Finding the right mic to produce the highest quality sound for your acoustic guitar can be difficult. Making things tougher is when your in the beginning stages of your home studio where budget is limited. The end goal for most is not necessarily to find a 100$ mic to record acoustic and keep it forever. The goal is to eventually upgrade your mic once your studio or personal music begins raking in a profit.
After extensive research, personal experience, reviews, and the help of some of my engineer buddies, we formulated a list of the top 4 microphones for recording acoustic guitar below 100$. Due to multiple factors, all of these mics will produce the highest quality sound for your acoustic at the price.
The end goal is to use these low budget microphones as a tool for now in hopes to spark your upward spiral.
Before We Get Started, A Few Things To Keep In Mind
- USB Mics are cheaper and simpler to use because you don’t need to purchase an additional interface.
- Microphones that need Phantom Power require an additional interface.
- Make sure to properly mic the acoustic guitar.
MXL 990 MIDNIGHT
The MXL 990 MIDNIGHT is an incredible bang for the buck condenser cardioid microphone with a very crisp sound. The large capsule captures the sound of an acoustic extremely well. For the low price, you will be shocked by how crisp and clean the acoustic guitar’s sound is captured. A very unique benefit for recording instruments and singing that the 990 has to offer is its incredible background noise elimination. While most microphones still pick up sound from the off-axis of the cardioid pattern, this mic has little to no sound from the off-axis.
The frequency response is very good at 30Hz – 20kHz with a minor boost in the high end. The small high-end boost helps punctuate and brighten up the acoustic guitar and voice tonality. At times, the high end may come across a bit harsh, be sure to adjust the mic placement or EQ if needed.
Not only is the MXL 990 incredible at recording acoustic but it’s extremely versatile as well. At the price, it has high reviews across the board for voice-overs, gaming, podcast, and singing. If your building a home studio or you do video voice-overs as well, the MXL 990’s versatility is a huge plus. In general, this microphone is one of the entry level mics from MXL. However, it’s rich sound quality will definitely surprise you for its price. The mic is pretty sensitive so you may need to adjust the gain accordingly.
- Great at minimizing background noise
- Incredibly versatile, best used for acoustic guitar, voice-overs, LiveStream
- Champagne finish microphone
- 6 micron gold sputtered diaphragm
- Cardioid polar pattern
- 30Hz – 20kHz frequency response
- Hard Mount Mic Stand Adapter
- Carrying Case
|Max SPL:||130 dB|
|Frequency Response:||30 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Output Impedance:||200 ohms|
|Diaphragm Size:||2.36 in. x 5.11 in.|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||80 dB|
|Power Source:||Phantom Power 48V|
AKG Perception 170
The AKG Perception 170 is a compact but effective small diaphragm condenser microphone. The second you hold the mic in your hand, it’s incredibly clear that its sturdy and durable build is designed to last.
The sound quality for recording an acoustic guitar is best described as incredibly clean and smooth. It’s obvious that the mic captures the entire frequency spectrum very well. If I were to compare this microphone against the previous MXL 990 MIDNIGHT, I would say that the AKG perception is better at capturing acoustic and instruments in general. The MXL 990 MIDNIGHT is better at capturing the voice. However, both mics are incredibly versatile in their own way.
You can especially tell for stringed instruments, the dynamic range of the AKG perception is astounding. The full frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz is well heard. In the case of recording an extremely loud instrument, the switchable 20dB pad most definitely comes in handy. Overall, this microphone is incredibly popular for recording acoustic guitar. For best use, set the AKG mic end 4-6 inches away from the sound hole of the acoustic guitar.
- Switchable 20dB pad for improved versatility
- AKG Sound Quality
- Durable all-metal build for increased longevity
- Full frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz
- Versatile microphone; Best used for recording acoustic guitar, drum overheads, electric guitar, and stringed instrument in general
- Switchable 20dB preattenuation pad
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Stand Adapter
|Output Impedance:||200 ohms|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||75dB|
|Power Source:||+48V phantom power|
As a long time owner of the Audio-Technica AT2020, I can confidently say without a doubt that this microphone is extremely good at recording acoustic guitar and vocals as well.
While the Shure SM57 is the “industry standard for dynamic microphones in the $100 range,” they say this mic is the “industry standard for condenser microphones in the $100 range.” The mic feels like it’s built to last with its solid all-metal body.
The AT2020 provides a full frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz picking up every audible frequency you will need. With high SPL handling and a wide dynamic range, it’s an overall great sounding microphone perfect for a home studio. The diagram is custom low-mass engineered with a great transient response for recording a variety of instruments.
In my opinion, the AT2020 is too good for its price range. It has an XLR output that requires 48 volts of phantom power. I actually used this microphone to record acoustic for my album “The Journey Of Men” by Carnelia. It worked very well for my acoustic guitar and back up vocals. Keep in mind, this mic will only work with an audio interface and does not come with a pop filter.
Below is a song I recorded using the Audio-Technica AT2020 to record acoustic guitar.
- High SPL handling
- All metal build
- Very low self-noise for the price range
- Wide dynamic range for incredible versatility
- Full frequency response at 20Hz-20kHz
- Excellent transient response with its custom engineered low-mass diaphragm
- Ideal for home studios on a budget with its superior versatility; Best used for vocals, acoustic guitar, voice-overs, podcast, and rap vocals.
- Stand Mount
- Mic Pouch
|Output Impedance:||100 ohms|
|Diaphragm Size:||0.63″ (16mm)|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||74dB|
|Power Source:||Requires +48V phantom power|
The MXL 770 is a remarkably great budget microphone that again, is too good for its price range. With an incredibly high percentage of flawless reviews, the MXL 770 will not disappoint you. The Large diaphragm condenser is naturally good at capturing the acoustic energy and clarity of stringed instruments. In my experience, it captured my acoustic guitars natural sound with little to no coloration. What’s surprising to me is this microphone is cheaper than the MXL 990, but in my opinion, actually sounds better.
The 770 produces a full but clear low end with a bright high-end sound. For the scenario that your recording sounds a bit boomy or muddy, the bass roll-off switch on the side of the mic should do the trick. If your recording very loud instruments, the -10dB switch will help with that as well. Overall, this is an incredibly versatile microphone that is priced extremely low for how great it is.
- All metal construction
- Incredible off axis sound rejection
- Included 1-year warranty
- -10dB pad option
- Bass roll off switch option
- Shock mount
- Carry case
|Max SPL:||137 dB|
|Frequency Response:||30Hz – 20kHz|
|Output Impedance:||150 ohms|
|Diaphragm Size:||2.32 in. x 6.22 in.|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||74 dB|
|Power Source:||48V phantom power|
Whether you get the MXL 990 MIDNIGHT, AKG Perception 170, Audio-Technica AT2020, or the MXL 770, you will get the highest quality sound for your acoustic guitar at the price. They all have unique benefits in their own ways that at least one of them will fit your needs better than the rest. Make sure to check the Amazon reviews before buying. Peace!