Skip to main content

Mic placement for Upright Piano.

Anyone have any suggestions for recording an upright piano? It seems that there is a ton about recording grands, but not very much for uprights. My parents own a Huntington Piano Co that they have kept in tune for as long as I can remember. I'm borrowing a pair of NT5 and I thought I'd test them out on it. Has anyone had any luck with certain mic placements?


BDFitz Tue, 02/12/2008 - 08:04
Here are a couple things to consider. Upright Pianos are one of the noisiest instruments you'll ever record with squeaks, clicks, hammers and bench all adding to the challenge of close Mics. The closer, the more hammer noise and things you don't want. The farther away, the more ambient (less detail) I am just now (this week) getting around to seriously micing a Story & Clark upright. A friend of mine has a Steinway. Put a dynamic mic anywhere near the open lid and wah-lah. The Instrument is critical but there are as many placements for mics and just as many combos as you can create.

Much like an acoustic guitar, get your ear around the thing while people are playing. I have gotten good sounds from the back sound board, six feet above, six feet behind and even with the piano lid closed. The mic height as well as depth can be crucial.

Try removing all the parts that easily come off for tuning including the exterior board below and open the lid. Just as sleeve noise is avoided on an acoustic guitar by aiming where the neck meets the body, try to find the sweet spots that pick up the purest tone without the clicks and clacks.

If you place two matched mics at either end in stereo you may find a hole in the middle. I'd say 2 mics are minimum, six the max. The mics are also critical. Some people like a large Diaphragm at the low end and a pencil mic at the top. If one or the other I'd probably go with what captures your acoustic guitar best with limited proximity. I'm trying ribbons in stereo today. I want a tighter sound but if the player has a heavy right foot you'll never get there. Hope this helps

BDFitz Tue, 02/12/2008 - 10:04
I tried the ribbons. OUTSTANDING. I used very close mic positions with a pair of Rode Tube NTK's, one just below middle C and the other up top. To reduce clicking noise, I placed them horizontally at a slightly more than 90 degree angle facing up. I placed the ribbon mics, a Cascade Fathead II at the lower end and a Royer R121 at the higher end, both more towards the middle to fill the hole between the Rodes. It worked GREAT. Nice, tight sound with the ribbons for warmth and the Rodes for articulation.

I have other Large Diaphragm mics but I can leave the Rodes set up and place the ribbons quickly.

A couple tricks worth trying. If you have a piano track that is very consistent like "Imagine" you will get an incredible sound by double tracking any ambient piano with a good quality digital track.

Another thing missing from Digital tracks are the harmonics and overtones of a real piano (grand or upright). You can record a digital piano track and then place speakers in or near the real piano soundboard and record the sympathy tones coming off the piano reverberating from the original track. Take the tracks and blend them with the original digital tracks for a more realistic sound.


Your recently read content