Buying a piano - good sounding upright piano suggestions

rfreez

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2006
Location
Chennai, India
forgive me for my ignorance... what are the limitations of an upright piano ina recording situation? are they ever used in recordings instead of a grand piano?

thanks,
 

SYNTHME

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Location
still wandering...
Upright pianos have a different sound from grand pianos, and in some situations, that sound is certainly desirable. I wouldn’t necessarily say there are limitations, but the micing techniques somewhat different. Aside from room mics, I’ve had pleasing results micing the back of the piano (on the back of the soundboard, a few feet up from the floor) as well as hanging two mics slightly inside the lid, or both. I’ve also seen some uprights miced in a fashion that necessitates the upper portion of the piano facing the player to be removed and the mics being hung in front of the strings just above the hammers. Different micing positions will lead to different sounding results.
 

JoeH

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2004
Location
Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
Synthme nailed it overall; i'd just add a bit more regardling the sounds of the three (or four?) main choices.

You have the spinet "sound" - which is pretty cheesy overall, but always has its place. It turns up occasionally in pop songs, and has a quaint charm to it. You just wouldn't use it for solo classical work or most backing tracks in a professional setting.

The upright is much loved as well; from the honky-tonk/rinky-tink sound that many bar rooms and tack-hammered instruments have. Even a little out of tune, they have a certain sound that fits certain songs perferctly.

Also in most cases, these two types never have the proper string length for good, serious bass, so they just don't work as solo instruments. (The strings are thicker, but not long enough for the true harmonic overtone series. It's a trick to get around the laws of physics) This is partially why a spinet SOUNDS like a spinet; no matter how much in tune it is, it will never sound quite right harmonically, nothing like a grand.

Both the spinet and the upright (and "studio" pianos) have vertical harps, which plays a big part of the projected sound too. Arguably, they sound better against a wall, too, and the room sound has a lot to do with how well it resonates.

Then of course there's the grand piano case style. The harp & strings are horizontal, and the hammers hit the strings from below, instead of attacking from the side. Ditto for the whole damper system. It does indeed affect the sound. Then of course there's the lid that helps project the sound outward on a horizontal plane. Of course, this changes the entire way of mic'ing it for a recording.

With a good concert grand - 7 feet or more - the string length vs. pitch & overtone series is true, and the bass is wonderful, not cheesy. ("Baby Grand" pianos can be just as bad as spinets and uprights; they too have shorter, thicker strings below middle C, and the first thing to suffer is the bass.)

The first thing I listen for in a piano is that low end sound. If it's not true, then it changes the whole point of the recording and the usefulness of the instrument.

It all comes down to what you need the piano sound for; Solo concert classical music vs. rock vs. pop vs. novelty.
 

bap

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Uprights generally do not have the depth of tone or sustain... that's only generally.

I've played some fantastic and lovable uprights and some very undesirable grands.

.... always judged from a piano players perspective, of course!
 
B

basilbowman

Guest
So...audiokid, whatcha got? I'm a big fan of Chickerings, which seem to be the exception to the "if it's old it's often not worth the trouble" rule of thumb.
 
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