grand piano, but NOT jazz or classical (any advice?)



So I have experience recording "baby" grand piano's but it's been all jazz or classical live performances. Tomorrow I'm recording a duo. Upright bass and piano with fem. vocals from the pianist.

We are going to be using a local college's grand piano and recital room. It's getting tuned an hour before the session, or the load in rather. I had thought we were doing sort of jazz meets pop or something. I guess it is more pop with no jazz. I have limited equiptment. My best mics that I intend to use would be Neumann U87, KM184 (2), KMS105, and Earthworks TC30K (2). I'm sort of planning on the KMS105 for the live vocal takes, the U87 on the bass and probably running two stereo pairs for the piano, ortf TC30K, and maybe xy'ed maybe ortf KM184's. These will be for options and not all four mixed down. I'm much more confident with an open classical sound than I am with the pop. I also have not recorded an actual grand. Any input? Suggestions? Should I use the U87 in the piano, or on the piano and dub the bass parts. I'm also mildly concerned because it went from trying to do 5 songs to possibly ELEVEN!!! But of course "they wont need more than one take"

ALL input would be great. Thanks so much!!!

Oh, by the way she mentioned Ronnie Spector. I haven't heard any Ronnie Spector solo piano though, only the older 60's stuff. Oh and Stevie Wonder too. But I can only think of clav and such with Stevie.


Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2004
Tacoma, WA
Hey Cleantone! Welcome to RO.

I think you're heading in the right direction. The U87 would work quite well for an agressive, peaky sounding bass. For a more jazz feel, I would go with the 105 or the TC30.

As for the piano, I would strongly suggest NOT using ORTF with the TC30. True, you can use omnis in ORTF, but on a piano for rock-ish type music, it just makes a mess.

However, the TC30s are a great choice for this application. Place the pair inside the piano definitely. Keep the lid up. Half stick won't do, go full stick. For a brighter sound, move up the soundboard towards the hammers. Place the mics anywhere between 8" and 16" or so off the strings and vary the width between them. The further you go up, the greater distance you can get and still maintain a stereo image. (There is a point of diminishing returns though - go too high and pull the mics too far apart and you have a hole in the middle.)

Another option would be to put the heigth somewhere around 12-18" and place one of the omnis over the hammers and one close to the tail of the instrument, again, both inside the instrument. Lid open, of course.

The Neumann 184s might actually have a place in this setup. I generally have a lot of distaste for these mics, as they are excessively bright and not in a flattering way. However, ORTF behind the pianist might also work. This is more of a jazz approach, but can yield a great sound when done right. Think above and only slightly behind the pianist. If there's a bald spot on the head, 8 inches up from that...

Let us know what you do and how it turns out!