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Carey Beebe adjusting the Viennese action of an early piano 13K jpeg

Made in Sydney

Harpsichords, trotting sulkies, caskets and ugg boots…there’s a ready market for the weird, wonderful and unique range of Emerald City products.

Sydney used to be a world leader in the manufacture of piano rolls, harmonicas, and, oddly enough, automobiles (providing you really wanted to drive a Leyland P76). Those three industries have moved on—the wonderful Mastertouch Piano Roll factory in Petersham is the most recent casualty of economic and musical rationalism—yet Sydney is still capable of turning out some wild and wonderful creations, from championship-winning Malibu-style surfboards to state-of-the-art shopping trolleys. Or maybe what you really want is a brand new harpsichord.

If so, take a trip down the new M5 East in the direction of Lorraine Street, Peakhurst, where former concert performer Carey Beebe runs his one-man harpsichord empire in an industrial estate shared by, among others, St George Wheel Works and National Air Compressors. Beebe’s business has become increasingly concerned with the tuning and repair of instruments, yet he remains one of the five or six Australian craftsmen who can actually make you one (providing you don’t mind waiting a year or so). Beebe mentions he’s been asked to supply one to the studio that is to record silverchair’s next album.

Carey Beebe’s harpsichords are built to original specification, so they will sound pretty much like the ones used by such harpsichord legends as Rameau and Couperin. Beebe uses some traditional tools but has also adapted some modern ones—one of his favourites is a dentist’s drill, originally intended for root canal therapy.

It is less surprising to learn that surfboards are made locally, although non-waxheads may be amazed at how many surfers still insist on the local product…

Article by James Cockington
The Sydney Morning Herald January 3 2002

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