IT'S the wealth of history under the lids of the more than 50 pianos on Fred Cole's Booerie Creek 'piano farm' that have kept him passionate about their restoration for more than three decades.

"What I love about pianos is the history," Mr Cole said.

"I mean, every one of these, you can imagine how many people have gathered around these pianos and had sing-alongs.

"The piano used to be like the TV, or the media centre of the house. When people got home they'd put the candles on the candelabra and then they all got around and sang."

Inside Fred Cole's shed
Inside Fred Cole's shed Marc Stapelberg

It was a friend's worn-out and unplayable piano on a country property in Munich, Germany that first piqued Mr Cole's interest in piano restoration.

It took four days, but he managed to get the job done.

Following the successful restoration, he began reading and studying piano repair.

PIANO MAN: Specialty Pianos owner Fred Cole has a piano farm with up to 40 pianos he is repairing.
PIANO MAN: Specialty Pianos owner Fred Cole has a piano farm with up to 40 pianos he is repairing. Marc Stapelberg

In 1981, he moved to Australia, and soon after started his own piano repair and restoration company, Specialty Pianos.

At any time, Mr Cole said he has about 50 or 60 pianos, many of which are more than 100 years old and are at various stages of repair in his Booerie Creek sheds.

Passionate about pianos.
Passionate about pianos. Marc Stapelberg

Pointing to a polished and ornate piano, he said the age can be determined by the piano's legs.

Turn of the century pianos are recognisably ornate compared to the straight and square legs of pianos made between 1910-1918.

Mr Cole, who first learnt to play piano aged seven, said his favourite pianos to repair were the ones in desperate need of a little TLC.

"What I like are the ones that I find in tractor sheds with a tarp over it, covered in oil, and at the end of the day you get something that looks amazing," he said.

"If they're played a lot they wear out and if they're not played enough they stick and gum up and nothing will move and then you've got rats, mice, cockroaches, silverfish."


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