Ghost Piano

An antique upright piano recorded in a 200 year old house....

The story

I am a carpenter in Vermont, US and was recently hired to do some work on a large, 200 year-old house in downtown Montpelier. The client had just bought the house and wanted to do some sprucing up before moving their family in. I was thrilled to find 90 percent of the original woodwork in great shape and even found some pressed leather wainscoting in pristine condition. Even more exciting was the antique upright piano that they had already moved in (not original to the house). I had been wanting to sample a piano for months after finding out about this community and this was the perfect opportunity. I got permission to stay after work the following day and do the recording in an otherwise empty house. Being downtown (albeit a town of 7,000 people) the recording took over an hour as many takes were thwarted by passing cars or barking dogs or screaming children.

I only own two mics, an AKG C1000 small diaphragm condenser and an AKG C3000 large diaphragm condenser that were given to me years ago by my recording engineer brother who had outgrown them. Despite being totally different mics, or because of it, the sound came out interesting and a little eerie. According to a business card inside the piano it was last tuned in 1976 and googling the serial told me it was made right around 1900 in Boston. I chose to sample as close to the recommended circle of fifths as possible but had to sub a couple keys on the high end to avoid massively out-of-tune strings (samples are labelled as such). I also did some tuning of individual samples during editing to bring them close to normal tuning. This piano owes it’s name to my initial reaction to being alone in this ancient empty house which is that there is a seriously good chance this place is haunted. I didn’t notice any ethereal voices showing up in the recordings but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!

This was my first sampled instrument and I had a blast making it. If I did it again I’d play around a lot more with mic placement (maybe even with matching mics) and definitely would have loved to record the room/house, but I’m happy with the resulting character and I hope you enjoy it too.

Many thanks to Christian and the community for inspiring me to explore my creativity in a new way.

Reviews for Ghost Piano

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • A piano with great character

    With just a touch of reverb, this ghost comes to life! I am a junkie for aged slightly out of tune pianos, and this one hits the mark for me. There are some noises with some samples, but you can adjust the sound a bit with the knobs/GUI. Personally I don't mind the imperfections, they bring character and life to this piano. Composing soft and slow songs with this piano is so inspiring!

    Ada Maskil26 November 2021
  • Ghost sounds but also very heart touching

    Intimate, ghosty, vibey, there is something special in this library. Lets go and find it! I think interface is really good for quick and great results , not many options but all make sense. Tape loop is the best for me. This sound will definitely end up on my new album :

    Dennyiah13 October 2021
  • Really noisy

    The actual sound of this piano is really great. It has that old fashioned chorus type sound thats really pleasing and wistful. The transient hits of the keys also sound great, sharp and defined without being bright or clicky. As others have said this is insanely noisy though. Sometimes i like a bit of noise in my instruments but this one is just too much. Not to mention once mixing and mastering is done to any track with this in it its only going to make the noise louder and brighter. I would absolutely love to hear this noise reduced and maybe more deeply sampled too

    septemberwalk14 November 2021
  • Awesome character unable to shine

    I simply love this kind of sound signature when it comes to pianos. The slightly sharp attack combined with the darker tone feels very appealing to me, and indeed it matches the "ghostly" aesthetic, especially if you pump up the reverb.

    With that said, it would greatly benefit from some noise reduction, especially in the left channel, because at times the white noise creates an unbalanced signal that might not even fit a lo-fi type of production. The release trigger samples also have some noise in them, but these are fully controllable so you don't have to deal with that anyway. I'd love to see an update!

    Alex Raptakis01 December 2021
  • A piano that transport you to another time and place

    I like the colour of this piano, this has a unique sound. It needs some noise reduction and correction on the velocity of samples, which are uneven in some cases.

    OsvaldoDeJesusG05 November 2021
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