Advice from Moving Experts: How to Move a Piano
Post updated: January 5th, 2017
So, you want to know how to move a piano yourself. Maybe you want to save some cash, you need to impress that girl down the hall in Apartment 4F or you want to prove something to your middle-school gym teacher that called you scrawny all throughout seventh grade. Those are all good reasons (sort of).
But the reality is that moving a piano is hard. They are heavy, complicated music-making machines with the potential to do serious damage to your hardwood floors, not to mention your lumbar region. And slipping up could mean scratches or imperfections appearing on the piano itself, which you do not want, whether it is a family heirloom or carefully curated furniture investment.
Learning how to move a piano will take a bit of time and study, but this guide should be your first step. But before we start, know that FlatRate Moving can handle any type of furniture you have. If you start to eye that tinkling behemoth and get second thoughts about lugging it up and down some stairs, investigate what a professional mover can do for you. This will be a running theme.
An Awkward Weight
First things first, take note that these musical beasts are not just extremely heavy, but unwieldy. Upright pianos are extremely top-heavy, with less dense, more delicate legs. You are going to need some extra manpower (and womanpower) if you want to tackle this job yourself. At least four people are ideal, with two on lifting duty and multiple people to put the equipment in the proper place and guide the instrument around tight corners and up into the moving truck.
Extra care when transporting a piano is paramount, because not only do you want to avoid scratches and exterior damage, but you want to keep the insides pitch-perfect. The innards of a piano contain strings, felt hammers, pedals, ivory that you can’t even see beyond the finger keys and all sorts of crazy contraptions. Keeping that intact is an essential part of the job.
Prepare Your Team
Beyond the need for multiple hands, proper equipment is a must. Invest in some heavy duty furniture straps, which will help ease the load on you and your helpers.
Also, a furniture dolly is a must. Along flat surfaces, rolling the piano will much easier than carrying it. It will save your muscles and significantly reduce the chances of you or your helpers injuring themselves. Four-wheeled dollies are the way to go. And if you have a particularly large instrument, you will want two dollies; one for each end.
Make sure all your mover/helpers are dressed in comfortable clothes and sneakers, with no dangling jewelry or accessories. The last thing you want is for an earring or necklace to get caught on the piano and cause serious injury.
Go over the plan in detail before lifting a finger. Explaining to your team how to move a piano is essential to curbing unnecessary questions while the instrument is suspended in mid-air or halfway up the ramp.
Prepare the Piano
Never roll the instrument on its metal casters. These are primarily used for decorative purposes, or to move just a few inches. Also, they can gouge hardwood floors. Pushing an upright piano on its coasters could cause the front end to collapse. Ideally, the casters will be completed removed. That will make it much easier to balance on the aforementioned dollies.
With a grand piano, the easiest way to move it is to completely remove the legs. Wrap a blanket around the instrument to protect it from accumulating scratches. Secure the blanket with packing tape.
The lid should be closed and locked. If your piano doesn’t have a lock on the lid then wrap it tightly to ensure it stays closed. Keys are very delicate and easily damaged.
These steps are especially important if your needs include long distance piano moving. Just transporting it across town is a heck of a job, but when you are bringing the piano across state lines you want it to be wrapped and prepared as well as possible.
The long-distance move is certainly a job for professionals. One important tip: Take a picture of the piano before it is wrapped and loaded into the truck. This will help make sure it arrives at the preferred destination in tip-top shape.
When it’s Time to Move Your Piano
Arrange the straps under each end of the piano and utilize a minimum of two persons to lift, one on each end. The straps should fit snugly on your forearms, but not pinch or irritate the skin.
When the piano is lifted, it must stay in its upright position. Tilting it, or laying on one side or another is not only dangerous, because it significantly increases the chances of the piano tipping and falling on a participant, but it also ups the potential for internal damage.
Place the piano directly on the four-wheeled dolly or dollies. Make sure the piano is balanced properly, so it will not slip off while you roll it.
If you need to move the piano more than one or two stairs, you absolutely should hire professionals. If you are going over a bump, take it really slow. You will lift the first two wheels over the bump, and then the back two.
When going up the ramp to the moving truck, you need to have the treble clef side go up first. As you may know, the bass clef side is heavier, so the center of gravity is deceiving. At least two people should be on the heavy bass clef side, and one on the other side to pull and guide the instrument up the ramp.
Where to Place Your Piano in a Moving Truck
The piano should be one of the first things loaded. It needs to be secured at the back of your truck. You are going to need a lot of boxes and furniture tucked around it to make sure it doesn’t roll around while turning corners and making sudden stops.
Since the inside of most trucks is not completely level, you want to use wood planks to minimize pressure on the legs. Always use moving straps to secure the piano in place, even if you are tucking more things around it.
Giving Your Piano a Home Inside Your Home
Work out the exact placement of the piano before you roll it off the truck and into your new home. The instrument should be against an inside wall, to eliminate the chances of cold air or moisture to damage it.
Make sure there is plenty of room for the bench to be pulled out, with space of at least one player and multiple revelers standing around for impromptu renditions of Billy Joel classics. Especially that one about the guy who plays piano. What do you have a piano for if you don’t regularly have groups of friends surrounding it, belting out songs from Long Island’s greatest rock ‘n roller?!
If your piano is out of tune when it arrives, don’t panic. This is quite common because of the movement and change in environment. It may be tempting to get it tuned right away. However, it is recommended to give the instrument at least a month to adjust to the environment in the new place first. Otherwise, you may need to just do it again shortly after.
Hire Professional Movers to Move Your Piano
Now is the time for the real lecture. You may want to try to move the giant music maker on your own, to save money or boost your inner Schwarzenegger ego, but you need to seriously consider using a service. When you are in the middle of grunting and straining, pushing that piano down the sidewalk, you will have grand fantasies of sitting in a lawn chair, sipping lemonade, watching a group of trained movers lift and transport, seemingly without effort.
The best advice you will get is to hire professionals. Pianos are heavy. Even if you and your friends can lift it, you have to understand that there is a huge difference in lifting it in one stationary place and actually carrying it several feet.
Of course, in the new place you need to control the movement down the ramp, as well. If you have even one porch step to ascend you will be regretting your decision.
But you want to be diligent about your vetting of piano movers. As we have explained, this is a very sentimentally and financially valuable piece of equipment. If you hire professionals, make sure that they are indeed experienced with moving a piano. Many claim that they handle these heavy instruments, but have no idea what they are doing. They are not at all familiar with the elements that can be damaged in the process.
So there you go. Whether you want know how to move a piano from one room to another, to the next town over or across the country, the information is all there. Use it wisely. But seriously: hire professionals. Keep your instrument and your spine in excellent shape.
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