Too many ways to list but I will offer that once I was using a studio that Steve Allen had tracked in the day before and the mics were still up and I noticed that he had additional mics underneath. I hadn't done that in years and was pretty impressed at how much it added to the sound. I use one or two underneath when I can after that experience. Another important thing is that the player REALLY affects the sound. Typically, less experienced and/or less talented players don't have a good touch and they tend to voice chords so that even the best piano sounds like a mushy, midrangy mess. It's good to keep in mind what's happening where on a piano. Do you want to favor the attack of the hammers or the tone produced by the soundboard? Are you needing to avoid click leakage and/or pedal noises?
Lastly, the room usually has a great effect on the voice of the piano.
Good points. The player of the source is as important as the source it's self. Considering there are a range of quality of players around, that might potentially record on my particular piano (no, this is not an advertisement or shameless promotion - just a discussion), the techniques may vary quite a bit. Also, my room is not a typical studio room. It's a music production room. Bottom line, it depends on the situation every time. I get that.
More curious what experiences folks have had in general (which you gave as well).
And for the record, I really like all those anomalies like pedal noises. Click leakage, on the other hand....
It used to frustrate the heck out of me that I couldn't get a piano sound I liked at Motown. Then one day Valerie Simpson showed the pianist a little figure she wanted as a turn-around for a song she was producing. That piano leaped out of the monitor speakers with sound that put my jaw on the floor. It was an experience I'll never forget.
Years later I had to record a great Gospel pianist using just a Juno-60 keyboard that had no velocity sensitivity feeding a Kurtzweil sample box from a kludged MIDI adapter. I was utterly shocked to hear his incredible touch right through that worst-case electronic piano!
Some of my favorite piano sounds I've tracked here at Creative Caffeine are with a Telefunken U47 on the highs and an AKG C452 on the lows, down at the bottom of the piano. I prefer our Amek Angela pres to anything else and use the console for EQ as well. Analog tape makes all the difference in the world to piano sounds. I never compress pianos unless the player is completely out of control.
I don't have the analog tape option unfortunately. I grew up on 2" though and agree.
I have found the martech pair of pre's I have are best with any mic. Being that I miss out on natural analog tape conoressipn, I've been softly limiting with neve's. Not so much that it can be heard, but to insure against clipping.
I'll me trying a few borrowed mic combos soon. Including m-150's.
I've tried u-87's, 414's, km-84's and 451's in the past. Love 'em all. Also use regularly my x-15 lundahl stereo ribbon mic quite often. Love that for stand alone piano. Role off the brittle highs on the C7 naturally. Simple central lateral x/y placement.
For most pop country stuff, my favorite sounds have been with a pair of Gefell UM92s in an ORTF pair looking down on the middle of the soundboard, run through Daking pres and comps. When that's not an option, I tend to enjoy 414s in the same application, and a good pair of Neve or API pres. Lately, though, I've been using the Brandt Audio Devices Previs mics. They're omnis, so you've gotta watch for phase, but they really capture the piano well without too much EQ. They do need a little upper-mid boost to cut through a mix, though, as they're a little scooped. My $0.02...
interesting... we didn't like the previs mics on the piano. Vince from Brandt Audio Devices did a demonstration session here and the piano sounds none of us liked with just 2 mics. Vince then insisted we add an additional pair, which did balance the tone a bit, but there isn't a tracking session I will ever do with 4 mics on a piano just to get somewhat close to 2 good traditional mics. John Brandt now lives in the Philippines and is no longer with the company. I do like the mics for other purposes.
I haven't used it in awhile, but a 414 actually sounds pretty good on a piano (ours has a c12 capsule, however), U87s are great and I love our lawson 47 on the high end. Don't look past an original c451 or 452... they are amazing on the low end of the piano. I generally prefer 2 different mics as opposed to a matched pair.