Experimental Recording Techniques: Pitch-Modulating an Acoustic Piano with a Leslie Speaker

Today, we're back for another installment of Experimental Recording Techniques at Rax Trax Recording in Chicago. In this episode, producer and engineer Noam Wallenberg focuses on how to create a lo-fi, warbly piano sound using an acoustic piano, a chorus pedal, and a Leslie speaker. Keys in the video above are played by Vulfpeck's Woody Goss.

The process starts with a traditionally mic'd acoustic piano—two Neumann M 147s over the strings for a traditional sound and an AKG contact microphone on the soundboard for picking up the piano's grittier, lo-fi frequencies.

The signal from that contact mic is sent through a reamp box, which takes it down to an instrument level so that it can be manipulated by the Boss CE-3 Chorus it's sent through next. This now slightly modulated signal then runs through the Trek II UC-1A, which is what sends it to the Leslie speaker. The mixture of the Leslie's rotating speaker with the modulation from the chorus pedal leaves you with a very lo-fi, warbled piano tone.

Back behind the mixer, Noam adds compression to the M 147s' signal via the Goodhertz, Inc. Vulf Compressor and to the AKG's modulated signal via an 1176, and then mixes the two signals together for the final piano tone. Be sure to check out the full video above to hear it and watch the process, and stay tuned for another episode of Experimental Recording Techniques coming soon.


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