I Traded the Car for a Microphone?

Ask Abbie: I Need a Cheap Quality Microphone to Record… Please Help!

As a jobless teenager living with my parents, what microphone would you recommend for me to record music with? I don’t know much about microphones. I usually record with my phone, but the quality is very bad. I mostly want to record acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals. I know I won’t get a good sound from a cheap microphone, but I’m strapped for cash. Anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00 would be nice. If you know of a microphone that is best for my purpose, I would also appreciate a recommendation.

Abbie’s Reply!

Abbie Stancato of Rocking Gods HouseThe title of this article is from the movie The Blues Brothers. When John Belushi’s character Jake gets out of prison, he asks Dan Aykroyd’s character Elwood, “Where’s the Cadillac?” Elwood calmly replies he traded it for a microphone. Jake — to the viewer’s surprise — pauses to reflect on Elwood’s answer, nods his head, and then says, “Ok, I can see that.” The moment in the film is funny, though when I first saw it I thought it was a ridiculous statement — until I decided to build a recording studio.

Good microphones are expensive. If you want a quality recording, you’re looking at spending big bucks. Some microphones can cost many thousands of dollars. I’ve seen some vintage mics cost upwards of $20,000!

Neumann, Royer, and Schoeps are some of the best and most expensive microphones available. Additionally, not all microphones are created equal. Each mic has a different purpose. Some are better for vocals, others for instruments, some for studio, and others for live settings.

The problem with most cheap microphones is that, as your skill level increases, the mic becomes useless. The quality is too poor to use and resell.

The most practical microphone I can recommend is the Shure SM57. These microphones have been in production for many years. They are still used at nearly every live performance known to man. They sound great, are durable and long lasting. You can record vocals, guitars, and use it live. It is a fairly inexpensive microphone that can be found used on Craigslist or Ebay on the top end of your budget. However, it will be good money spent. I have several Shure SM57’s and SM58’s (a version of the SM57 designed for vocalist) microphones that I’ve purchased over twenty years ago, and I still use them — not in the studio, but at live performances.

Good luck with your recordings and God bless.