AB Chase

An AB Chase piano with an "American Sound" and a lot of stories to tell....

The story

I finally got to my father’s home to sample his piano (see Mason & Hamlin Model A for recap). I grew up with that piano, and it’s terribly out of tune, needs new strings, and serious regulation – or a new action for that matter. I only spent 2 hours preparing and sampling it. The first hour was used to make sure the 24 unisons that I was going to record were all correct. Tuning the entire piano would have taken too long, and I wasn’t going to be in my hometown for long. The second hour was used to record the 24 notes at three velocity levels. The 24 notes were out of tune, but I figured I could tune them in software as long as the unisons were ok.

People who know about piano tuning will realize that it would have been much better to tune the entire piano. I didn’t have the time, but had I done it that way, it would have brought out more sympathetic resonance and a better sound overall. Anyway, with the help of my teenage daughter, we hacked a Kontakt script to bring each key into tune – either using equal temperament, or the recommended stretch tuning for the small grand.

The default Kontakt instrument is untuned. Toggle the “stretch_tuning” or “equal_temp” buttons. For me, it’s fun to play it as recorded, play it tuned, and then play my Mason & Hamlin. It represents an evolution from the piano I grew up with to the piano that my kids now learn on. I love the “American tone” – my M&H has a thick tenor, and I can hear remnants of the same type of sound in the ABChase. It truly brings me back to my childhood when I play music that I learned as a kid on the Kontakt instrument.

SFZ files are also included, but the Kontakt v5.7 file gives much better control and blending between velocity layers.

Stereo recording was done using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and two Audio Technica AT2035’s. A brighter sounding Samson GoMic was used a bit further from the piano

Reviews

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  • Needs some work!

    This is piano has a nice sound, but it really needs some work to be done. The dynamic layers don't work well together because the volume just steps up instantly instead of smoothly for the inbetween velocities. The mic knobs along with the release trigger knob do not seem to work for me, and I also have to add that the background needs to be darkened since the knobs being white makes them sit very weirdly on it. I like the extra tuning options though, and the reverb is cool.

    Alex Raptakis21 October 2021