Recording a grand piano can be every bit as challenging as recording drums. The instrument generates some very complex sounds and it is percussive and dynamic with rich overtones across a broad spectrum of sound.
I use a number of different approaches when I record a grand piano. This setup is similar to the path I usually start with:
I space pair Neumann U87s around 30cm or so above the strings, stereo pair a smaller set of condensers up and outside the piano and, to capture the low end, I like using the Neumann U47 fet. I sometimes position that mic close up to the lower registers underneath the piano or set back outside the piano itself.
All of that typically works fine in a controlled recording space.
For live sound, I do not often get called to mic a grand piano. Actually, I fear pianos in a live sound setting.
My church has a grand piano that lives outside the starting line of the front of house loudspeakers. Very difficult to mic this piano without getting feedback. Obviously, if the lid is lifted, the mics also pick up a lot of ambient sound from the stage as well as from the audience. With more folks serving on the piano, we needed to find a solution.
I just received a pair of C-Ducer tape mics to try on the piano. Â The mics are taped to the underside of the piano up against the soundboard. I am hoping that these mics will capture a reasonable sound for live playing and that they will also provide a high degree of isolation from ambient sound. I will be installing them on Saturday. We’ll see how they sound.