Micing an upright acoustic piano

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by AzureCrystal, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. AzureCrystal

    AzureCrystal Active Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Well, I've had it with digital pianos and Gigapiano, I just can't get a satisfying sound and realistic dynamics from anything I've tried, so I am buying an upright to use in my recordings, but I have no idea how to place the mikes, or what type of mikes (low budget) I need to do this. Any help will be greatly appreciated !
  2. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002

    Usually the best way to record an upright piano is to put the mikes over the open lid, one for the higher side, one for the low keys, spreading them apart as needed to get the correct stero image without phase issues and starting with a distance of 10" from the edge, going away for a more overall sound, as the closer approach will result in a very defined sound with lots of hammers click; I never tried to use stero techniques on an upright piano, but who knows, it could work OK, just try it.

    For mics I'd go with a pair of large dia condensers like Neumann U87 or TLM103 (expensive) to AKG 414 B-ULS (middle of the way) to budget mics like Audio Technica 3035 or Rode NT1000 (which IMO are still very good sounding).

    As good as condenser mics can sound on piano I heard one of the best upright piano recordings made with a pair of Sennheiser MD421 (dynamic), for a pop context.

    Hope this helps

  3. lunatic

    lunatic Guest

    You mentioned low bedget so I thought I'd chime in...

    I've Use a pair of Marshall MXL 603s on upright piano before with good success.

    Only problem was th upright was a spinnet which is actually have the height of an upright and sounds like poo. They are very hard to tune and keep in tune.

    Anyway, you should be able to get a pair of 603s (the 's' is in the model name and does not denote plural) with shockmounts and a carrying case for about $200.

    I want to second Gerax's recommendations on mic technique. The first time I mic'd an upright over the open lid I mic'd too close and there was all sorts of clicks and squeaks!


  4. AzureCrystal

    AzureCrystal Active Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Thanks guys I learned a lot !!! As soon as I get some $$$, I'll pick up some decent mikes and try all this.... ;)
  5. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    When i've miced up an upright piano I always use 3 mics. 2 overhead as mentioned above, and one on the soundboard (the back). This afterall, is where the piano produces most of its sound and tone. Careful of phasing issues though.

  6. AzureCrystal

    AzureCrystal Active Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Good point, I was thinking that you prolly want to get those warm overtones coming from there... How do I get away from phasing ? Can you elaborate a bit ?
  7. jajjguy

    jajjguy Guest

    Also, you can remove the panel in front of the player's feet and mic the strings directly. Just make sure the player doesn't kick the mic.
  8. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    Just experiment with mic placement. Obviously you don't want your mics pointing at each other, so start with your rear mic angled towards the floor, then move it around to find a sweet spot. Moving you overheads up and down can help too.

    On removing panels, I generally try not to. the piano's overall acoustic sound comes from having all the panels in place. All wood in/on a piano is there to resonate and give it tone. That said, some old pianos can benefit from the removal of a couple of panels. Experimentation is the name of the game.

    Note that these are my experiences only. I ain't no eggspert. ;)


  9. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    I realize that I'm a little late on this, but I'll offer up my $0.02:

    I recently did quite a bit of live jazz orchestra recording which included an old upright piano. I found that the best sound came from close-micing with an Audio Technica Pro37R on the soundboard.

    Place the mic pretty close in and start with it pointed in the area where the two sets of strings intersect then move it around a bit to get the tone you're after.

    I tried inside the lid and also down in front of the strings and could not get a good sound from either position. Actually, this particular piano didn't really have a lid, the whole front piece - from the music stand upward - lifted up from a hinge on the top rear. So, the mic was actually kind of in front of the hammers and not above them.

    At any rate - try micing the soundboard. I think you'll find you like what you hear. Also, the reason I used the AT Pro37R is because 1)it's inexpensive (budget reasons), 2)it sounds great, and 3)being a live situation, I needed to keep the bleed to a minimum (it's a small diaphragm condensor).

    Good luck.
  10. silent_nick

    silent_nick Guest

    i had the idea of using a D112 for the lower register....what do you think of that?

    i haven't tried it yet - it's just an idea.


Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice