This is the current setup I have for recording my piano. No special preamps or anything, just using a simple 2-channel focusrite saffire interface and 2 mics: an AKG 414 and a Neumann U-87 clone that I build myself.
So far, I’ve experimented with 3 different mic placements:
What seems to work best so far is #3. Additionally, since the bass strings go from upper left to lower right, and the treble strings do the opposite, what I have found works really well is to mic the bass strings from the right side and pan to about 9 o’clock, and mic the treble strings from the left side, panned to about 3 o’clock. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it has resulted in the best sound with the best sense of “space” so far. The recordings from day 3 and 4 are using this setup and I like it the most so far.
I’m going to experiment soon with using my Cascade Fat Head ribbon mics as the pair, and perhaps add the U-87 as a mono overhead as well. The ribbon mics have a very warm sound which I love on drums and guitar cabs, and are particularly good in a mid-side configuration. In fact, I think I will try the M/S setup as well. Stay tuned…
Rather than try to bring my whole recording setup from the studio in this room for the piano, I’m just using my 2 channel Saffire interface into the laptop. Simple, but sounds great.
Sometimes, while I’m playing piano, Levon likes to come in and take a big smelly dump and then leaves. I’m trying not to take it personally. I guess he’s “showing his work” too…
My Fender Rhodes has been in storage for 2 years now, but since I have space again, I decided to bring it out of retirement. I replaced the tolex with a brown faux-leather, and am in the process of repainting the lid.
Here you can see the new tolex. The harp cover is peeking out there, you can see the botched silver sparkle that I did a few years ago. His buddy the Yamaha SK15 is piggy-backing on top. I love that old analog string machine. It has an interesting smell when it warms up, and the oscillators have a tendency to drift in the coolest vintage analog way.
Closeup of the somewhat shitty tolex job. First time, so lessons were learned…
Here’s the first pass of the new paint job for the harp cover:
I wanted to paint it with a sparkle paint, but I’m reconsidering. I love the pelham blue color that you see on vintage Les Pauls, so was thinking of copying that. This blue is slightly darker, and non-metallic. I might go over it again with a metallic or small flake clear coat to add some interest. Then I have to clear coat it about 10 times to give it some depth.
Here it is in context, just to check the colors:
This one has some more instrumentation to it: electric piano and french horns. Both of those are sample libraries. Since I’m recording with the piano which is situated in the back room of my house and not in my usual studio which is in the backyard, I don’t have my full complement of better quality samples. So, I’m just using what’s on the laptop, in this case, the Kontakt 3 built-in libraries. Another constraint which actually can be useful for this project.
I like this one, but it needs to go somewhere else with the form. After the project is over, I’ll probably revisit this and re-do the electric piano with my real Rhodes. I’m thinking getting one of the Awesome Orchestra horn players to record for real would be nice.
I like this one. I need to start playing in other keys though…
So I decided to give myself an assignment: write a new piece every day for 30 days. For this month, I’m going to limit myself to pieces featuring piano (some solo, some with other instruments as well). I’m sure some of it will suck, but I’m hoping to get a few usable ideas out of it.
Let’s go, #1…
I’ve had an old Fender Musicmaster bass for awhile, finally decided to take it apart and refurbish it. As it turns out, it’s not really stock at all, being one of those typical Frankenstein instruments that Subway guitars specializes in.
The pickups are single coil P-90s, which I think is unusual for bass pickups, hard to find replacements. One the of the pickups is quite rusted, but I may just try to clean it up instead of finding a replacement.