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Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: EddieT] #2103700 06/17/13 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by EddieT
I think the Steinway sounded good in the '82-'84 period. The Steinway sounded very odd on the Live In Australia album.


I agree. It was a great sounding rock piano at the Wembley show in '84. Really ballsy. But in Australia it's a horrible tinkling little sound. Odd.


C. Bechstein Model B | Yamaha P-515 | Roland RD-1000
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Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: EssBrace] #2103708 06/17/13 06:18 AM
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Inexplicable given the quality of the piano and using Helpinstills (or the like)..maybe they needed a thinner more compressed piano sound to cut through the band and orchestra. Not sure how they managed to make a Steinway D sound that bad though!

I even had a brief thought that they'd ripped the guts out and replaced the entire harp and action with the insides of a CP-80, but it doesn't sound like a CP-80.

Oddly, if you watch the Central Park 1980 concert, where JNH is playing second keyboards including a CP-80 and listen to the sound of the Steinway when EJ's playing it they sound very similar!


Yamaha CP-80
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: Mike_Martin] #2103712 06/17/13 06:24 AM
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I think the Central Park gig is the worst I've ever heard. I put it down to mic'ing/mixing in general but the piano really sounds awful. But then the whole show sounds rubbish and was supposedly recorded on 24 track.

The Russian gig broadcast live on the BBC in 1979 is okay although the high winds at the time caused all sorts of drop outs as it was live via satellite and apparently the transmitting equipment in Russia kept moving slightly because of the wind. But the Steinway sounds very good. Later in the same gig he uses a CP80 for some songs.


C. Bechstein Model B | Yamaha P-515 | Roland RD-1000
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: Mike_Martin] #2103714 06/17/13 06:35 AM
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The Live In Australia sound was also discussed in the aforementioned forum thread, and it was stated that the poor sound was DUE TO the use of Helpinstill pickups.

Greg.

Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: sullivang] #2103779 06/17/13 09:59 AM
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Well there you go! Noted.

I always thought the Helpinstills sounded good, although they don't always cut through a loud band on their own all that well. I say that in the belief that Ben Folds uses them and his piano was drowned by the drums and bass when I saw BF5 last year.


Yamaha CP-80
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: EssBrace] #2103782 06/17/13 10:03 AM
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Indeed, he switched from the Steinway to the CP-80 for some of the rock n roll songs. I've still got the VHS of the From Russia with Elton film somewhere, but you can download it. The Steinway did sound good on that tour, very pure and resonant.

I agree about the Central Park piano sound. In fact the only thing which did sound good on that was the drums. The shows in the '82-84 period sound much better.


Yamaha CP-80
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: Mike_Martin] #2103928 06/17/13 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike_Martin
I was lucky enough to attend a charity event tonight where Elton John was playing. I've only seen him once before but this was a intimate venue and I was able to get pretty close to the stage.

Elton in a word, was fantastic. Lot's of energy and simply kicked ass on every song. I spent way too much time analyzing the sounds he was playing, as his acoustic piano is not the sound we're hearing. He is MIDI'd up to a bunch of gear off stage...its been like that for years. Lots of chorus and layers, very compressed...but all Elton. Awesome.

Kim Ballard is playing keyboards with Elton and he does a great job with all the backing parts. He had 2 76-key K2600's a Motif XF6 and XF8. I was able to speak with Kim before and after. I found out afterwards that some of my favorite sounds of the evening were coming off his laptop. He was running B4 for organs which sounded surprisingly good in the mix. He was also running the Arturia Prophet V for some big exposed analog sounds. He nailed all the parts, covering orchestral parts, horns, synths, flutes and more.

The rest of the band was great including Nigel Olsen his drummer who's been playing with Elton forever.

Here are some pics from tonight.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]



Excellent pictures! What type of camera do you own?

Jeff Tasch
GPH


We proudly represent: Yamaha, Bösendorfer, Steingraeber & Söhne, Schimmel, Brodmann, Ritmüller, Pearl River, Disklavier Enspire, AvantGrand, Clavinova, adsilent & Live-Performance model-LX http://www.GrandPianoHaus.com.
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: EddieT] #2103980 06/17/13 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by EddieT
Well there you go! Noted.


It may not be true - I'm just reporting what I read. ;^) (to me that Live In Australia piano sounds like a MIDI piano module - and not a very good one!)

Quote
I always thought the Helpinstills sounded good


I suspect this is a Helpinstill - it's Ezra himself playing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfKEJUQPV5s I don't think that sounds very good - particularly in the bass, where it sounds like an electric grand. Do you have a pointer to an example of a Helpinstill recording which you think sounds good? smile (there doesn't seem to be much in YouTube - I want proper direct recordings from the pickup too - not an acoustic recording of a Helpinstill piano ;^)

Greg.

Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: sullivang] #2104224 06/18/13 04:25 AM
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I can't think of anything, but I'll have a look. I can only suggest trying to find a decent soundboard recording of Ben Folds as I'm pretty much certain he still uses Helpinstills. I think EJ used them on the Russia tour in 79 and that sounds pretty good.

I believe there are mono and stereo set ups for Helpinstills which might affect the sound, plus I would suspect that EJ's old Steinway sound was EQ'd and compressed differently when playing with a band rather than solo/with Ray Cooper.

The Australia piano sound does come across as more of a sampled sound, although I can't believe it was as if you listen closely I think the piano sounds very slightly out of tune in the higher register [might just be my ears!]


Yamaha CP-80
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: Mike_Martin] #2104226 06/18/13 04:45 AM
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Just been on the Helpinstill website and it would appear that Elton John had the first one Helpinstill made in 1972. I remember reading an interview with with Elton or Clive Franks when it was said that after lots of experimentation they ended up using nine mics for the Steinway. I wouldn't describe the Helpinstill as mics personally. Maybe the pick-up strips in total have nine pick-ups for all 88 notes and that's what they were referring to. The date ties in with when Clive Franks first became Elton's live sound engineer. But the sound of Elton's piano always seemed to be quite variable which is not consistent with what Helpinstill would appear to do. I find it hard to believe that exclusively Helpinstills were used from '72 all the way through to Australia in '86. If you listen to "Here and There" the US disc has a very weird, dead sounding piano but the UK disc has decent piano sounds. I'm not sure I could believe that both are just the Helpinstill pick-ups. Maybe if they knew they were recording they mic'd it instead.

Like Greg I'd like to hear a good recording of Helpinstills on a decent grand. I'm not having much success on YouTube. The demo video where Helpinstill is fitting it onto a Yamaha C1 is awful - the way he pokes his little screw-driver between the strings drives me mad. And that system is completely mono, which would never do for Elton. I note what Eddie says that there is a stereo Helpinstill system though.

Interesting stuff anyway...


C. Bechstein Model B | Yamaha P-515 | Roland RD-1000
Re: Saw Elton John last night [Re: EssBrace] #2104247 06/18/13 07:21 AM
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I agree Helpinstill's aren't mics in the usual sense. I can't imagine they'd have used normal mics in the piano as I understand the reason EJ doesn't actually have much/any acoustic sound from his piano thesedays is that his monitors are so loud that the piano mics feedback too much.

If he's always had loud monitors, that would always have been the problem (unless there was some serious shielding inside the piano or a few duvets over the outside of it I suppose).

In order to reinforce the piano sound, they could have used several Helpinstill strips at different positions under the strings and EQ'd each one differently? That might explain the box which used to be attached to the flat side of the white Steinway in 84/85. It could have been a modified Helpinstill mixer.

However if you see concerts from 1980 there are just a couple of wires coming out from under the lid on the flat side and no box. Confusing!

All we seem to know is that the piano sounded great in 84 and rather shockingly bad in 1985. I can remember watching the Live In Australia VHS and you could barely hear the piano at all in a few of the songs.


Yamaha CP-80
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