Recording An Upright Piano

An upright piano is more compact than a grand piano and has the frame and strings placed vertically.

Microphone Type

  • Option one: Two condenser microphones
    • Polar response: Cardioid
    • Example: Shure SM 81, AKG C1000
  • Option two: Two condenser microphones
    • Polar response: Omni
    • Example: KSM44

Ideally both microphones should be the same make and manufacture.

Technique

Before positioning the microphones, try and remove as much of the casing as possible to help eliminate a boxy, resonant sound. Once the casing is removed, position two spaced pair microphones over the top of the piano's open lid. Both microphones should be just above the top opening. Do not position the microphones too close as it is important to give the sound room to develop.

One microphone should be positioned over the bass strings, and the other over the treble strings. Remember to adhere to the 3:1 rule.

Top Tips

  • If the piano is positioned against a wall, pull it out to help reduce resonance. Beware of squeaks and clonks coming from the pedals. Try a small squirt of oil to help eliminate the problem if it exists
  • Positioning the microphones inside the cavity provides greater isolation but tends to colour the sound, particularly at the top end
  • Omni microphones can provide a more natural sound
  • If leakage is a problem, use cardioid microphones that are positioned just inside the cavity
  • If using a single microphone, position it slightly more towards the treble strings to help avoid a boomy sound