I have really been enjoying all the stimulating discussion about Rudy Van Gelder lately, and upon looking through the forum archives I found a great post by our host from 2009 about getting a good piano sound (http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/bill-evans-ojc-vs-xrcd.173612/#post-4182019): In Van Gelder's case, as Hoffman suggests, he did have his mics properly matched with the preamps in his console (he has discussed this in interviews), and unlike the drums, while the sound of the piano is heavily compressed on many records, he rarely got noticeable distortion on the piano (to my ears anyway). From what I hear, Van Gelder's "boxed-in" piano sound indeed sounds like it is the result of 1. having the mic too close to the piano, 2. a high-shelf EQ, and 3. squashing it. As for his reason for doing this, my guess is he put the mics (I've seen pictures where he's using two) close to the piano because, as Hoffman suggests above, he didn't want a lot of bleed from the other instruments in his little living room. I'm guessing he put the high-shelf EQ on it cuz he didn't want it interfering with the horns, and he compressed it so much because he wanted it to cut through his--you guessed it--mono mix (if he was monitoring in stereo, it would have had much more space to breathe and he may not have compressed it as much). One of the best things about the above comment I think is that it points out that a studio like Columbia had a much easier time getting a natural piano sound cuz they had so much room for the instruments and the mics without bleed. For Hackensack, the boxiness of his piano sound isn't as much of a problem on trio records and "quieter" records like Sonny Clark Trio (BLP 1579), and the reason for this I hypothesize is because the living room was a lot quieter than it was with quintets and the like so he didn't get as much bleed, and he didn't have to work as hard to get the piano to stand out in the mix so he didn't compress it as much. As for Englewood, I think in general he got a better piano sound, and this may have been due to him being in a larger space where the piano didn't have to fight so hard for its own place in the mix.