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Thinking Of Moving A Piano Yourself?

Editor's comments/ If you're thinking of moving a piano yourself – think again! It's just far too dangerous to attempt to move a piano, even with helpful friends. Hire a professional piano removal firm is my advice.

A young woman asked her father to help her move a piano from one place to another in her house. Her father got a couple of his friends to come along and they brought a dolly.

While they were lifting the piano – a full-size vertical — it tipped back too far and got away from them. While it was falling, its upper corner dug down through the wall. The trench it made was deep enough to sever an electric conduit, which shorted and began to burn.

The "movers" were unable to stop the fire, which also spread to the floor below, another person's apartment. After the fire department was done, there was little left of the two apartments – or the piano.

Obviously, this is an extreme example of the damage that can be inflicted when moving a piano in do-it-yourself fashion. Even if you don't burn down your house, there is a substantial risk of personal injury, not to mention damage to the piano.

Pianos are very heavy. The average spinet or console weighs in at from three hundred to five hundred pounds, full-size uprights at about seven hundred, but sometimes as much a thousand.

Grands vary from about five hundred to a thousand pounds, though a concert grand may weigh as much as thirteen hundred pounds! If it were simply a matter of weight, though, all it would take would be enough strong people to do the job. 

Unfortunately, along with the weight come problems of balance and inertia, knowledge of which can make all the difference in doing a moving job safely and efficiently.

Piano moving may conjure up images of men with monstrous arms and huge torsos, but actually two or three people of average build can do most piano moving jobs – even grands if they have some brains, experience, the right equipment, and a knowledge of just when and where to apply a little force.

So, the task of moving a piano is not just a matter of weight. The asymetric shape, the fragility of the outer cabinet and inner mechanics, the uneven distribution of parts — all this and more demands not only proper equipment, but also an understanding of the unique dynamics of balance and inertia that pianos pose.

Attempting to move a piano by yourself may easily result in a costly trip to the doctor for both you and your piano. Don't take chances, hire a professional!

How to Move a Piano
If you need to move a piano, hopefully you'll have professional help available. If you decide to ask friends, you will have to give them very clear instructions to avoid inflicting damage to bodies and objects.

Move a Piano Within a Room

1. Make sure the piano you want to move is easily accessible from all sides.
2. Make sure the new location you have chosen is suitable for the piano. Do not move it into cold drafts or close to heating devices.
3. Lower the lid and lock it before you start moving.
4. Position at least one person on each end of the piano if you are moving an upright piano.
5. Move the piano endways, not sideways. 6. Make sure you do not bend your back when handling the piano to avoid severe back strain or injury. Lift with your knees bent and your back straight.
7. Be certain there are no obstacles in the way the piano is moving.
8. Be careful not to strain the legs of the piano if you have to move it on carpeting or over a threshold.
9. Move the piano slowly and carefully, just a few inches at a time.
10. Put at least three persons around a grand piano, one at each leg.
11. Take enough weight off the castors to make it roll more easily, but do not lift it off the floor.
12. Make sure you lift the castors over bumps in the floor, one leg at a time.

Warnings: Because most of the weight of an upright piano is located toward its back, it does tilt over easily. When moving it away from a wall, be absolutely sure no one is standing behind it. Spinets and console pianos have thin front legs that can break off easily if caught. Tip the piano back very slightly as you roll it to avoid damage.

Moving an Upright Piano From Room to Room or House to House

1. Assign a team of four movers and place two at each end of the piano. Let no one other than your assigned movers touch the piano.
2. Make sure none of the movers has a history of back problems.
3. Make sure your helpers are wearing work gloves to protect their hands.
4. Cover the piano with protective plastic if you have to move it outside for transport.
5. Make sure the lid is down and locked.
6. Give your movers very specific instructions on how and where to move the piano safely.
7. Put the piano on a heavy-duty dolly. This will preserve tuning. It will also keep movers from damaging the piano or your home.
8. Remember to lift and roll the piano endways.
9. Keep hold of the handle behind the piano all the time it is rolling.
10. Be careful rolling the dolly over thresholds and door jambs.

11. Make certain that the piano won't tip over by being pushed over any obstacle too fast.

Warnings: You should use friends for moving your piano only if you really cannot afford to pay professional movers. Paying a moving company might well be worth the money you might save on paying for damaged pianos and bodies! And don't even think about moving a grand across town, let alone up and down stairs, without professional help!

Tips: Rent Proper Equipment! Piano dollies (four large castors mounted on a sturdy frame) are usually available for rent from do-it-yourself centers (same place you'd rent a tractor or floor sander). The dolly simplifies moving an upright piano while protecting the floor.

Rate this tip: Get one person at each end of the piano, fold the lid back and have one person pull back on that panel and lean back, while the other person lifts the other side of the piano to it's balance point. The person pulling back will make it a lot easier for the person lifting. This technique will allow you to get a piano trolley under the piano properly (uprights only).


Ruth Searle is a pianist with years of experience behind her. Piano is her passion, and she is also the drive and inspiration behind Rocket Piano – the Ultimate Piano Learning Kit. If you want to take your piano playing skills to a new level, you need the Rocket Piano Course. You get step-by-step instructions complete with audio and video lessons, and you can get instant access by clicking through to the secure server now at Rocket Piano.

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