you like to watch on youtube videos of people who shoot while recording covers, there are several possibilities that you have already listened to at work.
It is equipped with a three-position switch to change the polar pattern to your liking.
The Omni, Cardioid and Figure 8 modes are present, making it an ideal microphone for recording both guitar tracks and different acoustic instruments at the same time.
There is also a high-pass filter that cuts on 80Hz or 40Hz. There is also a three-position pad that allows you to bring the microphone closer to very strong sound sources, up to 147dB, which believe me is a very extreme limit for a condenser microphone.
Reviewers of this object are often impressed by its transparency and versatility, it is one of the most recommended microphones under the price of 500 euros.
It has very little background noise, only 7dB and the sound quality is impressive for a microphone in this range.
The weight is a bit high, so be careful about what kind of auction you are going to place because you may have balance problems.
It is a microphone that does its duty not only on acoustic guitars but can be used without fear on many instruments and amplifiers.
It is sold in a package containing an eco-leather case, the spider to apply it to the pole, a pop filter, an XLR cable to be ready to use and a DVD that explains different techniques of audio recording.
Also excellent as a voice microphone, a gem of versatility.
Neumann TLM 102, top class
Neumann has a reputation for always building some of the world's finest microphones, but these are often too expensive to actually be accessible to people who are setting up a home recording studio. However, many professionals recommend whether it is possible to invest in microphones of this brand, such as the Neumann TLM 102 which is an excellent microphone with an incredibly clear sound and although it is specifically designed for vocal applications, it is also excellent for shooting acoustic instruments.
Despite the general impression it is actually very light to be a condenser of this price range.
The frequency response is 20Hz-20kHz, but Neumann adds a slight 6kHz boost which results in a pleasant perfect timbre to bring out the acoustic guitar in a mix with several instruments.
It also has a surprising tolerance for high volumes, managing to work up to 144dB, which also makes it excellent for use on guitar amplifiers and wind instruments.
AUDIO TECHNICA AT2020
I have already talked about the Audio Technica AT2020 in the general list of the best condenser microphones and I cannot avoid mentioning it again, since it is a device with reasonable price extremely versatile and therefore also excellent for recording acoustic guitars.
It is limited to the cardioid pattern only, so it does not allow particular imaginative configurations, I recommend using it mono on the guitar to record the sound in a mellow way on a single track, being a microphone with a lot of character it will give your shot a particular warm timbre. and musical.
Definitely recommended for those who do not know which microphone to start and want a versatile and exploitable solution in all circumstances.
Royer Labs R-121 micro tape, poetry for the ears
Here is a decidedly expensive solution that is not accessible to everyone, but which I wanted to include in this guide for completeness.
The Royer Labs R-121 is a ribbon microphone, very expensive even if not belonging to the premium product range, the sound quality is excellent, it is one of those cases where you get what you actually pay for. Many say that the high expectations related to the purchase of this microphone are not only met but in many cases even exceeded.
Ribbon microphones are perfect for capturing the environment of the room, this detail may not be pleasing to those who do not record in optimal environments and therefore would risk to resume also rejections and not really welcome reverbs and music. But this is without a shadow of a doubt a highly sought after feature for those who prefer to give life and soul to the track, I personally believe that the room or in any case the place in which one registers must stand out in the recovery.
I am opposed to surgical recordings in which the instrument appears to be positioned in a virtual room impossible to imagine in one's head while listening.
It is precisely this characteristic of "open" and "airy" sound that makes it unique and inimitable for acoustic guitars, perfect for those who want to get a real natural and professional sound.
John Mayer was also seen using a Royer Labs R-121 in one of his live performances on youtube.
The maximum sound pressure that can hold is of 135dB, slightly lower than some of the microphones listed in this list, but certainly enough to be able to record guitar amplifiers, trumpets and most acoustic instruments.
The frequency response is different than the norm, since it narrows to 30Hz-15kHz, it is obviously not a transparent and clinical microphone, but rather an object with character that will infuse your recordings with lymph.
The weight is standard, neither too light nor too heavy, so it will not give problems to be positioned at will over the rod.
The price could be considered prohibitive for many, but we are faced with the non plus ultra of the ribbons, highly recommended for those who have a suitable budget and want to take home a microphone that is a poem.