Playing electric guitar is an art. Every chord, every riff, every twist of the whammy bar works together to create a breath-taking symphony. But to capture all of that you need to use the best mic to record electric guitar.
That’s what makes the Shure SM57 the perfect microphone to use on your guitar amp. None of the complexity is lost as this mic picks up every note and reproduces it in such fine quality it’s as if you’re listening to it live.
If you truly care about the quality of your music and your productions when you present them to the world, this is the mic you need in your studio.
The Shure SM57 Microphone
The history of the SM57 can be traced all the way back to 1937 with the design of the Unidyne microphone capsule. There was a big leap forward in 1959 when the Unidyne III was created, and from here the SM57 was born.
The Shure SM57 dynamic microphone was built to handle any musical instruments that produce high sound pressure levels, from electric guitars to percussion instruments. And due to its ability to reduce background noise, it can reproduce the sound from any instrument in crisp clarity.
Not only does it recreate the energy of live instruments, but it can also be suitable for vocal use. It became a rock ‘n roll standard when it was popularly used by the one and only Elvis Presley.
Ever since its release it has undergone upgrades to create the perfect blend of modern technology and classic design. Today every recording studio benefits from this mic’s ability to accurately capture any studio performance.
Durability is also an important aspect of the SM57. Its bulletproof design means it will be able to withstand vigorous use, making it perfect for touring and live performances. The SM57 is incredibly reliable and will produce quality sound for years and years.
You don’t even have to break the bank. This mic is an affordable option for anyone who wants to record their electric guitar to a very high standard.
Who Is This Product For?
Did you know every U.S. president since Lyndon B. Johnson has used the SM57 to deliver a speech? That’s how great the quality is. This mic has been the lectern microphone of the White House Communications Agency for many, many years – in fact, since 1965.
But you don’t have to be the president to use this microphone. Any music enthusiast should have one of these mics in their recording studio.
The standard Shure SM57 box will contain the microphone, as well as the instruction manual, warranty slip and an online registration form for the Shure website.
The mic itself actually uses the same internal capsule as the Shure SM58. The design differences between the two mics is what gives each its own set of characteristics and signature sound.
The box does include a few bonus items. One of the most important is a microphone clip. If you’re recording your electric guitar, it’s important to position the mic perfectly to best capture sound. This clip ensures you can hold your mic in place along with a microphone stand.
As well as the clip, the box also contains a Velcro strap. This strap allows you to secure your mic, but is also useful for keeping cables neatly bunched together. There is also a leather pouch inside the box for storing your microphone so it’s protected whenever it’s not in use. If you want to check out all the goods, you can watch this video.
The only downside is that the microphone doesn’t include any cables. This means you will have to purchase an XLR cable in order to use the mic correctly. These cables are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, so it’s not really much of an issue.
It’s also useful to purchase a mic stand so you can position the mic in front of your instruments. This ensures the best possible recording.
Best Mic to Record Electric Guitar – Overview of Features
Here are a few of the most notable features of the SM57:
- Contoured frequency response: Allows the mic to capture instrumental and vocal sounds purely and without disturbance.
- Dynamic microphone: The dynamic design lets the SM57 handle extremely high sound pressure levels without distorting
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern: Focuses the main sound while eliminating any disruption from background noises.
- Pneumatic shock-mount system: Helps to reduce noises from handling.
- Professional quality reproduction: The mic is able to faithfully capture and amplify instrumental sound in order to create the best possible quality.
- Durability: The mic can withstand hours of use, without wearing out or failing in quality reproduction. It’s also tough and durable and can handle lots of bumps and scrapes along the way
- Frequency response: Able to reproduce sounds from 40 to 15000 Hz. It has a presence peak 4kHz-7kHz, allowing the instrument to cut through the mix with power and clarity
- Flexibility: The perfect microphone to use for guitar amps, but can also be used to great effect on bass amps, keyboard amps, and drums – especially snare drums and tom drums
- Famous background: countless famous musicians have used this mic to record in the studio – The Edge from U2 has used it in his guitar setup in the past, it’s been used on a couple of classic Rolling Stones albums, and Radiohead used it when recording ‘OK Computer’
Using the SM57 – Tutorial
If you’re hoping to get the best out of your SM57 you’ll need to plug it into an audio interface. For this you’ll need a 3-pin XLR cable. If you have an XLR to USB cable, you can even record directly into your computer and bypass the audio interface, although you’ll always get better recordings with an XLR microphone going through the preamps in a good-quality audio interface. Once your mic is plugged in, you’re good to go.
If you’re using your mic for an electric guitar, the position of the mic influences the recording quality and what you hear on playback. This video shows you how to get the best recording of an electric guitar in your own home studio.
Here are a few tips on how to record an electric guitar with an SM57:
- Position the microphone as close to the guitar amp grill as possible
- If you’re using an amplifier, it’s helpful to place the microphone directly on the surface of the amp
- Use a microphone stand to place the mic where you want it
- Make sure you have a good-quality audio interface to pick up the quality of the mic
- If you’re recording multiple guitars at the same time, or guitars and vocals together, keep the mics as far away from each other as possible, and remember the 3-to-1 rule as well
If you follow the above tips then you can’t fail to achieve a quality recording using the SM57. The mic’s design and functionality pretty much takes care of everything for you – you just need to place it in the right position for it to work its magic.
It’s important to note that the SM57 is better suited for instruments than for vocals. This is because the build of the SM57 doesn’t reduce any disturbance from wind or from plosives that you naturally pick up when recording vocals. Also, the SM57’s frequency response is better suited to certain instruments (like a guitar and its amp).
If you’re looking for a mic that will be better suited for vocals you can try the SM57’s sister mic, Shure’s SM58, which is built with technology to reduce wind disturbance and plosives. You can also purchase the Shure A2WS microphone windscreen which can be attached to the SM57 to reduce these disruptions.
Quality, affordability and durability are all important factors when it comes to choosing a mic. You want your mic to help you deliver a sound true to your performance.
That’s why the Shure SM57 is the best mic to record electric guitar. It faithfully reproduces every intricate sound, making it a must-have for every recording studio.
Not only does it bring guitar recordings to life but it doesn’t cost a lot of money and is guaranteed to last for a long time, so you won’t need a replacement any time soon.
So have you ever dreamed of recording and producing your own music? If that’s true, then this is the mic for you.