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Piano legs on grands #2519775
03/11/16 03:03 AM
03/11/16 03:03 AM
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Coyotewoods Offline OP
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Piano legs in general intrigue me, but especially on grands.

I saw this building once in Berkely, very contemporary and interesting. One section seemed to defy gravity as it extended out toward the road, kind of hovering over open space. I couldn't grasp the engineering that allowed for that building to remain upright without toppling over.

My civil engineer friend just stared at me in silence when I pointed at that building and shared this with him.

Grand pianos have that back leg that seems centered and sure. But I wonder just how misleading that third leg is in terms of the amount of stability it lends a piano. Steinway and others would have added a fourth leg had they felt it necessary; and clearly they don't. But why?

The front legs on a grand seem to integrate well with the piano's design, while the third tends to feel like an awkward appendage that hasn't yet fully evolved. Are these third legs carrying more weight than the front ones? Are they more vulnerable?

Not that I'll ever own a grand. But this has perplexed me my entire life. I grew up with a baby grand, and so did my mother. She would play under her mother's piano as her mother taught lessons and practiced her music. But I never crawled under the piano to play, lest it collapse and squash me flat.

These legs come off during transport. That's convenient. But I can't understand how a handful of screws can hold together and support well over 1,000 pounds of hefty piano.

If I were to lay beneath one of these pianos, which will never happen, will I be looking up at the soundboard? Do technicians ever have to crawl under there?

I'm just curious.

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Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519811
03/11/16 07:51 AM
03/11/16 07:51 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,187
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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Dear Moosenotes,

First, I love your posts. They are refreshing for me to read and to respond to.

The three legged design offers an easier break down of the piano than if it had four (or six) legs. One front leg is taken off and the piano can easily pivot on the other two to lay down on a "piano board".

The reason the legs can be secure with just a few srcews is that the screws are not the only things holding legs into place. Many manufacturers have an heavy metal plate that is sunk into the top of the leg that must meet and lock into a mate on the underside of the piano.

There are times when an older piano will have a loose joint between the apron of the leg and the leg itself. THIS is dangerous and results in a piano that sways back and forth.

Lastly, yes, when you are laying underneath the piano you are staring up at the bottom of the soundboard, which looks like this:

[Linked Image]

That is the underside view of a Bosendorfer Imperial.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
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Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519822
03/11/16 08:56 AM
03/11/16 08:56 AM
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Karl Watson Offline
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Dear MooseNotes:
I too enjoy the topics that you initiate.
About piano legs: I have a particular horror of seeing Steinway-style legs on rebuilt Masons. There seems to be a powerful desire to produce a new mixed-breed, a Labradoodle piano. Perhaps the current owners of the Mason & Hamlin mark should fit spade legs to their products. It would be appropriate.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519827
03/11/16 09:15 AM
03/11/16 09:15 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 305
In the mountains of NC
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'Moose, 3 legs will guarantee that the grand piano remain stable on any surface, even those that are not level. Why? Because the ends of 3 legs will always form a plane, even if they're not the same length or are different dimensions apart from one another. By comparison, for a 4 legged object to remain correctly supported, level, and wobble free, all 4 of the legs must be exactly the same length, attached to the piano on a perfectly level plane, AND the floor on which the piano rests upon must be perfectly level. All the aformentioned conditions are highly unlikely, the lack of which resulting in what you commonly see in any café where all the tables have 4 legs; wads of napkins stuffed under one leg in an often futile effort to stop the table from rocking back and forth while trying to enjoy a meal wink

Furthermore, a grand piano is a heavy instrument, and if it were to have 4 legs and were resting upon an uneven floor, the piano would have the ability to twist in an effort to "find" its level, which if drastic enough could cause damage to glued joints such as soundboard to rim, etc. 3 legs eliminates this possiblity. And upright pianos by virtue of their design of structure, particularly where they meet the floor, are much more rigid and most will have an easier time remaining in shape despite resting upon a slightly uneven surface.

The number of supporting legs an object has doesn't necessarily reflect what it actually needs for support, but the number usually tends to coincide with the shape of that which is being supported, often times purely for aesthetics, i.e., 4 legs for tables (not entirely necessary, in fact, often quite annoying), 4 legs for supporting a water tower (necessary), etc.

The grand piano by virtue of its shape and length is well suited to 3 legs for support, fully "supported" by the fact that there haven't been any issues with them falling over for lack of said support grin

Regards,
Andy


1979 Yamaha C7D - Yamaha P115 - Korg MicroKORG synth. - Korg Kaossilator Pro synth.
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519829
03/11/16 09:18 AM
03/11/16 09:18 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
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wouter79 Offline
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>The front legs on a grand seem to integrate well with the piano's design, while the third tends to feel like an awkward appendage that hasn't yet fully evolved. Are these third legs carrying more weight than the front ones? Are they more vulnerable?


I lifted my piano a few times, on my piano the back leg carries less weight.


Most of the weight of a grand is at the front left side, then front right, then the back.

My guess is that the action, pin block contribute, plus that the metal frame is heaviest at the front (covering the pin block). I'm not sure why left is heavier, maybe because the bass strings are heavier?


[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519835
03/11/16 09:40 AM
03/11/16 09:40 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,106
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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All great responses:

I might add, that the weakness of the grand piano style leg design is that you really need to be careful when trying to move/roll the piano on it's 3 legs and casters. I was always told if you want move the grand piano a short distance on its casters, always have enough assistance to lift up a bit on the piano when moving the piano on its own castors so as not to put too much stress on the leg assembly, which is a weak-point in the stability of the design.

This is why they use the big "truck-castor-assemblies" or "stage trucks" at concert venues and schools and other areas where a grand piano has to be moved or relocated often on a stage.

The leg designs are stout, but not unbreakable.

Just my .02.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Rickster] #2519838
03/11/16 09:52 AM
03/11/16 09:52 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 305
In the mountains of NC
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DrewBone Offline
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Originally Posted by Rickster
...The leg designs are stout, but not unbreakable...

Rick


True. The grand piano legs are designed primarily to support what's known as a compression load (mostly straight down), and not a significant side load, else there would be diagonal supports at their attachment points known as gussets, which would make for a rather odd sight on a pinano wink

Regards,
Andy


1979 Yamaha C7D - Yamaha P115 - Korg MicroKORG synth. - Korg Kaossilator Pro synth.
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519846
03/11/16 10:20 AM
03/11/16 10:20 AM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 56
Colorado, USA
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Dave in Denver Offline
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Moose, the legs on my Weber Duo Art are double legs (as are most old players) which join under a cross piece at the top, and on a platform piece at the base, with two casters under the platform. I gather these were done because of the substantial extra weight from the old pneumatic player systems (several hundred pounds). It will be interesting to see how well these 6 casters sit on my tile floor once the piano comes home.


Dave In Denver
1916 Weber FR 6' Duo Art
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519857
03/11/16 10:45 AM
03/11/16 10:45 AM
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Posts: 461
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Coyotewoods Offline OP
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Rich, thank you for the photo. It just seems as if a piano that long should sag. The harp can't sag, I suppose, but that's a really long span of space. Are the cross supports there to protect the soundboard, or do they actually help distribute some of the weight?

Karl, Labradoodle piano had me laughing out loud. That's the funniest thing I've read in a LONG time. :o))

Dave, you shared photos, but I can't recall seeing the legs. Are they doubled up, side by side, and look as if they're one?

And one more question: What about the wheels? I like my wheels pointing in the same direction. It just looks nicer and connotes a sense of stability (even if one leg isn't fully touching the floor on my upright). The legs always seem to be off center to the wheels, which must place a tremendous responsibility on the metal wheel's casing. How does wheel alignment factor into piano stability?

Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519951
03/11/16 03:41 PM
03/11/16 03:41 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,811
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by MooseNotes
... will I be looking up at the soundboard? Do technicians ever have to crawl under there?


Yes and yes. The one thing you do under a grand piano is stretch a piece of light string or stout thread against the underside of the sound board between the two longest ribs. The purpose is to see how much crown the board has. Mostly that's done when you're evaluating a piano for a potential purchase. Same on an upright, except that you only have to kneel behind it.



-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

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Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2519974
03/11/16 05:17 PM
03/11/16 05:17 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,187
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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Originally Posted by MooseNotes


And one more question: What about the wheels? I like my wheels pointing in the same direction. It just looks nicer and connotes a sense of stability (even if one leg isn't fully touching the floor on my upright). The legs always seem to be off center to the wheels, which must place a tremendous responsibility on the metal wheel's casing. How does wheel alignment factor into piano stability?


In short, it doesn't. The wheels are rarely faced exactly the same way because the last time the piano was moved it was most likely not moved in a linear direction. For instance, perhaps the back end was moved straight and the front end was moved to the left.

If it bothers you lift each leg off the floor separately and have someone adjust the leg for you.

Cheers!


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
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Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Rich Galassini] #2520037
03/11/16 10:00 PM
03/11/16 10:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Wheels pointing in the same way are more likely to let the piano roll when you do not want it to than to have the wheels point in different directions.


Semipro Tech
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: BDB] #2520044
03/11/16 10:40 PM
03/11/16 10:40 PM
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Coyotewoods Offline OP
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But they look so sloppy when they're not all facing the same way.

It's like when you have a field of sunflowers and one lone rebel flower is turned at a different angle.

Besides, don't those Steinway and Bettleguese wheels lock down? (Bochendorfer? Probably more like that.)

Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520045
03/11/16 10:48 PM
03/11/16 10:48 PM
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Portland, OR
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Cassia Offline
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Originally Posted by MooseNotes
But they look so sloppy when they're not all facing the same way.

It's like when you have a field of sunflowers and one lone rebel flower is turned at a different angle.


I hear ya. When I bought my current piano, one of the movers was very particular and took great care to ensure my piano was perfectly centered on its rug, and made sure the front casters were both facing the same way (pointing forward towards the treble side), and the back caster was pointing backwards (all three are in caster cups, so no concerns with rolling away). The casters on my last piano were pointing any which way, and it drove me nuts every time I looked at them. Needless to say, I tipped the movers well.


Yamaha C2X
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520177
03/12/16 09:31 AM
03/12/16 09:31 AM
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FRANCE
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FRANCE
It made me think of the documentary called "PIANOMANIA"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA3E1G6qKFQ
From 2mn35 you will see what happens to the leg of the grand piano.

Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520197
03/12/16 10:44 AM
03/12/16 10:44 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,106
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by SFRANCE
It made me think of the documentary called "PIANOMANIA"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA3E1G6qKFQ
From 2mn35 you will see what happens to the leg of the grand piano.

That was an interesting video. As I watched, I thought about Evil-Knievel, the well-known American dare-devil. That stunt could easily have been disastrous and caused severe injury to life or property.

I'm not sure what point was trying to be proven, but I would not have done that with any of my pianos or my violin. smile

So, the least amount of downward stress/pressure/weight, as DrewBone has stated, is on the right-front leg of a grand piano; that's what I got from watching the video. If the designers of the grand piano had intended to use a violin as a piano leg, they would have done so.

Since I do not understand German, I'm not so sure what was so funny about the whole thing. But, it was an interesting video; even more so for dare-devils and stunt-men. smile

Thanks for posting the video! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520239
03/12/16 12:56 PM
03/12/16 12:56 PM
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FRANCE
Regarding the part in German that was not translated after the phone conversation. He said it is actually quite funny asking a violonist to find a violin that will be smashed into pieces and the first thing he said... followed in English in the video :" you want to smash it"

Now you know the rest of the story like Paul Harvey smile

Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520246
03/12/16 01:06 PM
03/12/16 01:06 PM
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Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by SFRANCE
Regarding the part in German that was not translated after the phone conversation. He said it is actually quite funny asking a violonist to find a violin that will be smashed into pieces and the first thing he said... followed in English in the video :" you want to smash it"

Now you know the rest of the story like Paul Harvey smile

Yes, I can understand the humor now. smile

Kind of like the Rock music groups that smash their expensive Fender and Gibson guitars at the end of a concert. Of course, when you make tens of thousands of dollars a concert, you can afford to smash your guitar. grin

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Rickster] #2520251
03/12/16 01:20 PM
03/12/16 01:20 PM
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Victoria, BC
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Originally Posted by Rickster
[...]Kind of like the Rock music groups that smash their expensive Fender and Gibson guitars at the end of a concert. Of course, when you make tens of thousands of dollars a concert, you can afford to smash your guitar. grin
Rick


... as opposed to so many of us who stretch our budget as much as we can to purchase the best piano we can afford and then care for it and treasure it for as long as we can.

I find the idea of smashing guitars somewhat offensive, although I am sure it pleases (much of) the public.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Piano legs on grands [Re: Coyotewoods] #2520260
03/12/16 01:47 PM
03/12/16 01:47 PM
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Coyotewoods Offline OP
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Lang Lang's laughter was infectious. So the right side can actually do without a leg?

Fun video! :o))

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