Inside a piano, the bass strings are wrapped with copper wire to deepen the sound without needing more length. In 2004, Adrian Alexander Mann wondered how long would the bass strings have to be without the copper wire to hit the right notes. His piano teacher had no idea, so the 15-year-old Adrian decided to figure it out himself.
The Alexander Piano is 18ft 9 inches, weighing over a metric ton and is the world’s largest single keyboard grand piano.
When Adrian Alexander Mann started building the Alexander Piano he was 16 years old and completed it on the 24th October 2009 when he was 20.
“Why did you build such a long piano?”
The primary question I am asked that comes with a simple answer.
I just wanted to see what a long bass string sounded like.
It occurred to me that long bass strings sounded better. When I was 14 I asked my piano teacher how long a bass a string would need to be if it had no copper on it at all. The answer was “Adrian the string would be so long it would go on for ever!” so with this in mind I did an experiment where I could find that measurement.
I knocked a waratah (metal fence post) into the ground at both ends and with a big piece of timber with a hole and tuning pin in it I strung up an enormous bass string. After finding a safe tension I tuned it to the lowest A on a piano by moving rocks along the wire.
Here I discovered the most interesting sound and from this point I was determined to build a piano to have the longest string sounding like this. I later did more experimenting. Fifteen year old me said “Mum I’m going to build a piano!”
I think because I was so young I absolutely knew it was totally possible to do, I was fully determined and without consulting any professionals I had no barrier stopping me.
More at his blog: https://www.alexanderpiano.nz/page/the-alexander-piano