When recording my upright piano with a zoom recorder and a dynamic microphone, I find that the noise from the sustain pedal is quite noticeable. I usually don't think of it while playing. Is there a trick for reducing the amount of noise from the pedal?
Depending on whether it's creaks or thumps from the pedal itself or from the damper mechanism, you could try alternative mic positions.
From the front, aim higher up the body, or mic it from the rear, or even lift the lid & mic it inside.
One of those might just be enough to reduce it - otherwise you're going to have to learn to release less abruptly, or get the mechanism serviced.
Aside from other pretty much reasonable recomendations to relocate or reorient the microphone, there is one thing you can try for a bumpy pedal:
Insert something soft (rubber, few layers of fabric, etc...) in the opening over the pedal. You may need to band it to the pedal in order to keep it from falling off.
The unavoidable truth is that pianos, particularly older upright pianos, often ARE mechanically noisy. Attempts to record one 'in the room' may be doomed to failure. If you can pull the piano away from the wall try micing the soundboard from behind. Or point the mic down into the opened top of the instrument (and discover the hammer mechanism is noisy too!).
Also, of course, consult your piano technician. And don't 'stomp' on the pedal while playing.
I have tried many different recording approaches with my upright over the past 30 years (and two pianos), both in search of decent tone, and to eliminate extraneous noises— not just from pedals, but also from a pesky bench.
My preferred method is to record from behind, with the microphone [or stereo pair] perpendicular to the soundboard, with the sensing element about 8 inches (20 cm) away. (My piano is in the middle of the room.) When using a stereo pair, make sure to use the 3-to-1 rule and keep the microphones at least 8" × 3 = 24" (60 cm) apart.
The tone may not be right for your playing style and preferences, but it gives more clarity and percussion than you might expect.
I once played in a brand new recording studio and they had a $5,000 "Ribbon" microphone (?). The tech said he could hear the dampers hitting the strings. He also heard an airplane fly overhead. He tried different placements of the microphone and adjusted some filter settings and even the direction and height of the microphone.
Another alternative is to load your sound file into recording software, isolate one of the offensive sounds and the software can find that sound in the entire recording and remove or replace it.
Somewhere on Youtube there is a before and after recording of Oscar Peterson playing in a restaurant and you can hear people talking, forks hitting plates, waiters pouring water . . . then someone filtered them out. I'm old so I prefer the original. And, I enjoy pops, scratches smudges and dust in my recordings.
I am an organist and pipe organs are plagued with wheezes, groans, aches and pains of age and they are difficult to record because their ranks are scattered and it is hard not to record the room instead of just the pipe ranks, so for me imperfections are authentic. I don't like hearing the perfection of electronic organs and perfect tuning.
You know, I think in the recording studio, they switched out the microphone to something directional. Experiment with your settings.
The problem with the zoom with integrated microphones is the microphones' orientation which is spherical (they catch everything in the room).
- You might want to use more directionnal microphones such as cardioïds and super cardioïds.
- For the pedal's squeaking, you can use some lubricant such as WD40 on the metal/metal and metal/wood parts. Graphite as powder (eg., from pen) is also a good lubricant for wood/wood.
- For pedal's shocks noises, you can add some foam to cushion the shocks AND be careful with your own manipulation of this pedal.