3 Alternative Guitar Mics to the SM57
The Shure SM57 is quite possibly the most popular and widely used microphone to record electric guitars. The frequency response and presence peak help to cut through a mix, while the high SPL handling makes it ideal for loud sound sources such as guitar amps. Great for most applications, granted, but good quality sound is extremely subjective, and there are plenty of occasions that call for something different.
When choosing and mic, you should consider the bigger picture and the desired end result. This might involve trying a number of microphones before you find the one that works best for your application. Here are 3 alternatives to consider:
SM7b – Large Diaphragm Dynamic
For the development of the SM7, Shure engineers were given the SM57 cartridge elements (Unidyne III) and asked, without restrictions on size or cost to essentially make it better. Very subjective perhaps, but thanks to its large diaphragm design and bigger housing, the SM7 has a wider frequency response; particularly in the lower frequency ranges. The optional presence peak or low cut filtering also allow greater control over frequency response, allowing you to tweak the mic to suit different guitar or amplifier combinations. If you like the SM57, but would welcome greater creative control over low and high frequency response, the SM7b could be the mic for you. (Click here for more information on what makes the SM7b different to the SM57)
Beta27 – Large Diaphragm Condenser
The Beta27 is a truly versatile and unique microphone. It is the only side-address supercardioid condenser microphone available on the market, and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Including, but not limited to electric & acoustic guitar. The Beta27 has superior transient response thanks to its ultra-thin diaphragm. If you’re looking for a brighter, more detailed sound the Beta27 delivers, without being overbearing.
Additional advantages include greater control thanks to a 3-position switchable low-frequency filter, which helps reduce unwanted background noise or counteract the proximity effect. The -15 db switch-able attenuator also helps to handle extremely high SPLs – essential when recording electric guitar amps.
KSM313 – Ribbon Mic
Ribbon mic’s belong to the dynamic family. However, they have an electrically conductive diaphragm, which moves directly in the magnetic field. By losing the voice coil, you reduce mass and allow the diaphragm to move faster. This produces a microphone with wider frequency response in comparison to regular dynamic microphones. Ribbon microphones have a smoother high end compared with condenser microphones, and are often described as having a warm and full sound. If you’re looking for a fuller and brighter sound than a dynamic, but also prefer a warmer sound than condenser mics, ribbon mics could be the best option.
Where Ribbon mics traditionally fall down, is high SPL handling and durability. A loud sound source alone could be enough to damage the mic. This is not the case with Shure Roswellite™ Ribbon Technology, which replaces traditional foil ribbons with a high tensile strength, toughness, and shape memory. This ultimately results in superior resilience at extreme SPLs.
Voiced for guitar and vocals
The KSM313 has an additional advantage through dual-voice tuning. One side of the mic is warm and full for amplifiers, the other is designed for bright and flattering vocal response. If you’re a singer and guitar player, or just want a microphone than can handle both applications – the KSM313 delivers.