On this site we’ve already spoken about moving a digital piano. This happens to be one of the most popular articles I’ve written. However, moving a digital piano is fairly simple in comparison to moving an upright or grand piano. You can easily move a digital piano yourself without too many problems if you’re careful. You can’t move an acoustic piano by yourself.
The reason for this is that acoustic pianos are extremely heavy. As such, it is always advisable to consult a piano mover. Piano movers have the equipment to manoeuvre a piano through spaces you never would have thought possible, without hurting anyone or damaging the piano. However, piano moving can get expensive. So how much does it cost?
You can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a local move (under 30 miles or so) and anywhere from $300 - $1000 for a long distance move. Expect to pay more for staircases, steps and tight spaces, These represent further challenges to the piano movers, requiring further skill on the part of the piano movers to complete the move safely. Expect to pay more for a larger piano; naturally a 9-feet grand piano is harder to move than a small upright.
Why are pianos so heavy?
A piano is not just a wooden box. Inside the piano is a cast iron frame, shaped like a harp. This frame is responsible for sustaining the tension exerted by the strings. Previously, before advantages in metalworking technology, the piano’s frame was made of wood, but as pianos became bigger and required more strings, wood was unable to sustain the massive tension pull of the strings, so a stronger material was needed.
Naturally, cast iron is extremely heavy. You can see just how heavy it is if you have cast iron cookware. Comparing this to regular aluminium or teflon cookware will show you just how heavy it is. Coupled with the cast iron frame, you have a very large wooden soundboard, as well as all the panelling. Most upright pianos weigh approximately 300 to 500lbs, and grand pianos can weigh up to 1200lbs.
Do you need a piano mover to move a piano?
The answer to this question is yes. If you are moving a piano from one location to another, even if it’s in the same street, you will require a piano mover. Moving a piano by yourself without the prerequisite knowledge is dangerous and irresponsible. As mentioned, you not only have the weight to deal with, but what many people don’t realise is that the weight is unbalanced, and is weighted much more heavily towards the back of the piano.
As a result, if you and a colleague try to lift a piano, it may not behave in the way you think it might. This can lead to you losing your balance and potentially dropping your piano. And if you drop your piano on your foot, you will be in the hospital for a very long time.
Piano movers are trained to deal with this; not only do they understand properly how to manoeuvre a piano without hurting themselves, but they also have specialist equipment to help them do it. You can be sure that as long as you hire a professional piano mover with experience, you will not cause any damage to yourself, your home or your piano when moving your piano.
What’s also important is that a piano mover will have a specialist vehicle with the ability to tie the piano down so that it does not move in transit. If you are trying to move a piano yourself, unless you have a very large car, you will need to hire a van. It’s unlikely that the van you hire will have enough equipment to hold the piano down sufficiently to stop it moving. Remember, a piano is very, very heavy, and if it starts moving while in transit it will be difficult to stop it. You absolutely do not want it smashing through the doors of your hired van and rolling down a hill while you’re driving.
Does moving a piano put it out of tune?
I recently wrote an article on piano tuning, which you can check out here. However, a brief summary of that article is that yes, moving a piano can put it out of tune. One of the main reasons is humidity changes. If you take a piano out of your nice warm home and take it out into the cold street, into the back of a non-heated van, and then into another nice warm home, you have subjected your piano to two extreme temperature changes and two different humidity levels.
I won’t go into detail here on why humidity can de-tune a piano; you can find out why in my other article. Suffice it to say that a piano will adjust itself to the new humidity level, and as part of the adjustment, the tuning can suffer. Coupled with the fact that the simple act of moving the piano can cause the frame and the parts inside to move or twist just a tiny bit (which they are designed to do). This slight movement can cause a de-tuning.
My advice; wait until your piano has been moved to tune it.
Can regular movers move a piano?
The answer to this is generally no. While regular movers are experts at moving most items of furniture, they are not experts at moving a piano and won’t necessarily have the kind of specialist equipment required for moving a piano.
Lots of movers will say that they can move a piano, and probably won’t charge you as much as a bespoke piano moving company, but you are far better off hiring actual piano movers for a little extra cost. These guys have done it before and know how to do it. Regular movers won’t have as much experience and are much more likely to break something.
Moving a piano within the same room or home
Some of you may be reading this and thinking “well, I just want to move my piano into the next room. Why should I pay $300 for someone to do this?” And I understand your frustration. Now, my ultimate advice will always be to get a professional to do things. However, there are circumstances such as this where this doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense.
As long as you are extremely careful, it should be fine to wheel your piano into the next room yourself. I wouldn’t recommend lifting it; wheeling it is much safer. If your piano doesn’t have wheels (the vast majority do) then you will have to call a professional.
What’s also important to note is that if steps or stairs are involved, you will need to have a piano mover in to help you. Get them to give you a quote; it shouldn’t be as expensive as moving to another home. It’s absolutely worth doing this versus risking hurting yourself by moving the piano on your own.
If you have any questions about piano moving, please reach out and leave a comment below. Until next time, happy practicing!