Six-String DIY Recordist: To Mic or Not to Mic?

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about miking a guitar amp in the studio. From a number of feedback posts received from that blog by readers, it seems to be a topic of interest to many DIY recordists.

It is definitely one of the most important things you need to learn and understand, so today I want to touch upon the subject again briefly.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to miking guitars and amps, is that what is considered the right way of doing it, is mainly subjective to one’s opinion, experiences and experimentation. The same goes for the types of microphones (dynamic and condensers) preferred and used.

The choice of what mikes to use, will certainly influence how we go about capturing the sound we want and the desired tone one is wanting to achieve. In the end there is no one correct approach. The following advice and opinions from several noted guitarists and producers is to further illustrate this point. Until next time, keep tracking.

Famed producer and engineer Alan Parsons says, “You can transform a guitar sound by moving the mike even a half an inch literally. If you mike near the center of the speaker, where the cone is, you’re getting a very bright sound and if you move away from it, you’re going to get a duller tone. And you can move the mike even further away from the cabinet, that’ll give you another effect yet again. You can really tune your sound quite dramatically by moving the mike.”

Guitarist Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music offers his thoughts on the subject. “Position one mic in the middle and one to the side of the speaker cone, then mix the two together and you should get a good sound” he says. “Obviously the type of mike you use is crucial, some are good for vocals, some are better for guitars but that’s where it starts to get specialized.

Essentially for electric guitar, a cheap mike probably better because you want some of that distortion and roughness and excitement to be captured, especially if you’re going into digital. If you only have one microphone, stick it in front of, and in the middle of the speaker cone but a little bit back, to allow air to flow between the mike and the speaker. Ultimately it’s a series of choices of what sounds good to your ears, so if it sounds good to you, then it is good.”

Finally when it comes to the metal genre, producer, engineer and guitarist Andy Sneap adds, “I usually place a Shure SM-57 slightly off-center and will add an Audio Technica ATM 250 DE. I will then mix that mike in with the SM-57. I also use a Heil PR30 as well. That’s basically my simple technique to miking guitars in the studio.”

Joe Matera is an Australia-based rock guitarist who has played in countless original and cover bands over the past 20 years. As a solo instrumental artist, his current release is an original guitar instrumental track called "Face Off'," now available on iTunes (opens in new tab). He also makes a guest appearance playing a blazing guitar solo on UK thrash metal veterans Atomkraft's cover of the Thin Lizzy classic "Cold Sweat," which is out this summer. He also is a Guitar World magazine contributor. For more info, visit

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Joe Matera is an Australian guitarist and music journalist who has spent the past two decades interviewing a who's who of the rock and metal world and written for magazines such as Guitar World, Total Guitar, Rolling Stone, Goldmine, Sound On Sound, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and many others. He is also a recording and performing musician and solo artist who has toured Europe on a regular basis and released several well-received albums including instrumental guitar rock outings through various European based record labels. Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera has called him, "... a great guitarist, who knows what an electric guitar should sound like and plays a fluid pleasing style of rock".