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miking a upright piano?
Old 16th February 2013
Gear interested

Thread Starter
miking a upright piano?

In a little bit Im going to be recording a few songs for a friend on a upright piano. I have some ideas on how to Mic it but I want to know what everyone else thinks.

So what I was thinking is combining some techniques Ive read about to get a overall good stereo sound. The piano will be the main or only instrument in most of these songs so I want it to sound really good. I have 2 mxl instrument mics, a mxl large diaphragm condenser cardioid, and a rhode multi pattern large diaphragm condenser. If you want actual model numbers just ask. What I was planning on doing is a-b ing the piano overhead about 1ft away from the strings with the instrument mics, then putting the rhode under the piano with the cover off to get a more mellow sound. And using t the mxl as a room Mic or putting it behind the piano. What do you think?

Aslo my options for recording space is medium sized room with not to much reverb but deffinatly there or a smaller room that sounds pretty dead... both carpeted and dry wall I think. I was thinking the dead one because I can use a emt 250 or something in cubase for good controlled reverb. Thanks for any tips or comments!
Old 16th February 2013
Gear Head

Upright pianos can be a pain to record because of all the standing waves inside the piano.

I've had good experiences by opening the lid and front panel. Then micing low and high register from around where the musicians head will be. Kind of like a NOS pair but with the mics a bit further apart.
Old 16th February 2013
Lives for gear
matucha's Avatar
Well the mics you have will affect the clarity. Most of these achieve percieved clarity by boosting hiend, but in fact they are quite undefined in the mids (and lows too). So if your monitoring is good, don't expect 100% satisfactory results. On the other hand you can get something passable and that's probably what you aim for.

Do you mind the sound of the mechanical noises piano makes, or you want cleaner sound? You better like the mechanical noises with uprights . Take down all the panels you can to let it breathe let someone play the piano and listen at various places/angles. When mics are placed perpendicular to the strings, you'll get most of the fundament and as you move them upwards and angling them down, there is going to be more and more harmonics. Find your balance, it is quite important, esp with the microphones you have, they won't take EQ so well.

You can try some ORTF/NOS or modifications, but I mostly end up with AB spaced acording to the used range. It is easy to check what you're getting by playing scale from bottom to top of the range used for the particular song. Is the imaging the way you want it to be? Are all the notes in the focus? With AB there is allways some key closer to the mics and there are keys a bit out of the focus...

If you can, borrow some AKG C414 (eb or buls preferably), they are not expensive and for some reason they like pianos .
Old 16th February 2013
Lives for gear

Recording a piano in a bad untreated carpeted living room type situation is just not going to sound good, regardless of the mics you use and where you use em.
Old 16th February 2013
Lives for gear
matucha's Avatar
Yep, it should at least sound good at the place you mic it.
Old 16th February 2013
Try putting a mic behind the piano on the soundboard. I've done this before and it gives you a nice warm, and more importantly even sound. I've even done this on a Steinway B and D grand in a live situation.
Old 16th February 2013
Gear addict
disinfor's Avatar

Try putting a mic behind the piano on the soundboard. I've done this before and it gives you a nice warm, and more importantly even sound. I've even done this on a Steinway B and D grand in a live situation.
This. Almost every time I record an upright, the mic goes on the soundboard in the back, about 3-6 inches away. Also as Matucha said, if you can get your hands on a 414, that's a solid way to go.

I've also done the spaced pair over the open top. Sounds nice as well. Honestly, all pianos are different, so if you don't like what you hear, move the mics.
Old 16th February 2013
Lives for gear
Jazz Noise's Avatar
Try using a condensor as a Boundry Microphone against the soundboard if you don't want any room sound - outside of any influence the room will obviously be having on the soundboard itself.
Old 17th February 2013
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Thanks for all the tips! :-)

It sounds like the best thing to do is play with it a lot when I get there. Ive heard a lot of people talk about miking the sound board, I thought that would give it a muddy sound but I think ill try it out.

I wish I could borrow some 414s, unfortunately I'm only 17 and havnt made very many recording friends to share equipment with yet...

What do you guys think about the small room vs the medium sized one. I did a clap test while I was there for a few minutes and the small one seemed a lot less reverby but it could be that there just less distance for it to bounce back creating the reverb sound, versus the larger room.

I told the pianist to practice using the pedals soft and smooth to hopefully lessen the noise, I just hope she does :-)
Old 20th February 2013
Lives for gear
RiF's Avatar
I remember a pretty useful article on soundonsound.com covering this exact topic. Just google for "sos piano miking" and the first few hits will lead you there.
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