The Beach Boys' Vocal Microphone and Preamp

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What Vocal Mic Did The Beach Boys Use?

The Beach Boys used quite a few microphones. Brian Wilson liked to experiment in the recording studio and all the boys sang, so there is no "golden" mic. There are, however, a few recurring microphones we see on Beach Boy album covers, studio photos, documentaries, etc.

Starting from affordable, to mortgage payment status, here is a list of vocal mics used by Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and Dennis Wilson: The Beach Boys!

Shure 545 Unidyne III

You can see the Shure 545 on guitars and voices throughout the photos on Beach Boys' Party. Brian Wilson is also said to have employed it on Pet Sounds vocals and even used it on Brian Wilson Presents Smile. It came before the SM57, and is still being made today. You can pick up one from the sixties for around $150 on Reverb. It's a great mic to start your surf music vocal chain.


This pretty ribbon mic is seen in a bunch of Beach Boy session photos. The RCA 77-DX is instantly recognizable and used on many classic recordings. It costs a pretty penny these days, but is still available for less than $1,500 on Reverb.

Neumann U47

The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Dean Martin...everyone employed the Neumann U47. Reissues are being made, so you can pick one up without hitting 5 figures. If you must have a vintage 47, break out your credit card and get ready to pay it off for a while!

AKG C-12

Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys made good use of this warm tube mic. Sell your car and maybe -- just maybe -- you can, too! The reissue AKG C-12 is pricey, and a vintage one on Reverb can cost up to $20,000 in nice condition.

What Preamp Did The Beach Boys Use To Record?

The Beach Boys used the preamps in studio consoles. So, when they changed studios (Western Recorders, Gold Star, Columbia, etc.) they changed preamps. This point can be argued by sonic hunters to no end. The one thing that can be agreed upon: If you want the warmth of the sun, then go with a tube preamp as the Boys did.

The Universal Audio 610 is a modern interpretation of the preamp often used by The Beach Boys.

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