Everyone Likes a bit of a Challenge, right?
Have you ever wondered how hard it would be to make your own free live acoustic piano Kontakt instrument? I decided to have a go myself and see what is possible for the average music producer.
On a recent trip to see family in the states I rolled out of bed sometime in the morning to find everyone had left me on my lonesome to go consume some healthy pancake stacks at IHOP.
Wandering around my aunt’s house thinking of things to do I came across my grandfather’s old 1950s Challen baby grand piano.I nostalgically sat down and tried it out. The first piano I fell in love with, the piano that as a kid was in my bedroom at home before it was unceremoniously shipped off to America to take pride of place amongst the ornaments.
Over the past few years I've built a number of software instruments for CAPSUN ProAudio but I've never created a fully multi-sampled one. The impression I've always had is that if you’re going to do it then you've got to do it like a veteran studio engineer. Choose the best quality mics, know the correct mic placement for any given instrument and space and process the whole lot through the best quality pre-amps and A/D converters.
If you ain't got this then there’s no point, right?
So I had an unloved grand piano in a regular front room with no way of applying acoustic treatment and was constrained by using only my basic field recording gear. Was there any point? Is it possible to create any sort of usable sampled instrument with guerilla recording techniques?
This is how I recorded and built my first multi-sampled instrument before breakfast was over.
The Challen Baby Grand
I've always loved the sound of this piano and as I sat there tentatively playing some chords on it I couldn't help but smile as the gentle tones emanated from it. I’ll admit straight up it sounded like it hadn't been tuned since it left my grasp in the late 90s and was now less classical and more honkytonk, but the tone and timbre still sounded great. I decided then that I had to sample this piano and take it home with me.
I knew as I did not have all my usual studio equipment I wouldn't be able to setup or record this venerable piano in the best possible way, and with only around an hour before the house was filled with an outbreak of screaming kids I would have to work quickly.
In my next post I’ll run through what equipment I used, the recording decisions I made and how the process went.