We’ve all needed to move house at one point or another. Whether you’re going to college, moving to a bigger place to start a family or taking your first steps into the real world by moving out from your parents’ house, it’s the same.
If you’re a pianist, moving presents just a tiny little bit more of a problem than most - how the hell do you move your piano? In this article we’re going to explore some basic steps you can follow to show you how to transport a digital piano safely, so that you don’t hurt yourself or cause damage to your instrument.
By the way- don't do what the guys in the picture are doing.
First things first - digital pianos only!
This is a REALLY important step. This article is going to focus on digital pianos only, because they’re a lot easier and safer to move by yourself. They’re lighter and less delicate. If you have an acoustic piano of any size, shape or form, you MUST call a piano mover. No exceptions.
For a start, acoustic pianos can weigh anywhere between 100 - 500kg. They’re also very delicate, sensitive instruments that can be very easily damaged if dropped. For this reason, it’s always infinitely safer to call in a professional. These guys will know what they’re doing and will have the tools to do the job - dollies, carpets to protect the finish, etc. It might cost you a few hundred dollars but you’ll be glad when your instrument gets to your new place safely.
An acoustic piano will cause serious injury if you drop it on your foot. Lifting 500kgs without the proper technique can seriously injure your back. It’s not worth it - get the pros to do it.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get your digital piano ready for moving.
Can you take it apart?
This is the first thing you should think of. If your piano will come apart easily, then you should take it apart to move it. Even better if you have the original box - that makes it infinitely easier to move.
If you don’t have the box, taking the piano apart should be easy. Most pianos consist of two main parts - the stand, and the keyboard. The keyboard should come off the stand relatively easily - it should be screwed in place at either corner.
These screws will come out completely, but I advise that you slacken them enough to slide the keyboard off the base, and then tighten them again. This will make sure you don’t lose them and they’re exactly where you need them when you go to put the piano back together.
The case is generally made up of three parts - the two sides and the pedalboard. These are held together by screws. Again, if you can keep the screws in the holes, then do so - it’s much easier than carrying them around in a plastic box or something. However, if not, make sure you keep the screws safe as you’ll need them when you come to reassemble the piano.
That should be it - your piano is now in four constituent parts, ready to be put into a car and taken to your new home!
I’ve assumed you have a regular digital piano with a case. If you’ve got a stage piano, these are much simpler to move - they were designed to be taken from place to place or from gig to gig. If you’ve got something more substantial, like an Avantgrand or a Roland upright, this is a situation where you may want to call a professional to avoid damage to you or your piano.
Car or van?
Now, if you’ve got a van, you may not need to take the piano apart. I’d say this is probably the better option, because then you don’t need to worry about things getting scratched or screws getting lost. However, you should be careful to make sure the piano is strapped in sufficiently - you don’t want it sliding about while you’re doing 50mph.
If you’ve got a car, you might have to get a bit creative as to how you fit the piano. It’s unlikely going to fit with all your other stuff, so you might have to make more than one trip. If you can hire a van for one day, that might be a better and safer option. However, if you’re only moving a few streets away, it may not be worth it.
One thing I will say about hiring a van - make sure you get one with an automated tail lift. This is especially important if you’re not taking the piano apart. This will make it much safer and easier to load the piano into the van. Failing that, you need to get a ramp. Don’t try and lift a digital piano into the van straight off the floor - you are asking for someone to get hurt.
In all this, I’d suggest you get someone to help you. Two pairs of hands are always better than one.
Protecting your piano
This is common sense for most people, but this is one of the most important things I want to convey to you when teaching you how to transport a digital piano. Make sure your piano is protected. Keep any wires or plugs safe and tied up, out of the way. Make sure you use carpets and sheets to prevent scratches and gouges. Trust me, it’ll feel awful when you’ve put your piano back together in your new place and you notice a huge scratch on it because you weren’t careful.
Most digital pianos are made of MDF or chipboard, and this material will scratch and gouge very easily. Your instrument is your investment - protect it.
Regardless of whether you use a car or a van, make sure the piano is strapped down and secure. A piano moving about at highway speeds is going to cause major damage to your car or van. It also could potentially hurt someone.
Stairs are probably the most difficult aspect of moving your piano. Whether it’s in a box, in pieces or still assembled, you have a big, heavy, bulky object that isn’t suited to going up stairs. Nonetheless, it’s possible to do this safely without hurting yourself.
Firstly, I’d say if you can avoid stairs, then do so. If the building you’re moving into has a lift, then use it. If your piano is too big for the regular lift, most large apartment buildings have a service lift you can use if you ask politely.
In some situations you'll be forced to take the stairs. Go slow. Make sure you have two people, and take it easy. Wear sensible shoes and gloves. It’s also a good idea to have someone walking up before you, who can watch what you’re doing and give advice and pointers on things you may not be able to see yourself.
When to hire a professional
If at any point you feel uncomfortable or feel that something is unsafe, hire a professional. Digital pianos might not be as heavy as acoustic pianos, but they’re still heavy. They will still cause a lot of damage if you drop one, or lose your footing when carrying it up a flight of stairs.
Moving anything heavy and bulky is dangerous. Most major cities have piano removal services available - don’t be afraid to ask them for some help. They’ll be happy to move your digital piano for you, and probably won’t charge you very much.
I’d be really interested to hear your feedback on this article. Is there something I missed? Am I totally wrong about something? Let me know down in the comments below.
In the meantime, happy practicing!