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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: EXS24 velocity layers have been fixed in v 1.1
May 2023 update: NEW! Run Mom’s 1974 Baby Grand in Logic for iPad. Download the “Other” file (even though it’s a Logic project). You can now download a Consolidated Logic Pro project with Mom’s 1974 Baby Grand saved inside of it. This means you can use it natively inside Logic on the iPad without having to run Decent Sampler (which seems to be unstable right now running in Logic for iPad).
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.
Update: I’ve learned that Martin Russ, aka Synthesizerwriter, has passed away. I plan on leaving these presets up in honor of him and his work. His assistance in the DS version of this piano was invaluable and it helped me feel welcome in this community as a newbie at the time. He will be missed.
In the DS version you'll find a cool set of alternate presets created by SW. Many thanks also for the testing and help on my first sample pack!
Mom's 1974 Baby Grand Demo
Creating Mom's 1974 Baby Grand
Reviews for Mom’s 1974 Baby Grand
Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!
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.
(Editing my review just to add - this is 100% my go-to piano when I want to occupy myself. Chuck a bit of reverb on and I get totally lost in it. Thank you Brian!!!)
It Just Pours Emotion
I've had this sitting in my collection for a while now and I'm not sure why I couldn't fully apreciate it until now, but... my God. The tones on this thing will bring a grown man to tears. It just sounds so raw. It sounds good as is but if you add a convolver it's like you're listening to somebody playing in person in an empty hall, it sounds so convincing, you could easily mistake a song made with this as something that was recorded. This has quickly become one of my favourite pianos to the point that even if I'm using another piano and I want to layer something to give it some edge/tonality this is the first that comes to mind.
I was tempted to give 4 stars for the sound because there's a little noise (not a bad kind of noise like a hiss, it's a beautiful kind of hammer sound with a very subtle crunch) because some might consider that a flaw but personally I like the option of having that and it's a non-issue because not only can it be a desired effect but in this instance it can actually be eq'd out because it doesn't compromise any of the other frequencies which is often not the case. I guess this is where sound and character overlap but for me and my purposes it's perfect and every note has been well recorded and processed.
As far as the GUI goes there's only 3 parameters to play with which doesn't sound like much but I don't use the built in effects that tend to come with these things anyway because you have much more control in your DAW's mixer. The 3 paramters are 'Key Vol', 'Release Vol' and 'Pedal Vol'. I gave it 5 stars because what else do you really need? It's fit for purpose and it looks nice.
Note's start at A1 and go all the way up to C9! Usually I have to clone the VST and tune the copies to different octaves and then bodge them all together which is a pain.The range on this thing is unmatched.
I can't say enough good things about this.
Thank you for making and sharing this, it's such an amazing instrument.
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.
Instant Music For Airports
I absolutely love this piano. It immediately reminded me of the haunting piano sound on Music for Airports. Playing this instrument seems to slow down time. What a beauty of an instrument. Wonderful work!
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.