Mom’s 1974 Baby Grand

My mother's 1974 Wm. Knabe & Co. baby grand piano, captured to be enjoyed forever.

The story

My mother owns a 1974 Wm. Knabe & Co. baby grand piano that she bought new back in 1974. I grew up with this piano so for me it’s my baseline. Every other piano gets judged by this one. Knowing she’d eventually give it away or give it to my Brother who isn’t an easy day’s drive from me to be able to play, I wanted to get it sampled and see if I could reproduce it in a way that I can enjoy without having the real thing. I’m also looking forward to mom (who is nearly 80) getting a digital piano to replace the Knabe so I can hook her up with a copy of the instrument on her laptop and she can continue to enjoy the sound of “her” piano.

So, I packed up my Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK mixer/interface and a bunch of mics and headed to Ohio to get this thing sampled. I set the lid to its highest open position and used 8 mics: a borrowed AKG 414 set to omni mid-way back in the center, 2 cheap Behringer pencil mics with omni capsules mid way back in an x/y pattern (which were surprisingly quiet!), 2 sE 8 Cardioid mics pointed at the hammers in an X/Y pattern, an sE v7x pointed into one of the sound holes, an sE vKick up under the sound board closer to the lower notes and a Studio Projects C1 up on the stair landing behind the piano to get ambiance. In the end, the sE 8s just sounded the best (and clearly I had no idea what I was doing lol!). I may eventually add more mic layers you can mix in, but for now I just wanted to get this released. I also plan on releasing it in all the various sample player formats.

Over the years, age has worn on the piano. More recently my mom paid to have it reconditioned and the felts sanded down. The result is that it’s not an old, dead piano. To me, it’s got a beautiful tone and when you punch the hard layer, it really comes through. I may have processed and cleaned the samples too much, but so far, it sounds great in my tests. Certainly not a pro level, commercial sample, but very usable. When I compare it to some commercial pianos, I think it just feels more personal and real.

So now, you get to enjoy my childhood piano along with me. I hope you enjoy it!

UPDATE: New versions have been uploaded. The samples have not changed, but I’ve added some branding to the background in the DS and Kontakt packages.

I’ve also added an EXS24 version, though I haven’t had anyone beta test it, so I’m hopeful it works correctly.

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New! Experimental Decent Sampler Presets by @synthesizerwriter!

The DS version now has quite a few new experimental presets added that were created by synthesizerwriter. There are descriptions of all the new presets in the read me file, so don’t forget to check that out. I’m hoping this is the start of a lot of cool alternate and experimental versions of PB instruments.

Interface

Reviews for Mom’s 1974 Baby Grand

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  • Character
  • Playability
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  • GUI

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

  • Superb

    This is sublime, not least because it's a first-shot at making a Pianobook instrument.

    So much effort was put into making this just the way he wanted. Immortalising such a personal instrument for your own use is one thing, but to then give that work away freely for everyone to enjoy is magical - just the way Pianobook is supposed to be.

    Bravo.

    QorbeQ11 July 2022
  • The sound is just delicious.

    I absolutely love the sound of this piano. It has the imperfections and nuances similar to my own 60 year old living room piano and means I can have that feel of playing in the comfort of my home when I'm out of town with nothing but my laptop and midi keyboard. Thanks for the effort in posting this for all to share and enjoy.

    avtech15 July 2022
  • Lovely tone

    Wow, I felt like I was seated at an actual living instrument in somebody's living room, not playing a digital simulacrum of perfection.

    Thanks for sharing your work with the world!

    I just start playing whatever pops into my mind and in this case the first thing I played after downloading your sample set was "Valley of the Dolls" from the 60's haha. Sounds perfect.

    poppopdee14 July 2022
  • Great background story, one of the best Pianos here on pianobook

    Sometimes one set of mics is better than various overlapping recording. This piano has many RRs and 3 velocity layers, which i find much better than only two. You still have one more dynamic to rely on when you want to.. Thank you so much!

    planist11 July 2022
  • Characterful!

    This is beautifully sampled. It plays wonderfully and feels so real. 1974 was the year I was born so I already feel a personal connection to this lovely piano. The only thing keeping it from being perfect is the ends of the notes are a little abrupt, but that's almost nothing for someone's first sample pack!

    Scott J Mason25 July 2022
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