字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Narrator: The last step of creating the perfect piano sounds like total chaos. The basher machine breaks in every key thousands of times to ensure it all works perfectly. It's the worst noise in the world. Narrator: Adam Cox runs the last piano factory in Britain. Here, artisans take months to thread steel strings and install felt hammers, tuning and testing for quality at each step of the lengthy process. A century ago, the UK had hundreds of factories producing some of the best pianos in the world. But a flood of cheaper, foreign-built instruments forced all of them to close down. That's why Adam opened Cavendish Pianos in 2012 in an attempt to save the craft. Adam: It is the sort of thing that if it gets lost for one generation, that's it, really. It's the end of it. Narrator: We visited his shop in Northern England to meet the last British piano makers still standing. A Cavendish piano build starts with a soundboard, a flexible sheet of wood that amplifies the sound of the strings. Adam: It's a very thin, very light piece of wood. And it needs to be, because it needs to vibrate a lot. Narrator: It's the most expensive component. The wood only comes from spruce trees that grow at just the right altitude to produce a rich tone. Adam uses wooden sticks called go-bars as temporary supports to set the glued wooden ribs on the soundboard's gentle curve. Adam: The soundboard is not a flat assembly, but it's actually got a crown. And that is the all-important thing for producing the tone of the piano. It's like the cone of a loudspeaker, really. And so that will go down onto this, onto these back posts now. Narrator: Factories in Asia can quickly machine-press the soundboard. But Adam says his customers prefer the methods piano makers have used for over 100 years. A piano that's made slowly will be a better piano than a piano that's made fast. Narrator: Adam and his team align the soundboard to the back post and then attach it to the heavy cast-iron frame. Even Adam's helping, look. The important thing is not to get your finger trapped. Narrator: The frame is cast as a single piece. It has to be strong enough to withstand about 20 tons of pressure from all the strings. About 230 strings are used to create the 88 tones on an average piano. Each one is painstakingly threaded through a tuning pin and then hammered into place. It's the sort of work that makes your fingers sore. The strings vary in length and thickness to create different tones. Longer, thicker strings produce lower notes, while shorter and thinner ones reach the higher end of the scale. A technician tunes the newly strung piano and lets it rest several times so that the instrument can adjust to the new tension and hold a consistent sound. Then it's time to enclose it in the wooden case and give the piano its classic look. Adam: If you can imagine that this was put upright like that, this would be where the keys are to be played. This is the leg of the piano, and the caster would be on the bottom here. Narrator: Adam works with a cabinet maker down the road to create both standard finishes and custom designs. Adam: If someone comes along and says, "I want a blue piano," which is what's just happened, of course, yeah, it's really nice to be able to produce a one-off thing for people that they can't get anywhere else in the world. Narrator: It puts more pressure on the Cavendish team, though. A scratched piece can't be easily replaced. Adam: I don't like damaging them anywhere, but I will take a little extra care with this one in particular. Narrator: The final components are the keyboard and what's called the action. This is the intricate wooden mechanism that pushes the hammers onto the strings when a key is pressed. Each of the 88 keys is placed in order, and a technician must weight, measure, and adjust every single one several times. The margins are so fine with everything. It's fractions of a millimeter. Narrator: Hammerheads are tightly wrapped felt layers that can withstand hitting the steel strings for years without wearing down. The heads are glued to a shank, a wooden rod that allows the hammer to move. But they're not one-size-fits-all. Heavier shanks are paired with lower notes, and the Cavendish team tests this by ear. A proper hand-built action is individualized to each piano frame. And once all the parts are in place, the piano is thoroughly tested with the basher. It takes about three months to finish a piano. That's why Cavendish only makes about 50 every year. Pianos were invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy in the early 1700s. Called fortepianos, they were an improvement on the harpsichord because the hammers responded to a hard or soft touch to create dynamic tones. Classical-era composers like Mozart and Beethoven popularized piano music. And during the Industrial Revolution, piano making spread across Europe. Britain touted its burgeoning piano industry at the Great Exhibition in 1851. By then, London alone boasted around 200 manufacturers producing 23,000 pianos a year. Pianos became a must-have item in the country's households, from working-class families to the upper crust, for both decoration and entertainment. But the 20th century brought new diversions into British homes. Radio in the 1920s — Broadcaster: This is the BBC Home Service. Here is the news. Narrator: — and then television in the 1950s. Broadcaster: The queen is now able to receive the emblems of majesty. Narrator: And in the past 40-some years, consumers have preferred electronic keyboards, which can synthesize a variety of sounds and take up less space. The killer blow for Britain's piano industry came from cheaper foreign imports, mass-produced instruments made in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Today, China, Japan, and Indonesia hold over 60% of the global piano market. A Cavendish piano starts at $7,500. And a full-size grand piano costs $30,000. That's double the price of Adam's competitors. And in the beginning, that price point kept customers away. Adam: Our first year, we made two pianos. Then our second year we made around about six pianos, and it's taken us a long time to get to the stage we are at now. Narrator: But the still fairly small scale of the business isn't the only hurdle Adam's had to overcome. There are also scores of older, used pianos that many people give away for free just to be rid of them. Or because they would be even costlier to restore to their former glory than buying new. Adam: Put it this way. The first half of a piano's life is a lot more valuable than the last half of a piano's life. I know it's a little bit sad, isn't it? And I'm getting old, but you know, I can always look back fondly to when I was younger. But they're not like violins. You see, violins improve with age. So we have the best violins in the world were made hundreds of years ago. That's not true with pianos. Narrator: So while the market may be smaller in the future, Adam wants Cavendish to keep making high-quality instruments. Adam: Well, it'd be nice if it carries on going after me. That would be the main thing, really. Narrator: He offers apprenticeships to a new generation of British artisans and partners with the only school in the country that offers technical piano-making courses. All to stay focused on what led him to start Cavendish in the first place — not letting the craft disappear.