When you have an acoustic guitar for live performances, there are various ways you can go about micing it up. There are different types of microphones to consider, and even the option of going a different route and using a pickup instead.
In this guide, we go through the various things you will need to consider, and offer some recommendations for microphones for live acoustic guitar.
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Best Dynamic Mics for Live Acoustic Guitar
Dynamic microphones are more widely used for live situations because the feedback is easy to control and they are generally more durable. However, the sound quality isn’t as good as condensers.
Best Condenser Mics for Live Acoustic Guitar
Condenser microphones are less common for live situations because feedback is harder to control and they aren’t as durable. They do however, usually sound better than dynamic microphones.
Dynamic vs. Condenser Microphones
There are two main types of microphone, and if you decide to go down this route, you will need to choose between a dynamic and condenser mic. Dynamic mics are much more common in a live setting, but condenser mics have their place too.
Dynamic microphones are much more common for live performances. One reason for this is that it is easier to control the feedback with dynamic mics – and you’re probably going to run into a fair amount of feedback issues when micing an acoustic guitar. They are also generally more durable than condenser microphones.
Condenser microphones are usually found in the studio, but they can still be used for live performances. They are more prone to feedback, so it can be difficult to tame them, and they are also generally more fragile than dynamic mics. However, you should get a better tone using a condenser mic.
What About a Clip-on Microphone?
A clip-on or lavalier microphone is definitely an option to consider. They are small and convenient, and allow you to move around much more freely (you need to stay very still using a normal mic to keep a consistent volume). You can get a good sound out of a quality clip-on mic, but it won’t be on the same level as a full-size mic. They are also quite limited in their uses. Great for acoustic guitar, but that’s about it really.
If you do decide to go with a clip-on mic, the Audio-Technica PRO 70 is a great all-round option. The sound quality is excellent and it’s not too expensive.
- Miniature condenser microphone is ideal for both vocal and acoustic guitar applications
- Natural and articulate vocal reproduction when used as a clip-on lavalier-clothing clip included
- Excels in pickup of acoustic guitar with included instrument adapter
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
- Operates on battery or phantom power and includes low-frequency roll-off
What’s the Difference Between a Live Setting and the Studio?
In a studio, the most important thing is the sound quality. That’s why condenser mics are more common than dynamic mics for studio use. However, for live situations, there are some more things you need to take into consideration.
Obviously you still want the best sound quality possible in a live situation, but you also need to consider controlling feedback, and the durability of the microphone. This is where dynamic mics come into play. You can still use condenser mics for liver performances, but it will be trickier.
Where Should I Position the Microphone?
Getting the right position of the microphone can be quite a challenge. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer because there are way too many variables. The best thing you can do is trial and error.
One thing you don’t want to do is point the mic directly at the soundhole. To start with point it at the 12th fret. Then adjust it from there until you find the sound you want. Remember, once you’ve found the sweet spot, you need to stay as still as possible!
What About an Acoustic Pickup Instead?
An alternative to a microphone which will suit many people much better is an acoustic guitar pickup. They are more convenient, you won’t have to stay completely still, and they are easier to setup.
I would recommend a pickup over a microphone in larger band situations, especially for rock bands. You won’t get the natural acoustic sound out of a pickup like you will with a mic, but it’s very difficult to get a mic’d acoustic guitar to sound good when there are lots of other instruments in the mix.
There are various options available for micing an acoustic guitar for live performances. Condenser mics are great for sound quality, dynamic mics are more durable and easier to control feedback, or you can go with a pickup for convenience.