Larry Villella playing a 1910 Steinway O he lovingly had
restored. He’s since traded up to a model B.
The first album Sam Rivers, Jr. played piano on led to the first album credit for yours truly.
1971 – Hue’s – Sam Rivers, Jr. / ABC Impulse (Vinyl baby!)
The same year I was honored to co-engineer a project with Chick Corea.
The ensuing half century has been spent in the pursuit of sonic beauty in so many forms! However, at the core of it is a passion for pianos and finding ways to bring them to life. As with guitar microphones, with piano microphones the one-size-fits-all approach will not give you the very best recordings. You need a palette of tone-color options to best meet the requirements of your sonic canvas. What I know now, that I didn’t know in 1971: different pianos have different sonic signatures requiring different mic selection for best result. And even the Genre of Music informs the mic selection.
For Bernie Becker’s Bosendorfer, it’s a pair of ADK Custom Z-67 Tube Microphones.
Bernie Becker’s Bosendorfer using two ADK Custom Z-67 Microphones going on ten years!
ADK Z-MOD 67 MICROPHONE
For Chuck Ainlay on Yamaha for modern country and rock,
ADK Custom Z-12 Mics his go-to Mic Solution.
Chuck was a part of the original beta-test team, and has every flavor of Z-Mod in his collection. I told him how counter-intuitive it was to me for him to choose a brilliant mic on a brilliant instrument. Again it’s all about how you want the tracks to sit in the mix. In dense tracks,
the Z-12 bursts to front-of-mix!
Chuck Ainlay using two ADK Custom Z-12 Microphones on Yamaha Grand for modern country music. ADK Z-MOD 12 MICROPHONE
It’s as much about context as it is the individual sound of a musical instrument! In a band with drums, bass, horns, guitars, etc., the more Brilliant Z-12 flavor allows the piano to POP in the Mix. If you were tracking Yamaha for a Jazz Ensemble you might want to use one of our less brilliant 67/47 flavored Mics.
Which brings us to Live Microphone or Stage Microphone Options:
In ensemble, the use of a Small Diameter Piano Microphones – in a stereo a/b technique as seen at Jazz at Lincoln Center - works to contain the sound better in a room full of many loud horns. These Small Diameter Piano Mics have a more neutral character best suited to the Steinway at Lincoln Center which already sounds fantastic, paired with neutral 3 Zigma SD-C you get the a more transparent, honest sound. If you need a bit of coloration, you use the 3 Zigma Lollipop. If you want near-neutral, 3 Zigma Lipsticks in stereo pairs are a must-have choir mic, instrument mic, ambient room mic, super useful!
Chick Corea with Jazz at Lincoln Center using two 3 Zigma SD-C Microphones on Steinway Model D 3 ZIGMA SD-C MICROPHONE
However, when on Tour with the 9’ Yamaha Grand Piano, the best piano microphone changes! Here you can see an Asymmetrical a/b with a Small Diameter Cardioid with a Small Diameter Hyper-Cardioid.
I’m told it’s a carefully guarded secret as to which mic is treble and which is bass
(See if you can tell!).
3 Zigma SD-C and SD-H Microphones on Concert Grand Yamaha on Jazz at Lincoln Center Tour. 3 ZIGMA SD-C AND 3 ZIGMA SD-H MICROPHONES
When you want to take it the other direction and mellow out a really brilliant piano the C-Lol-47 FX have found great favor as piano mics at the Benaroya Hall Ten Grands event. On Super Bright Pianos, 47 tailor the top-end in a way that makes it much less harsh, especially on Yamaha, Kawai, any bright piano.
3 Zigma C-Lol-47 FX Microphones on Multiple Yamaha Grand Pianos
3 ZIGMA C-LOL-47 FX MICROPHONES
What a lifetime of passion for listening to, tracking, and playing pianos has taught me is that you often get a surprise answer as to finding someone a great pair of piano mics. What’s great about the ADK approach is that there are solutions in a wide-variety of price points to satisfy both live and studio needs for a world-class piano mic. I am blessed to have a Seven Foot Steinway and play it every day. So when it comes to building a piano mic for my friends, I take it personally. I’m super picky for their sake!!
Chick Corea, Larry J Villella, and Herbie Hancock back stage on opening night of their second duet tour.
What is really great - you can find a piano mic from All Three ADK Microphone Collections.
3 Zigma, ADK T-FET and ADK Z-Mod Microphones are Tone-Tailored to Please Golden Ears!