5.6 Acoustic Piano

Recording an acoustic piano can be a great challenge for many home recordings. The size, sonics and tuning are all contributing factors towards making this a tough instrument to record. In this module we are going to look at a few guiding options.
Firstly, your recording technique will change depending on the type of piano you have, although the principals are generally the same.

Upright Piano

You may have one of these in your home already. One of the first steps to consider is moving your piano away from the wall ( at least six feet) This allows the sound to resonate more freely in your room. You may also consider opening the lid and removing at least one front panel.
Moving your piano away from the wall will also allow you to have access to the back soundboard where you can then place two microphones. If you’re wanting a bright sound, place your mics closer to the sound board, around waist height. If you’re wanting a mellower sound, place your mics further back. The key here is to experiment with how your microphones are reacting to what they are picking up in the piano environment.

Grand Piano

The grand piano is not as commonly found in a home, but it is considered an easier instrument to record over the upright. This is because there is better access to the inside of the soundboard. In my experience opening the lid and placing a couple microphones over the soundboard (ideally a stereo pair), works best. Again, it’s recommended to experiment with mic placement. Placing both microphones inside the soundboard may not be ideal for the style of music or the pianist recording. If the recording is quite dynamic, it may be better to place one of the stereo pairs outside the piano.

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