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How to move a piano to your new home (without breaking your back!)

Posted on 21st August 2019 in ABRSMBaritone & EuphoniumBassoonBrassCelloChristmasClarinetComposersDiplomasDouble BassExamFluteGuitarHarpHarpsichordHints & TipsHornJazzKeyboardMusic TheatreOboeOrganPercussionPianoRecorderRock'n'PopRockschoolSaxophoneSingingSite PagesSocial MediaStringsTheoryTrinityTromboneTrumpetTubaValentineViolaViolinWoodwind

So, you need to move your cherished piano to your home. This is a difficult job, especially if you are lucky enough to own a grand piano, but even a baby grand or an upright digital piano are a challenge. However, there are several things you can put in place to make moving your piano manageable – if you have friends and the right equipment.

We spoke to the guys at JamVans Removals, who regularly transport pianos from top floor apartments to the basements of terraced houses, for their tips and advice. And, here’s some of what they had to say…

Before you lose friends and damage your back (and yes, you knew we were going to say this) it’s worth looking into the cost of hiring professionals to do it for you. There are of  course difficulties and challenges involved in moving pianos. The best removal companies are experienced in moving all types of pianos, managing steep stairs and narrow entrances, protecting the finish on your piano, and have all the right piano moving equipment. So it’s worth gathering some quotes as it may not cost as much as you think!

If you find you still want to move your piano yourself, then there’s one thing you need to check first of all – Measure the piano and ensure the routes of exit and access are wide enough to accommodate it. If not, you may need to exit out of a window or balcony and then you will require specialist lifting equipment from professionals.

Prepare to move your piano
If you decide to move your piano yourself, after measuring it you need to gather together all the equipment you require. There are places available where you can hire or borrow some of the equipment listed here. Here’s what you need:

● Four strong friends!
● A piano dolly with straps
● Lifting straps (for stairs)
● Lots of soft blankets

Seeing as a piano can weigh up to 540kgs, you’re going to need some strong friends. Ideally you need a team of four strong people to help you.

If your piano needs to go down a flight of stairs then you’re also going to need lifting straps. Many now use shoulder straps – these go under the piano and wrap around your shoulders for extra strength.

You will also need a piano dolly (robust trolley with four caster wheels) that can take the weight of the piano and strong straps to secure it. If you are moving a grand or baby grand, then also use a piano board.

Make sure you’ve double checked the measurements of all doors, corners, entries and exits where the piano needs to move.

You will need a large supply of soft blankets to avoid scratches to your valuable instrument. We highly recommend that you don’t use plastic sheeting as it can sweat and make your piano damp.

Lock the keyboard lid (or wedge shut). Wrap your piano in the blankets and ensure that no areas are left exposed. Secure the blankets with tape (don’t let it touch the woodwork of the piano, in case it leaves marks when you remove it).

For grand pianos it is also useful to remove the pedals and legs with a screwdriver and wrap the legs separately. Use all your team members to take the weight of the piano while you remove the legs and then lower onto the piano board.

And finally – before you start moving, make sure you clear the access routes so you don’t have to keep stopping to move things. Also be careful to remove any trip hazards.

Moving a piano
Gather your team around the piano and coordinate a lift onto the dolly. Put three of the team at the dolly end and the last in the middle to balance and guide. Make sure to push the dolly (not the piano) across the floor.

Moving a piano downstairs
On the stairs, have two people below to guide the dolly and two people above to help take the weight. Bring the dolly to the edge of the steps and tip backwards so the front wheels are in the air. Then slowly roll the back wheels down the step. Take one step at a time, don’t rush and be prepared to stop to readjust.
Use a ramp to push the dolly up onto a van or lorry. Remove the piano from the dolly whilst in transit and strap into place.

Moving a piano upstairs
To go upstairs secure the lifting straps and use your team to lift the piano up the stairs. Again, take your time and stop frequently if required. Pianos are heavy!

Once in place, reward your friends and express your gratitude (beer, cakes, chocolate usually go down well!).

If all this seems like an incredible amount of hard work, hassle and risk valuable friendships (and instruments), it might be much simpler to just call in the experts. Choose a removal company with experience of piano moving and all the right equipment. Don’t go on price alone; you need to know they will respect your instrument as much as you do.

This post was written by Ryan Davies, freelance writer at JamVans & musician

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