Every household out there has plenty of things that are difficult to move. Given their size, shape, and value, they pose a real problem when it comes to safely relocating them. In the category of things that are difficult to shift, piano moving takes the cake, probably. It’s not only big and cumbersome, but it’s also awkward and valuable. If it happens to be an old or collectible instrument as well, then you really have your work cut out for you. This is why we’ve assembled a list of the best tips and tricks to moving a piano, to help you along the way.
#1. Ask for help from professional piano movers
Whether you knew it or not, there are moving companies out there that specialize solely on pianos. It’s recommended you choose one, get an estimate, and then hire them to do the job for you. If you need to wind your way through furniture and a labyrinth of rooms, traipse down the stairs with the piano, or if the musical piece itself is old and valuable, it’s always best to not take any risks.
Should something happen to it, the damage is almost irreparable. This includes new pianos as well. If they are damaged in the process of moving, it will cost you a lot to get them back to their original shape, because pianos are very expensive. Usually, they cost somewhere between $3000 and $100 000, so you don’t want to harm one.
#2. When moving a piano, make sure you have the right equipment
Moving a piano is almost impossible without a piano dolly. It’s an essential piece of equipment that will help you carry it easily and securely. You can use a regular moving dolly as well, provided the type of piano you have allows it, but specially made piano dollies are best. You can also find these for rental.
Apart from the dolly, you will also need some heavy-duty straps. They will tie down the piano and make sure it doesn’t shift while you’re transporting it. You can also use the straps to secure the piano inside the moving truck so that it doesn’t slip and get damaged in traffic.
The third piece of equipment you need are blankets or any other type of padding. You must wrap the musical instrument in them to protect it from bumps, scratches, and cracks. Once again, it’s crucial you don’t start the job without any of these elements. When moving a piano, it really is best to be safe than sorry.
#3. Don’t neglect the piano’s lid
To keep it from opening and possibly tearing while the move is in progress, close and lock the lid prior to starting. If the piano doesn’t come with a lock, you need to wrap the lid closed or even tape it down. However, be careful what kind of tape you use, so as not to damage the piano’s surface.
Apart from keeping the lid from tearing, you will also protect the keyboards themselves, which are very fragile. If the moving damages the ivory key tops, it will cost you some $10 to $20 to replace them, plus an average of $40 to $50 an hour for the manual labor. However, if the whole key gets damaged, it will have to be custom made or ordered so that it fits the piano correctly.
The third scenario happens when your piano is very old and they don’t make it anymore. Simply put, you’re in trouble because you will have to contact the manufacturer or use some generic parts to replace it. However, it will be expensive, and it will not sound like the original did. As pointed above, it’s just not worth it if the quality of your piano is high. Call in for local pro help and they will go the distance for you in a modern fashion, without damaging any pieces on your spinet.
Don’t also forget to remove any sheet of music that might be lying on the piano itself, so that it doesn’t get lost when the piano moves.
#4. Don’t forget about the corners
When you wrap a piano to get it ready for the big move, don’t forget to pay particular attention to its corners. These are the parts most likely to get damaged during the shift. Wrap them tightly in padding or blankets. Also, make sure the blankets are long, thick and fluffy enough to actually protect the piano from bumps, not just cover it.
As much as possible, try not to let the tape you’re using touch the surface of the instrument, as the glue will damage the wood.
#5. Never lift a piano by its legs
A crucial piece of advice is never to lift a piano by its legs, as they are its most vulnerable part. Actually, most movers recommend you unscrew the legs altogether and move them separately, to avoid any mishaps from happening. Always lift the piano by its body and place it gently on the dolly.
#6. Don’t turn the piano on its side
Turning it on its side will only damage the inner mechanics of the instrument, which are delicate to begin with. When moving a piano, it’s best you keep it as straight as possible, in an upright position. However, there are some cases in which you must turn it on its side. For example, when you need to fit it through a door, get it inside an elevator or down a staircase. Make sure you move as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t spend too much time on one side.
#7. Find a location for it in the new house before you move it
When moving a piano into a new house, make sure you know exactly where you’re going to position it before you move it there. It should be against a wall, preferably an inside one. The purpose is to protect it from the cold and dampness outside walls usually suffer from.
Don’t forget to tune it after you moved it to its new location. Although you might have been extremely careful with it during the move and although it seems like a sturdy instrument, it’s very sensitive to movement. Ask a professional for help and he or she will get it back in tune in no time.
As far as the piano moving cost goes, it depends on the area of the country you live in. Moving companies are available nationwide. However, they charge differently. West side moving companies, including the ones in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Orlando, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay charge approximately $150 plus $3 per step.
East side companies, in places such as Kansas, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Brooklyn included, Charlotte, NC, and Raleigh, NC, charge some $175 per move. If you live in areas such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, or Tacoma, you are expected to pay an average of $600 for a baby grand piano.
Texas, Potter, and Albuquerque moving companies charge $225 per move.
Moving a delicate musical instrument such as a piano is not an easy task to accomplish, especially if it’s a grand piano. However, by doing sufficient preparing and following all the rules pointed above, you may be able to do it yourself. If not, remember there’s always hired help you can call in to see it through for you.