How to spot a fake Shure SM58

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A genuine SM58
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A genuine SM58

Genuine SM58 or not?

For some time now there has been an abundance of SM58 copies appearing on the market, and although they started out being fairly easily recognisable, the copiers have got much better at emulating the look of a genuine Shure (but not the sound!).
This guide is intended to help any would-be buyers (and, indeed, honest sellers) to differentiate between the genuine and the fake.

If, after reading this, you are still unsure as to whether a mic you have is the real deal then the ultimate test is to listen to it, preferably alongside a known real one. The copies usually sound thin and toppy, with none of the depth and warmth of a genuine SM58.

I have listed below all the 'tells' that I know of (although there may, of course, be more).

Also, please note that those items marked with an asterisk (*) are ones where the copiers appear  now to have mainly corrected the error, but older fakes can still be identified by using the relevant tip.

  • Weight should be between 295 and 335 grams (Shure's official weight is 298 grams, but many that I've seen tend to weigh a bit more). Fakes always seem to feel lighter and often weigh around 280 grams
  • A real mesh grille should be satin finish, not bright chrome*
  • On the fakes the metal band round the middle of the grille tends to be slightly wider in both planes, sometimes with fine machining marks around the top edge. Difficult to tell though, unless you have good eysight and are directly comparing it with a genuine one
  • Unscrew the grille, and if the cartridge has a sticker on it saying “CAUTION – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN OR TURN, etc…” then it is a fake. However stickers can be removed, so this in itself is not fool-proof
  • The foam top of a genuine cartridge should be grey, not black*
  • Pressing gently but firmly on the top sides of the cartridge it should move down about 1½mm and then spring back up. This is the ‘shock’ cushion that a genuine Shure mic will have. The fakes generally don’t have this, and the cartridge won’t move
  • Look at the band under the grille that says Shure and SM58. If the letters and numerals saying 'SM58' are slightly sloping to the right then it’s a fake.
  • The handle diameter at the base of the grille tends to be slightly bigger on the fakes than the real ones. It’s a very small difference though, and difficult to spot
  • Unscrew the top section of the handle, and the wires inside should be green and yellow*
  • Earlier fakes had an extra screw hole in the body near the XLR socket. There should only be one screw, plus the slot to retain the XLR plug
  • Looking straight at the XLR socket, the surrounding circular metal end of the body (with the notch in it) should not have a ridge running all round it*
  • XLR pins should be silver-coloured, not gold/bronze
  • Pin numbering on many early fakes were recessed into little circles. An original has the numbers flat against the background plastic*
  • There should be a trash bin symbol above pins 1 & 2. Fakes don’t have this, but note that earlier genuine ones don’t have it either
  • Below pins 1 & 2, an original will have a thin rectangle of silver-coloured metal*
I hope this guide proves useful, and I will continue to update it as and when I learn more. If anyone can advise me of any additional 'tells' then please contact me.

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