Dunedin is home to the longest piano in the world!

Adrian Alexander Mann founded Alexander Pianos after building the Alexander piano, the longest grand piano in the world. He was introduced to pianos when his mother enrolled him in a music class. However, he soon realized he was more interested to find out how the instrument was constructed than actually playing it. After its completion Adrian naturally went into restoring pianos providing piano tuning, piano restoration and some piano moving services.

Why build such an instrument?

“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 string would need to be if it had no copper on it at all. I was told it would be so long it would go on forever so I did an experiment where I could find that measurement. I knocked a metal fence post into the ground at both ends and  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. 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!”

Alexander Pianos started in a small garage in Timaru. This was where the young musician built his huge piano. The length of the instrument was actually dictated by the length of the garage. The finished instrument is believed to be the world’s longest piano. At 6m long, the 1.2 tonne behemoth is about the same length as a 10 tonne truck. It’s not something easily stored in a concert hall, let alone someone’s house.

Alexander Piano (Alexander Pianos)

Now the company has a main workshop and showroom in central Dunedin with pianos for sale as well as the famous Alexander piano. Pianos are Adrian’s passion and he has made everything needed to undertake major instrument restoration. His pianos have sold all over NZ and some have even gone as far as China. Adrian travels to people’s houses in and out of town to tune pianos. Some have been neglected for as long as 30 years. Most he can bring up to pitch. Some however are not even able to be tuned.

Adrian has held concerts on the Alexander piano with local and international pianists including the famous Michael Houstoun. Tourists come into the shop often to see the awesome piano as many of them have seen an article about it in their own country. The talented piano man also has professional recording equipment and many well known musicians have been recorded on or singing with the Alexander piano.

Because of its size and special requirements, Adrian has no plans to produce them commercially but he says he would like to build a second one some day. In the meantime, he hopes to turn his giant one-of-a-kind instrument into a Dunedin tourist attraction.

Ceidrik Heward


  1. Angela Stevenson says

    Thanks for that wonderful article. I live in Dunedin and have never heard of it.
    Must go and take a look. Very interesting indeed.

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