How to Move a Piano in 9 Steps

Moving a piano? It's a task that demands precision, planning, and care. Whether you're relocating a small upright or a grand piano masterpiece, this guide has you covered. Discover the steps to ensure a harmonious piano move.

14 min read

How to Move a Piano in 9 Steps

Key takeaways

  1. Moving a piano is a complex task that requires careful planning, preparation, and the right equipment. It can be dangerous, especially for larger and heavier pianos, and may be best left to professionals.
  2. Before moving a piano, assess its size, type, and piano's weight to plan the move effectively. Different types of pianos have varying dimensions and weights, so understanding these details is crucial.
  3. Consider hiring a professional piano moving company with the expertise, equipment, and experience to safely transport your piano. If you choose to move it yourself, ensure you assemble a moving team of helpers and the tools like piano dollies, straps, and padding that will make the piano move easier.
  4. Measure the pathways, such as entrances, doorways, hallways, and staircases, to ensure the piano can fit through without causing damage. Plan your moving route ahead to avoid unexpected obstacles on moving day.
  5. Check the piano's manufacturer guidelines for any specific moving instructions, as different pianos may have unique considerations to prevent damage and ensure a safe piano relocation.
  6. Properly prepare the piano for the move by removing any detachable parts, securing the keyboard lid, locking the keys (if possible), and wrapping the piano with protective materials to prevent scratches and damage.
  7. When moving the piano, communicate clearly with your moving team to help with the heavy lifting and maneuver it onto a dolly or skid board and up and down the stairs. Secure the piano to the equipment with heavy-duty straps, ensuring it's balanced and centred. Safety is a top priority throughout the process.

Hey there, piano lovers! Ever tried moving your piano and ended up playing a discordant tune of chaos instead? I mean, who knew these elegant music boxes could weigh so much and be so tricky to move, right?

Moving a piano is like trying to maneuver an elephant through a china shop. One wrong move and you're looking at a keyboard catastrophe! And, there's nothing harmonious about an upright piano falling over, or worse, getting damaged.

But don't fret, my friends and piano owners! This article is your step-by-step guide on how to move a piano safely to your new location and well-picked new space. We'll navigate the things you need to consider, and the equipment you need, and show you how to prepare, secure and move your beloved piano while keeping your precious upright or grand piano safe and sound. Why? Because every piano deserves a smooth move, and every piano owner deserves to know how to make that happen. So let's get started on our piano migration together!

Step 1: Things you need to know before moving a piano

When it comes to moving a piano, there are a few important things you should keep in mind. This isn't your everyday furniture we're talking about; pianos are delicate, weighty, and often pretty valuable instruments that need to be handled with care. Here's what you need to know:

1. Assess the piano's size, type, and weight

So, when it comes to moving a piano, the first step is understanding what you're dealing with. You see, pianos come in all sorts of types – digital pianos, spinet pianos, upright pianos, baby grand pianos and grand pianos, – each with their dimensions and weight.

For example, a typical upright piano can weigh anywhere between 150 to 250 kilograms, while a medium grand piano can weigh from 400 kilograms and a concert grand piano can even hit 1000 kilograms plus. It's important to know these details so you can plan your move better. Knowing this will make things a whole lot easier!

2. Decide if you should hire professionals

Moving a piano can be quite a challenge, and it's important to keep in mind that it can also be risky. In fact, it's probably best to leave this task to the professionals, especially when dealing with larger and heavier pianos. They have the expertise, equipment, and experience to safely transport your precious instrument. However, if you own a more manageable yet smaller digital piano, lighter baby grand piano or upright piano and would like to attempt to move the piano yourself, just make sure you have some extra hands to help out and the right tools.

3. Measure your pathway

Now, it's really important to measure the size of entrances, measure doorways, hallways, and staircases that the piano needs to go through beforehand. I mean, can you imagine carting your piano through the doorway only to find out at the very last moment that your precious piano will not fit? Measuring beforehand allows you to make sure the piano fits without causing any damage to the instrument or your property. Don't forget to plan your route ahead of time to avoid any unexpected surprises on moving day!

4. Check manufacturer guidelines:

Lastly, don't forget to check the piano's manufacturer guidelines for specific moving instructions. Some manufacturers may provide essential tips or warnings about moving their pianos. This information could be invaluable and might even mention if disassembly is required to prevent damage and ensure a safe move.

Step 2: Gather the tools and equipment you need

You'll need to gather some of the more common tools that are required to move your piano, and most piano removalists would use these if you decided to use a professional moving company to do the job. It will certainly make moving your piano a lot easier if you use them yourself for your piano move. Here are some common pieces that you will likely need:

  • Piano dolly/trolley: This is a specific type of dolly built to handle the piano's weight and size. It will help you to move the upright piano across flat surfaces with ease. Dollies with brakes provide extra control and stability when moving the piano, especially on inclines or uneven surfaces.
  • Piano skid board: You might have heard of it as a piano sled - it's pretty handy for moving pianos up or down the stairs and sliding them across hardwood floors with minimal friction. This nifty tool makes positioning a piano so much easier!
  • Piano board straps: These specialised moving straps are designed to secure the piano to a skidboard or dolly, keeping it stable during the move.
  • Piano covers and heavy-duty furniture blankets: Protective piano covers and thick moving blankets are essential for shielding the piano's delicate surfaces from scratches and dings during transport.
  • Tape: You'll need plenty of it to secure the moving blankets and any moving parts of the piano.
  • Plastic shrink wrap: Use multiple rolls of shrink wrap to add an extra layer of protection to your piano. Place the moving blankets around the piano and secure them with the wrap to prevent moisture damage and keep them in place during the move. It's also handy for wrapping the pedals and bench.
  • Tool set: You might need to disassemble certain parts of the piano, having a standard tool set will come in really handy.
  • Piano locks: These are designed to lock the piano's keyboard cover and lid securely in place to prevent them from opening during the move.
  • Piano gloves: Specialised gloves with non-slip grips can help movers maintain a firm grip on the piano while minimising the risk of smudging or damaging the finish.
  • Corner guards: These protect the corners of the piano, especially for an upright piano from damage and help prevent the piano from colliding with walls or door frames.
  • Piano tilter: A piano tilter is a tool that can help angle the piano slightly, making it easier to navigate through tight spaces and around corners.
  • Moving ramps: If you need to load the piano into a moving truck or navigate steps, a sturdy loading ramp can help you get the piano onto the truck easily.
  • Moving truck/trailer: Depending on how big the piano is, you'll need a moving truck that can fit it or a trailer.

Step 3: Disassemble the piano (if required)

Most upright pianos usually do not require disassembly before moving, while grand pianos often do. What you can expect is:

Upright pianos:

  • Upright pianos are generally designed as compact units, and their components, such as the keyboard, soundboard, and frame, are normally fixed in place.
  • While upright pianos are heavy and bulky, they are usually moved intact without disassembly. Instead, they are carefully maneuvered out of one location and into another, with the use of specialised equipment like dollies and moving straps.

Grand pianos:

  • Grand pianos are actually quite complex and pretty big compared to upright pianos. So, when it comes to moving them, disassembly is often needed to do it safely.
  • The legs of a grand piano are usually removable to reduce its height and make it easier to transport. The lyre (the ornamental part with the pedals) may also be detached in some cases.
  • The piano lid, fallboard (keyboard cover), and music rack are usually secured in place to prevent them from opening during the move.
  • It's essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions for disassembling and reassembling a grand piano, as improper handling can lead to damage.

It's really important to keep in mind that whether you're moving an upright or grand piano, taking care and being super precise is key to keeping the piano safe and preventing any damage. Professional piano movers are experts at handling both types of pianos and can even take apart and put together grand pianos if needed. If you're thinking about doing a DIY move for a grand piano, make sure to check the piano's manufacturer guidelines or reach out to professionals for advice to make sure you relocate it safely.

Step 4: Preparing your piano

To make sure your piano is all set for the move, we've got a few things to do to keep it safe and sound. Here are some key steps to get your piano ready for its journey:

1. Remove any movable parts

 The first step in preparing your piano for a move is to remove any detachable pieces if you haven't already disassembled them. This may include the piano bench, lyre, or pedals. By removing these parts, you reduce the risk of them being damaged during transit. Make sure to pack these parts separately, provide plenty of padding and use shrink wrap and tape carefully to avoid any scratches or damage.

2. Close and secure the keyboard lid

If your piano has a keyboard lid, make sure to close it before moving the piano. If it comes with a piano lock, you can secure the lock to prevent the keyboard lid from opening. The lid protects the piano keys from dust and damage, so it’s important to keep it closed during the move. If your piano doesn’t have a lock, you can place some padding over the keyboard lid and use a shrink wrap to keep the lid securely closed.

3. Lock the piano lid (Optional)

Some pianos come with a handy piano lock to keep the lid shut during transit. If your piano has this cool feature, be sure to use it. The lock itself can be a metal or wooden device with a hook or latch that's built into the piano, specially designed to keep the lid secure. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions or guidelines for your piano model, as the locking mechanism might vary.

4. Wrap the piano

Once all movable parts are removed and the keys are secured, it's time to wrap the piano. Use furniture blankets or padding to wrap the entire piano. This will protect the instrument from scratches, dents, and other forms of damage during the move. Secure the padding with packing tape, shrink wrap or straps, try to avoid putting tape or moving straps directly on the piano's surface. It can be a bit tricky to remove the sticky residue afterwards.

Remember, a piano is not just a piece of furniture but a delicate musical instrument. Every part from the smallest screw to the largest panel plays a role in its function and sound. Therefore, it's crucial to handle all parts with care during the moving process. If you're not comfortable with this process or if your piano is particularly valuable or antique, consider hiring professional piano movers to ensure its safe transportation.

Step 5: Securing the piano to a dolly or skid board

Once your piano is all set and wrapped up for the move, the next thing to do is to secure it onto a dolly or skid board. This handy equipment will make transporting the piano safe and easy. Here's how you can do it:

1. Assemble your moving team of strong helpers

This is where you need as much muscle as possible, while digital pianos can use one to two people to lift, an upright may require up to four people and a grand can take six to eight people to lift or help maneuver. Once you have your team of strong helpers make sure everyone knows the plan and their role in where to support the piano so that the weight is distributed evenly.

2. Lift the piano onto the dolly, skid board or piano tilter

With your moving team in place, have a majority of your team gently and carefully lift the piano. If you need to go through several tight or narrow doorways, getting the piano onto a tilter and maneuvering would be easiest. This way you can tilt the piano enough to fit through those areas. This should be done slowly and cautiously to avoid any sudden movements that could damage the piano or cause injury. If there is no need for a piano tilter, while the piano is lifted, have one or two helpers who can position the dolly or skid board by slowly sliding it underneath the centre of the piano. It's essential to ensure that the piano is balanced and centred on the dolly or skid board to prevent any tipping or imbalance during the move.

3. Secure the piano

Once the piano is positioned on the dolly or skid board, use heavy-duty straps to secure it. Place the straps around the body of the piano and tighten them until the piano is firmly secured to the dolly or skid board. Make sure the straps are not placed over fragile parts like the pedals or keyboard. The goal is to make sure the piano doesn't shift or move before you begin moving it while on the dolly or skidboard.

Step 6: Moving the piano

Once the piano is on the trolley or dolly, it's time to move the piano onto the moving truck or trailer with ramps. Moving a piano is a task that requires strength, coordination, and careful planning. Here are the steps you should follow:

1. Maneuvering the piano

Once the piano is secured on the dolly or skid board, you can begin to guide it out of the building to the moving truck or trailer. Always have a couple of people on either side of the piano to keep it well-balanced, this should be done slowly and cautiously. If there are any ramps or steep stairs along the route, use extreme caution.

2. Going up or down steep stairs

When going up or down stairs, make sure you have enough helpers to support the piano's weight and keep the piano balanced. If you do not have enough helpers that can support the weight of the piano, you risk damage to the piano if it needs to be dropped.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when moving a piano. If at any point you feel unsure or unsafe, consider hiring professional movers who have the experience and equipment necessary to handle the job safely and efficiently.

Step 7: Loading the piano onto the moving truck

Loading a piano onto a moving vehicle is a crucial stage of the moving process. It's essential to do this carefully and correctly to prevent any damage to the piano during transit. Here's how:

1. Position the piano

With the help of your team, slowly roll the piano (while it's still on the dolly or skid board) up the ramp of the moving vehicle. A moving truck with a hydraulic lift can be super handy in this situation. Be sure to communicate clearly with your team and move cautiously. Once inside the vehicle, position the piano against one of the sides or back wall. This will provide additional stability during transit.

2. Secure the piano

Once the piano is positioned, apply the brakes on the dolly and use heavy-duty straps to secure it in place. The straps should be tightened until the piano is firmly held against the wall of the truck. Avoid placing the straps over fragile parts of the piano such as the piano keys or pedals. If necessary, use additional straps to provide extra security.

3. Balance the load:

Finally, make sure that the piano is centred and balanced within the vehicle and also in an upright position. An unbalanced load can shift during transit, potentially causing damage to the piano or the vehicle. Consider placing other heavy items on the opposite side of the vehicle to help balance the load.

Step 8: Driving carefully when transporting a piano

When it comes to moving a piano, how you drive can really make a difference in keeping your precious instrument safe. So, here are a few tips to help you have a smooth and safe journey:

1. Slow and steady

Remember, you're not just driving a vehicle; you're also transporting a delicate, valuable instrument. It's crucial to drive slower than you usually would, especially when turning corners or driving over bumps. Sudden movements can cause the piano to shift or tip over, leading to potential damage.

2. Avoid rough roads

If you can, try to plan your route in a way that avoids roads with potholes or big bumps. These can make the piano jostle and possibly become unsecured. It's best to go for smooth, well-maintained roads when transporting a piano.

3. Brake gently

Hard braking can cause the piano to lurch forward, straining the securing straps and potentially causing damage. Always anticipate stops, give yourself plenty of distance to stop and brake gently to keep the piano stable.

4. Monitor the piano

Don't forget to make regular stops during your journey to check on the piano. Just ensure that the straps are still secure and that the piano hasn't shifted while in transit. This is particularly important for a long distance move or longer journeys.

5. Be prepared for traffic

Try to avoid peak traffic times if possible. More traffic means more stop-and-go, which increases the risk of the piano shifting. So plan your moving route!

Step 9: Unloading and setting up the piano

Alright, once you've successfully transported the piano to its new home, the next thing on the agenda is unloading and setting it up. This part is just as important as the moving process itself. Here's how you can get it done:

1. Carefully unload the piano

With the help of your team, carefully remove the straps securing the piano. Make sure everyone is on the same page and ready and in position before you start to move the piano. Slowly roll the piano down the ramp of the moving truck, using the same caution and communication you used when loading it.

2. Move the piano into the building

With the piano still on the dolly or piano board underneath, move the piano to the entrance of the building again with the help of your team to keep the piano well-balanced and be extra careful if you need to move a piano upstairs or up steps. Once the piano is in the building and near its final positioning place, you can proceed to remove the piano from the dolly or skid board.

3. Reverse the securing steps

If necessary, reverse the steps for securing the piano to the dolly or skid board. This might involve removing straps or other securing devices such as tape and shrink wrap. Be sure to do this gently to avoid causing any damage to the piano.

4. Position the piano in its new location

Once the piano is off the dolly or skid board, move it to its designated spot in your new home. Make sure the new space is away from windows, heaters, or air vents, as these can affect the piano's tuning and overall health.

5. Reassemble the piano

If any parts were removed for the move—like the music stand or piano legs—now is the time to reassemble them. Refer back to any notes, photos or the manufacturer's guide during the disassembly process to ensure everything goes back to the right place.

6. Tune the piano

After the piano has been moved and set up, it will likely need to be tuned. Moving can affect a piano's tuning, so it's a good idea to hire a professional piano tuner to restore it to its optimal sound. Give the piano a few weeks to acclimate to its new environment before tuning.

piano tuning after a move

Final say

Moving a piano is no joke - it's a big undertaking! You've got to plan it out, get everything ready, and execute it with precision to protect this cherished instrument. From taking it apart and securing it for the journey to driving carefully, to unloading and setting it up in its new spot, every single step matters and needs to be done with care. And don't forget, giving it a tune-up afterwards is the perfect finishing touch to make sure it's playing beautifully again!

While it's possible to move a piano yourself with the right tools and help from this step-by-step piano guide, just remember larger grand pianos elevate the risks and if you're unsure or uncomfortable at any stage, don't hesitate to hire professionals. Professional movers have the experience, equipment, and expertise to handle this intricate process, ensuring your highly sentimental upright piano or grand piano arrives safely at its new destination. Sparing you the challenge of moving your piano yourself but at least by knowing what you know now about how to move a piano you understand the process and can oversee your piano move instead.

Remember, the ultimate goal is not just to move the piano, but to preserve its functionality and beauty so it can continue to fill your home with music for years to come.

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