Superb, inexpensive microphones built into 12-gauge shotgun shells

When my country band the Delorean Sisters was recording our second album, our phenomenal audio engineer Drew Guido set up a mic stand to record my acoustic guitar—and pulled out the weirdest-looking microphone I'd ever seen.

It was one of the ones you see here, made by Brad Martin of "12 Gauge Microphones". It's a cardioid directional, suitable for acoustic instruments, and it's "handmade from an actual discharged 12Ga shell", as Martin explains on his web site. This particular model is called the "Green12", and it retails for the astonishingly terrific price of $45.

I say "astonishing" because I've had my guitars mic'd by a lot of different mics in studios, using gear way more expensive than I could ever afford. But the sound on the Green12 beat many of those pricier mics. It's crisp, clean, and responsive. I can't believe Martin gets that much performance out of a $45 microphone.

I got a chance to buy and use one myself, because a few weeks after the studio session we needed to rearrange one song, a torchy 50s-style country ballad called "Bulleit Rye", written by one of our singers Lizzie Caplan. We decided it should open with just Lizzie singing and me playing a basic country rhythm. But we didn't have time to set up a new studio session, so I had to redo the guitar track at home.

To try and keep the sound consistent, I bought a Green12 and set it up in my kids' play-room. I tried vaguely to muffle the room's crappy echoes, but mostly failed. I worried it would sound like mud.

Nope. The mic worked amazingly well, and the track came out great. You can hear "Bulleit Rye" here on Spotify or at Bandcamp; because it opens with just vox and guitar, you can get a pretty good sense of how well the mic performed. It's bonkers that Martin can make these for $45.

He's got a whole line of 'em, too—I was so taken by the Green12 that I bought his "Red12" ($35!!) and his "12G50" ($95), omni mics that are terrific for getting more room tone in with the guitar, or for doing vox-and-guitar in one take. He's also got ones with tighter patterns, at the same prices.

They're pretty fun to pull out when you're recording, too, because everyone asks "what the hell is that?"