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#1243542 - 08/04/09 06:07 PM I know Elton plays Yamaha, but what is his main
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
piano voice that he uses? Is it possible to get that sound. It's the fullest piano sound, so crisp, the lows are low, the highs are crystal. Is this a Clavinova based digital module, motif?? Is it special just for him? I can tell theres quite a bit of chorus on there even on his acoustic patch sometimes... Curious if any insiders know if it's possible to obtain 'that sound' from a store/yamaha module or something.


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#1243576 - 08/04/09 07:01 PM Re: I know Elton plays Yamaha, but what is his main [Re: Agathis]
kiedysktos. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 425
Loc: Europe, Poland
Both on the concert and on the CD you don't hear exact sound from the instrument, even if he plays on a real grand. There is always a mixer and a soundman, who decides about equalizer settings, amount of effects (reverb, chorus), use of dibox/preamp and so on.

Also, even if you know exact model he plays, he can use midi cable and piano patch from other instrument or module.
Roland FP-4

#1243587 - 08/04/09 07:24 PM Re: I know Elton plays Yamaha, but what is his main [Re: kiedysktos.]
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
understood but surely has a goto main sound. also a funny question, he does play a real grand, the large yamaha, but it's totally decked out with electric sounds (seems like i read was a motif module maybe?) , i wonder if he ever plays the real piano, ie, hitting the strings. also, if it does have real strings and he is playing daniel which is an electric piano, do the strings of the real piano play along too and we just don't hear them?

#1243592 - 08/04/09 07:35 PM Re: I know Elton plays Yamaha, but what is his main [Re: Agathis]
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
Here is the answer although it isn't as specific as I'd like:

The Story of the World's Best Loved Keyboard

It has circled the globe countless times. It has been played everywhere from the Kremlin and the White House to Gianni Versace's living room. They even wanted to put it into the Smithsonian, but Elton John said, "No! I still need it to play."

It's "Piano A," the first and favorite of Elton's four 9-foot Yamaha Disklavier® DCFIII Concert Grands.

"It's probably the most played, most traveled piano on the planet," says Keith Bradley, Elton's tour director. "Actually, Elton has four touring piano systems, which are represented by the letters A through D. Each system involves a Yamaha Disklavier piano and a rack of gear. There's also Piano E, a 7'6" Yamaha Grand in London that's used for most of the studio work. But Elton's deepest emotional attachment is to Piano A."

"Piano A was the instrument that made Elton switch to Yamaha from the brand he'd used before," says Dale Sticha, Elton's piano technician for the last decade. "That piano has seen so many things: the Princess Diana memorial, the Academy Awards. I really believe there's some magic there. Elton has become very attached to it, and now it's a part of him. I don't want to call it a 'marriage,' but it's definitely a musical partnership."

Bradley recounts how the partnership came to pass: "At one point about twelve years ago, before Elton played Yamahas, he suddenly decided that the piano he'd been playing was too muddy. He simply walked offstage one night and told me he couldn't play it anymore! I immediately called Yamaha and asked if there was a piano in New Orleans, where we were. They told us there was one at the university, which was apparently being used for orchestral concerts. We went and picked it up, and it never went back. I think several factors won Elton over: the weighting of the keys, the faster response time, the brighter tone. At any rate, it instantly became the A piano and has been ever since."

But are audiences actually hearing Piano A at Elton's concerts? Absolutely, says Sticha. "Everything you hear really comes from him. There's no sequencing or tapes or anything like that. The piano is miked, but it's also a MIDI controller that triggers other sounds such as strings and the electric piano on 'Daniel.' So instead of Elton having to switch instruments, we make the piano become those instruments. Also, the piano triggers external piano modules that reinforce the acoustic sound. The audience usually hears a layered mix of acoustic and electronic pianos, which all run through the Yamaha 01V mixer in Elton's rack."

Elton has long relied on Yamaha P300s for his supplemental piano sounds, but he's currently switching over to the Yamaha Motif. "All the Motif sounds are fantastic, and Elton is very happy with them." And Elton, of course, pilots everything from the Piano A keyboard.

But are Piano A's days numbered? "Maybe," sighs Sticha, "Elton has played it so long and so hard that it's showing signs of wear, though Yamaha's technicians work hard to keep it going. Maybe it is time to be thinking about a new piano."

Actually, Elton and his team have already done more than just think about A's successor. "Our problem," says Bradley, "is that A has been the one used for the nightly, three-hour touring shows, while the others tend to be flown around for, say, special one-hour performances or a single-song television appearance. Because they've been played so much less, they inevitably feel stiff by comparison. But we recently managed to get pianos B, C, and D into one place at the same time for rehearsal, and the boys from Yamaha came out for a little conference. They looked at the pianos' action and everything else, and now I feel we have three excellent pianos that are very similar to A."

Does Elton agree? "Well," says Bradley "Piano A is in for service right now, so Piano C is going up onstage for tonight's concert, and Elton is very, very happy with it. In fact, he says he's over the moon with how his pianos are performing right now, and he couldn't be happier regarding the service he gets from Yamaha."

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