Local Entertainer Makes National Splash with Pianos
What do Madonna, Taylor Swift and Kid Rock have in common besides stardom? Slam Grand Pianos. And they're all made in a cabinet shop in Sparks. They are the brain-child of local entertainer and musician Gary Raffanelli.
"I was playing at a club that didn't provide a piano for me and had to improvise. It hit me that I needed a lightweight piano that would be easy to move. So I built one," Raffannelli says.
Technically he developed a way to build a lightweight cabinet that an electronic piano fits into. And he can create any style in any color. He just delivered a camouflage covered piano to Kid Rock, created a zebra painted piano for a woman's house, and built a piano for Disneyland in an elegant gold-leaf version for its Tangled exhibit.
"Carrie Underwood's piano was covered with hammered chrome. It was really something," Raffannelli says. "And because they are so light, they are perfect for rising up under a stage or for dropping in for above. I mean a real grand piano weighs about 1,500 pounds. Mine weight about 200."
Over the past 15 years he's sold close to 600 Slam Grands and says the sky's the limit. By computerizing the designs the Byecraft Cabinet Company in Sparks is able to kick them out in a week's time if needed.
"We keep kind of a hall of fame list of who's playing the pianos we build," says Byecraft general manager Jeremy Evans. "It's a claim to fame for our little shop in Sparks."
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