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Piano Pickup

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Kemper Watson:
One of my gigs has started doing indoor shows in a very live room with a grand piano.  It kind of hard to gain up mics. Is a Helpistill pickup system worth the price.? HAs anyone here used one?. Do they sound natural?

Tim Halligan:
An alternative you might consider is a couple of Crown PZMs taped to the underside of the piano's lid.

Works well with the lid fully closed.

HTH

Cheers,
Tim

Tim McCulloch:
The Helpinstil pickup system requires a lot of fiddling about to get it right.  Once you do, it's golden.  Whether or not it sounds natural is, IMHO, irrelevant.  Why?  Because someone wants a grand piano amplified to ridiculous levels while other instrument amplifiers pound the piano's soundboard (which you cannot eliminate).

The way this was handled on Elton John's tour 25+years ago was to stuff the piano bottom with sponge foam, use a Helpinstil pickup, and add reverb and EQ to make it sound 'grand'.  A few years later the  9' grand was modified into an electronic trigger piano that played a sampler off stage.  It was not possible to get the levels Sir Elton needed in his wedges without it a) sounding bad and b) erupting into a wall of feedback.

Schertler also makes a piano pickup/contact mic system you may wish to audition.

Doug Fowler:

--- Quote from: Tim McCulloch on November 30, 2021, 09:13:30 AM ---The Helpinstil pickup system requires a lot of fiddling about to get it right.  Once you do, it's golden.  Whether or not it sounds natural is, IMHO, irrelevant.  Why?  Because someone wants a grand piano amplified to ridiculous levels while other instrument amplifiers pound the piano's soundboard (which you cannot eliminate).

The way this was handled on Elton John's tour 25+years ago was to stuff the piano bottom with sponge foam, use a Helpinstil pickup, and add reverb and EQ to make it sound 'grand'.  A few years later the  9' grand was modified into an electronic trigger piano that played a sampler off stage.  It was not possible to get the levels Sir Elton needed in his wedges without it a) sounding bad and b) erupting into a wall of feedback.

Schertler also makes a piano pickup/contact mic system you may wish to audition.

--- End quote ---

Schertler is “pretty ok”, but needs a lot of placement work, and a lot of EQ.  If I’m in a rush I would place them (there are two) in the recommended area (ball park placement) then spend my time with EQ.  IIRC Schertler has some guidelines about placement. 

They work well, the putty they come with will not come loose, and you can normally get a sound you can live with that gets loud in the monitors.  It’s a compromise (imagine that!) but you can work with it.

Riley Casey:
I used two or three Shure SM98s for micing grands with the lids down for years with success. The DPA piano mounts with 4099s do a similar job. I've watched people take literally hours to set up a Helpenstil to their satisfaction on the piano du jour so I've long considered that a tour thing, not a one off thing.

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