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Topic: Making my own grand piano ... help?

  1. #1

    Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Hello all :-)
    I have read every post here in the last few days and am now certain that if I want something perfect, I need to do it myself.
    My sampling experience started in 89 with a Roland W-30 and in the mid 90s with a K-2000S.

    The church I go to has a Seinway Grand and I am thinking of asking for permission to record it for the purpose of making a better solo piano than the GigaPiano.
    The gear I am thinking of using is a PIII with a Layla or maybe the Digidesign 001 with a Neuman or Rhode NT2 mic.

    You all know that this is a time consuming job (plus, there was NO manual with the Gigasampler LE) and therefore I would really be happy for \"any\" advice you can give me, so I don\'t end up doing it 5 times

    Have some of you tried to create a piano-project? What where the problems/down sides?

    I really need a few quality responses...
    J P

    ps: \"If\" this project is successful, I will make it available somehow :-)

    pss: The Giga Piano has a really \"long\" release that makes it sound reverby (wet) and after listening to a recording it seems that the player used the pedal a lot.

    I do find it useful for playing Ragtime because with \"no\" pedal used it sounds very \"right\" this way. However, I am not in the business to record Bugatti Step every day... I need a sample that can do Chopin and Dr. John stuff ... you know ;-)

  2. #2

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Maybe someone from this website could help you:

  3. #3

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    John, if your time is worth anything (like say $1/hour) you would be better off buying just about every GS piano out there. You\'d likely get better samples and save lots of time and money... I\'m not trying to be discouraging at all, but making a great piano is a huge undertaking.

    You\'d need:
    A great piano, well voiced and perfectly tuned.
    A good room
    A pair of good mics (this is tricky too, if your piano will be filtered which I recommend you don\'t want mellow mics, and the pattern and placement will be a trick so it sounds good from end to end without phase problems)
    You\'ll want to record it at 20 or 24 bits (this makes a noticable difference on piano recordings and lets you fix a lot of things in the editing, even when the final sample will be 16 bits)
    I wouldn\'t record it to a computer, it might crash and how do you get rid of the fan and drive noise?
    You\'ll want to record every note at multiple strike velocities, pedal up and down, until each note trails off to nothing.
    You\'ll have to audition all these samples, match them, split them up, organize, maybe normalize, maybe fix problems. You\'ll go batty during this crucial phase.

    And THEN comes the hard part, that most people get wrong... You have to program the sampler to use these in the most natural way possible. I have yet to see a piano program on any keyboard/sampler that couldn\'t be massively improved with clever programming.

    Oh got to run, I might elaborate more later.

  4. #4

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Before undertaking a project like this, I would practice
    making piano patches from other people\'s sample sets. The
    gigapiano is far from the most pleasing sample to start from.
    You mentioned you don\'t like it\'s decay, but you can change
    the programming on that. I would get a good sample
    set like the Truan Boesendorfer or Post Steinway, and
    build patches on that from scratch. Get the envelopes right, the pedal
    response, the layer transitions, the filter response
    etc etc. This will be hugely valuable experience; if you can\'t
    get a great piano from these you might not get it
    from your own samples, and if you do, it might be
    good enought to save you a lot of work, or to
    encourage you to do more such great work.

    Best of luck in any case,

  5. #5

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Sam, you make some great points, would it be posible to share some of your mods with the rest of us who might have these samples? Is there an easy way to post a mod or file without violating a copyright/license? I too have found much of what is out there not exactly the way I want it to sound but have not had time to do mods myself, maybe this would be a good thread to pursue, us newbies would learn some shortcuts to getting a great instrument and sample developers might gleen valuable info from the modifier\'s experiments.

  6. #6

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    My 2 cents on Piano Samples:

    The most common complaint I have and read about is about the pp levels of the piano. It seems that many 3 and 4 way velocity switched pianos waste samples on the f,ff layers which are rarely used in \"common\" playing. The soft range gets less attention but is probably where 80+% of the strike velocities occur.

    I would love it if someone made a piano set that had multiple sample layers of the soft sound. In Drum libraries, people have figured out that multiple hits at the same velocity go along way towards adding realism.

    In every Keyboard Review or EM review you just know they are going to pick on the velocity switch to the louder samples.

    Please if you go to create your own set, consider spending a lot of time focusing on the most important softer sample transitions. .or just recording multiple versions of a similar velocity to create more subtle and natural variations in sound.
    I have to believe our ears are sensitive enough to distinguish multiple versions of what seems to be a similar hit on a real piano (harmonics ring out slightly different each time, etc.)


  7. #7

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Hi all :-)

    At this time, I would like to thank everyone who has responded so far. I agree with the points made on the above posts.

    A quick note about equipment:
    I feel that I can use one of our studio PCs for this project since stability and noise is no longer a \"major\" concern. The Layla is attached to the PC with a 12foot (maybe more) cable and then there is still the microphone cable, an additional 15 feet.
    (If that doesn\'t work, I just use a DAT machine).

    About time:
    My time is valuable to the point that I can honestly say, I have no time. I\'m behind on every project that I have going on right now, but until school starts (in about 2 weeks) I need to squeeze this project in somehow. Speaking of school, I teach piano and composition full time and I have a small but quality home recording studio.

    One more thing that somehow didn\'t get mentioned... I think I can live with a \"not so perfect piano\" that has maybe only 3 velocity layers. Right now I record of an Alesis Nano Piano. For keys, I use a Roland RD-1000 and if I don\'t play on gigs (as in lounge) my Roland A-80 is at home too.
    I like the idea of using the Gigga Sampler for upcomming recording projects but a lot of posts here mention various problems with the samples (clicks, pops...).

    I guess what I am trying to say is, yes, I would rather pay for a well sampled piano that can be put on CD and most amateurs wouldn\'t question its origin than go trough a week (or two) of growing a few more grey hairs.
    However, I can not afford to buy all the piano CDs out there, just to fine the one.
    (The investment in the X-Sample library (9 CDs) was not a good one. I needed violin, viola, cello & Kontrabass and was willing to buy the set to have those sounds. No luck there.)

    Thank you all once more to share your thoughts on this topic ... I\'ll know more after Sunday when I can take a good look at the Instrument.

    YAY, HP just spit out another CD.... I should go... :-)

    Have fun,
    J P

  8. #8

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    A properly configured quality system shouldn\'t have glitchy
    playback with GSampler in my experience. I\'ve got a p3-500
    with SCSI and 256 megs and never have any playback glitches.
    I\'ll try to put up some recordings with my modified Boesendorfer
    pianos, these are certainly good enough to record, I think I
    could fool most people (they would not guess that it was
    anything but a well recorded piano).

    A good GS piano will take you a lot more than 2 weeks to build!
    I have a good bit of experience recording, programming
    patches, sample editing, and making GS multisamples,
    and I figure I would give it 4 to 6 months myself, and only
    because I\'ve done it a bit. If it were my first time it
    would take me longer and/or I might not expect to
    better some of the excellent GS offerings...

    Doc, I wish there were a good way to distribute free patch
    programmings independent of copyrighted sample sets, I\'ve suggested
    this several times to Nemesys but for now you really
    can\'t do it. 8^( Look through the archives
    on this site for a message from me titled \'How
    to make a great piano better\' or somesuch where I
    described some of my preliminary modifications to
    the truan Boesendorfer. If you\'re not familiar
    with the editor I\'m afraid I can\'t make this much easier,
    but it\'s simple enough for a good GS editing person.

    Unfortunately the editor is hardly simple, but once
    you understand GS it\'s pretty straightforward, and it\'s a pretty
    efficient representation of the (rather complex)
    capabilities of GS.

    On Worra\'s site\'s chat room, a fellow posted a pointer to his
    freeware mono Steinway gig. It\'s a good instrument and
    I made some additional patches with that sample set that
    suited me. I might try to make a few more
    demonstration patches with thqt one and put it up for public download. That
    way a clever GS person could sleuth out some of
    the programming differences, though it can be
    a bit tough to get the \'big picture\' on the
    programming of a Gig, particularly if you\'re not a master
    of the editor or you don\'t know what you\'re looking for. And I don\'t
    know a good way to make this much easier.


  9. #9

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Maybe someone from this website could help you: http://www.trachtman.org/pianosounds/index.htm

    Yes, having been through the process of creating a few different versions of piano sets for Gigasampler and other soft-synths, I am willing to help share some of the tips and tricks I have learned with others. If you are serious about pursuing the piano project, feel free to contact me.

    Sam makes many good points, the most significant of which is the time involved in auditioning, selecting and processing the samples. You really have no idea what\'s involved until you have done it.

    I wouldn\'t record it to a computer, it might crash and how do you get rid of the fan and drive noise?

    Recording direct to harddisk on a computer works fine, but you do have to keep the CPU in a different room to avoid the fan/drive noises.

    Other sources of noise can be very surprising and unexpected. Lights and lamps with dimmers in the room can often cause noise on the recordings, for example.

    It seems that many 3 and 4 way velocity switched pianos waste samples on the f,ff layers which are rarely used in \"common\" playing.
    This is partly a matter of personal preference and music style. There are a significant number of folks who complain that the typical loud samples are not loud enough either. From a technical perspective, the main reason most sets tend to favor louder strike samples is that these can be filtered down, with reasonable success, to simulate softer strikes, but soft strike recorded samples can\'t be easily altered to simulate louder strikes.
    I\'ve got an in-process 16 layer version with several very soft layers, but I\'m now considering going with fewer layers and more use of filtering and crossfading which the new Gigastudio can successfully support (this technique was not successful with the Gigasampler, mostly due to polyphony issues).

    Anyhow, if you are serious about the piano recording project, and decide to give it a go, I\'ll be happy to give more details.

    Warren Trachtman http://www.wstco.com/
    and http://www.trachtman.org/

  10. #10

    Re: Making my own grand piano ... help?

    Sam, thanks for your reply(s) :-)

    I think you are right... the process would be wuld be quite time consuming.

    And after taking an early peek at the Steinway piano tonight, I am sad to say that it is in need of service (the pedals make weird noise and it hasn\'t been voiced in recent years... umung other things).

    All in all, I need to buy another sample cd.
    I can see this now more and more.
    Maybe this would be a good time to state that I am NOT picky about sounds and I am not generally a \"complainer\"... just that I thought the Giga Piano was what the commercial sayed. I thought, hey, cool, this sounds too good to be true.
    (All the PCs I use for audio stuff are PIII 500s (custom built) with plenty of RAM & dual HDs). I know that the hardware is not the problem.

    Is anyone here recording accompanyment tracks with the Giga Piano? Are you all happy with the sound?
    One thing that bothers me a lot is, that when I play a let\'s say 5 voice chord and then lift my fingers off quick, I can hear the sound \"hanging-in-there\" fo about a second or so, as if there was reverb on it.
    I understand, that this is supposed to be a naturell thing of some sort... but still, when listening to the vocalist and piano track it makes the piano sound out of place.

    My friend has the same problem. When he first played me a fresh recording he made, I told him to get rid of the reverb on the piano track.
    Before I bought the GSLE & Giga Piano CD the salesguy called Nemesys and asked if there was a problem with reverb.
    After opening the CD at home, I saw that the inlay states written with RED letters: There is no reverb used in the instrument. All Resonance is from the piano itself.

    I can\'t help thinking that if they \"had\" to state that in red, that there must have been a lot of complaints.
    Have any of you played with controller 94/95?
    I have to admit I am not much of an MIDI guy, I just play mostly and then just save what I\'ve got. (Using ProTools, MIDI isn\'t a big deal anyway).

    I am supposed to do an important session Sunday afternoon (female & male vocalist plus piano).
    If anyone has stuff to add, I thank you already,
    J Palentin

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