The single most important instrument for me is the piano. When I started getting into recording more seriously, the old family piano just didn’t cut it anymore. Although it had bags of charm and I loved the thing, it didn’t really sound great or stay in tune for long. So alas I had to move on…
A while back I got to tick off a dream and actually go inside Abbey Road studio 2. Where I attended a lecture on the history of recording that has took place at the worlds most famous studio. All the iconic recording equipment and instruments were on display and I even got to play the pianos that were actually used on some of my favourite Beatle records. If heaven exists this was it for me.
One of the pianos I came across was the Challen upright. (Above) I immediately fell in love with it, not just cause of its great tone or the fact it was used on ‘The Fool On The Hill’ (that helps!) but it just looked incredible. It’s solid oak body sporting curves in all the right places makes this a very sexy piano! They were made in the 1950’s and are what were called store pianos, mainly for schools and churches. Equip with lockable covers to stop any unwanted meddling hands. Abbey Road bought a few because they are good solid reliable British pianos that can be easily wheeled about.
This great piano never really left my mind and one lucky day after about a year since being at Abbey Road, I came across the exact same model on Ebay. I couldn’t believe it cause this specific piano is quite rare and sought after for obvious reasons. I snapped it up without much thought. The fact I lived in Brighton at the time and the Challen was in Blackburn (300 miles away) didn’t matter, I had to have it. I embarked northward bound in a van with a mate to help me bag this beauty.
After being in storage for 6 months and me eventually moving house, the Challen arrived home! And it was all mine. It sounded and looked glorious..
The first thing I recorded on it was an instrumental I had written called ‘Bona Fide‘ which coincided with my all analogue album project of the same name.
This piano is used extensively on almost all my recordings now and I couldn’t imagine being without it. A very nice and unexpected touch was that it had my name printed in gold on it. What a spooky fate like coincidence?!
It’s nice when an instrument has a story that makes it extra special. I’m really glad I got to share it.Thanks!