Brass Vs Rubber Casters

Posted by: Piano World

Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 09:18 AM

Why do most of the larger grands use brass wheels instead of rubber?

We often hear from people who want to move their piano around, usually just within one room.

Sometimes it's just to clean the floor, or it may be to make room for a party/function.

The problem is the brass wheels do a number on the floors. The usual solutions for commercial use (grand dollies) look out of place in the home.

Can the brass wheels be replaced with rubber, and will the rubber wheels have nice brass frames?

Other ideas?
Posted by: doremi

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 09:26 AM

I have always liked car tires painted in gold
Posted by: insanity

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 09:36 AM

I have concert grand type casters with rubber coating for my grand. I suppose this doesn't count as a grand dolly. Luckily those caster were included when I bought the piano, otherwise a set of 3 would have cost over 1000$ I think. These Casters are available without coating aswell. The coating can be brown or black.
Posted by: Bear 1

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 09:37 AM

I've heard that the metal casters transmit sound when the piano is placed on a stage. Don't know if that's a fact or not!

Bear
Posted by: AJB

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 09:40 AM

Surely whether the casters are rubber or metal, there is still the considerable weight of a piano pressing down on three small contact patches. There will be a tendency to dig into any floor that is softer than concrete if the casters are rigid be it hard runner or brass?
Posted by: Diaphragmatic

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:01 AM

You can replace brass castors with rubber ones easily. Your basically trading looks for movability. I haven't seen the rubber coated brass castor insanity spoke of, if thats what it is. I would be interested to see them.

It's fairly easy to switch them out, I can walk you through it if you ever get the urge.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:14 AM

The reason....

Rubber casters are ugly.

Just ask any wife. ;\)
Posted by: insanity

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:18 AM

The caster I mentioned look like this:
http://www.sauter-pianos.de/deutsch/gran....jpg&imgtitle=&
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:24 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by insanity:
The caster I mentioned look like this:
http://www.sauter-pianos.de/deutsch/gran....jpg&imgtitle=& [/b]
Very cool!

Kinda the best of both worlds.
Posted by: insanity

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:48 AM

I think I may also have found the maker of these casters, or at least someone selling them.
http://www.meyne-klaviertechnik.de/start.php?languag=en&go=10details&id=903&code=3&zustand=7

Sometime ago, I also saw them on an amercian pianoshop website. But only for special order from germany. Don't remember the site though.
Posted by: insanity

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 10:51 AM

I just found the amercian website I was talking about.
http://www.stevespianoservice.com/casters.htm
You have to scroll down a lot. It seems as if they only carry the brass version. At $568.00
each! - In case anyone is interested.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 12:05 PM

NY Steinway D's in the C&A Dept. have rubber tracked casters. Not the big locking kind like the Hamburgs (and most other European makes).
Posted by: JBB_Piano

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 02:00 PM

Are there "caster cups" available for these large, concert-version casters?
Posted by: insanity

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 02:06 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by JBB_Piano:
Are there "caster cups" available for these large, concert-version casters? [/b]
Not to my knowledge. These casters have a much bigger contact surface with the floor than smaller ones. Despite the fact that pianos equipped with these caster usually are a bit heavier due to their size, it should not be to bad for the floor.

I have my B on a persian carpet without any cups. When I move the piano, which is quite easy with these caster, there are marks on the carpet. But they go away after a few days. Any hard floor such as stone or wood should not have any problems with these caster I'd guess.
Posted by: Marty Flinn

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 02:24 PM

Rubber casters or brass, beware of moving grands room to room. The legs and leg mountings are not engineered for grands to be moved on their feet. So much mass in motion will break (or dismount)legs if there is any irregularity in the floor.
Posted by: Diaphragmatic

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 03:13 PM

Yes, if you need to move a grand it is best to have one person at each leg taking a little weight off of it while you roll it slowly.
Posted by: ejsauter

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/27/09 07:49 PM

I have the casters which insanity mentioned on my Sauter 220, although a slightly updated look.

We have beech floors (3/4 inch or so) and speaking from experience, these casters compress the wood ever so slightly and although in normal lighting there is no indication given a high oblique lighting angle, it is possible to see very faint impressions in the floor. it is not bothersome, however.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 07:44 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by JBB_Piano:
Are there "caster cups" available for these large, concert-version casters?
No. It would defeat the puropse of having large casters, which is to allow for efficient and safe moving of the instrument.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
Why do most of the larger grands use brass wheels instead of rubber?

We often hear from people who want to move their piano around, usually just within one room.

Sometimes it's just to clean the floor, or it may be to make room for a party/function.

The problem is the brass wheels do a number on the floors. The usual solutions for commercial use (grand dollies) look out of place in the home.

Can the brass wheels be replaced with rubber, and will the rubber wheels have nice brass frames?

Other ideas?
Large rubber wheels have a number of drawbacks. Besides being a visual distraction to a beautiful, expensive piano, they also interfere with the "grounding" of the piano on the stage or floor. The firm connection of the instrument to the stage, without an acoustic break such as a rubber wheel enhances the tone and projection of hte instrument. As well, large rubber wheels can give the player the sensation of a soft, flexible "suspension" underneath the instrument. A firm unyielding foundation such as provided by quality stage casters is much more desirable.

I could go on, but I don't want to be accused of shameless promotion, as I am the direct importer of these stage casters from Germany.



These casters are also available with a thin, vulcanized rubber coating to protect sensitive floors.

Jonathon, There is an issue with installing these casters on a NY Steinway: NY pianos, (as opposed to Hamburg pianos) have casters that really deserve to be called "wheelies". They are too small to roll properly on a stage. Proof for that is that they don't have (or need brakes). Virtually all German piano makes (incl. S&S) have sensible stage casters (with brakes) under their larger pianos. Converting a NY S&S to stage casters involves doing something with the legs, which either need to be shortened, because of the taller height of the stage casters, or replaced with Hamburg legs, which have the right length for the stage casters.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 07:52 PM

Besides being a visual distraction to a beautiful, expensive piano, they also interfere with the "grounding" of the piano on the stage or floor. The firm connection of the instrument to the stage, without an acoustic break such as a rubber wheel enhances the tone and projection of hte instrument. [/QB][/QUOTE]

Thanks Jorgen.

Is this based on tests, or marketing verbiage?
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 08:20 PM

I believe I've seen a NY D with extra short NY legs and those big stage casters now that you mention it, Jurgen. I'd wondered how they did it. Thanks for filling me in. The legs didn't look like they'd been shortened in any way, either.

PS--Doesn't Hamburg use a different leg locking mechanism than NY? I thought I'd heard that NY was homogenizing with Hamburg on that front, using the large screws rather than the wedges.
Posted by: Bear 1

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 08:23 PM

Hey Frank,

Hope you've rested up from your grueling whirlwind NAMM trip. \:\)

I've personally heard several Kawai's MPAs say the same thing that Jurgen just said regarding the "grounding effects." No rubber casters, no caster cups for stage and/or performing.

Best,

Bear
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 08:35 PM

Brings up another question. If rubber tracks have a detrimental effect on onstage sound, why do the NY Steinway C&A instruments have them?
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 09:02 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bear 1:
Hey Frank,

Hope you've rested up from your grueling whirlwind NAMM trip. \:\)

I've personally heard several Kawai's MPAs say the same thing that Jurgen just said regarding the "grounding effects." No rubber casters, no caster cups for stage and/or performing.

Best,

Bear [/b]
Thanks Bear, it was a great trip.

I'm still not convinced about the "grounding effects" though. Sounds more psychological than factual to me. I'm guessing a 1500lb piano is already pretty well grounded, and most of the sound projection is via the soundboard. Yes/no?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 09:06 PM

Personally I would very much doubt that companies building world class pianos like Hamburg Steinways and Sauters do would dare to impede the sound of their pianos by anything, least of all a caster.

In fact, the alternative putting these ugly stage trucks underneath concert grands appears to be far less attractive to me.

In case of doubt or disagreement, anybody can always shout at the pianist during a concert:

"Hey man, take your rubber off!!"

Norbert \:D
Posted by: Bear 1

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 10:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bear 1:
[/b]
Thanks Bear, it was a great trip.

I'm still not convinced about the "grounding effects" though. Sounds more psychological than factual to me. I'm guessing a 1500lb piano is already pretty well grounded, and most of the sound projection is via the soundboard. Yes/no? [/b]
----------
Just going by what the "Kawai MPA Pros" told me. I don't have any proof one way or the other. The last time I observed an MPA doing his thing was several years ago in Atlanta while he was prepping an EX for a concert. Those amazing technicians seem to be able to hear a pin drop in the middle of a thunder storm or a hail storm. \:\) Anyway, I asked about the casters and he stated that the solid brass casters should be directly on the stage unhindered by caster cups or piano dollies, {piano trucks} or anything else for optimum sound/tone projection. That's pretty close to what Jurgen stated I think.

Cordially,

Bear
Posted by: Supply

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/28/09 11:34 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bear 1:
..... I've personally heard several Kawai's MPAs say the same thing that Jurgen just said regarding the "grounding effects." No rubber casters, no caster cups for stage and/or performing.
Best, Bear [/b]
...I'm still not convinced about the "grounding effects" though. Sounds more psychological than factual to me. I'm guessing a 1500lb piano is already pretty well grounded, and most of the sound projection is via the soundboard. Yes/no? [/b]
Pretty big piano, Frank, that is 1-1/2 times the weight of an S&S D ! ;\)

Yes, most of the sound projecton is via the soundboard. Which means there is a residual amount that stems from elsewhere.

I am not sure about scientific studies to "prove" this, but there is plenty of "soft" evidence.

For one thing, it is well known that the stage can act as a type of secondary sounding board, enhancing the piano sound and projection in a hall.

A good friend of mine is a master piano technician in a major cultural center in Germany, where he does a lot of piano work for the German Broadcasting Corporation. They do a lot of concerts featuring the highest caliber of international pianists, recording for radio and Deutsche Gramaphone, as well as live radio concert broadcasts. All of the pianos there, including the 12 Hamburg Ds, have these casters. He said when North American pianists come, they are thrilled to play on these pianos. There is no bouncing or springiness that you have when plaing pianos mounted on a truck or spider dolly.
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/29/09 12:17 AM

Insitutional piano dollies have lots of rubber surface area on the ground. I can't imagine a rubberized caster not disintegrating after a few rolls around the stage.

An institutional studio upright (the oak ones for example) have double rubber wheels all around (4) and the pianos probably don't weigh more than 400 or 500 lbs.

Imagine rubber double wheels on a grand and you only get three sets (3 points of contact instead of 4 on a vertical) and as much as four times the weight.

It would be like putting tricycle tires on a Hummer.

And what Supply said.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/29/09 12:32 AM

Thanks for sharing what you can't imagine... ;\)

Fact is, this rubberized coating is a high tech PUR substance that is baked onto the brass wheels for several hours at high temperature (vulcanized). This material has years of proven track record, among other places is said institution, rolling on and off stages, into elevators and down the halls of the piano vaults in the basement of the broadcasting station.
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/29/09 12:43 AM

Supply: I wasn't disputing your vulcanized rubber-coated brass wheel at all. If you took it that way I didn't mean it. I was referring to all-rubber wheels like you find in institutional uprights or on cheap appliance dollies (as opposed to the better quality rubber and bearings on piano dollies).
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/29/09 09:46 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Supply:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano World:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bear 1:
..... I've personally heard several Kawai's MPAs say the same thing that Jurgen just said regarding the "grounding effects." No rubber casters, no caster cups for stage and/or performing.
Best, Bear [/b]
...I'm still not convinced about the "grounding effects" though. Sounds more psychological than factual to me. I'm guessing a 1500lb piano is already pretty well grounded, and most of the sound projection is via the soundboard. Yes/no? [/b]
Pretty big piano, Frank, that is 1-1/2 times the weight of an S&S D ! ;\)

Yes, most of the sound projecton is via the soundboard. Which means there is a residual amount that stems from elsewhere.

I am not sure about scientific studies to "prove" this, but there is plenty of "soft" evidence.

For one thing, it is well known that the stage can act as a type of secondary sounding board, enhancing the piano sound and projection in a hall.

A good friend of mine is a master piano technician in a major cultural center in Germany, where he does a lot of piano work for the German Broadcasting Corporation. They do a lot of concerts featuring the highest caliber of international pianists, recording for radio and Deutsche Gramaphone, as well as live radio concert broadcasts. All of the pianos there, including the 12 Hamburg Ds, have these casters. He said when North American pianists come, they are thrilled to play on these pianos. There is no bouncing or springiness that you have when plaing pianos mounted on a truck or spider dolly. [/b]
Ah, but the Mason & Hamlin CC is 1400lbs (according to the 12th edition of the Pierce Piano Atlas), so with the bench ... :-)

I would agree a piano firmly planted on the floor would be more stable than one on a truck or spider dolly.
My skepticism is with rubber versus brass casters.

Of course at my playing skill level, it could be mounted on silly putty and not make a difference.
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Brass Vs Rubber Casters - 01/29/09 10:43 AM

Just for fun, a dealer once demonstrated to me the quality of Bosendorfer casters. He had an Imperial on the floor of his workshop, which had a glass-smooth concrete floor.

He gave the Imperial a slight nudge and off it went like a curling stone on ice. It just moved along at a snails pace. I figured it was getting its momentum from the movement of the planet, like a pendulum. It might have moved all the way to the wall had we not both stood in front of it and stopped it.

That was the day I realized that casters lock for a reason. \:D