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#2022156 - 01/27/13 11:55 AM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
Yammy anniversary...

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#2022162 - 01/27/13 12:07 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 774
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
I din't listen to the video but I can comment on what EJ is currently using at least at his vegas show.

I've been backstage at the Million Dollar Piano show and Elton's keyboard tech is a client of ours. On the MDP show, while the MDP piano is a fully functioning Yamaha CF model, all the house and monitor sound is purely digital. There is no attempt to mix acoustic sound in with the digital. I believe this is the same for all his big hall shows with regard to acoustic sounds but I won't swear I know it's true except that I know that he uses the same rack set-up I describe all over the world. He has four identical set-up and pianos (minus the video screens) parked in storage. Two in the US, one in the UK and one on the continent. The digital sound is a mix of Roland MKS-20 and Yamaha Motifs. I want to say they were ES models but again, I can't swear to it. Elton doesn't like IEM's and monitors with wedges set into the deck at a fairly high volume. According to his tech, getting a mic'ed up piano loud enough without feedback would require such drastic EQ that it would be much worse than the digital piano sound they are able to get.

There are multiple units of each type in the rack both for layering and for preloading the up-coming patch which is done manually, that is, while MIDI patch control is used, no type of sequenced show control is. His tech is at the rack in monitor world pressing buttons.

I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

#2022252 - 01/27/13 03:33 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2322
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
The answer is contained in a couple of posts above -

But the PRINCIPLE tonality of the piano is Roland RD1000/MKS-20. Reinforcement comes from Yamaha Power Grand and one or two other sources that form a very small part of the overall sound. The Roland sound is modelled, not sampled and that makes it extremely expressive and satisfying for him to play but the Roland sound lacks tonal accuracy to a real piano and is very metallic sounding when played hard. In addition to that it lacks some definition and clarity and this is where the Yamaha Power Grand sound comes in as it cuts through an electric band like no other digital piano sound and gives exceptional clarity. Even in the hardest rock numbers the piano comes through very articulately, which is unusual in rock music. In my opinion this is the reason Elton has stuck with this set up despite the fact it really doesn't sound very natural. Personally I would like to hear a more organic sounding piano, especially during ballads.

The sound pressure from the monitors at Elton's head during live shows has been measured at 120db and so as stated above the task of getting a true acoustic piano to give enough signal before feedback is too much hassle - his vocal mic is also very difficult because he likes his monitors incredibly loud.

Last night during Yamaha's 125th anniversary concert Elton thanked Yamaha for the great support they give him and other artists, especially up-and-coming artists. He went on to say that earlier in his career he had used a very famous American piano but the manufacturer (which we all know is Steinway) "didn't give a sh*t".
Yamaha CP1

#2022318 - 01/27/13 06:10 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I wouldn't bet all my money that the piano in the initial post is an acoustic piano. If I didn't see the shell of a grand piano I'd think it was a digital.

If it is in fact an acoustic piano they certainly could have made it sound more natural.

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

#2022415 - 01/27/13 08:53 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
belsha Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/10
Posts: 48
Loc: Paris, France
The irony is he plays and endorses a Yamaha, but the sound acvtually is Roland ! The big grand is only for showing off...

I really can't believe the techs can't properly mike and amplify the piano, the Roland digital sound is just so horrible, I could kill the guy that conceived that...

Possibly Elton hears the real piano on stage, that crap is just for the audience...
1950 Hamburg Steinway Model D
1980 Hamburg Steinway Model B
"Galaxy Vintage D" on my laptop when travelling (amazing sample of the 1930 Steinway D at Bauer Tonstudios, Germany) Almost feels like home!

#2022436 - 01/27/13 09:30 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4381
If Lady Gaga can play a Roland V-Piano Grand (as she did in England recently) successfully - and make it sound like a real piano, why doesn't Elton just paint 'Yamaha' over one (or put a Yammy case over a V-Piano slab) and please both his sponsor and his discerning audience at the same time? grin

He can even make the V sound as odd as he wants, if that's what he's after....

#2022464 - 01/27/13 09:55 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
I would imagine the action of a concert grand is preferred. The piano sounds change from one song to the next. Kurt's reiteration of the set up is what I heard and saw in concert.

#2022507 - 01/27/13 11:18 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2630
Loc: Atlanta, GA
For most of the 125th Anniversary concert, the featured piano was a Yamaha C7. It sounded mic'd. For Elton John, they rolled out the CFIIIS setup. There was a pile of plugs coming out of it. Part of that was for their "remote live" broadcast to disklavier owners. I don't know how to describe the sound fully as there was a lot going on. There was different mixed instrumentation for different parts of the keyboard.

I would have preferred an acoustic piano sound for his song selections of the night, but I certainly enjoyed being there.
Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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#2069258 - 04/23/13 10:39 AM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
EddieT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 24
I've been to a number of EJ concerts and the piano sound does alter slightly from song to song. For instance, Funeral For A Friend has a "growlier" piano sound than some of the ballads. I can't stand that Roland MKS20/RD1000 module. You'd think with the quality of samples and the newer modelled sounds which Yamaha have come out with he could get a nicer, richer, sound than that.

I saw a clip of him playing piano with Ed Sheeran. Looks like he played an AvantGrand - but even that sounded thin and tinny.

I wouldn't be averse to him going back to using Helpinstill pickups - no mic feedback problems and the sound could surely be EQ'd/processed better thesedays than in the 80s when he last used them to make it cut through the band. At least then we'd be getting the real sound from the strings.

He should look himself up on youtube when he did the MTV Unplugged set. Steinway with the lid off, mic'd up. One lovely sounding piano.
Yamaha CP-80

#2069348 - 04/23/13 01:18 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: EddieT]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1675
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
My friend John Mahon, who plays percussion in the group, said you can't get anywhere near the 180 degree vicinity of the Elton's piano monitor without risking loss of hearing...it's that loud.. wink cry

2005 NY Steinway D, Nord Piano 2

#2069508 - 04/23/13 06:02 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: peterws]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Originally Posted By: peterws
I always thought Elton and Steinway were bedfellows . . . but this didn`t mike up well. Not good.

They USED to be... Elton wanted a brighter sound.
Elton Johns Yammie

Edited by Plinky88 (04/23/13 06:02 PM)
Sound, Video, Design

#2069674 - 04/23/13 11:43 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 380
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
It's called a Stage Shell in the business. Slam Grand makes a pretty good one which is what that is. We make them as well. I doubt it is a stripped out real grand because width is an issue with keyboards that are put into them. We have to build them standard at a 60 inch keyboard tray width so the piano needs to be like 64 inches wide so the keycover closes over the keyboard. Naturally they will look weird if they are not long enough and will be wider than longer

Many, many pianos get destroyed by people who strip everything out only to find out their Roland which is 58 inches wide wont fit in some old baby grand cabinet that is 54 inches wide, then the whole thing is too tall ( playing height) all of this has to be dropped .

Antique ex uprights are a little different because they can be stretched laterally. We are currently working on an 1893 Kranich for Lincoln Brewster which will be stretched 5 inches for the Roland FP-7F.

Lots of churches these days are mostly buying digital and having them put in grand shells for the look without the tuning expense.
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
Chamber of Commerce

Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
Through restoration/renovation

#2069680 - 04/23/13 11:56 PM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: JBeck]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 531
Great info, Nash!
Sound, Video, Design

#2069765 - 04/24/13 04:54 AM Re: Elton John's Yamaha [Re: Scott Hamlin]
EddieT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 24
Hi Nash,

Billy Joel does that thesedays (with, I think, a Kurzweil PC2X in a grand piano shell).

I believe from things I've read previously that Elton still plays a full Yamaha grand piano with strings in it, but the sound we hear from it is mainly digital/sample based.

Davey Johnstone has said recently he's pretty sure the touring pianos have to be tuned.

Having said that, I've seen a few photos of the Million Dollar Piano, which has a transparent lid, and it's not entirely clear whether there are any strings in it.

Yamaha CP-80

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