Moving a piano is generally best done by professional piano movers as it is a fairly touchy business. Pianos are not only quite heavy, but they also tend to carry their weight in an awkward fashion. Upright pianos are mostly heavy on the top part, but the feet can be fragile. Grand pianos are heavier in the length of the piece, but the legs and other pieces are light and could break if not properly cared for during a move.
How Pianos are Moved
Moving locally might tempt an owner to do it themselves, and it is possible with smaller pianos; however, it does require various equipment that the average homeowner may not have. A furniture dolly and straps are a must, and more than one person will be needed to load the piano onto the dolly and transport it. Very large or difficult pianos may require up to six movers to do the job.
Usually two and sometimes three movers show up at the home. They carry a variety of specific tools, including moving pads, piano skids, slings and ramps. Most importantly, they are armed with the knowledge of how to move a piano safely. Padding and blankets are necessary to cushion the piano during the ride to its new location, and locking or wrapping the keyboard is also extremely important to prevent damaging the keys.
Remember that a piano will need to be tuned again after any move because even a professional move cannot cushion the instrument against minor shocks that will disrupt its tuning.
Reasons Not to DIY
Hiring a professional piano mover is the better choice for several reasons. Moving is often a stressful and difficult task without a piano, but considering the specialized equipment and care needed to safely move this delicate instrument, most people are better off using a professional piano mover. The first consideration is weight. Upright pianos top out around 900 pounds, and grand pianos can weigh as much as 1,300 pounds. The second consideration is monetary worth; pianos are typically not cheap, and some may even be antiques. A DIY move means that any mistakes do not have insurance behind them. Piano movers are typically insured to do their job. Professional piano movers will also give the owner a risk assessment on the move. There is always some risk in moving a piano, but professional movers can drastically reduce this risk.
Another consideration is that large pianos may have to be partially dismantled in order to get them out of a house and into a new one. The majority of piano owners would have no idea how to do this safely. It is also important to realize that regular household movers may not be trained in the techniques of moving a piano without damaging it. Piano movers say it is not uncommon to receive calls from desperate homeowners when they find out that their movers are unable to transport a piano.
There are usually two different ways of billing employed by professional piano movers. General movers are often paid by the hour, and there is a minimum hour requirement. This can get expensive if there are unforeseen complications. Another way, which is more commonly used by piano movers, is to charge a flat rate based on the type and size of piano, the distance of the move and the difficulty level, which is determined by the place the piano is being moved out of and its destination. With this method, the homeowner is given a fairly accurate estimate before any moving takes place. For example, a local move with a smaller piano and a house that is easy to get in and out of will be the least expensive. A long-distance move with a large or difficult piano will cost much more.
The three types of insurance that are important for moving a piano are worker’s insurance, property insurance and insurance for the piano. Not all piano movers have all three types of insurance, so it is important to see a bill of lading before the move. This legal document will show what is insured, who is involved in the move and whether any incurred property damage will be repaired.
Questions to Ask
It is important for piano owners to ask some qualifying questions before choosing a piano mover. Here are a few guidelines:
- How long has the company been moving pianos?
- Do they have trained, full-time movers?
- How much notice do they need before moving?
- What does their bill of lading confirm about insurance?
Information to Provide
It is also important for the owner to provide the movers with as much detailed information as possible. Professionals will need to know the type and size of piano, the location of pick up and drop off, knowledge of stairs and door sizes, as well as any time constraints. The more information the piano mover has, the more accurate the quote for moving cost will be. Similarly, the more information the owner has about the mover, the safer they will feel in trusting them with moving their instrument.
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