This mic has got to be the most popular multi-purpose microphone and for good reason. The purpose of every mic is to accurately capture the tone of the instrument without coloring it. The SM57 does exactly that. It’s also a very cheap and durable microphone. Read more mic reviews. You can get them for less than a hundred bucks and man can they take a beating. They are such simple mics, it’s nearly impossible to break them.
I’ve seen them used as vocal mics live (the more popular SM58 is the exact same mic, just with a different windscreen), I’ve seen them used to mic guitar cabs live and in recording settings, and I’ve also seen them mic drums. You really can’t go wrong with this mic. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to buy a multi-purpose mic for live or recording purposes.
This is actually my favorite mic to work with at my job as a sound technician. They are really bright condensor mics, but can be used for basically anything. They come with a windscreen and a hypercap which limits the pickup pattern to make it more like a shotgun mic. A bit more expensive than the SM57, but I’d almost describe it as a higher end SM57. It’s a great mic, very durable, and comes with a really nice case to protect it.
I like to use this mic for horns, strings, and speaker cabinets. However, that’s just my personal preference. I’d use it as a vocal mic, overhead mic for drums, or piano mic with complete confidence. My only complaint about the mic is that it has an on/off switch on the barrel and I really just prefer to not have that option on mics. It just creates one more potential problem with running sound.
Shure Beta 52
This may surprise some of you sound techs, but I really see the Beta 52 as a multi-purpose mic. It’s generally used to mic kick drums, bass guitar cabinets, or cajons / djembes. Anything low-end, really. I think that limits the usage of the mic. With a little experimenting, you’ll find that the Beta 52 is way more versatile than a simple low-end mic.
In a musical I recently ran sound for, we used a Beta 52 to mic a cello in the orchestra. It was an odd choice to everyone, but when we heard it, it made total sense. The mic has a strong low end, but also a pretty clear high end which makes for a very interesting tone on string instruments such as the cello. The movement of the bow was defined, but the low end was still very present. It made a very nice blend with the rest of the strings, which were reinforced by C1000s. I’ve also heard the B52 used as a piano mic. With the unique high-end, it gave the piano a very percussive tone that I immediately imagined in a rock & roll setting.