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How to Move a Piano The Right Way

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Everyone loves doing big tasks themselves, especially when you can save money by taking on a job otherwise left to the professionals. Moving a piano seems like one of those tasks. Many people think that all it takes is muscles to move a piano, but protecting the instrument is just as important.

Everyone knows a piano has 88 keys, but did you know that it’s common for them to have more than 10,000 moving parts? Moving such a delicate, heavy, and complicated instrument without damaging it can be difficult, and professionals are best equipped to do this safely. You can do it yourself, but it takes a bit of preparation and a lot of help.

How to move a piano yourself

If you’re determined to move the piano by yourself, it’s important to be prepared. You’ll need the right equipment, and it’s important to make sure the piano fits every step of the way. After basic preparation, protect the piano by covering it and adding padding. Carefully move it onto a dolly or piano skid board, strapping it down to make sure it’s secure. It’s best if you have a friend or family member to help you do so. Once you get the piano into the moving truck, secure it with more straps. For additional details, take a look at the checklist below:

1. Measure the new space. 

You want to make sure your piano will fit in its new place. Measure the room, doors, and staircases to make sure there are no obstacles to getting the instrument to its new home.

2. Make sure you have the right equipment for the job. 

You will need, at the very least, piano dollies, straps, and padding. But the specific supplies you’ll need to get can vary based on the type of piano:

  • For an upright piano: You will need piano dollies.
  • For a grand piano: You will need a special piece of equipment called a piano board or piano skid board to move a grand piano. This board requires additional strapping and padding, and you should ensure that it is the right size for your piano.

3. Verify what size moving truck you’ll need. 

Take an inventory of all your stuff, especially large items like your piano and other furniture, and use it to select the correct size moving truck for your move.

4. Clear the paths first. 

Make sure you have a clear path to the door in the place you’re moving from and from the door of your new house to the location for the piano.

5. Review the path you are taking. 

If you have to go up or down stairs with the piano, make sure the stairs can bear the weight of the instrument before you start your move.

6.  Depending on the type of piano you have, you will need to take several steps to move it:

  • Moving an upright piano: Make sure that the piano dollies you use are able to carry the whole weight of the piano.
  • Moving a grand piano: You should remove the legs of a grand or baby grand piano before moving it. Secure the instrument to the piano board (mentioned above) with straps and a screwdriver.

7. Load the piano first in the truck and make sure it is securely tied down. 

The piano should be one of the first things loaded on the truck. Secure the piano with straps and ropes to prevent movement during travel.

8.  Retune the piano shortly after the move. 

Moving a piano, even when everything goes well, can cause the instrument to go out of tune. Be prepared to have it tuned after the move — though many experts advise waiting a month before doing so.

What not to do when moving a piano

Now you know the steps to take to properly and safely move a piano yourself. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:

Don’t forget pianos are heavy. 

Putting the piano on a scale to know how big the job is going to be isn’t really an option. So how do you figure out how much the piano weighs, since that weight guides the strategy you’ll use for the move as you navigate tight passageways, corners, doors, and, maybe worst of all, stairs?

A piano’s weight varies greatly by the model. Grand pianos can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds or as little as 500 pounds. As for upright models, one that’s less than 48 inches high can weigh as little as 300 pounds. If your piano is 48 inches tall or more, it can weigh as much as 800 pounds.

Here are the weights of some popular piano brands and styles:

Upright

  • Young Chang 121: 496 Pounds
  • Steinway & Sons Model 1098: 480 Pounds
  • Bösendorfer 130: 582 Pounds
  • Baldwin BH-122: 542 Pounds
  • Yamaha P22: 490 Pounds
  • Steinway & Sons Model K-52: 600 Pounds
  • Kawai K300: 500 Pounds

Grand / Baby Grand

  • Mason & Hamlin Artist Grand Piano BB: 1,090 Pounds
  • Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano: 990 Pounds
  • Steinway Model S: 540 Pounds
  • Yamaha C3 Studio: 705 Pounds
  • Young Chang Y185: 671 Pounds
  • Mason & Hamlin CC: 1,399 Pounds
  • Steinway & Sons Model B: 760 Pounds

Don’t skimp on help. 

Those weights are pretty daunting, so you’ll need to recruit a lot of help. Even the smallest of upright pianos will take at least three adults to get it safely from one place to another. Remember this: The consequences of dropping a piano are severe.

Don’t try to lift the piano without equipment. 

Make sure you use the right equipment and protection. All dollies aren’t created equal. You will need a four-wheel piano dolly, specially made piano padding, and designated piano straps tightened to the correct tension.

Don’t rely on your piano’s casters (if it has them). 

They’re not really made to roll great distances, and they weaken with time. And those rollers can jam, too. That can mean torn carpet and deep scratches on floors.

Don’t move too fast. 

Moving a piano is hard, and it shouldn’t be done in a hurry.  Moving too fast can lead to making mistakes that can result in injuries to you, your helpers, your floors, your walls, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to move a piano?

MYMOVE polled piano movers in Charlotte to see what it would cost to move a baby grand piano 10 miles in October 2019. Their answers:

Job Specifics Cost
Carey Moving and Storage 3 movers, 2 hours (minimum) $1,015 (insurance included up to $3,240 value)
Charlotte Piano Company 3 movers, flat rate $350 (insurance included)
College Hunks Hauling Junk Flat rate $500
Road Haugs 2 movers, 3 hours minimum $405 (insurance included)

 

Keep in mind this poll was conducted in October of 2019 and there can be regional differences, but the above numbers provide a basic guide.

It’s important to consider all the costs involved when it comes to making the choice to either hire professional movers to transport your piano or do it yourself. There are costs for packing, labor, truck rental, fuel, time, and set-up. Each situation will be different.

In addition, there’s also the question of tipping movers. You need to include this in your cost estimate as well. Depending on the number of movers and how long the move takes, tips could be $20 to $100 extra.

How much does a piano weigh?

Pianos come in two styles — upright and grand. Upright pianos stand tall vertically and the strings run vertically inside the case. Grand and baby grand pianos are more horizontal and the strings run that way. Weights will vary by style and manufacturer.

Most pianos will require 2-3 people to move them, using the proper equipment. More people may be needed if you are moving into a space that has a lot of obstacles or a difficult route to navigate.

What do you need to move a piano?

  1. Piano dollies: These are special dollies with four wheels, extra bearings to make turning easier, and rubber wheels to avoid damaging floors.
  2. Strapping: You will need strong strapping to keep the piano on the dolly or piano board. Look for locking straps or straps with ratchets attached so you can easily tighten and secure the strapping. Another strap to consider getting is a “hump strap.” It helps with lifting large, heavy things by extending the use of your arms. This is especially useful for going up stairs. You wrap it around your wrists then through the wheels on the bottom of the piano, and then lift up gently.
  3. Piano board or skid board: This is a large piece of plywood that has been covered in padding. To move a piano using a skid board, you strap the body of the instrument to it. Then, you put the board on a piano dolly and the body is moved.
  4. Movers pads or blankets: These blankets or pads will protect the finish of your piano during the move. They also protect the piano from the straps, tape, and any accidental bumps during transport.
  5. Shoulder harness or belt: This strap system allows movers to properly use their legs and shoulders to move large items. It will not increase the amount of weight you can carry, but will help prevent injuries from improper lifting.

The bottom line on moving pianos

Whether you hire a professional piano mover or do it yourself, make sure you know all the costs and potential risks of your decision. If you use a professional mover, the cost of the move itself could be anywhere from $200 to $1,200, depending on the size of the piano, how far you’re moving it, and whether stairs are involved. There are fewer risks of damage and injury with movers, as the professionals use the right equipment and techniques and they’ll know the best way to move your piano into its new space.

It will cost less money if you do it yourself, no doubt, but there is a good chance that something might get damaged or someone might get hurt — especially if you don’t have all the right equipment. It might be best to save everyone the hard work and get someone who knows what they are doing to help you. It will save you time and possibly money (should something happen to the piano) in the long run.


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