This 19-foot piano has the longest bass strings in the world – and it sounds huge

13 July 2021, 17:48 | Updated: 14 July 2021, 14:10

Pianist Hyperion Knight plays the Alexander Piano

By Kyle Macdonald

Just listen to the incredible, deep sound of this beast of a piano, which is twice the length of a concert hall Steinway.

A few years ago New Zealand piano builder Adrian Alexander Mann fancied a challenge – he wanted to build the world’s longest piano.

“I just wanted to hear what a long bass string sounded like,” he says.

So in the mid-noughties, he set about creating his mammoth act of instrument-making. The process required a lot of problem-solving, improvisation, discovery and a touch of luck – read all about it in Mann’s very interesting blog on the process.

Remarkably, Mann was just 15 when he began the project.

Read more: 639-year-long John Cage organ performance has long-awaited chord change

In 2009, the instrument was complete. The ‘Alexander Piano’ is 18 feet and nine inches, or 5.7 meters, long, and weighs over a metric ton.

For context, that’s over twice the length of your usual concert hall grand. And that length is all about housing those epic bass strings.

Let’s listen to the instrument in action. And we couldn’t resist sharing this performance of grand, sonorous, virtuosic Liszt. Turn your headphones up loud and enjoy this absolute beast of a piano!

Liszt Funerailles - Catherine Geels

In case you’re wondering what a longer string actually means for pitch and tone, as with an upright piano compared to a Steinway Model D, a longer string does not impact pitch, but gives the note a much richer, more resonant tone, with deeper harmonics and greater projection.

At the top of the page, pianist Hyperion Knight thundering out some Bach. Listen out for the fugue at one minute in, and that incredible resonance of the lower voices.

The Alexander Piano
The Alexander Piano. Picture: YouTube / Hyperion Knight, Alexander Piano

In his own time, Bach famously preferred harpsichords and organs over the new technology of the pianoforte. However, we reckon he would have fancied the power of this instrument. What a sound!

Listen to more of this instrument via Alexander Piano’s YouTube channel.