Now, I do not actually own a grand piano myself, but my grandpa does, and he has frequently stated that if he ever decides to move house (like maybe go to a place with a warmer or milder climate or something) he is going to sell his beautiful old piano and then spend the rest of his life missing it.
It never really made any sense to me. I mean, why not just pack up your piano with all the rest of your stuff and bring it along to your new home, right? Well, if you ask my grandpa, packing a grand piano for relocation is apparently some super advanced alien skill that has been lost to human knowledge.
So I decided to prove dear old grandpa wrong, because, you know, common sense is strong in this one. I googled the various moving companies in the area, especially those I had previously heard him considering for his hypothetical relocation adventure, and checked out their Q&A pages, Tips pages, and asked live support people for info on how their movers teams handled pianos when packing up their customers. Then I gathered it all up and put together a little guide. Check it out!
Know the exact type of piano you are moving
If you already have some experience with maintaining your instrument, you will have a good idea of how complex it is. But if you have never taken a proper look at its insides, let me warn you: pianos are unbelievably complicated mechanical monsters. Drawing the standard numbers, you will be dealing with around ten thousand (separate!) moving parts, and there will be about 230 strings just waiting to get tangled up. Take a look at this article to learn more about how a piano is made and what makes it such a touchy mess.
So, if you have to move a piano, chances are you have either a grand one or an upright one. The grand piano is that thing you see in theaters and old movies. Their top side looks like a harp shape and they tend to have caster wheels at the tips of their legs. A proper grand piano will weigh over 1200 pounds, and there is a smaller variant, called “baby grand piano”, that is a little smaller and weighs about half as much.
The upright piano is the portable variant that you are likely to see in a studio or in the corner of a gentlemen’s pub. I call it portable, but even the small ones weigh over 400 pounds, so you still want some help getting it around.
The upright piano has a convenient shape for getting it through most doors. A proper grand one is a headache and you might end up hiring a legit crane to lift it in through a window.
Stuff you should do
Always consult a professional mover, even if you cannot afford one. You can get a quote for free, and that is an excellent way to estimate your situation’s most important points from a professional angle. You can use a service such as Great Guys movers to find reliable piano relocators.
Walk from your piano to your door and get every little thing out of the way. Move other furniture, remove carpets, pick up clutter, and if there are stairs in the way, make sure there is enough space to maneuver up and down.
Protect your piano. Put packing desiccants inside to protect it from warping and cracking in a humid environment. Wrap it in non-slip blankets and tie them up to protect the edges and the finish. Also remove the legs before you pack it up. Not only do they take up space, but they are very fragile as well.
Secure it in that truck like the very door of Fort Knox. Even tiny movement in transport can damage your instrument, and you may not discover it in time to fix it.
Leave the tuning for after the move. Humidity and pressure changes will detune your piano, so tuning before moving is useless. Let it accommodate to the new environment.
Stuff you should never, ever do
Never leave the lid unlocked – that is begging for damaged keys.
Never tip it over the stairs or leverage it in any one direction. That stresses the midsection and can permanently warp your piano’s frame.
Never rely on standard cargo straps! Pianos are seriously heavy. Get some reliable heavy-duty furniture straps that can hold it right.
Never leave packing the piano for last. Load it up first and put it up against the wall in the back of the truck to keep it stable. Put down some wood planks if the floor is not level – the piano’s weight has to be equally balanced.
Some extra tips for staying safe
Talk to your movers team to figure out who will take the lead, who will guide the midsection, and who takes up the rear weight. Leave no step of the way to the truck to coincidence. Do the same for moving the piano into the new home, too.
Fetch a tape measure and figure out all of the instrument’s dimensions (sans the removed legs). Will it actually fit through all the doors? Can it clear the hallways? You do not want it falling on someone’s foot because it slipped from an awkward angle!
Mind your clothes. Make sure your shoes are slip-proof and skip the baggy stuff. Remove all of your jewelry. Anything that can get caught onto the instrument is just begging for accidents and serious injury and property damage.
To read more on to stay safe and avoid injuries when moving heavy furniture like a piano, click on this link: https://www.thespruce.com/stay-safe-during-move-2436417
What to do if you own an electric piano
Electric pianos remove the concerns of tiny parts and constant re-tuning, but they are a challenge too. If you are moving an electric piano, invest in a hard travel case to protect the keys and controlling hardware.