It's not a secret that moving a piano is no easy task - Whilst they may not seem it, acoustic pianos are rather delicate objects to move and even without the help of a specialist mover, it is not uncommon for a move to throw the piano completely out of both tune and potentially damage the interior or exterior of the piano.
Not to mention the fact that most acoustic pianos weigh well over 200KG so the last thing you would want is it to fall over or land on someone's foot!
The art of moving pianos is a specialist skill and is almost always the safest and more secure way to move your beloved instrument without putting yourself, or those around you at risk of hurting yourself.
We are incredibly fortunately to work with a number of piano moving specialists across the country and today we wanted to break down just a few safe ways to move your piano around your home and out of your home. Again though, we’d like to stress that moving an acoustic piano of any size is not necessarily an easy feat and whilst hiring a specialist does cost more than doing it yourself, 9 times out of 10, it’s the right choice to keep your cherished instrument safe and in the best possible condition during transit.
Moving Lighter or Digital Pianos
Of course, not all pianos are particularly heavy and digital instruments in particular can likely be lifted between just two, or three people. The best way to move a digital instrument, if it is a home piano, is to either: Disassemble the cabinet of the piano by unscrewing the keyboard from the cabinet and keeping the screws safe for later.
This breaks the instrument down into a few different panels that can be easily reassembled and secured in it’s new home (so long as you don’t lose the screws!)
Alternatively, if your instrument does not come apart easily, digital pianos can be moved by simply lifting the weight of the instrument to its desired location as most only weigh between 30-100kg which should be okay for three people to comfortably and safely lift without much need of assistance. The same can be said for digital instruments that only need to be moved over a small distance.
Can You Put Pianos On Their Side?
In some cases, such as navigating through narrow doorways or moving around tight corners, it may be necessary to put a piano on it's side or end to get it through.
For most digital pianos, this is no problem at all and should be a relatively straightforward task. For upright and grand pianos however, again this is a specialist job that requires expert hands.
What many people do not realise is that the safest way to transport a grand piano is actually to do it on its side. This is done by 'jacking' the piano up, removing one of the legs and then resting the piano carefully into what is known as a piano shoe that holds the body of the grand securely in a vertical position, allowing the piano movers to remove the other legs and makes it easier to move until the piano arrives at its new home.
Upright pianos are slightly different, however they too can be flipped on their side, with minimal issues, providing it is done properly. They movers will typically start by placing a number of blankets down on the ground to prevent the instrument from being scratched on the floor, then will use either a team to pivot the instrument on its edge and rest it safely down.
Pianos can be safely rested on their side, providing they are held securely and have no sudden jerking motions. The most that may happen is when the piano is rested back down, it may require some basic regulation work by a technician.
How Far Does The Piano Need To Move?
When it comes to moving acoustic instruments, the first question to ask is how far does the instrument need to move?
If it is just a simple pivot or minor adjustment within the same room, most pianos can be comfortably moved or slid across the floors using their castors or sliders. This can generally be done safely without the need of a specialist, however we would still recommend having a person at either end of the piano to prevent it falling over or losing control of the move. Grip the supports on the back of the piano and pull upwards to alleviate some of the weight from the castors, the instrument should then be relatively easy to move across small distances or to get behind the instrument.
One common misconception that many piano owners have is that the castors are designed to help the piano move regularly. In fact castors are only designed to be able to hold the weight of the piano and help with minor movements, such as small pivots or the occasional move from one side of a room to another. We’ve seen far too many beloved pianos have their castors collapsed because the instrument has been moved too regularly and the castor has given way under the weight of the piano. For those who are in need of moving their piano over longer distances and frequently, we would recommend investing in what is known as a piano dolly - a set of wheels that can be clamped to the instrument that makes frequent moving easy, this is particularly common to see in schools or practice studios where pianos may need storing and bringing out each week.
One thing that is also worth noting here however is also the type of flooring that the piano is based on, wooden floors should not cause any problems as they have little surface tension for the castors to move freely. Carpeted floors however, you may struggle to even get the instrument moving as the castors may not budge over the textured floor. In this case, even if it is just a small movement, it could be worth contacting an expert for advice...the last thing you’d want is for the instrument to get caught up in the carpet and fall over!
Moving A Piano To A New Home
There is a reason why piano courier specialists exist and it’s for exactly this reason!
If you are moving home, or your piano is being transported to a different property, it is important to get an expert opinion before moving the instrument instead of relying on a general remover to move the piano.
Given that most pianos are rather expensive items and particularly if the instrument is older or has a lot of emotional value, it’s especially important that the instrument is handled with the utmost care, making professional movers all the more necessary.
The first thing to consider is what areas does the piano have to move through? Are there any stairs? Narrow corridors or potential obstacles to overcome? If the answer is yes to any of these, we highly recommend an expert mover.
Still convinced you want to move the piano yourself? If you are insistent on moving your instrument yourself, you’ll need the following supplies to make sure the movement is a success.
For both an upright piano and a grand piano, you’ll need plenty of moving blankets and padding for protection. The last thing you want happening is a scratch or dent on your valuable instrument as it catches a corner or rubs up against something. Secure these blankets and padding (the more the better) with multiple rolls of tape or security straps.
Moving an upright piano will also require a dolly capable of holding the piano’s weight. If you are having to hire a dolly, again, we’d generally just recommend using a piano moving specialist as this will likely be far safer and more cost effective!
For even the easiest of acoustic piano moves, you’ll generally need at least four people – maybe more, depending on the size of the piano and the complexity of the move. For the safety of those you have enlisted to help move your piano, ensure that adequate footwear is being worn...closed toe shoes and ideally those with steel toe caps are ideal (we’ve seen our share of broken toes from pianos that have been moved unsafely!)
Measure Doorways, Staircases and Hallways
Prior to the move, you should measure any place in your home that the piano will pass through. Make sure to thoroughly measure all doorways, staircases and hallways to assess how easily it will be to manoeuvre the piano and piano board through your home. You’ll also likely want to protect your flooring with some kind of hard board or surface that won’t get scratched or damaged under the weight of the piano.
After The Move:
Once the move of the piano is complete, let the instrument settle in its new environment for a while (we generally recommend between 4-6 weeks for this process). During this time, it won’t be uncommon for the instrument to come out of tune or sound different as the wood and strings adapt to new conditions, humidity and temperature of the room. Following this period, it is worth booking yourself a piano tuning to allow the instrument to be returned to optimum condition.
This is also true of acoustic silent pianos or acoustic pianos that have silent systems fitted. As these systems contain many intricate parts, it is not uncommon for the system to need a new calibration or a specialist technician visit in order to function accurately again.
Moving can be a difficult task and it can be tricky to know where to best positon your piano, luckily we’ve got a guide for that! Likewise, a piano may become dusty or marked during moving, if you’d like advice on how to safely clean your instrument, read our guide here too!
Want more help? If you’re looking to move your piano, fill in our form here! Or if you’d like expert advice on how to either part exchange your instrument or are looking to upgrade your instrument, contact our experts today!