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How to move a piano

Originally invented by Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, the piano has since become one of the most revered household items the world over. And if you happen to have one in your home, you know that it’s basically like a member of the family. So if you’re moving to a new location, you want to be sure that your piano gets there safe and sound too. 

And while piano moving can be one of the trickier parts of the moving process, it doesn’t necessarily require as much effort, dedication, and time as, say, learning how to play one. All you need is a bit of prep, patience, and attention to detail. Professional piano movers will gladly help you out along the way. Meanwhile, below are a few key pointers to guarantee that your piano arrives at your new home fully intact and ready to play. 

Steps to Move a Piano

No two pianos are the same, and neither are the homes they inhabit. There are three primary types of pianos: Grand, Upright, and Electronic. An electronic piano is generally the easiest to move. Depending on the size of the piano, two-three people might even be able to carry it by hand (and/or load it in the back of a pickup truck, for example). 

When it comes to more classical pianos, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to move one with relative ease:

Step 1: Prep the Measurements

To ensure that your piano move is actually physically possible, you'll first need all the right measurements. There will be some geometry and math involved — so get a tape measurer, pencil and paper, and start making notes. Determine the musical instrument’s width, length, and height. Then map out a moving route. Measure all the doorways, hallways, staircases, and any other pathways you’ll need to use — both at your current and new address. And factor in any tight spots and tricky angles or corners (from public stairwells to elevators to your moving truck). Remember that you’ll also likely have at least four people doing the actual move — so you want to have plenty of wiggle room. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a piano somewhere along the way because of a miscalculation.

Step 2: Time Your Move

Moving your piano will be a delicate process, requiring somewhat more time and energy than most other parts of your move. So you may want to designate a separate moving day just for your piano to ensure everything goes smoothly. 

In any case, make sure that anyone who is helping you is available at the same time/day, and that they have enough heads-up. Set the date a few weeks in advance if possible, and give yourself at least a few hours for the move itself.

If you’re planning to move soon, see also our guide on how to plan a move

Step 3: Get The Right Equipment

Once you have all the measurements and timing down, you’ll need the right tools. Make a list and stock up on: 

-  heavy grip work gloves; 

- a piano dolly (aka piano trolley);

- moving straps (aka lifting straps or shoulder dolly);

- moving blankets;

- packing tape;

- ratchets and screwdrivers;

- a piano skid board.

NOTE: Your equipment and process will vary depending on the type of piano you have (see Step 5).

Packing Tape

Step 4: Enlist The Right Help

There are a few things you can do on your own, but you’re definitely going to need a few extra pairs of hands at some point. Remember that there may be a lot of variables involved — from heavy lifting to steep stairs, time constraints to street regulations, and so on. 

Getting a piano down a flight of stairs is exactly what it sounds like — not easy. Not to mention getting a piano upstairs. So, while friends and family can be a great help, consider getting professional help. A professional moving company will have both the necessary equipment and the necessary experience to move a piano. 

Step 5: Disassembly, Safeguarding, and Reassembly

Moving an Upright Piano

Not only are upright pianos smaller than grand pianos, but they also have casters (aka wheels). This makes moving them a lot easier. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

- Make sure the keys are protected by covering and padding them with plenty of cloth, secure with tape;

- Remove the legs if you can (i.e., if there is no cross support and they are not attached to the base).

- Cover the piano on all sides with blankets/cloth — none of the lacquer should be exposed.

- Make sure the handles at the back are accessible — unless you’re using a piano board you’ll need these to carry the piano.

- Lift the piano up onto a dolly to tape blankets on the bottom.

- Use tape to secure all the blankets, and make sure that none of them are loose.

- Use cardboard or other padding to cover the pedals; secure with tape.

- Use a piano board to transport if necessary.

Moving a Grand Piano

Moving a grand piano is a bit more complicated, but the process is similar: 

- You’ll need a piano board to move a grand piano, and at least two people to help.

 - Put a blanket over the interior and under the wing/piano lid. Any wood-on-wood or lacquer-on-lacquer contact needs to be buffered by a protective cloth or blanket (including between the body and the top lid).

- Take off the music stand and move it separately if you can.

- Use a phillips or a socket head to take off the pedals. These should be connected to the piano via a rod that you can pull out of the bottom. 

- Cover the keys with cloth/padding, close the key cover.

- There are two distinct sides on a grand piano - a flat side and a side with a curve. The first leg you need to remove is on the side of the piano with the curve.

- Tilt the flat side gently onto the piano board. Remove the remaining legs and wrap them in blankets separately, secure with tape.

- Cover the piano with blankets, secure with tape, and make sure nothing is loose.

Once at your final destination, follow the above steps in reverse. And heads up — you’ll likely need to re-tune your piano at your new home.

Moving Grand Piano

Step 6: Get Your Piano from Point A to Point B

Make sure all pathways are clear. Have your moving truck nearby and easily accessible. Communicate, take your time, and use common sense when lifting, carrying, loading, and unloading. Bend at the knees. 

Depending on the piano, you can lay it down or lean it upright against the truck wall. Make sure that everything is secure and protected before you hit the road; strap down with ratchets if necessary. Be careful when opening the truck. And make sure you label and have a list of all the separate parts so nothing goes missing. 

FAQ About Moving a Piano:

Can I Move a Piano By Myself?

While it is possible to move a piano by yourself, there is a possibility of damaging it or hurting yourself.  

Moving a piano requires a lot of forethought, care, and attention to detail. Not to mention other logistics like the proper equipment, disassembly and assembly, a moving truck, and so on. And a piano is both heavy and delicate. So even if you get a few people to help, moving a piano is not the safest DIY project. 

How Heavy is a Piano?

The weight of the piano depends on the type. An upright piano usually weighs 300-500lbs, whereas a grand piano can weigh up to 1,200lbs (and be up to 9 feet in length). On average, a piano weighs around 750lbs, or 340kg. 

 What is The Cheapest Way to Move a Piano?

The cheapest way to move a piano is to do as much prep and research on your own as possible, and then enlist the help of a professional moving company. Because while you might be able to manage with a few trusted friends, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Can a Piano Be Laid Down To Move?

Yes, you can transport a piano laying down, upright (against the back wall of the truck, for example), or on its side in some cases. However, no matter the method you use — make sure to take extra care. If you lay a piano down to move, have it back upright as soon as possible.

How Do You Move a Piano Without Damaging It?

There are many delicate parts to a piano that can be damaged during a move. If you carefully follow all the steps above, your piano should arrive at your new home in one piece. And professional moving services will know how to make the process as fast, painless, and stress-free as possible. 

Where Do You Find a Piano Mover?

Whether it’s down the street or long distance moving, a piano moving company is not difficult to find. So we recommend you do your research, ask around, and prep what you can on your own. Reach out to movers in your neighborhood and make sure to ask for a free quote. With your piano taken care of and in good hands, you’ll have one less (pretty big) thing to worry about. That way you can sit back, relax, and be playing again in no time.


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