Last month, I used my pickups for the first time with KEM (Universal/Motown recording artist) at a show in Toledo OH USA. I am the monitor engineer for KEM - gives me a chance to experience life apart from FOH! KEM plays several piano-based ballads on a typical show. Usually, we use a midi grand piano - that is a grand piano with a midi pickup system, which we tie to a Yamaha Motif keyboard module. We place two standard microphones high/low above the piano strings AND use the Motif module stereo. As the midi hookup is direct, we get a grand piano sound nice and loud, using the mics for a bit of "wood acoustic" flavor to the sound. For sure, it's NOT an acoustic sound - maybe 80% Midi, 20% mic. But very easy to get loud enough. HOWEVER - Midi pianos are not ALWAYS available. In those instances, we are FORCED to go completely acoustic. Typically, we mic the piano as we always do AND use Barcus Berry 4000 piano pickups in place of the midi hookup. This usually presents a problem as to will we be able to get the piano loud enough over the band, and what will it sound like when we do? At this particular show, we had a 9' Steinway.
I talked Jim Gibbons, KEM's FOH engineer, into trying out my Yamahiko pickups INSTEAD of the Barcus Berry. His comment? "Those pickups are amazing!!" He now wants me to use them at EVERY show where we do not have a Midi piano. But the kudos for Yamahiko pickups do not stop there. Our opening act for this show was Swiss-born "lite-jazz" pianist Alex Bugnon, playing as a trio with drums/bass. The plan was for him to use our piano - so we moved it to the position he wanted, got his monitors set up, and he began to play. After about 5 minutes, he stopped and came over to me at the monitor console. "This is the BEST sounding Steinway I've EVER had in the monitors" he said. He went back out, finished his sound check, and came back over to ask me how I did it. I explained my background with Herbie Hancock and told him about the Yamahiko pickups. On our way back to the hotel he outlined his frustrations, as a piano artist, in getting the instrument loud enough on stage WITHOUT suffering an altered sound. He owns Barcus Berry 4000 pickups himself, and expressed how superior he found the Yamahiko pickups at this, his first time using them. As schedules happened, I shared a ride back to the venue with him and his band. He mentioned that during our brief dinner break, he had visited the Yamahiko web site to learn more about the pickups. He specifically mentioned the video as being very helpful. Don't be surprised if you hear from him soon - I think, after his experience in Ohio, that he is looking to buy some!
All for now - off to Istanbul TURKEY for stop #1 on the Miles Tribute Tour. - Big Ed -