World’s Largest Piano?



Wanted: Temporary space for the world’s largest piano. Must have flat access, as requires forklift.

A piano handcrafted in a garage near Timaru, weighing in at 1.4 tonnes and with a length of 5.7 metres, is rolling through Wellington next month and its maker is hunting for a place to show it off.

It took Adrian Mann, 25, four years to build the piano, and he has spent the past few years giving people around New Zealand a chance to play it – he even tried, unsuccessfully, to get Elton John to give it a tinkle.

It all started when, as a curious 15-year-old, he wanted to see how long a piece of piano wire would be if it were not wrapped in copper.

The answer, according to his garden experiment, was about six metres, but it was the tone of the string that had him captivated.

“The sound I heard from that string was so clear and unique and different that I really, really had to do it. I got it in my mind that I had to build a piano.”

The following year, a neighbour offered a garage and some timber and he got stuck in – despite knowing next to nothing about piano-building.

“I had to learn everything – none of the technicians wanted to be involved because they said it wouldn’t work, so I had to learn how to do everything, from carpentry, welding, right up to the geometry of the action and the string layout.”

As the piano started to take shape, the community got on board with donations of wood, tools, books and cash, and he won a scholarship after he finished high school to allow for a final push.

As well as being the world’s largest piano, it also had the “lowest percentage of inharmonicity”, according to an Australian piano maker, Mann said.

The piano is in Auckland at present, has dates in Hamilton next month, and will be travelling through Wellington about October 22 – but it will stop only if the right venue can be found.

Positively Wellington Venues chief executive Glenys Coughlan said it would be the first time Wellington would have hosted an instrument of that size, but did not see it as an obstacle.

“We would be spoiled for choice here. We could do it on a grand scale, putting it centre court in TSB Bank Arena or inside our newly refurbished Shed 6, which would be fun.

“Or we could have a choice of stages: on stage at the Michael Fowler Centre, the St James Theatre or the Opera House. Or the lobby of the Michael Fowler Centre.”

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