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Awhile ago I hired a sound engineer to come and install a bunch of equipment at my church, which included amplifiers, a mixer, microphones, and more. At the time we were using an old upright piano and he ended up recommending the Shure Beta 91A half-cardioid condenser microphone for the piano.

It's a mike that can lay flat, but also has two holes on the underside so it can be mounted on protrusions. We ended up sticking in a nail on the inside of the piano in order to mount it, and since it was an old/crappy piano, this was fine.

However, now we've been gifted a nice grand piano and I'll need to mike that as well. I was hoping the simply re-use the existing microphone, if possible. However I'm unsure where or how to mount it in a grand piano, and am definitely unwilling to put any nails in this time. Does anyone here have experience with miking grand pianos? Is it possible to continue using the same model I listed above in a grand piano? (If so, how? / where does it go?) Or is there another mike I should purchase?

  • There are almost as many ways to Mic it as there are pianos. You can find many different techniques with a quick search ranging from 1 microphone to 5 to 8 and more. But the last church I worked for that had a grand piano we just used 2 Shure sm81's over the hammers on the low end and high end and it sounded great. – Timinycricket Mar 26 '18 at 1:33
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I suggest using 2 (condenser) microphones instead of the Shure Beta 91A because there is a lot of sound coming from a lot of different places and placing a single microphone underneath the strings won't capture all of that. Also, with 2 microphones you can pan left/right to make a stereo image (which can be very nice to listen to but probably won't be realistic compared to how the piano actually sounds).

Since you are in a church, you'll want to put the microphones really close to the strings to avoid too much spatial effects.

Start with these basic techniques just above the place where the bass strings cross the treble strings mounting points and listen to which placement sounds best:

  • XY (2 microphones angled at 90°)
  • Close pair (2 microphones next to each other with little space between each other)
  • Wide pair (2 microphones next to each other with a lot of space between each other)

Alternatively, you can place the microphones underneath the piano (microphones pointing up) because the wood acts like a soundboard. There you'll have less attack, less sound from the hammers and maybe some unwanted noise from the pedals.

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There are surely some great tutorials for micing grand pianos available for free. The essence you will get is a bit of a combination what is already answered / commented here:

There are incountible ways of micing a grand piano. Some key concepts are:

  • The more distance between mic and piano, the more room / atmosphere you will hear. So ask yourself: do I want a very precise / direct sound or do I want a spheric, washy, roomy sound?
  • What is the the arrangement and musical style of the piano to appear in?
    • Is it a piano standalone recording, e. g. Classics or Jazz? Then you probably might not want the piano to sound too aggressive. So you could record it with an XY small condenser pair that's placed above, just a bit inside the opened top cover (lid).
    • Or is it a full mix in which the piano has to be prominent, probably Pop or a piano solo in a Big Band? Then you might want the transients to sound more precisely. So maybe record it with an AB pair of big condensers some 10 to 15 inches above the hammers. You could optionally even add a SM-57 just above the sound hole of the metal chassis.

These are just some basic ideas. They help to figure out, what the piano should sound like. If you've got a clear idea, it is most important to check the resulting sound of that specific piano in that specific room using that specific microphone by using your ears.

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