Moving a Piano – Doing It Right

In order to retain the quality of your piano, you must take exceptional care of the instrument. Keeping the piano tuned and cleaned are just a few aspects of the care needed to ensure quality sound and performance. Like most other instruments, the piano is made from select materials which require proper care.

There are other aspects of owning a piano that must be taken into consideration as well, such as moving. Moving your piano is not a job to be taken lightly. In fact, moving pianos can prove to be complicated and detailed. Incorrect moving can lead to injuries to the movers, damage to the instrument or damage to walls and floors.

Whether you are moving from one room to the next, from one apartment to the other or from town to town, there are certain precautions that must be taken. Knowing the proper steps and hazards to avoid is important for a successful move. Those who have experience in moving pianos can offer vital tips to make, what can be, a difficult move much simpler. These tips vary according to the type of piano, location, obstacles and abilities. With that being said, a great deal of preparation and thought goes into moving pianos successfully.

Before the Move

Moving pianos may seem simple. It is obviously a common occurrence. But meeting the main objective of moving the instrument safely, without injury or damage, requires proper planning. Before the move, make a list of all factors included in the move – navigation in and out of both locations, weight, transport and weather conditions. Deciding whether you want to hire a professional, with years of experience or do the job on your own requires an assessment of your personal resources and the challenges involved in the move. Will you hire a professional or will you do the job yourself? This has to be a personal decision made by you, the owner of the instrument.

Asking the opinions of others who have tackled the challenge can help you make a wise decision. The experiences of others can reveal all the downfalls and mistakes which may be made during the move, some of which, you may not have thought of yourself.

Professional Movers

Choosing a professional should be a no-brainer. They have experience in this area and can even be termed an expert at moving pianos. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take many professionals to move a piano either. When movers are completely aware of the how a piano is put together and what the challengers are in moving one, it takes less manpower to make the move. The numbers then depend on the style and size of piano in question. A major concern when hiring professional movers is the knowledge and experience of the actual individuals performing the task. Don’t just ask if the ‘company’ has experience moving pianos, ask whether the specific individuals being assigned to your move have piano moving experience and how much. There is a drastic difference between ordinary movers and piano moving experts. You will want to make sure you hire the right people.

Professional piano movers know they need more than basic information and should demonstrate that by asking you to provide those important details. For instance, movers need to know the to and fro of the move, this entails exact locations and obstacles related to entrance to the building and interior placement of the piano. If stairs or steps are involved, the movers will need to know if the steps are straight or spiral and how many steps are involved. Different angles mean different moving strategies which can determine a successful move rather quickly.

Jason Martin of Braymore Piano Movers gives this statistic, “Over 60% of people don’t have a clue how many steps are in front of their home and a surprising amount of people don’t think this is an important thing for the piano mover to know.”

Piano MoversTypes of Pianos

Movers will also need to know if you have a grand piano or upright piano. While Upright pianos need more room height-wise, Grand pianos are longer and need to be accommodated for length. It makes all the difference, since size and weight can be related to the size of openings and the equipment and manpower required. Size is a major factor, with most pianos weighing anywhere from 300 pounds, as with small uprights, and Grands up to 1,000 pounds. These variations in size and weight can require completely different moving tactics.

Uprights

As far as Upright pianos are concerned, there are many versions. There are Spinets, which are the smallest specimens. These pianos are in the 300 pound weight range and stand approximately 3 feet tall and 4 feet long. Console pianos are a bit taller but do not weigh as much as a Spinet. Studio pianos are next in line, weighing around 400 pounds and stand just a bit taller than a Console piano. The Classic Upright piano, being the largest upright version, usually weighs around 500 pounds. Make sure to include the exact specifics as to the type of upright, its measurements and weight to your piano movers.

Grand Pianos

The first type of Grand piano is the Horizontal Grand Piano. This piano has a unique shape and will have to be given special attention. In most cases, this instrument will have to be disassembled. True piano moving professionals will be prepared for this scenario if they have been properly informed ahead of time. Even the smallest Grand piano, such as the Horizontal Grand, will take at least four expert movers.

Baby Grand pianos have to be handled in much the same way, with legs and pedals removed before transition. These pianos are usually 500 pounds in weight and around 5 feet in length. Parlour Grands are only a little bigger and can usually be moved with the same number of people. Larger versions, such as Ballroom Grands and Concert Grands take more movers and detailed precautions. Ballroom Grands take up to five movers while Concert Grands can take up to a dozen people to make the move. The utmost caution must be taken as these larger versions comes with large price tags, as well, usually $50,000 or more.

In many cases, pianos have to be disassembled before the move. Grand pianos can easily be taken apart while upright versions, generally have few removal parts. Professional piano movers will know how to disassemble the instrument in order to get around staircases or other immobile structures of the home.

If you are purchasing a new piano, be sure to ask the instrument to vendor about the delivery policy they have for their pianos. Do they provide delivery of new purchases and will the delivery costs be included in the price of the piano or are those additional charges you must pay? If you must hire or provide your own piano movers, will the business owners provide any assistance in moving the piano out of the showroom or warehouse? While some business owners are more than happy to lend their help in moving the instruments from the shop, others believe that moving is an additional job and ask for compensation for their help. Expert movers also sometimes have stipulations. Some movers only relocate pianos while some are more than happy to move purchased instruments to their new home. The more information you provide the better. This keeps things moving smoothly.

Pianos are prized possessions, owned by musicians, celebrities and collectors. True professional piano movers will have strong reputations for moving instruments for celebrities, piano companies and other distinguished clients. They build their reputation by carefully considering all the factors of the move. Well known individuals such as the musician and artist, Prince, Stephen Harper and the Prime Minister of Canada, have employed the services of professional piano movers. They wouldn’t trust their valued instruments to someone who wasn’t highly experienced.

“Moving a piano is hard! Hiring movers with sound experience will mitigate any concerns with going about it alone,” says Joe Devost, Operations Field Manager with You Move Me.

So appropriately, these movers have experience beyond most traditional movers. If you have questions about certain situations, types of pianos or moving areas, these piano moving experts are more than happy to answer your concerns. This is the basic difference between a professional job and a “do it yourself” situation.

Moving a PianoDIY Piano Moving

Although there are many pros about professional movers, you may find it more affordable to stick with your own manpower. While using movers to complete the task is preferred, you can do this on your own with a few instructions and the proper equipment.

Planning ahead is just as important or maybe even more important, when you are coordinating the move yourself. In order to have a successful move, there are several things that must be done beforehand.

One little known, yet important detail of moving a piano, is knowing how many people will be needed for help. Since this is a “do it yourself” move, you should be prepared to use more people than the professionals might use. Considering the size and weight of the instrument, there will need to be people on all sides of the piano to provide ample support. You will also need to make yourself familiar with the type of piano you will be moving. Size and weight make all the difference in how you move your piano and how to avoid damage to the instrument, the movers and the property.

Javier Odom of Walt’s Jewelers, has made many moves that involved moving their piano as well. He offers this advice from his experience:

“I verified that every single person moving the piano could lift a portion of the piano by themselves prior to movement. This was to weed out the weak and unreliable. Then we would move the piano like a bunch of ants carrying the queen herself.”

Check Surroundings and Maneuverability

The first thing to do when getting ready to move your piano is to observe your surroundings. Will you be able to move the piano with little maneuvering? Will anything get in the way of the movers? There are many questions to ask and observations to take in, making sure the instrument has no direct contact with other structures or objects that have any negative effect on the move. Just like professional movers, you will need to understand the angles of the stairwells, sizes of doorways and what degree of corners you will navigate in the building. Make sure to have the proper tools, such as tape measures to compare the size of the piano with the size of the moving space, especially the doorway. Make sure to measure height, depth and width to be certain. The last thing you want is for the piano or the door frame to endure scratches or other damage. In some cases, door facings have to be removed to ensure smooth transition from room to room.

Tie Down

Next, you will want to make sure the instrument is tied down properly. Just as home structures will have to be prepared, so will the body of the piano. Closing the lid and using the lock, if you have one, will ensure the ivories are protected during the move. After the lid is closed, you may want to wrap the instrument in padding, if the whole ensemble will still fit through the doorway. The best padding could be old quilts or moving blankets secured with tape. Both these options work. Again, measurements, after wrapping, will ensure you have the needed room to maneuver through tight spaces.

Moving Equipment

When you are ready to actually move the piano, you may need a dolly. Especially if you are lacking in the number of movers. A mover’s dolly is required to move the immense weight of the piano in these instances. Without this equipment, you may experience pulled muscles or injuries to your movers and damage to flooring due to the weight of the instrument. When you load the piano and start to move, make sure you take it slow. Move with short strides allowing a good visual of what is directly behind and around you.

After the Move

Not only do you have to be concerned about the move, you also have to take into account the after care of the move. So many people do not understand the maintenance required after moving a piano. Weather conditions and the shifting of positions can cause a piano to become out of tune. As humidity increases, the sound board swells causing a higher pitch because of stretched strings. If conditions are dryer than usual, the soundboard flattens out, loosening the strings and dropping the pitch. During the move, you can experience one or both of these conditions.

These conditions will have to be adjusted before you can enjoy playing the instrument again. If your piano is of great quality and has been tuned every four months or so, you will want to wait a few weeks after the move to tune the instrument again. If your piano is an older version, you can go ahead and get the instrument tuned right away.

Moving pianos will never be an easy job, but you can avoid frustration by doing the proper preparation and research beforehand. Music lovers around the world will agree that making the successful move is well worth the trouble in order to enjoy the widely appreciated music of the piano.

Before the move, make sure you weigh your options. Are you ready? Do you have the right equipment? Maybe it’s time to call a professional. Whatever you decide, make sure to discuss your options, do your research and take your time. After all, the most important aspect of the move will be the planning. You now know the keys to a successful move. The reward will be music to your ears.

Kathleen Krueger

Kathleen is a full-time freelance writer and owner of Crafter of Words LLC. She specializes in providing high-quality blogs, website copy and email campaigns for businesses. She frequently writes on topics of interest to home owners such as remodeling, storage and moving.

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