4

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?

6

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.

3
  • I just checked out a recording I did of an upright in a medium-sized dead room, quite some years ago. Pair of AKG 414s quite tight & wide to the back of the piano, which was a couple or three feet from the wall. Entire band live out in the same room. Quiet ballad, so no stomping;) Lovely mellow sound, not a clunk to be heard in the whole recording.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 2 at 15:15
  • Recording from the rear is not practical for me. I guess I'll have to learn not to release the pedal all the way. Jun 2 at 19:24
  • 1
    @FredrikArnerup For a detailed description of how to adjust pedal technique, see How do you learn pedals?
    – Aaron
    Jun 2 at 21:52
5

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.

2
  • Is there a risk that it naturally keeps the pedal slightly pressed down if it's "too thick"?
    – Clockwork
    Jun 3 at 9:37
  • 1
    If it is too thick (like 1/3-1/2 of the pedal travel) it will interfere with the sustain mechanism release. Other than that, the piano is expected to contain such damping. It simply wears out with time and use and becomes tinner and stiffer. The proper solution, of course, is to get the piano fixed by a professional, but this proper solution is neither cheap nor quick.
    – fraxinus
    Jun 3 at 9:46
4

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.

4

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.

0

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.

1
  • A ribbon mic seems like an odd choice to me (depending on the musical style)though a good recording engineer can get the most of any gear. I have some Oscar Peterson recordings that include the clinking glasses, etc. but I was under the impression that "live" recordings of that era often included separate "room" microphones just for the purpose of picking up ambience to cue the listener that it wasn't a studio recording. (I also know some artists that add fake crowd noises into studio recordings for an effect. I'm pretty sure Tom Waits' "In Shades" falls into this category.)
    – Theodore
    Jun 3 at 14:02
0

The problem with the zoom with integrated microphones is the microphones' orientation which is spherical (they catch everything in the room).

  1. You might want to use more directionnal microphones such as cardioïds and super cardioïds.
  2. 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.
  3. For pedal's shocks noises, you can add some foam to cushion the shocks AND be careful with your own manipulation of this pedal.
1
  • I'm not using the internal microphones, but foam might be a good idea. Jun 6 at 14:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.