Welcome to another edition of bpb Free Sample Shootout! This time it’s all about free piano samples – the list covers acoustic, electric and even some toy pianos, most of which are available in Kontakt, SFZ and SF2 formats for ease of use. Enjoy! (Last update: June 24th, 2015)
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 and SFZ compatible instruments (more info about the SFZ version available here). Featuring over 5 GB of great sounding samples this is easily one of the best free piano libraries out there.
- Steinway Grand 3 by Hephaestus Sounds – A fantastic free grand piano sample library for NI Kontakt. Surprisingly nice sound for a compact 304 MB download. Requires the full version of NI Kontakt.
- Headroom Piano by Bengt Nilsson – A simple but great sounding grand piano sample library for Kontakt. Features two different microphone placements and five velocity layers per sampled note.
- 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.
- Pop Piano Free by Sonic Cat – A solid free Bechstein MP192 grand piano sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt. Contains eight different grand piano instrument patches.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Electric Pianos by Bigcat Instruments – A bundle of free electric piano instrument libraries for NI Kontakt, provided by Bigcat Instruments. Includes four different electric pianos.
- Piano 73 by Synth Magic – A free sound library for Native Instruments Kontakt.
- 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 Rocksichord by Soniccouture – 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!
- Zvenigorod by Dargalon Instruments Studio – A beautiful sounding free toy piano instrument for NI Kontakt.
- 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!