Welcome to another edition of bpb Free Sample Shootout! This time it’s all about free piano samples – I’ve included acoustic, electric and even some toy pianos, most of which are available in SFZ and SF2 formats for ease of use. Enjoy!
Part 1: Free Acoustic Piano Samples
Whether you just want to play a piano but don’t have one at home, or you need quality samples for your productions, the list below will help you fulfill your needs. Be careful when loading some of the huge 1GB+ libraries, as your computer may not be ready to take this.
- Piano in 162 by Ivy Audio – A beautiful free piano sample library for NI Kontakt. Featuring over 5 GB of great sounding samples this is easily one of the best free piano libraries out there. A SFZ version of the library should be released soon. Until then, you can play it for free in Kontakt Player.
- The Maestro Concert Grand by Mats Helgesson – The famous free piano sample pack. It appeared and dissapeared from the net quite a few times since 2003 when it was made, but now we can download it again thanks to Soni Musicae who are hosting it with permission of the author. Be aware that this pack comes in Gigasampler format, but you can always convert these using some sort of sample conversion software.
- Amore Grand Piano by Precisionsound – A top notch Yamaha grand piano library for NI Kontakt. Very nice sounding samples and reasonable size (around 200MB) make this free piano library a great choice for everyday use.
- The Grand Collection Soundfont by Sound Creations – Ahh, soundfonts. Where would the world be without them? Even though the glory days of this format are long gone, some of the best freebies still come bundled as sf2 files. And there’s nothing wrong with it really, you don’t really need multi-outs, filters and LFOs for a grand piano, right? Back on topic, The Grand Collection Soundfont actually consists of good old Akai Splendid Grand samples, converted into the sf2 format and available on a commercial sample CD. The free 74MB version is downloadable, and it sounds great.
- Bosendorfer Piano by Hideaway Studio – The unique sounding Bosendorfer Piano patch from the Emulator II sampler, recorded and adapted for use in Kontakt by Hideaway Studio.
- Bright Acoustic Piano by Hephaestus Sounds – A nice modern sounding piano sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt. The same sound designer is also offering a neat Steinway Grand sample collection which is another free download from their site.
- Bigcat Piano Collection by Bigcat Instruments – A massive collection of free piano instruments for Kontakt. Features samples from several royalty free piano sample libraries which have been edited and formatted for use with the Native Instruments sampler.
- Steinway Piano by The University Of Iowa – A lovely project by the Iowa University Electronic Music Studios which resulted in many great samples being available for free. The piano samples come in three velocity levels and are available as aiff files. There are no official mappings for these, of course, but Peter L Jones solves this with a proper sfz file which you can download here. Be careful when loading the sfz, because the full pack is bigger than 1GB. Hint: If you use Mozilla Firefox, try the DownThemAll! plugin to download all those individual piano samples quickly.
- Steinway-C Grand Piano by WSTco Piano Sounds – A bit older piano in SoundFont format. Not very large (25MB) but sounds surprisingly good. Recorded from a 1897 Steinway model-C grand piano.
- Tape Pianos by The Control Centre – A lovely pack of piano samples that were recorded to tape back in 1998. They sound magnificently lo-fi and are a great joy to use. Three different pianos are inside, a Baby Grand, a Fender Rhodes and an old upright piano. They were originally available as a Live Pack (you can extract the WAVs from there) but now the mappings for Kontakt, WusikStation and Mutools Mu.Lab are also available.
- Upright Piano by SoundBrewer – Samples of an ancient piano. They don’t say how old it actually is, but it was made before the XX century. I still haven’t had the chance to try these, but I can’t wait to do so. Available as Gigastudio and soundfont downloads.
- Salamander Grand by rytmenpinne – A humonguously large pack of piano samples. I tried loading the sfz on my laptop, but it resulted in a lockdown. Maybe you will be of better luck, or maybe you have a better lappy. People who succeeded at loading these seem to be very happy with them. Available as sfz, 24bit 48kHz samples, 16 velocity layers, 1.83GB of high quality piano samples when unpacked. Good luck!
- Lite Piano Free by Mildon Studios – A lightweight (18MB in total) piano sample library in SFZ format (contains 16-bit OGG files).
- Korg M1 Piano Samples by Kriminal – Sampled from a Korg M1, this is the sample pack to get when you need 90’s house type of piano sound. Available for EXS24.
Part 2: Free Electric Piano Samples
After so many free acoustic piano sample packs available for free, the list of free epiano samples appears to be much smaller. Perhaps there are a few more dozens of crappy soundfonts available, but following the quality before quantity spirit of the Free Sample Shootout, only the finest free samples will be presented to you.
- jRhodes by Learjeff- Awesome recordings of a 1977 Mark I Rhodes Stage Piano available as sf2. I love how the creation process is well documented on the download page, with even a photo of the instrument from which sounds were taken from. Not to mention that the samples sound great.
- Free Electric Pianos by Greg Sullivan – A Hohner, Yamaha, and a Wurlitzer available in Gigastudio format. All three are very good, but i love how the raw character of the Wurli has been captured.
- Old Dirty Wurli by Tim O’Grady – Free set of Wurlitzer 200A samples for Native Instruments Kontakt.
- C_S Fender Rhodes Mark II by Corsica_S – A very nice collection of Rhodes samples. Corsica_S shared these samples recorded from his own piano. They are hosted on freesound.org and don’t come with any mappings, but they sound very nice and mapping them out should be a breeze.
- RMI Elektrapiano by Hollow Sun – Samples of the old RMI Elektrapiano from the 1960s. This piano doesn’t have velocity control, but it sound very raw and lo-fi, which is why i love it. The samples are available in Akai S5/6000 format, but the WAVs are also included and there are not many of them, so you can map them out quilckly yourself. If you’re crazy enough to like these like i do.
Part 3: Free Toy Piano Samples
Don’t laugh, toy pianos have their purpose, too. When all other instrumets fail, try using toy piano samples and be amazed by their unstoppable force.
- Baby Piano by Zvon – Samples of a Chinese toy piano found at a flea market. Brilliant stuff!
- Toy Piano by Bolder Sounds – 24bit samples of a toy piano with release sound samples included.
- Red Grand by Precisionsound – All the notes of this little toy piano were sampled in two velocities, turning it into a lovely little soundfont.
- Free Cello And Toy Piano Samples by warmer – A quickly sampled toy piano with a character of it’s own. Comes bundled with cello samples which are also pretty good. Availble for Kontakt, and the sfz mappings by marce can be found here.
- Fancy Baby Grand by Kent Williams – Set of samples recorded from a Schoenhut Fancy Baby Grand using a Zoom H4. The samples are available in WAV, Kontakt 3, and Ableton Live Drum Rack fromats.
If you’re looking for even more free piano samples, check out BPB’s best free sound module VST plugins list. Most of the plugins listed there come with very decent piano sounds! Also check out the free electric piano VSTi plugins list. Happy music making!