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Recording an upright piano advice
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Head
musicfield's Avatar

Recording an upright piano advice

Hello, i would like to record my upright piano at home.

However my equipment isn't that great. Basically i have 1 old AKG C3000 and a Rode NT1-A.

How would you approach recording with this selection?

It it ok to use 2 different mics? Or is it best to just use 1?

I haven't done any recording for years, so any advice would be much appreciated!


Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Addict

It really all depends on what your goals are.

Is it going to be just solo piano or is there going to be vocal as well or even other nstruments added later?

Whats the room like? How much room sound do you think you might want or are you thinking of trying to limit that for a close up sound or reverb added later?

Is the piano up against a wall and you have no intention of moving it or would you consider that to mic it from behind?

I would think that the NT1a and the C3000 are similar enough to use as close mics or as a stereo pair. Watch out as they don't have exactly the same output level and they are both pretty bright mics. Do you have the C3000b or the original black one with the red switches?
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Head
musicfield's Avatar

Hello, thanks for the reply!

I think i'd like a fairly close sound with not too much room and add reverb later, as the room is fairly boxy and not particularly ideal. I will be layering some synths underneath, so it will be a lead element but fairly atmospheric.

Although, i would love to be able to get a nice overall sound i'm happy with and play some solo blues stuff too, but i guess that might be asking too much of my setup!

The piano is against the wall, but i'm able to move it away if needed.

Good to know about the mics, i'm not sure exactly but the c3000 is very old, it's silver with red switches.

Thank again for your help!
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
I love love love the sound of upright miced from the back right up against the wall. U eliminate all room sound. U can use acoustic muffling against wall behind piano in places if u need it. Experiment. Small changes in mic placement in back of piano makes huge changes.
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Head
musicfield's Avatar

Interesting, thanks for that. i'll give that a try too.

I guess i'll just have to keep experimenting until i find something that works.

I'm going to be setting it up tomorrow after i've tuned it so excited to see how it goes!

I've been using software pianos for years never completely satisfied, and always wanted to try recording the real piano but never had the time to properly experiment with it.

Now with the lockdown and being off work, it seems like the perfect opportunity!
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
hi Music-field. here are some ideas for you.

you could take off the vertical soundboard cover, so the strings are visible, above the keys.

then place both microphones roughly in the centre of the piano, maybe around middle C, and in a position to enable you to sit and play without issues.

then place the C3000 so that its looking at the position half way between middle C and the Bottom Bass note. (its the bass end Mic)

do the opersite with the NT-1, face it half way between middle C and the top treble note.

then you will end up with a Stereo recording , Left and Right, being Bass and Treble, and its easy to adjust the sound after you record.

record on 2 mono tracks, and if you can also record simultaneously as a stereo pair, then why not. but if you have to chose one option go for dual Mono.

when setting levels, its common that the Bass side will look as loud as the Treble side, on the DAW recorded image, but will sound softer, so its ok to balance the levels by EAR rather than by Visuals.

record with the EQ flat as a starting point. the C3000 is a bright mic so using it on the Bass end is good. it will increase clarity and definition.

thats probably enough info to get you started. hope that helps.

Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Addict

Have you seen this article?

This pretty much covers what I would say if I wrote out the basics of upright piano mic'ing myself for you.

If your C3000 is the old one that does cardioid and hypercardioid then that may be the "better" of your two mics and might be the better choice for the higher end of the keyboard. If it's any of the newer cardioid only versions then flip a coin as to whether the C3000 or the NT1a will have better sounding high frequencies.
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Head
musicfield's Avatar

Thanks so much everyone for the replies, i really appreciate it.
I'll do some experimenting using all your advice and hopefully I can get something usable!
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