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Can You Use a Shure SM58 Microphone for Recording Guitar?

Are you looking for a reliable microphone to record your guitar? The Shure SM58 is one of the market’s most popular and versatile microphones. But can you use a Shure SM58 microphone for recording guitars?

Unfortunately, not knowing whether you can use a Shure SM58 mic can lead to poor performance.

Image of a black colored microphone on a stand. Source: skitterphoto, pexels
Image of a black colored microphone on a stand. Source: Skitterphoto, Pexels

This article covers whether or not the Shure SM58 is suitable for recording guitars. We’ll discuss its features and how it performs when recording guitar. So if you’re a musician, this post is for you!

Can you use a Shure SM58 microphone for recording the guitar? An SM58 is a fantastic guitar mic that can be used for recording. Because it is a strong dynamic microphone, it can handle high levels, making it ideal for recording from a guitar amplifier. It would be best if you pointed the SM58 toward the direction of the guitar string while recording acoustic instruments. Electric guitars sound best when the mic is held approximately a third across the face, or about 1 cm, from the amplifier.

Overview of the Shure SM58

The Shure SM58 dynamic microphone is quite popular. This microphone has been included on so many internet “Best Microphone” lists that it has become difficult to keep up. The SM58 has recently topped several lists, including that of The Music Critic.

The SM58 is a favorite among guitarists as well. As shown in the embedded video below, it won an award in 2011 from the Acoustic Guitar Player’s Choice Awards, presented by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

However, the SM58 will be featured prominently as a vocalist’s mic on most of these lists. Indeed, the bass and midrange tones of the microphone have been brightened specifically for use with singers. Additionally, this microphone’s strengths as a vocal mic make it an attractive choice for guitarists.

Features of the Shure SM58

The Shure SM58 Microphone is the most well-recognized and best-selling vocal microphone in history, and it has maintained its position as the industry standard for decades. The “SM” stands for “studio microphone,” an abbreviation.

The sound of the SM58

The buzz of a microphone has entered the public consciousness to the point that it is recognized as a distinct noise. The cardioid pickup pattern of this dynamic microphone is second to none. Since the SM58 is a close-miking instrument, it can take advantage of the proximity effect, the electroacoustic amplification of low-end frequencies (like a vocal).

The range of frequencies between 2 and 6 kilohertz (kHz) that constitute its trademark presence peak are especially well-suited to improving speech intelligibility. In addition, the microphone’s rear-noise rejection is almost perfect, and its off-axis rejection is outstanding, both of which help to reduce feedback. This is also another justification for its widespread use in concert audio.

The microphone’s sensitivity peak is located at the opposite end of the speaker. It selects frequencies with the highest precision between 50 Hz and 15,000 Hz and has the outstanding off-axis rejection of undesired sounds. The human voice is tuned to operate inside this narrow frequency range, which was undoubtedly a design goal.

Durability 

In addition to its exceptional sound quality, this microphone is also acclaimed for its unmatched longevity. It features a metal chassis and case. Case studies show that these mics can withstand being driven over by vehicles, submerged in water, and even used as a hammer without losing sound quality.

The fact that it just has one moving element (a coil of tiny copper wire glued to a mylar plastic diaphragm) is a major contributor to its robust construction. Less complexity implies less potential for failure. That’s why they keep going and going, apparently forever. But, the SM58 microphone can be relied upon. Because of the potential for environmental stress on live sound reinforcement equipment, mics must be built to last.

Accessibility

Thanks to the microphone’s rising popularity, it’s now less expensive and simpler to get. In 1966, it cost $81, equivalent to around $700 in 2022. Moreover, because of its widespread acceptance and potential for further success, it has been mass-produced without sacrificing durability.

Of course, this is why you’ll find mics like this in every theater, concert hall, and church service worldwide. The Shure SM58 Microphone is now $89 at Adorama.

Design

The SM58 also has several design details that are modest yet noticeable. The pneumatic shock mount integrated into the chassis significantly reduces handling noise. Due to the frequent portable usage by singers, this is an essential function. In addition to dampening vocal plosives, the metal grille is meant to dent when dropped, like a crumple zone in a vehicle.

This helps prevent damage to the microphone’s internal components should it be dropped. You may press out the dents in the grille from the inside, or you can obtain a new one. Finally, the mic’s design prevents the mic’s light diaphragm from shattering even when exposed to very loud noises. A metal cap on the excursion prevents it from getting entirely unsettled.

It’s accurate and well-known that the SM58 uses the same capsule as the SM57. The grille is the only real distinction between the two otherwise functionally identical microphones. The SM57, designed to be used with instruments, has a revolving plastic grille held in place by a spring metal clip. The SM58 is a vocal-specific mic with a threaded metal ball grille and an internal locking ring.

Each grille has a different high-frequency response due to its unique shape. As a result, it alters the sound of each model somewhat, but they are all essentially indistinguishable. However, the SM58’s ball-shaped grille does a good job of dampening plosives in speech. So, in a bind, an SM58 is what I’d propose for use with instruments.

Is the Shure SM58 suitable for recording guitars?

There are better choices than the Shure SM58 for recording guitar in this situation.

A good recording sound may be attained using a dynamic microphone, nonetheless. The dynamics and nuances of an acoustic guitar’s softer, more subtle notes won’t come through. Never compare to the quality of a condenser microphone!

The sound is softer when you play an acoustic guitar without an amplifier, and the volume changes slower. A condenser microphone would be the best choice for recording acoustic guitar and cleaner, more delicate electric guitar tones.

If you’re strapped for cash but need a versatile microphone, the SM58 will serve you well; remember that you can always adjust the tone and EQ in your DAW.

How to record with SM58?

Here’s how to record your guitar with an SM58 if you’ve decided to do so:

Set up the microphone for recording

To begin, choose the sweet spot in the room where your microphone can pick up your playing the best. Whether you’re playing an acoustic or electric guitar will significantly impact this.

The acoustic microphone has to be set up on a stand close to you. The SM58 is a cardioid mic, thus positioning it such that its axis passes across the instrument will provide the best sound. The device has to be able to pick up your playing while eliminating unwanted sounds.

In contrast, if you’re using an SM58 to record an electric guitar, you’ll need to interact with both the microphone and the amp. Put the microphone in a position that is no more than 1 cm (0.39 in) from the amplifier. Position it about a third across the amp’s face rather than dead center.

Pros and cons of using the Shure SM58 for guitar recording

Many positive aspects of the SM58 make it a must-have for every artist, but there are also some drawbacks.

Tried and trusted

Before I get into the design’s benefits, let me say this. The SM58 is a proven and true microphone, so I continue to use it alongside other Shure models in my home studio.

You may be certain that you are receiving an item of superior quality. However, there’s a good reason it’s still one of the most sought-after microphones today.

Robust design

Dynamic microphones such as the SM58 are less sensitive to loud sounds and sudden changes in volume. This is likely to happen if you play a heavily distorted electric guitar or any amplified electric guitar.

A condenser microphone is likely to cause issues when placed close to an amplifier and blasted with loud riffs—even damaging the delicate mechanism if you are not careful.

The SM58 is bulletproof. This is why they are so widely used in a live setting. You can knock them about a bit, even drop them (although I don’t advise you to try), and they will probably still work years later.

Cost

For less money, you may get a dynamic microphone like the Shure SM58, which has been around for so long that there are many used models to choose from. You can never have too many of them, so I just snagged another one on eBay for a steal.

It’s directional (cardioid)

You may avoid picking up extraneous “room sounds” like echoes by using a directional microphone.

The sound directed directly at the SM58 is all it will pick up. However, putting this in front of a guitar amp is a great idea if you still need to spend hundreds of dollars soundproofing your room.

Image of a man performing with a guitar and microphone on a stand. Source: brett sayles, pexels
Image of a man performing with a guitar and microphone on a stand. Source: Brett Sayles, Pexels

Cons of the SM58

They don’t capture sound as accurately as a condenser.

Take into account your intended applications for the SM58 before making the purchase.

A condenser microphone might be the best choice if you want to record quiet sounds without a lot of level changes or distortion. It’s not a question of whether dynamic or condenser mics perform better or worse. They both provide similar functions, but in different contexts.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “SM58 FOR EVERYTHING – Dynamic Mic Acoustic Guitar” from the Matt Elias YouTube channel.

A video called “SM58 FOR EVERYTHING – Dynamic Mic Acoustic Guitar” from the Matt Elias YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the Shure SM58 mic for recording guitars.

Can I use SM58 for the guitar?

The only difference between the SM58 and the SM57 is the SM58 grille, which is round instead of square. If you want to mic up your guitar amplifier, any of these models will do the trick. No matter how loud you turn your guitar amp up, neither the SM57 nor the SM58 will be damaged by the sound pressure.

Can Shure SM58 be used for instruments?

Though I’ve heard some bands use it for vocals, it’s best to invest in a dedicated voice microphone like the Shure SM58 and an instrument mic like the Shure SM57 if you have the means. As a last resort, the Shure SM58 may be used as an instrument microphone.

What is SM58 good for recording?

If you’re looking to record voices, a Shure SM58 microphone may be utilized with good results. However, its limitations in the studio mean it is often reserved for live singing. Modern recording producers usually have a wide range of microphones on hand, each of which is made for a specific job.

Why is the Shure SM58 so popular?

The SM58’s widespread acclaim may be attributed to its many desirable features, including its low price, wide frequency range, a cardioid polar pattern that cancels out background noise, built-in pop filter, and clear, well-balanced sound. Furthermore, the SPL is exceptionally high, and the components are interchangeable.

Conclusion

Using a Shure SM58 microphone for recording guitar is a great choice. The dynamic mic can handle high levels, making it ideal for recording from a guitar amplifier. Also, the SM58 can be put in the right place to get the best sound quality, whether you’re recording acoustic or electric instruments. With proper positioning and the use of this great mic, you will be able to get amazing recordings that accurately reflect your playing.

However, just as you can’t become an expert cyclist by reading a book, you can’t become a great musician by reading articles alone. It’s time to take action! Go and put what you have learned into practice.

This article covered an overview of the Shure SM58, its features, and whether it can be used to record guitars. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • The Shure SM58 dynamic microphone is quite popular.
  • The Shure SM58 Microphone is the most well-recognized and best-selling vocal microphone in history, and it has maintained its position as the industry standard for decades.
  • There are better choices than the Shure SM58 for recording guitar.

So, have you tried using the Shure SM58 for recording guitars? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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