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What piano to buy for recording
Old 11th March 2022 | Show parent
  #61
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
I don't think there would be much variation. I think there will be more variation in the keyboard feel than in the tone. I think Steinway is better about consistency than makers of just about any other instrument, though.

But, once you get used to a piano, you start to notice all kinds of tiny tonal differences.

Still, I think that if you take that piano and put it into different rooms there will be significant variation in tone. And if you call in different piano techs and tell them how you want it to sound there will be even more.
--scott
I recorded a piano concerto many years ago, and they had a tech come in and work on the piano. After the artist played for a while, the tech removed the entire keyboard action, worked on it, put it back, removed it again, worked some more - did this for about half an hour. When the pianist played it again, one would have sworn they'd wheeled in an entirely different instrument.
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #62
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
AARGH... now I'm looking at craigslist and seeing a Chickering and a Mason and Hamlin... baby grands for under $500... the last thing I need is a piano... damn you whoever started this thread...
--scott
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #63
Gear Maniac
 
As most of you have suggested, the OP has come to the point that the budget must be raised in order to search for a good deal.
Staying around the low end - no sense here to discuss about top tier instruments or whatever the sex of angel is - I would suggest that 6000 could be a starting point. Of course it’s much more than 1.500 but it is not a whole different world once one comes to the conclusion to save a bit and finally get into the market.
What can you expect for 6000 ( let’s say Euros). Used, of course.
I’d skip baby grands ( like 145 cm): their short (and accordingly thick ) bass strings make the piano either sound dull or muffled or - on the contrary - stupidly bright in the worst sense. While I’m a professional pianist and teacher I’m a total newbie in recording skills, but I suspect that a baby grand will reveal it’s subpar nature in every recording. Although some could tell that a Steinway baby grand still sound nice, it will by no means cost 6000 and at the end will show the intrinsecal limits of the size. Besides the sound , the action in a baby grand will always lack the true touch sensation given by an adequate leverage system, which of course is forced to stay within a tiny space.
I’d say that that the 160-175 cm size could fit the bill and probably you can still find some deals; with a proper mic placement - much better then I could ever do - most of you could workaround some of the limits of the piano.
I see a choice between Kaway and Yamaha, 20 to 25 y old; I’d skip unknown brands or even some very old german pianos. They may still sound nice but in some cases you never bet to have a really good action and they will need more often technician’s care - which still cost money.
Used Kawai are somehow less expensive, at least in Italy where I live. A KG-2 ( 172 if I’m not wrong) is not probably a top piano, but has the advantage of being very robust; keeps tuning quite well and being not particularly bright may help in recording to avoid the “zziiing” factor.
Yamaha C-1 is 160 but can get good results. Better the C-2 which is 175 or so. Note that older than 30 models are not “C” but “G” ( G-2, G3); not only the age, but the entire project was quite different and they sound overly bright, even if in good shape.
With these kind of choices you can still stay within the “neutral” range of expectations in performances and prices ( I’d say from 5000 to 7000, at least here). What can you record with this? Not a classical piano solo performance - if not for school or archival purposes - but for instruments which need an accompaniment ( concertos or virtuoso pieces or singers) could be enough. Maybe, if kept in good shape, also some chamber music performances with a low budget, depending on the repertoire. For pop or rock or jazz I can’t tell, but in any case your studio can offer a grand piano which is still “4 seasons” usable. Every other choice ( upright , digital or very very old piano) could suite some needs but be useless in most of the other cases.
This is what I would do with that budget. YMMV, of course.
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #64
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
sorry to say but a country-specific classification and attribution of alleged preferences regarding certain aspects of 'sound' is utter nonsense!
Sure there are many exceptions both ways. The USA has many cultures.

There are some stringed instruments that are tuned a bit differently depending on what area of India or surrounding countries they are in.

Ever hear the term British EQ?

Japan has a different ear Than Germany. German mic's are voiced just right for a full orchestra. Sony mic's are voiced just right for Japan Opera.

Movies are edited differently for each country in some cases. Not just the language.

https://www.google.com/search?q=insi...hXdC7cOnWN1d4M
Old 12th March 2022
  #65
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🎧 10 years
If you really want to buy a fancy piano, you should make sure there is a great piano technician in your area who is willing and available to work on your instrument on demand. Having a great tech is a lot more important than just finding a good piano. There are some many little things that can go wrong with a piano it is not funny.
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #66
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
Sure there are many exceptions both ways. The USA has many cultures.

There are some stringed instruments that are tuned a bit differently depending on what area of India or surrounding countries they are in.

Ever hear the term British EQ?

Japan has a different ear Than Germany. German mic's are voiced just right for a full orchestra. Sony mic's are voiced just right for Japan Opera.

Movies are edited differently for each country in some cases. Not just the language.

https://www.google.com/search?q=insi...hXdC7cOnWN1d4M
i had worked for a manufacturer of musical instruments who had an assortment of about 1000 instruments and exported about 100'000 pieces per year to over 100 countries:
precisely because i worked in sound development, i was very interested in finding out whether a clear preference for a certain sound could be identified along language or country borders but the figures simply din't show that! that was confirmed to me by manufacturers of completely different musical instruments or gear...

...or have you ever heard a manufacturer of say microphones or loudspeakers that would tune instruments differently for a certain cultural group or area?

___


of course there are differences in terms of very specific preferences that can get attributed to certain individuals or a limited group of people, everywhere, and for sociological, ethnological or cultural reasons one may be tempted to find commonalities for larger groups or areas but one risks arriving only at generic answers and only at stereotypes while a closer look inevitably leads to contradictory results.
the experience from touring (on all continents, except antarctica of course) taught me that what applies in one state or province, be it in india, africa or america, does not apply elsewhere - and sometimes only a few kilometres away...

___


back to our topic: IF there are differences in the production of instruments for certain regions (as is effectively the case with pianos), these are due to the different climatic conditions.

[that said, i wonder how manufacturers (need to?) react to climatic changes in the procurement and processing of wood?!]
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #67
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🎧 15 years
YES, DeeDee has identified a primary variance that is at the heart of the piano issue. Several specie of wood are used in the internal assembly of a piano. Each specie will have it's own particular expansion/contraction characteristics from moisture and temperature variation. I know from being "deep in the weeds" with guitar luthiers the importance of a "straight vertical grain" with guitar tops and piano sound boards. Most of the greatest Steinways were built with old growth Appalachian Red Spruce sound boards, during the mid 1920s. Martin guitars also experienced their hay day during the mid 1930s using smaller tree circumference App. Red tops with scolloped forward X bracing. The primary reason for this is the strength gained with a straight vertical grain allows a much thinner thickness and greater sonic output.
We need to quantify the real reasons for a piano in any studio. The fact that a 30 year paradigm shift has occurred thanks to the digital revolution that eliminates the necessity of owning and working with an actual assembly of a wood, steel and felt instrument. The ability to use pre recorded digital samples for the piano tracks you produce is pretty much a no brainer if a digital recording is your primary destination. There are absolutely a number of personal parlor preference considerations that will influence any piano investment decision: however few, if any, have anything to do with technically producing a great DAW recorded piano track.
Hugh
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse ➡️
[. . .] I know from being "deep in the weeds" with guitar luthiers the importance of a "straight vertical grain" with guitar tops and piano sound boards. Most of the greatest Steinways were built with old growth Appalachian Red Spruce sound boards, during the mid 1920s. [. . .]
Thanks, Hugh -

Critical wood sourcing is a very interesting topic - and extremely compelling when seeking high-end instruments.

I didn't recall the 1920s Appalachian Red Spruce sound boards. I thought Steinway had been preferring north face sitka spruce from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Don't know how far back that preference goes, though. . .at least several decades. Is all the great Appalachian Red Spruce gone?

Treasured in my bedroom closet, I keep a remarkable 100-year-old German violin neck block I picked up from [the gracious and deeply missed] Peter Horn.


I'll need to find another extraordinary violin maker some day to build a great violin around it.

Ray H.
Old 12th March 2022 | Show parent
  #69
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
whether a band uses a real piano or resorts to using samples imo is first and foremost a financial decision: if you have a nice instrument in your studio, i'm sure anyone would want to use it but not everyone can afford to have a piano tech/tuner coming twice over the weekend (or sit in the whole time on more ambitious projects).

that said, i do favour 'digital' pianos as well...
...but only in terms of the recording medium: fairlight and kurzweil were amazing 40 years ago but the best thing came when we finally could record acoustic instruments to digital (tape and then daw) - the transient shaping from recording to tape and the pitch alteration were simply unbearable!
Old 13th March 2022 | Show parent
  #70
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🎧 15 years
One thing I can say: piano's come and go, but a good-sounding Steinway never goes out of style.

There can be big variations in sound from one piano to another - even amongst Steinway D's (depending on your ear, I suppose).

Also keep in mind that many of these brands have been gobbled up by a few companies. Baldwin, once a reputable US-based manufacture was gobbled up and cheapened many years ago. I believe the same is true of Knabe.

Even Steinway & Bosendorfer are owned by "somebody else" now, though Steinway have maintained their quality, it seems.

You can vary the quality of a good instrument, but a cheap piano will always sound like a cheap piano. That said, some monster records were recorded on lesser instruments: the piano used for Queens "A Night at the Opera" wouldn't pass muster with me, but there it is for all time.
Old 13th March 2022 | Show parent
  #71
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🎧 15 years
I will provide the answers, to the best of my knowledge, about the history and chronological time table of the American, Appalachian Red spruce specie.
At the beginning of the 20th century, high up in the Appalachian mountain chain, a considerable number of "old Growth" very large App.Red Spruce trees existed. A generational German understanding of the importance of using the lightest, strongest and straightest grained spruce available was prevalent with both Steinway and C.F. Martin. Quarter sawed, straight grained, App Red could be reduced to very thin thickness that provided previously unknown sonic clarity and quality. German Silver Spruce can get close results, however nothing compares to App. Red IMO.
Alaskan Sitka spruce became the replacement wood for the cherished App. Red after 1945. The quickest way to identify App Red from Sitka spruce is the deep yellow then ultimately brown patina that Sitka will present as it ages. I have owned vintage 1930s Martins that had tops that appeared almost fresh cut in their light color.
Most all stands of App Red were harvested to manufacture Gliders during WW11 and today only a few closely watched trees in the national forrest still stand. Over the past 40 years only a few luthier wood collectors are allowed access to App. Red trees in the nat. forrest that are broken, fallen over or died from other causes.
While sonic differences clearly exist within the various specific sub specie, I am not condemning sitka spruce as unacceptable. There are plenty of post 1945 Martin D28s that we see on tv every day. The fact remains they will never approach the sonic quality of the vintage Martins of the Mid 1930s or Steinways from the mid 1920.
Hugh
Old 13th March 2022 | Show parent
  #72
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
...or have you ever heard a manufacturer of say microphones or loudspeakers that would tune instruments differently for a certain cultural group or area?
When I asked the guys at AKG why they sold the C1000 (which sounded pretty awful) in the same basic price range as several other microphones that actually sounded good, the engineer tactfully explained that the C1000 was "specially voiced for the American market."
--scott
Old 13th March 2022 | Show parent
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
When I asked the guys at AKG why they sold the C1000 (which sounded pretty awful) in the same basic price range as several other microphones that actually sounded good, the engineer tactfully explained that the C1000 was "specially voiced for the American market."
--scott
Ouch! ! !

In America's defense, it was hard to tell how anything was voiced from the side of a 70's vintage Shure Vocal Master Speaker Column.

Ray H.
Old 13th March 2022 | Show parent
  #74
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
When I asked the guys at AKG why they sold the C1000 (which sounded pretty awful) in the same basic price range as several other microphones that actually sounded good, the engineer tactfully explained that the C1000 was "specially voiced for the American market."
--scott
typical marketing blabla...

...or let me put it this way: imo this (namely the arrogance to believe to know what is supposed to be good for others) is one of the many reasons for the decline of akg...

...and the c1000 was a poor mic design (on several accounts)!
Old 15th March 2022 | Show parent
  #75
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
AARGH... now I'm looking at craigslist and seeing a Chickering and a Mason and Hamlin... baby grands for under $500... the last thing I need is a piano... damn you whoever started this thread...
--scott
Two of my tuner friends (one who is a rebuilder... as in flood damage, etc) would recommend the Chickering in a heartbeat, if general condition between the two is similar, and, of course, if YOU liked the action and overall sound of the instrument as well.
Old 15th March 2022 | Show parent
  #76
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav ➡️
Two of my tuner friends (one who is a rebuilder... as in flood damage, etc) would recommend the Chickering in a heartbeat, if general condition between the two is similar, and, of course, if YOU liked the action and overall sound of the instrument as well.
I do not need a piano. I do not need a piano. I do not need a piano. I am going to keep repeating this to myself until I feel better.
--scott
Old 16th March 2022 | Show parent
  #77
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voltronic's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav ➡️
Two of my tuner friends (one who is a rebuilder... as in flood damage, etc) would recommend the Chickering in a heartbeat, if general condition between the two is similar, and, of course, if YOU liked the action and overall sound of the instrument as well.
Really? I am shocked to hear anyone would recommend a Chickering over a Mason & Hamlin, all other things being equal.

Also, I would not trust any piano offered on Craigslist as far as I could throw it until my own piano tech gave it a through workup.

Maxime caveat emptor!
Old 16th March 2022 | Show parent
  #78
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic ➡️
Really? I am shocked to hear anyone would recommend a Chickering over a Mason & Hamlin, all other things being equal.

Also, I would not trust any piano offered on Craigslist as far as I could throw it until my own piano tech gave it a through workup.

Maxime caveat emptor!
Mason & Hamlin make fine instruments, but they are a bit "high maintenance"; and I've heard said it's best to avoid the used one if that maintenance was not regularly practiced.
Old 16th March 2022
  #79
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What an extraordinarily fun thread. And thanks to all you participants who contributed info I was unaware of.
I have read several times where it was stated that on the east coast, Steinway is king, and on the west coast the bosendorfer and Yamaha seem to be favored. I always thought that was odd and perhaps a comment on how the various instruments deal with differing humidities or something. However, I just spent Sunday listening to the Oregon Symphony where one of the featured pieces was a piano based composition and they used a lovely 10’ Steinway grand. And yet, however beautiful the instrument looked, I found it to be rather thin sounding and lacked the powerful oomph I expected from the low register. My regular studio accompanist owns a bosendorfer 225 (the one with 92 keys), which is perhaps the best sounding piano I have ever heard, so I am starting to think there is some real truth to the east coast/west coast impressions…

Last edited by jnorman; 16th March 2022 at 05:09 PM..
Old 4th May 2022
  #80
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JL1000's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'm hoping to buy an acoustic piano soon (an upright just for me)....I find it as, or more, difficult than buying a car...everything about it. Used is a huge risk, new is a huge risk. Stores are few and far between, and the actual prices are a shell game....sales people, etc....bleh. It's not like buying any other piece of musical gear, most of which you can easily send back if you don't like it.

Anyway, this guy has a lot of great videos on pianos...upright versus baby grand, Asian versus European, etc etc etc. Plus, he plays the pianos really well, and the recordings of them are generally well done (unlike most stores hawking pianos, who record them on their cell phones...why they bother with that, I do not know).

Old 4th May 2022 | Show parent
  #81
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
contrary to what i mentioned earlier on, i'm not gonna buy a yamaha baby grand: it's either gonna be a bösendorfer shorty or a steinway that is a bit larger (188cm) - they only cost three to four times as much as i wanted to spend ... :-(

...but there's no way around a certain sound! :-)
i shall post a pic once the instrument is here.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #82
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
contrary to what i mentioned earlier on, i'm not gonna buy a yamaha baby grand: it's either gonna be a bösendorfer shorty or a steinway that is a bit larger (188cm) - they only cost three to four times as much as i wanted to spend ... :-(

...but there's no way around a certain sound! :-)
i shall post a pic once the instrument is here.
My wife, a working pianist and teacher (private and collegiate) bought a 7' Baldwin SF10 the first week after we married in 1977, just after finishing her Masters degree in Pedagogy. It cost just shy of half the money of the first house we bought (and we carried a mortgage on each). I type this missive this evening one room away from the beast... it has been a solid performer: income generator, rehearsal piano, and "I've got to play something NOW because I want to" instrument for her, for 45 years, across six houses in three states (Ohio, Texas and Tennessee). She has cared for it lovingly and had it tuned and serviced religiously. She auditioned Kawai (7'), Steinway (5'10), Yamaha C7 (7') and the Baldwin (7') across three days, in two cities and, without hesitation, chose the SF10. Aside from the diamond that "sealed the deal" four months before the wedding, it's the best money we've ever spent. And we still love the sounds it produces.

Cheers.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #83
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Re-reading some of the last thoughts here, I've read that trees are affected by the climate around them during their growth.

Woodworking is certainly a skilled craft. Piano building more so.

It seems to me that there may have been a period in which the volume of pianos being sold meant that the craftsmen building them were at the top of their game.

If sales are being lost to digital pianos, it would impact the makers of acoustic pianos and their craftsmen making it more challenging to build acoustic pianos.

Given the huge price increases lately for common construction lumber, I have to wonder how much it costs to buy, season and work the speciality wood used to make acoustic pianos?

It used to be that a lot of kids grew up with a Kimbal or Wurlizter upright in the living room. I'm not so sure that this is the case today.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #84
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks ➡️
It used to be that a lot of kids grew up with a Kimbal or Wurlizter upright in the living room. I'm not so sure that this is the case today.
They were spinets in my world, mostly Baldwin Acrosonics, and mostly traumatizing for the kids of my era. At the time we were all glad that we had narrowly missed the accordion fad, but now I'm not. I was so wrong about the accordion.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #85
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
They were spinets in my world, mostly Baldwin Acrosonics, and mostly traumatizing for the kids of my era. At the time we were all glad that we had narrowly missed the accordion fad, but now I'm not. I was so wrong about the accordion.
not that i ever wanted to play the accordion myself - if anything, then rather the bandoneon - but i occasionally work for an accordionist who works her way through the piano repertoire; amazing...
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #86
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
They were spinets in my world, mostly Baldwin Acrosonics, and mostly traumatizing for the kids of my era. At the time we were all glad that we had narrowly missed the accordion fad, but now I'm not. I was so wrong about the accordion.
Yes, Acrosonics....

I hadn't thought about this in many years, but I vaguely recall that there was a drummer in my high school that also played the accordion on the Ed Sullivan show.
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