Best mic and position for upright piano?

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Want to get Mrs Returns to add some proper piano tracks to some of my recordings. It's an old fashioned upright. 

Any recommendations? 

Open / closed, where to put the mic etc?

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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 408
    edited November 13
    You could have a look at this article to see if it is any help .. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/piano-recording

    I use VST plugins of sampled or modelled pianos for demos and stuff. My input is a weighted 88-key Yamaha digital piano which I picked up for free, and I send a midi out to the DAW. I find it works well in a mix and you are not confined to just the one piano sound. Also recording a real piano picks up the sound of the room.

    It works for me as I am all digital, Kemper amp, V-Drums, etc. If I was releasing material professionally, I would definitely consider using a proper studio for recording, as micing stuff up in a home environment is a bit of a nightmare for me 
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  • I have a midi keyboard, but really want this particular piano, it's got bags if character. She won't use the midi anyway as it's not got enough keys

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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 127
    In general with uprights you need either to (a) open the lid and point the mics down into the piano, (b) take the front panel off and point the mics at the strings from either side of the player, or (c) mic it from behind, assuming it's not up against a wall. Try all three if you can. It's not an easy instrument to get a good sound from, though.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4272
    edited November 12
    I always open the lid and have an sm58 on the left hand side pointing downwards towards the middle to get the bass, but that's a little dry, and an SE X1 condenser above it to get a more breathy ambient sound, then mix them carefully afterwards. I put the SM58 down to about 20% in the mix. Sounds fine to me. 
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 2951
    I was doing PA for a multi band bash once in Southampton and we used just about every mic we had on the various things onstage ... not that we had a great deal back then. Anyway we then get told the headliner started their set with piano and sure enough one appears onstage. All I had left was a 58 so all I could do was unscrew the head, open the top of the piano and position the mic halfway through the octaves.
    It didn't work out very well, I could compensate for the volume drop off when the piano player used keys further from the mic but not so much the proximity effect

    In the studio I've never mic'ed  a piano, I've done a harp and all kinds of other stuff but piano parts were always soft synths. I would definitely try condensers, 2 for stereo, placement would be crucial 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • TeyeplayerTeyeplayer Frets: 372
    I’d pick up a boundary mic and mess around with that alongside an astutely placed dynamic for clarity and a condensor for ambience. Mess around with positions for these and use all three to mix the most realistic and honest sound you can; this will reflect the room, the wood of the piano, etc. Let your ears guide this, they know what they want to hear -It’s a trial and error game whereby nothing will be the grand piano on rumours but it can be beautifully real and raw. 
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  • Thanks chaps... It sounds like I'm going to need some more kit! I've only got 2 decent mics at the moment! 

    I'll experiment, but it's up against a wall in the dining room so not the best placement, it's also a room with interesting natural reverb because of the huge open fireplace taking up most of one wall. 

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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 408
    edited November 12
    I have a midi keyboard, but really want this particular piano, it's got bags if character. She won't use the midi anyway as it's not got enough keys
    In that case take a look at the SOS article in the link that I sent you and good luck 

    PS I use these Kontakt samples, so you may like to compare your mic'd results later with the demo tracks on the website as a comparison .. https://cinesamples.com/product/abbey-road-classic-upright-pianos
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  • duotoneduotone Frets: 152
    Warren Huart visited a studio in the US & spoke to the owner briefly about piano mic-ing...will try and dig it out
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  • duotoneduotone Frets: 152
    edited November 13
    Starts around 12mins

    https://youtu.be/6gD7Byr6g_Q
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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 122
    I tend to always open lid, take front panel out; use a pair of (the same) condenser either side of the player, facing the strings through the now-open panel, about 4-6" distance.. Mics probably a foot in from the ends of the piano. 
    Most of the guys I work with seem to do similar.
    414s are lovely for this, have also successfully used Neuman TLMs and others.. Doesn't really matter too much - Large Diaphragm is better than small..

    Live, I would do different things - but this is recording, so I think that is the optimum strategy..
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 408
    bob21 said:
    I tend to always open lid, take front panel out; use a pair of (the same) condenser either side of the player, facing the strings through the now-open panel, about 4-6" distance.. Mics probably a foot in from the ends of the piano. 
    Most of the guys I work with seem to do similar.
    414s are lovely for this, have also successfully used Neuman TLMs and others.. Doesn't really matter too much - Large Diaphragm is better than small..

    Live, I would do different things - but this is recording, so I think that is the optimum strategy..
    Is the recorded sound the same as you hear in the room?
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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 122
    @Freebird ; 
    Not exactly, no.. It's more direct, like a close mic'ed snare vs the snare in a room mic..
    but that's generally what I want from a piano on a pop/rock record..

    If I were doing a classical record, say, I wouldn't use an upright at all, I would use a grand, and would use a stereo pair (probably spaced) of either Neumann 184s or perhaps some omnis outside the (fully open) lid by 18" or so, and another pair or cardioid SDC in XY about 3m in the air, 5m or so back from the piano for room ambience.. blend to taste.
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