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recording an upright piano

how should I record my upright piano? what kind of stereo effects can I use?

mics for use:
AKG 414
Groove Tubes GT44 matched pair
a couple 57s


UncleBob58 Wed, 10/11/2006 - 10:24
First, open the top and take off the top and bottom facings.

Make sure that there is some sense of balance in the recording space. Hang up sound blankets and put down carpeting, etc. if it is needed. Move the piano if you have to.

Use the pairs for stereo imaging, use the others for spots and room tones. Just plug 'em all in and and start moving them around until you have the tone you want.

VonRocK Mon, 10/16/2006 - 19:05
Why would you remove the soundboards? Or even move the piano? I'd want to tune it after moving it.

I've recorded my friends 1880 upright grand (cant remember make) a number of years ago with good results. I placed two mics at the top, on the left and right sides, after opening the top a couple of inches and placed one near the floor on the lower front soundboard. I had one somewhere on the back too, I just can't remember. They were 57's right up close, into some 16 bit yamaha digital recording console.

The resulting recording was chubby. I'd say just experiment. Use your ears to find the instruments sweet spots and mic it up.

Keep in mind, I too am a rookie. Just do it. Experiment. I'd just mic the heck out of it, watch for phasing, and keep/throw out what you need later.

UncleBob58 Tue, 10/17/2006 - 09:30
Why open the lid of a grand piano? To let the sound out. Unless it's a very high-grade upright piano, say a Steinway, the facings are just there to look pretty. Most uprights these days are made of woods that are usually of low/medium quality with venier glued on. It's the soundboard that makes the sound.

In the early 20th century the facings were actually carved out lace/lattice work (I think the called it grillwork) to allow the sound to escape.

They don't make stuff like that anymore! It's just too expensive.

My father-in-law refinished pianos like this before he retired, so I had the opportunity to inspect them closely and play them. The tone of most of them was exquisite although the actions varied greatly.

On my very first piano (over 40 years ago!) the entire upper facing tilted out from the top to form the music rack and allowed the sound to escape from the sides. This was a compromise in the 20's and later to the expensive hand carving.

I don't mean to be pedantic, but spend a little time on the history of a subject. It provides valuable insights, is fun, and makes you look smart.


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