Introducing the Jangle Box Piano from Abbey Road Studios & Spitfire Audio

Introducing Abbey Road Studios and Spitfire Audio Originals Jangle Box Piano — capturing a unique piece of music history.


Expertly recorded in Studio Two, the legendary home of pop and rock’n’roll, this versatile piano was made famous during the ‘60s pop era at Abbey Road following its use on recordings by artists including The Zombies, John Barry and The Beatles, featuring prominently on The Beatles (The White Album) and Magical Mystery Tour — most notably on the track The Fool on the Hill.

Its most recent appearance is on the Oscar-nominated Celeste track, Hear My Voice, from hit 2020 film The Trial of the Chicago Seven (co-written with composer Daniel Pemberton, who wrote the score).

 
A Challen ‘studio’ piano, it features brass tipped felt strips that can be dropped between the hammers and strings mrs-emulating the sound of a ‘tack’ piano. This result is an instrument with two distinct characters: in its original form, beautiful, mellow and dark; and in tack mode, percussive, bright and jangly.

This truly iconic instrument, captured in the most famous recording space in the world, is now accessible to musicians of all levels, across the globe. The sounds have been meticulously sampled at Abbey Road Studio Two, mixed by Grammy award-winning engineer Sam Okell and presented in Spitfire Audio’s award-winning, easy-to-use and affordable plug-in.

Four of the presets are presented in tack mode, ranging from close to balanced, while the two Mellow presets showcase the piano’s warm non-tack sound. Alongside the Close and Room signals, a Vintage signal, recorded using the original 1960s equipment — including the rare AKG D19 microphone recorded using the valve J37 tape machine via the REDD.47 mic pre-amp — authentically captures the iconic Abbey Road sound and the character of the songs that made the piano famous. The six effects offer even more control — Expression, Dynamics, Reverb — taken from Abbey Road’s 1950s EMT reverb plates, Tightness, as well as a hammers volume control and sustain pedal volume control for extra detail and realism.
 
 

The Story

Built in the 1930s at Piano Works, London, from beautifully handcrafted hard maple, this Challen ‘studio’ piano (slightly smaller than an upright) was one of the most important Beatles instruments. It is known as a piano of two distinctive sounds: its original, warm and mellow tone, and its contrasting bright tack sound, for which it owes its namesake. The piano has brass-tipped strips of felt that can be dropped between the hammers and the strings to create a hard, percussive note.  Because of this feature, achieved by operating the centre piano pedal, it became commonly known among Abbey Road studio engineers and visiting artists as the ‘Jangle’ or ‘Jangle Box’ piano.

In its normal setting, the piano has a beautiful mellow, dark mid-range tone, and an incredibly long sustain. While another famous Abbey Road piano -  Mrs Mills - was kept out of tune, the Challen was properly tuned, providing a warm, mellow alternative to the heavier sound of the grand piano. 

It can be heard prominently on The Fool on the Hill, played by Sir Paul McCartney, and from 1966 was used extensively by The Beatles on both Magical Mystery Tour and The Beatles (The White Album). Further credits include The Zombies Care of Cell 44 (in tack mode) and Pink Floyd Bike from Piper At The Gates of Dawn (used in tack mode, but also recorded at half-speed). It was also used by artists including John Barry, Joe Loss, Sid Phillips, Matt Monro and Billy Cotton. The piano is still in use today.
 

Originals Series

This library follows Spitfire Audio’s releases made in collaboration with Abbey Road Studios. The Abbey Road One range features full orchestral sample libraries exquisitely recorded in Studio One, the home of blockbuster film scores. This is the second Abbey Road Piano to be released in Spitfire Audio’s Originals range, following the Sir Paul McCartney-approved Originals Mrs Mills Piano, released in March 2021.

Originals is a series of inspiring sample libraries that makes rare and classic instruments accessible to all for just £29 $29 29€ —  meticulously sampled in authentic detail, with no compromise on recording quality. NKS compatible and lightweight at under 5GB, users can tailor the piano to suit a range of styles and genres — from pop, to jazz and cinematic scores —  through a range of carefully curated signals, presets and controls. 

Discover now.
 
 

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