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Upright Piano Considerations
Old 11th December 2006
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mosrite's Avatar

Talking Upright Piano Considerations

Not strictly "remote" but I am considering picking up a second hand upright for my own recordings and was wondering if any of you folks had any suggestions as to what to look for? It has to sound respectable but not spectacular, and will be used mainly to beef up the rythm section of the recordings.
Old 11th December 2006
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soupking's Avatar

Second Hand Pianos

Well, if the piano is considerably old be prepared to tune it roughly twice a year. Perosnally, I prefer older, clangy, theatre pianos. I think they have more soul than the new Yamahas. That opinon is strictly in regards to their uprights. Yamaha baby grand pianos are gorgeous.

A) One thing to consider is the amount of noise the hammers make. I have a 1917 Fisher. It sounds awesome, but I never knew how damn noisy it was until I got out my pencil mics. The clacking can make mic positioning rather difficult. I pretty much have to mic the bottom with pencils or sm57s. If I mic up top I use a large diaphragm and distance to keep from getting piano noise.

B) Rust is bad. 1) because it's rust 2) if the piano's been around rust, that means it's been in moisture and the pegs holding the strings have most likely been through a lot of weather change over the years. This kind of sweating can strip the pegs and make them lose their resistance. Hence, you'll be tuning it a lot more.

C) Soul, soul, soul. If the sound doesn't make you smile who cares if it says Steinway. You're only going to get one piano, and there are a lot of people happy to get rid of them. I like mine to ring like a big thick bell.

D) This is kind of a minor point, but bigger casters are kind of nice too. I just pushed an old piano with a caster missing into a freight elevator, down the hallway, and into my room. Having big casters made this possible especially on carpet. Small wheels on carpet are a bitch.

Old 11th December 2006
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mosrite's Avatar

Great suggestions and info Soupking, thanks
Old 11th December 2006
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soupking's Avatar

My pleasure, finally I know something helpful.
Old 11th December 2006
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ajfarber's Avatar

I am not a fan of Yamaha grand pianos, I generally prefer Steinway, Mason Hamlin, Grotrian, Bechstein etc...

With that said, Yamaha makes one of the best upright pianos. They basically come in two sizes. The U1 ("48) and the U3 ("52). There is also a U5 and U7 which are the same as the U3 but with a sostanuto pedal and some differences in the case.

Keep in mind that a "52 upright piano has a larger soundboard than a baby grand.

These Yamaha pianos can be found used for around $2k US - $3,500. A dealer will be more expensive.
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