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 first thing he did was purchase some piano wire and string it up in his backyard. It was around 22 feet, but the sound was amazing. So, the next step was to build a huge piano to hold the length of the wire and keep the amazing sound. Over the next 5 years, Mann came across difficulties which required a lot of problem-solving and dedication. But, in 2009, his hard work paid off and his piano was complete. The Alexander Piano is 18ft 9inches, weighing over a metric ton. Here is what a long piano sounds like.
A longer string doesn’t impact the pitch of the notes, but it does give a much richer, resonant tone. Which gives it deeper harmonics and greater projection. Adrian was only 20 years old when he completed his piano. When it was done, he invited his piano teacher over to see it and named it the Alexander Piano, after his great-great-grandfather. It wasn’t long before he began holding concerts.
Over the years, the piano has travelled around a lot. Has been in the hands of some great musicians for many, many concerts. Adrian had hoped that Sir Elton John would play on his piano, but since Elton is contracted with Yamaha, he can’t play in public on anything else. Disappointing, but understandable.
Adrian restores pianos for a living in his own workshop in Dunedin. In 2017, he decided it was time for his creation to come home. He still holds concerts to this day and finds the time to play it himself when he can. He has more ideas and goals in mind and hopes to make another piano one day. We shall have to wait and see what this brilliant mind comes up with in the near future.