It’s one thing to go DIY with packing your everyday stuff and a whole different ball game altogether when a piano comes into picture. Before you plan to move your piano, consider aspects like weight and type of piano. Moving a piano isn’t like moving any other furniture at your home, where all you require is strength and some helping hands. This is a delicate highly detailed musical instrument we are talking about. One little err can render it damaged.
With that being said, in no way do we mean that it isn’t possible. If you plan well and take the right steps in the most careful manner possible, it is a feat that can certainly be achieved. Read our guide on how to move a piano so that you don’t have to worry about the safety of your prized possession or even that of your own.
Understanding Your Piano
Before moving, understand the insides of your piano, take note of its weight and pre-arrange some equipment so you keep last-minute troubles at bay. There are two main varieties of pianos, upright piano, and grand piano. Their weight can range anywhere between 300 to 1000 pounds.
If it is an upright piano with a height that is less than 48 inches, then its weight will be around 300 pounds. Pianos taller than that can weigh upto 800 pounds or more.
On the other hand, the models that fall under grand pianos can weigh on a scale of 500 to 1400 pounds, depending on the model. Petite and baby grand pianos weigh around 500 pounds, while concert grand pianos can weigh as high as 1400 pounds.
Both their structure is unique, both on the outside and the internal mechanism. Small parts like the pedals should be carefully handled. If such parts dash against each other or collide with other furniture or walls while moving, then it will badly damage the piano. And getting spare parts for fixing such musical instruments can be a tough job.
The strings in an upright piano run vertically and those in the grand piano run horizontally. Understanding tiny details like these will alert you on which areas to be gentle while moving that big instrument. If your piano is huge, like a parlor grand piano or a concert grand piano, then getting professional help is the best idea.
Why Get Professional Help?
Professionals have all the resources and equipment needed to handle fragile and delicate pianos like these. Moving pianos is such a niche skill that some companies specialize only in moving pianos! Imagine the level of delicate mechanism you have to take care of if you decide to move such a large-scale instrument by yourself. For antique pianos, you need to be extra careful, because their parts are more fragile due to age. Plus there are chances of internal damage by shock or movement and it will never play the same again.
Also, antique pianos are rare and dear to the owner, and that’s the last thing you want to mess with. So it’s better to get professionals for moving that vintage beauty. To add to that, pianos are the most cherished and expensive belongings in people’s homes. Some pianos cost a fortune, going up to almost $100,000. If such is the case, then you must invest in good movers rather than taking the risk to move it by yourself just to save a few bucks. But if you are sure you can do the task without a scratch to yourself or the piano, then read on to know how.
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Things You Will Need To Move A Piano
Piano Dolly: Get a strong four-wheeled dolly to place your piano on sideways or straight on its feet to move it. While getting a piano dolly, make sure the wheels are made of rubber so as not to cause scratches on your floors. If you don’t want to buy a piano dolly, call up your local movers and ask for equipment rental. Chances are they have quality piano dollies for rent.
Hump Strap: This is essential if you will move your piano up and down flights of stairs. And there are high chances either your current home or new property has stairs. You cannot skip out hump straps in this case, they are soft straps that you can secure on your wrists and waist with the other end around the piano wheels. Using hump straps doesn’t put any strain on your back and neck. When getting these straps, check if they are soft and made of four-ply burlap, wide, and around 15 feet long.
Moving Blankets: Getting thick moving pads will keep your pianos from scratches and damages during the move, they protect the piano from any accidental bumps along the way to your new home and also from the tight straps that hold the piano in place. You can easily find moving pads on rent in Penske or U-Haul. If you don’t want to spend on that, you can use blankets or towels, but they might get soiled. It’s better to buy your moving pads as you will require them later to move other items of furniture from your home.
Skid Board: This is a piano board that is fitted to the longer side of a grand piano before it is placed sideways on a piano dolly. A Skid Board is six feet long and makes sure the weight of the grand piano is equally distributed. Made of soft padding of cloth, this eight-inch wide board acts as the perfectly flat base for huge pianos. Again, you can easily find this moving tool on rent in any movers shop or a music store.
Harness Or Belt: A shoulder harness will help you lift without harming any muscles, it is facilitated to make lifting easier. It uses your shoulders and legs to make lifting lighter and safer. Not restricted only to lifting pianos, this harness can be used to lift other items for moving too.
Packing Tape: When you pack up your piano in moving blankets and the smaller parts in bubble wrap, you need a thick packing tape to secure it so no wrapping comes off. So even when there is rough handling, the seams won’t come off, keeping your piano parts secure.
Stretch Wrap: You can even use a stretch wrap before securing moving pads with packing tape, because packing tape may not always stick to the cloth material of moving pads.
Measuring Tape: We cannot stress on this enough, you cannot move a piano to a location only to know that it doesn’t fit there. It is important to measure doorways, pathways, and the location where the piano will be placed before you make the move. So keep a measuring tape handy before starting with the move.
Ziplock Bags: When you disassemble the piano to move it, a lot of screws are going to come out of different parts. Though they won’t be a crazy amount of screws, it might get confusing when putting the piano back together. So it is better to keep a different set of screws in different zip lock bags and name these pouches for a more organized move.
Moving A Piano
So gather all equipment and begin the process. Make sure all tools are nearby and you have taken all safety precautions. Be slow and careful as you go about each step.
1. Get Your Friends To Help
This move is going to require at least 4 strong sets of hands. Get more people to lend a hand if your piano is bigger or if the move is going to be complex involving stairs and narrow doorways. Ask them to wear proper clothing that will be comfortable during the move and shoes/boots that will give a good grip as well as protect their feet.
2. Measure Pathways
Before you start moving the piano, measure all the places you will carry the piano through. Then be it passages, doorways, or the stairs. Also measure the widths at places the piano will take a turn, and make sure to measure the width of your piano too. This will give you an idea whether you need to disassemble it even if you are moving it to the same house. It is better to secure the edges and corners of the piano with padding so that it doesn’t get scratched and doesn’t leave marks on the walls as you carry it. Also, identify your route beforehand and clear any furniture or obstacles in the way, and don’t forget to keep the pets safely away!
3. Disassemble The Piano
It is better to disassemble the piano and secure the parts separately before you load it in the moving truck. If it is a grand piano, remove the lid of the piano. For this, locate the screws holding the lid and take them off with a screwdriver, put the screws in a ziplock bag and mark it as lid screws so it’ll be easier while assembling back. Place the lid in a moving blanket and pack it up with stretch wrap and packing tape.
Now locate the lyre that is located at the bottom of the piano and is connected to the pedals. Use a screwdriver to remove this lyre. Once it is off, carefully pack this too in a moving pad. Before you forget, place the screws in a ziplock pouch and label them. After this, come to the pedals. Pianos usually have 3 pedals, and once you remove them, make sure to place and pack them in separate moving pads to avoid them from rubbing against each other. Take extra care since the pedals are essential components of the piano which enrich the music by making the notes sustain longer.
4. Secure It On The Skid Board/Piano Board
Carefully turn your piano on the side and place it on the piano board, this board is padded to cushion your piano and evenly hold its weight when you place it on a piano dolly. When you place the piano on the board, secure it in place firmly but gently with straps, remove the legs and pack them up in moving pads and put their screws in a pouch.
5. Place It On A Piano Dolly
Place the piano on the dolly, see to it that the weight of the piano is evenly distributed, now with the help of friends start moving it slowly. Make sure it is fastened in place and doesn’t slip while carrying the piano down the stairs.
6. Move The Piano
Load the main body of the piano in the truck, position it vertically, and double-check if it is secured in place so it doesn’t slip while on the road, then follow with loading the other parts like lid, lyre, pedals, and the legs. Check if all parts are fastened in place so they don’t collide against each other during the ride to your new home. Once you reach the destination, unload carefully and carry it to the location in the new house where the piano will be placed, mind the passages and doorways as you carry the piano there.
7. Retune The Piano
It is important to retune a piano after moving to a new location unless you are moving it within the same house. So once you move to your new home, wait for a period of 2-3 weeks before you return to your piano. This period allows the piano to adapt to the environment, temperature, and humidity in your new home.
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Moving Different Types Of Pianos
Though moving most pianos will require you to follow the above steps, there can be changes according to the length or type of your piano. Like moving a baby piano is the same as moving a grand piano, the only difference will be in the length, so you will need a longer piano board for a grand piano.
If you are moving an upright piano, first protect the keys and the pedals with moving pads or stretch wraps, cover with these pads and secure the packing in place with a tape. Once you have packed all sides of the piano, coordinate with your friends and pick the piano and place it on the dolly in the upright position. Take care as to not strain your back in the process. As a precaution, bend your knees as you pick the piano from its position.
Professional Piano Movers Cost
When you move the piano with the help of your friends, you will spend only on renting the equipment and on the truck rental, or the shipping costs that you incur. But if you call professional movers, it can cost you more, but that depends on the type of piano and the distance, so it is difficult setting a bar on exactly how much it will cost you. Here are some estimates
|National average cost||$1,000|
|Average range||$700 – $2,500|
Factors That Affect Cost
There are several aspects that can increase your costs of moving, if you are moving an average model across the town or within your locality, it will cost you around $150 to $500, but if you are moving the same model across the country, then it is going to cost you $1500 or more.
When the path you will be carrying the piano is full with obstacles and hurdles like stairways, narrow passages or elevators, you will need extra movers, this is going to add to your costs. Some professional movers also provide insurance coverage both for your home and your piano. Choosing that too can add to your moving expense. You can use our Moving Cost Calculator to calculate your expenses
How much time does it take to move a piano?
This depends on where your piano is getting shipped, it can take weeks or even a month for the move to be completed. If you just want to know the time it takes to disassemble and move your piano up to the pickup truck, then it will take 1-2 hours.
What is the weight of a piano?
Different types and models of piano have different weights, an average sized piano can weigh anywhere between 200 pounds to 1000 pounds.
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