I have a SM57 and RHODES NT1 microphone and I was wondering what the best way to mike a grand piano was. I tried opening the grand piano and pointing the SM57 at the strings and then placing the RHODES further back in the middle of the room. Is there a better way to arrange the microphones?


I never made a decent recording of a grand with a dynamic mic. If you don't care about stereo, I would get rid of the 57, and just position the NT1 at the good spot. Depending of the kind of music, I'd put it just inside the piano - on the edge with the lid open - with pop or jazz music, (when in a reverberant room, open the lid just a slight bit and get the mic. inside the grand, facing the strings from above. Check the balance between the high notes and the low notes, and adjust where necessary.)

When recording classical music, open the lid wide (45˚) and place the microphone at a distance of 25cm removed from the grand, facing the strings.

  • Yes, I don't think the 57 will do you any favors in this case. Playing with position to get the right balance and tone will be key.
    – Rich Bruchal
    Dec 17 '10 at 1:28

Back when I had access to a grand and was experimenting recording it, i ran into the same situation - one condenser, and one cardioid, both not of remarkable quality. I got the best sound (although not perfect) by placing the condenser 3 feet above the strings on an open piano, above middle C, pointed at the strings. I placed the 57 underneath, but had to spend a lot of time positioning it to get a good mix. Either way, a pair of condensers would be ideal in this situation, but sometimes you just have to work with what you have.


Here are some great answers from the Piano Miking Summit:



On top of all the suggestions, you have to move the mics around to know! Every piano and room is different...

  • I agree. Take your time!
    – Nic
    Dec 16 '10 at 17:00
  • +1!! And since you only have one condenser go for that one
    – jlebre
    Jan 22 '11 at 22:26

If you have a pair of headphones move around the microphone (or if you have an assistant make him move the microphone whilst you instruct him over the headphones) in and outwards from the piano lid and across the board. This because some of the biggest difficulty that I found with relatively poorly maintained grands was the fel sticking to the strings and producing this washed pschhhhooooom sound (no, not the pedal thump).

Once you are happy with the room-direct sound relationship and the amount of attack (moving closer to the strings), have the pianist run up and down the keyboard so you can hear the balance between the higher and lower strings and to see if you don't have a dip in the middle (shouldn't happen with one microphone but hell happened to me a couple of times with stereo techniques.


There are couple sound examples and techniques:

At my point of view, you should use just single Rode. Dynamic is useless. Look:

Rodes NT1-A:

Sensitivity: -31.9dBV/Pa
Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz

Shure SM57:

Sensitivity: -56.0 dBV/Pa
Frequency Range: 40Hz - 15kHz

Shure SM57 can not add nothing to recording, not additional frequency range, nor low amplitude sounds.

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