Review: Tul Microphones G12 Retro
Could this beautiful-looking dynamic be the last mic you ever need for guitar-amp recording?
Prices SM58 shape: $289 (approx. £225), G12 Guitar Mic Retro: $329 (approx. £255)
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The journey to creating the G12 Retro Guitar Mic began with a request from Kevin Shirley, engineer to Iron Maiden and Joe Bonamassa, to build a mic that simplified guitar-amp recording. Answering that request was studio musician and engineer Tully McCullagh of Cape Town’s Tul Microphones, who set about creating a single microphone to provide the combined tone of three of the most common microphones – all without the associated headaches or expense.
Despite the abundance of digital devices, speaker simulators and load-box attenuators, for many professionals, placing a quality microphone in front of an amplifier is still the favoured route when trying to capture the perfect guitar tone.
When it comes time to raid the mic locker, though, what type of microphone should you choose? The reliable dynamic mic, an expensive ribbon mic for vintage tone, or a condenser mic for detail and dynamics?
The old ways
Experienced sound engineers will often employ a combination of different microphone types to fully capture an amp’s sound, blending their contrasting characteristics to achieve the desired tonality. This complex and skilled approach is worth developing, but for the less experienced producer, or anyone who just wants to get on with recording, it can introduce complications related to phase, EQ, axis and distance.
The Tul G12 Retro Guitar Mic looks to address all of those problems. Housed in a beautiful, bespoke retro metal enclosure, and looking like something you might find in the mic locker at Abbey Road Studios, the G12 Retro is a dynamic microphone specifically tuned to capture the natural sound of a guitar amp.
The mic is equally suited to recording and live environments, and its makers uniquely insist that the G12 is positioned on-axis and dead centre, a few inches from the amp’s speaker cone. Whilst this approach may be counterintuitive to standard microphone technique, the G12’s patent-pending internal filtering eliminates the high-frequency buzzy tonal artefacts often negatively associated with this method.
Requiring little, if any, post-equalisation or compression, the G12 gloriously captures signals with an extraordinarily airy and detailed quality that’s full of subtle nuance. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the mic has a hidden internal valve or ribbon element. You might even find yourself double-checking the asking price!
With a silky-smooth top end that’s present but never harsh, a solid low-end punch and all the complex midrange detail you’d expect from a great dynamic microphone, guitar tones glisten through a busy live-band mix – even the PA is rather road-worn. The onboard bright switch gives a useful subtle 5K boost, although the natural tone of the microphone is so good you may never feel the need to engage it.
Having heard one in action, it comes as no surprise that many producers/engineers and pro players such as Joe Bonamassa are relying on these microphones to capture their highly crafted amp tones, both in the studio and live environments.
While more expensive than some of its potential rivals, the Tul G12 Retro is actually a bargain. Combining the desired sonic qualities of a range of complex and expensive studio microphones into a single, classily retro-looking unit that’s still rugged enough for live use, Tul has achieved a masterstroke of original design.
Do I really need this?
If you’re a guitarist who has spent a lot of time crafting a unique tone that relies on a specific amp, cab or speakers, then chances are you’re not going to be interested in software models or emulations. If you’re that type of guitarist, then you can’t go far wrong with the G12 Retro. It’s an excellent, versatile microphone for the price, as well as looking distinctly vintage, making it an eye-catching studio addition.
- Dynamic guitar-amplifier microphone
- Bright switch control
- Retro design, bright switch, clip and soft case included
- Dimensions: (length x diameter x circumference) 180 x 37 x 120mm
Another highly versatile mic which has been designed with guitar cabs in mind, the E 906’s switchable presence filter is a fantastic asset; it’s also usable in various different percussion and brass setups.
If you do have a bit of extra budget (well, a lot of extra budget!) you could get your hands on an R-121. You’re guaranteed pretty flawless reproduction of anything you point it at.