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Today, we’re going to look at how to make a piano shell for your keyboards. I think this is a super fun topic since I had the pleasure of using one in my band.
Note: The main reason why we wanted to build a piano shell was that we wanted to go a different route than using a few keyboard stands. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind simple stands, then I would recommend checking out this post where we breakdown the best keyboard stands.
Have you ever been to a concert and wondered, how does that band bring a real piano with them on tour? While some people will tour with actual acoustic pianos, most people don’t.
What they do is, take a piano ( it could be an upright, a baby grand or even a grand piano) and then they hollow it out. Once they hollow it out, they place a keyboard inside of it.
So, why do people do this? Mainly, because touring is not easy and pianos can be quite heavy. You can read more about the weight of pianos in this in-depth article I did on pianos here.
Note: The piano used for this was donated to us from our good friend.
When touring and gigging with a piano shell, you can actually save space on stage if you have multiple keyboards. You can easily place a keyboard on top of your stand and have one in the main spot. One thing that was done with my piano shell, with great help from bandmates was adding on to what the piano already had.
For example, they were able to add USB ports and they were also to add on new legs and brand new wheels with casters. You will see the process of doing this below.
A piano shell was something that I had wanted for a long time, but it never seemed realistic, until one day the singer/guitarist in the band got an old upright piano and hollowed it out.
From there, our drummer was able to add power inside the shell, USB ports on the outside, new legs, new wheels, and a brand new paint job. This thing looked brand new when completed and I was very grateful to have this.
Here are the steps with pictures below.
How To Build A Piano Shell For Your Keyboards In 3 Steps
1) Rip Out All Of The Strings & Metal Plate
The guitarist and singer in the band I play in was able to remove all of the strings and metal plate all on his own. This process took him a while, but it was great when it was completed.
Proceed with caution when doing this and watch a lot of tutorials on Youtube prior as this can be dangerous.
Once the strings are out, you can then dive into the next phase.
2) Sand Down The Piano
Sand down the piano completely before painting it. This picture shows it with a coat of paint. Once you sand it down, you will want to measure the inside and get the dimensions of your keyboard.
You don’t want a ton of extra space inside of the piano, so you may want to build it out more inside so it’s a tighter fit.
Note: With a little it of piano maintenance, you can really help take care of your pianos. I highly recommend keeping up with maintenance.
3) Figure Out The Height You Want
If you’re planning on sitting at the piano, you should be fine to not have to make it taller. If you want to stand as I do, you will need to add some height to it. Depending on the height of your digital piano or keyboard, you may want to adjust accordingly.
Note: The top lifts up and allows me to get inside to plug everything in. The wallplates on the side were ordered from Amazon. You can get them through this link here.
How Much Does A Piano Shell Weigh
The majority of the weight comes from the metal plate and the strings that are inside. I would say our shell weighed about 75 pounds when all was said and done.
It also has heavy-duty wheels that worked extremely well. When you a keyboard in it will weigh between 110 and 150 pounds depending on the weight of your keyboards.
Since this piano was repurposed, it weighs significantly lighter than a normal piano would. If you like the look of acoustic pianos, check out this article in which I present some great piano repurposing ideas.
You will find it interesting to see all of the different ways you can reimagine a piano.
Ease Of Use
At first sight, this looks like it is a beast, however, it usually leads to fast change over times and all we had to do was wheel it out of sight or off the stage.
If you have a bunch of keyboards on different stands, you actually take up more space than this shell. You also will have zero cables running all over the stage.
Other Bands Who Use Piano Shells
- The Killers
- twenty one pilots
- Andrew Mcmahon
This can be done in many different ways. Take your time and have a great time with your finished piano shell. Leave a comment with a picture if you have done the same or wish to.