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#2273096 - 05/09/14 04:13 AM How big of a piano to play with drums?
michaelha Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 787
I'm starting to think about playing with a jazz band (drums, electric bass guitar, maybe horns, etc...). Question is, how big of a piano do you generally need (especially to balance the drums)? Will my 6'6" RX5 work or will I have to amplify it?
_________________________
Casio CDP-100
2012 Kawai RX-5 BLAK

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#2273147 - 05/09/14 07:47 AM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9141
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: michaelha
I'm starting to think about playing with a jazz band (drums, electric bass guitar, maybe horns, etc...). Question is, how big of a piano do you generally need (especially to balance the drums)? Will my 6'6" RX5 work or will I have to amplify it?


The answer is - it depends.

How sensitive are the musicians you sill be playing with? How loud does the drummer generally play? What kind of jazz will you be playing?

In the end you may have to amplify the piano somewhat because many others are amplified, the horn player feels he has to blow over them, the drummer feels the same, and the piano can only give so much.

One thought - louder does not equal better. Listen to some Bill Evans - or to Chick Cores and Herbie Hancock play their duo album.

My 2 cents,
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Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2273169 - 05/09/14 09:10 AM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
Carbonblob Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/13
Posts: 260
Loc: Los Angeles, Ca.
Hi M,

Rich has the right answer. I used to play professionaly and it depends on both the setting and players. When I played with small jazz combos I had a small "jazz" kit just for those gigs.

When rehearsing, most musicians try to keep the volume low so everyone can hear the clarity of the instruments and their parts. Balance is a big deal. The drums are always going to cut through so there's some tricks to tone them down like mufflers for drum heads and cymbals.

Your piano is plenty powerful but if you have horns and elec guitars, you'll need some amplification once the volume picks up. Once on stage, you'll be playing the "house" piano (if they have an acoustic) and that's always miced up..........blob
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KAWAI RX-3 BLAK
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#2273178 - 05/09/14 09:31 AM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
iLaw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 169
Loc: Chicago
In an acoustic trio setting you're primarily at the mercy of the drummer volume-wise. If the drummer can't play at an appropriate volume level, another foot or three of piano won't do you much good.

Add a couple of horns, occasionally playing together, and it's pretty unlikely that you're going to be satisfied with no amplification at all. But resist the temptation to add a lot of amplification. I guess it's theoretically possible that the other players might ask a pianist to turn down, but in my experience they're far more likely to simply crank it up to match you.

Larry.

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#2273188 - 05/09/14 09:59 AM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 550
Any size will do, as long as the drummer is a musician and actually listens (good luck with that).

Here's a good example of how a jazz drummer should be playing.
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"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2273192 - 05/09/14 10:10 AM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9141
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Dan,

Great example.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2273237 - 05/09/14 12:25 PM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
phantomFive Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1154
Loc: California
In high school I played in a jazz band on an old upright. People still heard my mistakes.
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Poetry is rhythm.

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#2273257 - 05/09/14 01:20 PM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: DanS]
michaelha Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 787
Originally Posted By: DanS
Any size will do, as long as the drummer is a musician and actually listens (good luck with that).

Here's a good example of how a jazz drummer should be playing.


So in sets like this Keith Jarret Trio playing fairly downtempo stuff, do they need to amplify for a small venue? We'll be just playing casually in my living room and playing mostly downtempo stuff, but might try some more upbeat songs too.

But I guess if you're playing with a rock drummer (like below), no piano without amplification will cut through?

_________________________
Casio CDP-100
2012 Kawai RX-5 BLAK

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#2273263 - 05/09/14 01:42 PM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
There is a topic in the Technician's area where someone compared the level of volume from various sizes of piano at a good forte. They were remarkably similar.
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Semipro Tech

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#2273284 - 05/09/14 02:31 PM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
iLaw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 169
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: michaelha

But I guess if you're playing with a rock drummer (like below), no piano without amplification will cut through?


Interesting comparison. It really emphasizes the importance of the pianist's style when finding a balance. For the first three minutes, Hiromi is more Keith Emerson than Keith Jarrett, and Simon Phillips is obviously happy to keep up with her. At the three-minute mark, however, when she brings it down, so does he. Work with a drummer that has range and it works out fine.

Larry.

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#2273656 - 05/10/14 01:21 PM Re: How big of a piano to play with drums? [Re: michaelha]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 550
Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
Dan,

Great example.


Thanks Rich.


Originally Posted By: michaelha
Originally Posted By: DanS
Any size will do, as long as the drummer is a musician and actually listens (good luck with that).

Here's a good example of how a jazz drummer should be playing.


So in sets like this Keith Jarret Trio playing fairly downtempo stuff, do they need to amplify for a small venue? We'll be just playing casually in my living room and playing mostly downtempo stuff, but might try some more upbeat songs too.


They're playing as if they're playing in a small venue, but it's all miked. I believe it's actually a pretty large venue at which they're playing. You should note that there are no monitors (at least I didn't see any). They're playing a volume that where they can all hear each other, and then everything is miked. This make communication much easier, as opposed to everybody turned up to 11.

I don't think you'll need amplification for just your living room. If you do, I'd fire the drummer!
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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