Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

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Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by skipper01 »

Hi, I’d really appreciate any thoughts/advise.
I’m being asked to play a piano gig in a club in a medium sized room that has a baby grand.
A mixer will feed an in house wall mounted passive amp system.
I’ll be playing and singing.
I believe the room could get loud and am concerned about having to play hard to hear and general volumes/mix of the piano with the vocals in the Pa away on the walls.
So, I’m looking at realistically micing the piano.
I’ll probably look to partially open the lid when playing.
It needs to be quick and easy.
I was thinking of a cheap ish single SDC mic like a Rode NT5. I appreciate a pair would be better but am mindful of probably not being able to leave them in situ after each performance.
In terms of mounting I have seen small mic clamps that I could perhaps clamp inside or maybe there is something I could leave inside perhaps on the underside of the lid.
Not looking for perfection but know I will need to do something.
Can anybody suggest anything else given this info?
Guess it’s a case of trying things out but I don’t want to get the wrong product/s or miss something.
Many thanks
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by blinddrew »

Not done it with a baby grand, but for mic'ing upright piano in a busy bar my default for the last few years has been a couple of Realistic plate mics (these things: http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/realistic-pzm/1341) wedged inside the case somewhere.
I know that after I stopped working that gig the main piano player used a Shure PZM, I think it was a Beta 91A, but there's a good range of options from £30 upwards available if you wanted to experiment.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by skipper01 »

Hi, thanks for this info. I hadn’t considered a boundary mic.
Also this could in theory be permanently attached to the underside of the lid without so much risk to theft etc....
I wonder whether a single boundary mic could do the trick? - With a boundary is the polar pattern omni and wide pickup. I appreciate they require phantom power which is fine.
Cheers again
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by resistorman »

Yes, PZM mics are often used for closed lid situations. Another way is laying a mic flat on some foam with the head poking over one of the holes. Works with front or side address types.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by MarkPAman »

My first thought was also a Beta91A, which I've had good results with in the past* for live work. It's possible to get it inside, even with the lid shut. No stands or clamps needed, maybe just a small folded towel or something similar.

* When I worked in a college music department, a "piano mic technique shootout" with anywhere up to 24 mics recorded simultaneously from all sorts of (sometimes odd) positions was a common task to get students thinking. Upon listening back, the 91 was usually close to top of the list for sound and always at the top of the list for ease of setup.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by blinddrew »

skipper01 wrote:I wonder whether a single boundary mic could do the trick?


I'd expect so, if carefully positioned it should get the bulk of the range and you're probably going to be in mono on the PA anyway.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by skipper01 »

Yes definitely all straight down the middle for sure.
Thanks again for this info all - very helpful thanks
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Bob Bickerton »

If the above methods also prove feedback prone, you could try an AKG C411 contact microphone. You’d have to experiment with placement on the soundboard for optimum sound.

I’ve often used these to feed stage monitors rather than the condensers which are used for FOH as they are far more feedback resistant. Of course the sound is compromised, but with hefty EQ a workable sound can usually be achieved and anyway it sounds like the venue isn’t a sit-and-listen scenario anyway.

Bob
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Tim Gillett »

You mentioned partially opening the lid. Is it feasible to fully open it? Could that project the sound directly to the audience enough to reduce the amount of reinforcement needed, if not make it unnecessary? Do you know how the venue normally deals with this scenario?
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by skipper01 »

It’s a brand new room available in a club so all uncharted territory and no direct reference beyond by own past experience and gut feeling of what may happen if it gets loud in there.
My other concern was having just vocal coming out of the in house PA and potential sense of ‘separation’.
I actually wish they’d bought a digital piano but it’s too late now and I only recently became involved.
I was just thinking a little bit of reinforced piano in the PA if possible.
That said, it may be ok as you say with the lid fully open.
Cheers again
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

If it's the kind of bar where people gather around the piano and chat, mics might not be your best option. Don't want private conversations being audible over the PA in distant corners of the bar!

I'd go with contact mics. Schertler do some very good ones. Attached under the piano to the sound board. You will need to experiment a little to find the optimum position where you get a good balance of tone, and you will probably need to apply some EQ, too, but you will get a reliable consistent sound with minimal risk of feedback and no danger of broadcasting people's conversations!
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Dan LB »

Hugh makes a good point.

I’ve used Helpinstill and C-ducer pickups on grand and baby grand pianos over the years both with decent results, however, I’ve never personally installed these systems so can’t comment on that. The Helpenstill sounds quite like a CP80, but was definitely useable for the live performances we we’re working on. These days I nearly always use DPA 4099s.

https://www.helpinstill.com/

http://www.c-ducer.com/piano.html

https://www.dpamicrophones.com/instrume ... microphone
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Dave Rowles »

I know you want the lid open probably because it helps with the "Look" of the thing, but if you go down the boundary mic option then consider closing the lid. On loud stages I almost always close the lid where possible as it drastically helps with keeping feedback/drums out of the mic.

I've even done a stage set where we put the cover back on the piano to get the piano loud enough to match the rather heavy hitting drummer on the stage. This was a pretty small stage to be sure!

I do like the boundary mic way. I tend to push them under the strings where they cross over. I've used 2 before, one for middle/bass strings, and one under the top end strings, but that takes some work to reduce the comb filtering when mixing the signals.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Exalted Wombat »

You can mess around all day and not get anything that sounds enormously different to a SM58 stuck into foam in one of the circular holes of the frame. 'Tis heresy, but 'tis true.
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Re: Best approach to mic a baby grand in a piano bar room?

Post by Dave Rowles »

Hey, if it sounds good then it's right. I've had far too many graduates, or newbie engineers get caught up in the way it "should" be done rather than getting it done.
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