Construction of the Alexander Piano started at the Pareora Reserve home of Mrs Pierce, who offered me the use of her car garage as a workshop. I was 16 and my idea was to make a small clavichord. A clavichord is a small keyboard type instrument invented in the early fourteenth century with a very small volume of sound.

Mrs Pierce was very encouraging towards my ideas and loved to see creativity where ever possible. The garage was quite big, such a size that it would be possible to build a piano big enough to have no wound strings. I’d had the idea of making a big piano a year or so before, and when I saw the space available my idea of making a clavichord quickly changed and with Mrs Pierce’s encouragement, on 24 October 2005 I began building the biggest piano ever constructed.

I had little knowledge of how to make a piano so I took one to pieces. All I needed to know was right there in front of me inside a piano, at least that was my thinking.


The earliest photo of the construction

The earliest photo of the construction.

Mrs Pierce gave me some timber to get started with and away I went. Then in small amounts timber and tools started coming in from neighbours, family and friends. The more progress I made the more people donated. The case and legs were constructed in the garage during that year.


It was great to work out doors.

I accepted an offer from our neighbors, the Evans family, to relocate the piano to their big farm shed where there was a metalwork shop and possibility to set up a woodwork shop. We moved the piano in August 2006.

I kept at the project facing many ups and downs and slowly the piano came together. When the media came on board things changed and offers for donations became substantially larger. All of the piano parts were paid for or generously donated by companies or enthusiastic individuals in the community. I can't put in to words how much I appreciate their help.

This project did not come without the critics who were vocal in their opinion that it was not at all possible. This was understandable because I:

  • was young
  • had no training or experience
  • was building a complex instrument
  • was attempting to build a piano with an idea that had never been tried.  

But the experiment I conducted earlier proved to me that it was possible.


The Alexander was completed on 4 April 2009, four years after construction commenced. The Inaugural Concert was held on that date and supporters and friends were invited to hear the piano for the first time.

There were three other pianists who played on the day.