Builder Adrian Mann

Hello My Name is Adrian Mann. Ever since I was born I was doing something with my hands. According to my family I was either playing with taps, getting into Mum's wool and tying it all over the room so that no doors could open, or pulling things to pieces and then putting them back together again.  I was too young to remember.

Music for me was something I had no interest in when I was young.  I was too busy making making things. 

It was a childhood full of discovery, make believe and building stuff. I was left to my own devices when I went out to play. My tree hut had a working phone system, running water, battery power and it even had a primitive elevator along with an underground tunnel and a small FM transmitter used as a radio station!

It was totally by accident that I discovered music. When I was 10 a friend loaned us a small keyboard for me to play on. This was fantastic and I discovered a totally new form of expression and creativity. It was something I could do and play songs on. The freedom was limitless. 

After a 'long loan' our friends brought me a small church organ so we swapped the small keyboard with the bigger organ and I had some fun with that for a short time. By this time I had discovered the old piano at school and I often played on it at lunchtimes. 

Then came our piano. A Goddard upright in very good condition. Bought by my Granddad Barrie for $50. The piano had previously belonged to a piano teacher in Christchurch.

The piano tuner came and opened up the piano and tuned it twice. I had never seen the inside of a piano before and it fascinated me. I noticed I could hear the strings being put in tune. When the piano tuner left and when Mum was away I opened the piano up to study what was going on inside it and I did this many times and after a while the piano started going out of tune so I contacted the piano tuner to ask where you get those 'spanner things' that you turn the pins with and I didn't expect the reaction I got! 

So instead I went to the piano with a crescent to put the strings back in tune.  At the time I was about 12. I found it difficult and thought the correct tool would be much eaiser. I still had no idea where to get one from so I made one from a large Allen key and a 12 mm socket and the small square drive fitted the tuning pin fine. This system worked much easier than the crescent and saved the pins from damage. 

I was able to tune octaves and unisons easily but I knew nothing of scale building. Instead I used the organ's scale to copy off. I started getting piano lessons and discovered more pianos, and realised each was quite different on the inside. All these pianos had copper strings in the bass but I noticed the note where the copper strings started was always different. Bigger pianos had the copper starting further down the scale. Then I discovered my piano teacher's big Grotrian Steinweg Grand and it had an amazing bass. I noticed its copper strings started way down the scale and I made the connection that bigger pianos sounded better (generally) and have fewer, longer, copper strings. But there was not a lot of difference between the last no copper note and the first copper note. I knew why there was copper so the question was how long could a non wound string be? 

I asked my piano teacher all kinds of strange unanswerable questions and one was how long could you get a bass string to be that does not have copper on it… well how long is a piece of string? and her answer was it would be so long it would go on forever, (not literally) but it was the end of a tiring day for her. 

I then did an experiment with a long piece of piano wire and found the length was enormous. Twenty two odd foot long and it produced a strange and amazing sound and it was then I wanted to make a piano that had a big long string in it with that special sound.

At the time I was 15.