Old 04-08-2012, 07:55 AM   #1
dea-man
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Default Good-Bye Yellow Brick Road Piano Sound...

I know this is an old album, but I have always considered it a great album, full of great songs, and a great piano sound to boot. (I am sure the player has a lot to do with this, too.)

My request is about the piano sound they got on the album.

I realize there is more than one sound/mix but, I have always thought that, while the piano sounds great, it's mixed to fit into the song, and as such it has a very scooped EQ or perhaps just really HP filtered to the max.

I am interested to hear what people here at Reaper think about that albums particular piano sound, and how it was achieved.

Are there any really great recorded piano sounds that you know? Please share.

Thank you.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:59 AM   #2
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IT always amazed me that Steinman got the piano to stand clear through the guitars and reverb purgatory that is "Bat Out of Hell".

>
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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IT always amazed me that Steinman got the piano to stand clear through the guitars and reverb purgatory that is "Bat Out of Hell".

>
Yes, that is a really "bright" one, if I remember correctly.
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dea-man View Post
Yes, that is a really "bright" one, if I remember correctly.
Heh, though not through the sixth-form common-room stereo if I remember rightly

>
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:25 AM   #5
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Default I get what you mean......

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Heh, though not through the sixth-form common-room stereo if I remember rightly

>
...about the vast amounts of reverb on the album. To what does the phrase "sixth-form" refer?
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:01 AM   #6
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By "sixth-form" I think planetnine means like grade 6 in high school.
The last year of high school before going to university or work or being a professional musician and sleeping until noon ;-)
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:04 AM   #7
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Default OK, thanks.

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Originally Posted by Runaway View Post
By "sixth-form" I think planetnine means like grade 6 in high school.
The last year of high school before going to university or work or being a professional musician and sleeping until noon ;-)
Oh, he means like, grade school quality.

I think you mean Planetnine. He's the one who wrote sixth-form. I asked about it's meaning.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:45 AM   #8
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Oh, he means like, grade school quality.

I think you mean Planetnine. He's the one who wrote sixth-form. I asked about it's meaning.
Yeah, sixth form is the last (two) years of School if you don't leave at 16, "A-level" qualifications before University.

Everyone has certain things that remind them of that time at School. For me it was Bat Out of Hell and beans on toast with manky margarine (no fridge in the common-room kitchen).

The stereo in our common-room would not have reproduced anything "brightly", that was my point. Ain't language differences fun?



Thank you for letting me completely de-rail your thread...




>
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:39 PM   #9
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Check out the Oct 2011 issue of Sound on Sound. There's an article on the making of Yellow Brick Road. IIRC regarding the song itself, the lyrics arrived from Bernie the night before (by mail of course), and Elton wrote it the next morning while they were sitting at breakfast. Then they recorded shortly after maybe the same day. There was a comment about how well Elton could write and perform, and how he chose the piano accompaniment and performed the vocal in such a way that little processing was required.

My impression of the Elton piano sound is sort of a bright chorused sound with enhanced sustain probably done through compression. But I haven't actually listened to Yellow Brick Road in a long time.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:48 PM   #10
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I knew I saw this somewhere - The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, by Owsinski has a comment (pg 57) regarding the early Elton piano sound; it mentions compressing with two LA-2A compressors and then EQ'ing with a Pultec ("push 14kHz all the way up")...

Two LA-2A's...He must mean in series?
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:06 PM   #11
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Default When I first read your comment....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChetStrzepa View Post
I knew I saw this somewhere - The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, by Owsinski has a comment (pg 57) regarding the early Elton piano sound; it mentions compressing with two LA-2A compressors and then EQ'ing with a Pultec ("push 14kHz all the way up")...

Two LA-2A's...He must mean in series?
..I figured that since the acoustic piano set-up of the day called for two mics inside the case, pointed towards the high strings and low strings of the soundboard, that he may have meant one LA-2A for each mic and then the whole thing run through the Pultec.

Of course, I really have no idea and will go looking for the SOS and The Mixing engineer's Handbook.

Also, I wonder if things like the Barcus-Berry pick-ups for Grand Piano were available at that time?

I actually used to tour with a a set of Barcus-Berry pick-ups on my acoustic studio piano. Ah, those were good old days. I used to take an acoustic piano, a Hammond organ, a Korg keyboard, a Moog, and a Paia Kit string machine. Good times.

Thanks for your response.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:30 AM   #12
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They "invented" a kinda weird setup for the piano recordings on that record. It was basically a wooden box, shaped like a grand piano upside down, which was put some feet over the actual grand. The mics were inside that box, far away to capture a distant, roomier piano sound, but at the same time screened from the bleed of the other instruments in the tracking room.
I guess that the resonances of that box have a certain impact on the final sound, too.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:25 AM   #13
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Default Here you go...

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct1...racks-1011.htm
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:23 AM   #14
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FWIW....If I understand it right, The Mixing Engineer's Handbook is saying to put a LA-2A followed by a Pultec on each side. Use 10db of compression (presumably gain reduction), and for the Pultec, set 100Hz to about 5 and turn the 14kHz all the way up.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:28 AM   #15
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Default OK, let 'sget to some practical application......

...in my world I do not have the luxury of having a grand piano set up for recording all the time. So, I use a midi keyboard and VSTi's.

How would I go about splitting the highs and lows of a VSTi, and putting them on opposite sides of the stereo spectrum, and then apply the LA-2A and Pultec VST's to both sides?

Can this be replicated?
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:13 AM   #16
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Same here, sampled pianos - I think you could use the 3-band-splitter plugin but just use 2 bands. I've done this with sampled piano to just, for example, apply some parallel compression above say ~300 Hz.

Or split the track into separate L and R mono sides and place the processors on each mono track.

Either way, you can apply different processing to the sides, or just different settings.

But I wonder how this would differ from simply sending the stereo piano into a stereo compressor and EQ?

I'm curious how one might do this with Reaper plugins. Guessing Reacomp-ReaEQ for example. Does Reaper have an included Pultec-like EQ plugin? I only use ReaEQ.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:05 PM   #17
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A stereo compressor would react as one compressor, two compressors, one on each signal, would each be responding to their channel differently, so it would have a different effect. On reaper, it's easy, open the io panel and see tons of routing options. You should check out Nicholas' reamix book, it has ton of examples of ways to use reaper's routing very very creatively.
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:38 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChetStrzepa View Post
Same here, sampled pianos - I think you could use the 3-band-splitter plugin but just use 2 bands. I've done this with sampled piano to just, for example, apply some parallel compression above say ~300 Hz.

Or split the track into separate L and R mono sides and place the processors on each mono track.

Either way, you can apply different processing to the sides, or just different settings.

But I wonder how this would differ from simply sending the stereo piano into a stereo compressor and EQ?

I'm curious how one might do this with Reaper plugins. Guessing Reacomp-ReaEQ for example. Does Reaper have an included Pultec-like EQ plugin? I only use ReaEQ.
I remember reading (or seeing a vid) about post processing acoustic guitar recorded using one mic (mono). You would copy the file to a second track, pan each track slightly and then EQ the different tracks as you would perceive the sound coming from the guitar (ie. HP the right signal and LP the left signal). Then send both tracks to a compressor (and reverb, etc. if needed...). Obviously a lot of tweeking to get it to sound right. I've never used this technique (yet) but I imagine you can do the same with piano.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChetStrzepa View Post
Check out the Oct 2011 issue of Sound on Sound. There's an article on the making of Yellow Brick Road.
There's also an episode of Classic Albums about GYBR. Well worth watching.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Folta View Post
There's also an episode of Classic Albums about GYBR. Well worth watching.

"I find today that technology slows you down, back then you just picked up your instrument and played" ~Elton John

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovOVlMR5RdI
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:37 PM   #21
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Default Yup!

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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
"I find today that technology slows you down, back then you just picked up your instrument and played" ~Elton John
That's the shizzle right there.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #22
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That's the shizzle right there.
Aint it though... I paraphrased since I heard him say it in that video on the fly but that should be pretty much what he said. I'm watching the rest when I get home tonight, great video.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:43 PM   #23
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Default Yes, I've got it bookmarked......

Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
Aint it though... I paraphrased since I heard him say it in that video on the fly but that should be pretty much what he said. I'm watching the rest when I get home tonight, great video.
...for viewing at a more convenient time.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planetnine View Post
IT always amazed me that Steinman got the piano to stand clear through the guitars and reverb purgatory that is "Bat Out of Hell".

>
Though Todd Rundgren created the purgatory, I don't think it was Jim that got the piano out of it. Funny, I remember reading about how Meat and Jim were so disappointed with Todd's first shot at a mix because the guitars weren't loud enough!
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:04 PM   #25
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I have seen elton do two one man shows at the Ryman in Nashville (afternoon and evening charity shows for the Dee Murray family in one day, 1991). Part of the sound will be elton banging the living shite out of the piano. That cat plays it hard, even on the ballads.
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:46 PM   #26
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Default Been there, done that, too.........

I saw him do the two man show with Ray Cooper. It was awesome!

Elton came out and did a number of his hits playing either piano, or electric piano.

Somewhere about half way, the curtains behind him opened up, and there was this massive array of percussion instruments, with Ray, looking like a brittle, little old man, wearing those wire rim glasses, jumping from instrument to instrument, like a madman. It was extraordinary!

I know what you mean about Elton pounding the keys. I started out on drums and I am a very hard hitter, so naturally when I took up piano, I really tended to slam those keys. I remember gigs, as a younger man, where I walked away with bloody fingertips!
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:36 AM   #27
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From my point of view the clarity is due to the EQ and overall mastering. The stereo panning is certainly one of the most frequently used technique, but you can also sense that all the other instruments are EQed so they leave a lot of room for the piano.

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Old 07-04-2012, 09:27 AM   #28
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Default I remember, many years ago..................

.....when I first started to take note of how things were EQ'd on GYBR, my first thought was about how "scooped out" and "thin" the bass end of EJ's piano sounded.

Next, I realized how big the bass guitar was, with the kick and snare being "very big", as well. I think the biggest, clearest, most in-your-face sounding element, are the toms.

The electric guitars are "extremely thin" and "cutting", yet the record rocks hard.

The bass guitar is really out in front most of the time on this album.
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