Is an SM57 good for Recording Acoustic Guitar? Expert Tips

Is an SM57 good for recording acoustic guitar? Well, imagine trying to catch a butterfly with a baseball mitt – it might work, but there’s a better way! 

In this article, we’ll unravel the secrets of the SM57 and why it’s a surprising hero for your acoustic guitar recordings. Stick around to discover the magic! 

What is an SM57 Microphone?

To understand the capabilities of the SM57, let’s first dissect what makes this microphone tick. 

The SM57, manufactured by Shure, is a dynamic microphone celebrated for its rugged design and outstanding performance. 

Its sleek, cylindrical body houses a dynamic element that is designed to withstand the rigors of live sound and studio environments alike. 

With a frequency response tailored for instruments and vocals, it has earned a prominent place in the world of audio recording.

What Makes the SM57 Stand Out?

So, what sets the SM57 apart from the myriad of microphones available? First and foremost, it’s a stalwart in terms of durability and reliability. 

This microphone can endure the demands of live concerts and the scrutiny of the recording studio with unwavering consistency. 

Moreover, its affordability makes it an attractive choice for both budding musicians and seasoned professionals, offering a remarkable price-to-performance ratio.

Is an sm57 Good for Recording Acoustic Guitar

Is an sm57 Good for Recording Acoustic Guitar

Yes, the SM57 microphone can be a good choice for recording acoustic guitar. While it’s not a specialized acoustic guitar microphone like some condenser models, the SM57 offers several advantages. 

Its durability and affordability make it a practical option for many musicians and home studios. 

When used correctly, it can capture the natural warmth and character of an acoustic guitar. 

Experimentation with microphone placement, preamp settings, and post-production can help you achieve excellent results. 

While other microphones may excel in capturing fine details, the SM57’s versatility and ability to handle a variety of recording situations make it a valuable tool for acoustic guitar recording.

Can an SM57 be Used for Acoustic Guitar Recording?

Now, let’s address the burning question: can you use an SM57 for recording acoustic guitars? 

The answer is a resounding yes, but the quality of the recording depends on several crucial factors, including microphone placement, preamp settings, and room acoustics.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, the SM57 holds its own in the realm of acoustic guitar recording.

It imparts a warm and balanced tone to the instrument, capturing the nuances of each strum and pluck

However, it’s essential to note that the SM57 is not a condenser microphone, which is typically favored for acoustic guitar recording due to its ability to capture fine details and high frequencies. 

Nevertheless, the SM57 can deliver impressive results when used correctly.


The versatility of the SM57 also plays a significant role in its suitability for recording acoustic guitars. While it excels at capturing the essence of an acoustic guitar, it doesn’t stop there. 

This microphone shines when tasked with recording a wide range of instruments, from percussion to wind instruments. Its adaptability makes it a valuable addition to any recording arsenal.

How to Use an SM57 for Acoustic Guitar Recording

SM57 for Acoustic Guitar Recording

Now that we’ve established the potential of the SM57, let’s dive into the practical aspects of using it to record acoustic guitars.

Microphone Placement

The placement of the microphone is a critical factor in achieving the desired sound. 

Experimentation is key here, but a common starting point is positioning the SM57 around the 12th fret, angled slightly towards the soundhole. 

This placement captures a balanced blend of the guitar’s body and strings. 

However, don’t hesitate to explore different positions and angles to find the sweet spot that complements your guitar’s unique characteristics.

Preamp and EQ Settings

To optimize your SM57 recording, pay close attention to your preamp settings and equalization. 

Adjust the preamp gain to achieve a healthy signal level without clipping. 

As for EQ, a gentle boost in the midrange frequencies can help accentuate the guitar’s natural warmth.

However, the exact settings may vary depending on your guitar and the context of your recording.

Room Acoustics

Don’t underestimate the impact of room acoustics on your acoustic guitar recordings.

If you have control over the recording space, consider treating it with acoustic panels or diffusers to minimize reflections and achieve a cleaner sound. 

Alternatively, you can use these reflections creatively to add character to your recordings, but be mindful of the desired outcome.

Tips for Getting the Best Results

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects, let’s explore some practical tips and tricks for achieving the best acoustic guitar recordings with an SM57.


Recording is an art, and experimentation is at its core. Don’t be afraid to try different microphone placements, angles, and distances. 

Each adjustment can unveil a new dimension of your guitar’s sound. Keep a record of your experiments, and over time, you’ll develop a keen sense of what works best for your specific setup and musical style.

Mixing and Post-Production

The role of mixing and post-production should not be underestimated. Once you’ve captured your acoustic guitar with the SM57, enhance it further in the mix. 

Use EQ to sculpt the sound, compression to control dynamics, and reverb or delay to add depth and dimension. 

Remember, the goal is not just a faithful representation but a compelling sonic experience.

Alternatives to the SM57 for Acoustic Guitar Recording

While the SM57 can undoubtedly deliver impressive results, it’s essential to explore alternative microphone options, especially if you’re seeking a specific tonal character for your recordings.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are often favored for acoustic guitar recording due to their ability to capture intricate details and high frequencies. 

They offer a broader frequency response than dynamic microphones like the SM57. 

Popular condenser choices include the Neumann U87, AKG C414, and Audio-Technica AT4033. However, be prepared for a higher price tag compared to the SM57.

To gain more insight into Singer’s microphones and why put their mouth on the Microphone, you may find my article:
What Microphones do Singers Use on Stage? Best Stage Mic
Why do Singers Put their Mouth on the Microphone?

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones offer a unique character that can complement acoustic guitars beautifully. 

They are known for their warm, vintage sound and smooth high-frequency roll-off. 

Models like the Royer R-121 and the AEA R84 are celebrated choices among engineers and musicians alike.

FAQs About Is an sm57 Good for Recording Acoustic Guitar

Is the Shure SM57 good for acoustic guitar?

The Shure SM57 is a versatile dynamic microphone, but it’s not typically the first choice for acoustic guitar. 

Condenser mics are often preferred for their sensitivity and detail in capturing acoustic guitar nuances.

How to record acoustic guitar with one SM57?

To record acoustic guitar with an SM57, position it about 6-12 inches away from the 12th fret, angled towards the soundhole. 

Experiment with placement to find the best balance of warmth and brightness.

Where to position SM57 on acoustic guitar?

Position the SM57 at the 12th fret for a balanced tone. Move it closer to the soundhole for warmth or closer to the neck for brightness. Experiment to find the ideal spot.

What kind of mic is best for recording acoustic guitar?

Condenser microphones are often preferred for recording acoustic guitars due to their sensitivity and ability to capture the instrument’s nuances. 

However, dynamic mics like the SM57 can work well in some situations.

Is it better to record acoustic guitar with a mic or direct?

Recording with a microphone usually captures the natural, resonant sound of the acoustic guitar. 

Direct recording is an option for specific tones but may lack the depth and character of miked recordings.

How can I make my acoustic guitar sound better when recording?

To improve acoustic guitar recordings, ensure proper mic placement, use acoustic treatment in the recording space, experiment with different mics, and consider using EQ and compression in post-production.

Is it better to have one mic or two for acoustic guitar?

Using two mics, one near the soundhole and one near the neck, can capture a fuller, more dynamic sound. 

However, one well-placed mic can yield excellent results if positioned correctly.

Can you use SM57 for everything?

While the SM57 is versatile, it may not excel in all recording scenarios. 

It’s commonly used for instruments, vocals, and live sound but may not be the best choice for every application.

What level should acoustic guitar be recorded at?

A good starting point is to record acoustic guitar at an average level between -18 dBFS and -12 dBFS to leave headroom for mixing. 

Adjust levels based on the specific performance and desired sound.

Final Thoughts About Is an sm57 Good for Recording Acoustic Guitar

In conclusion, the SM57 microphone, with its robust build, versatility, and affordability, proves itself as a valuable asset for recording acoustic guitars. 

While it may not match the intricate detail capturing prowess of condenser microphones, it excels in preserving the heart and soul of the instrument. 

Its adaptability extends beyond just acoustic guitars, making it a versatile choice for any musician or producer. 

Through thoughtful experimentation, precise microphone placement, and skilled post-production, the SM57 can yield exceptional results. 

For those looking to explore different sonic avenues, condenser and ribbon microphones offer exciting alternatives. 

Ultimately, the SM57 stands as a reliable companion in the pursuit of acoustic guitar excellence.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top