1988 "Connelly Chapel" Baldwin Grand

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The 2nd piano presented in our Baldwin series is a 6'3" model "L" piano, dating back to 1988, before Baldwin/Gibson outsourced piano manufacturing overseas.  It's called the "Connelly Chapel" grand because the piano was sampled on location in a chapel on DeSales University campus, and the ambiance provided by the chapel plays a big role in the sound of the instrument. I rented the chapel for five days (and nights), and recorded everything I needed. To the left, you can see the piano, and the mechanical striking mechanism I built for the session.

Recording on location presented its own challenges, and even though the acoustic space inside the church was absolutely beautiful, the stained glass windows allowed for a certain amount of outside sound to get in.  It was summer, school was out, and the campus was a very quiet place. But once mics were in place, suddenly the chapel seemed alive with unwanted sounds. The hum of outdoor AC compressors, the buzz of a far-off lawn mower, a construction worker's hammer, a rumbling paving company truck, the opening and closing of a door in the adjacent dance studio; all sounds that went blissfully unnoticed before mics were live suddenly leaped to the forefront! On closer inspection, what I had initially perceived to be a serene hush in the chapel turned out to be positively cracking with sound.

But recording at night, sometimes as late as 3:00 a.m., allowed me the most productive quiet time, and during the day I recorded in between the trucks, hammer strikes, lawn mower passes and door slams. The dim hum of distant AC units could be lifted from the tracks pretty painlessly, but that's the only sound that was stripped with noise reduction.

The actual still, quiet tone of the room itself, with it's huge vaulted ceiling and non-parallel walls, the occasional murmur of windows shifting in the wind, sometimes a faint click as window joints expanded in the sun all mixed with a rich and delicate brown noise to create something remarkable, so I decided to add a "room tone" dial to the instrument so the user could dial up that delicious presence. 

The piano itself was always a favorite of mine. I had played it only a year or two after the college had first bought it, and absolutely loved it. It stuck in my mind for years as one of the most enjoyable pianos I'd ever played, and I was happy to reunite with the thing in 2017, mics in hand!

 

Below are some quickie demo tracks. Adjustments yet to be made, but this will give you an idea of the sound!