Moving A Piano - Across Town Or Around the House

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Life being what it is, people, you've probably been worrying a lot lately about the best way to move your piano across town, or around your house. See, I thought so. Let's discuss.

Opps Probably the cheapest way to move a piano (if you don't count medical bills) is to buy a couple of cases of PBR and round up all your male friends under 40 (one of whom needs to own a pickup truck if you don't). Promise them some cheese dip and all they can drink -- preferably after the move. With a little luck and planning, you may get the piano and yourselves to where you're going in one piece. Maybe. This method is slightly less harebrained if you rent an organ or piano dolly -- you don't even want to know what happens when a piano falls off the back of a truck or off your porch. Or on your foot.

Surely a better method is to hire a professional moving company and fork out the bucks, plus extra bucks for each step the piano needs to go up - these puppies are heavy. But it will be worth the cost to get your piano safely to your new home. However, and especially if you own a grand piano, hire a moving company that specializes in moving pianos if you possibly can. It can save you money and grief in the long run.

Household moving companies do a good enough job if your piano is a vertical like a spinet, console or upright. But if you have a grand piano, I strongly advise you to hire a firm that specializes in moving pianos. The main difficulty with a household mover is likely to be problems with re-attaching the piano pedal mechanism properly. For vertical pianos that isn't an issue -- the pedals are always with the piano. But in order to move a grand piano, it must be set on its side and the pedal "lyre" and legs removed to get it through doorways. Reattaching the lyre properly so the pedals work correctly can require someone with grand piano experience. I've lost count of the times I've been called to fix inoperative pedals because they were put back wrong by movers. So in addition to paying the movers, you may end up paying a piano tuner to come and repair whatever damage the movers leave behind.

If there are no piano moving specialists in your town, at least call around to several different household movers and ask about their experience in moving pianos, especially grands, and what kind of insurance coverage they have. Music stores that sell pianos should know of reliable movers. Ask them for suggestions. There are also several national piano movers such as Modern on the Internet that may be worth a call, though I can't vouch for any of them.

Around the house

"Ok. But what if I move my piano to another room in my house - will I need to have it retuned?"

The short answer is NO. Probably. Not unless there is an extreme heat and humidity difference between the rooms. If you move it from a cold damp basement (where it should never have been in the first place) to a warm dry room with a fireplace, then very likely. I usually advise owners to wait a couple of weeks to let any changes become apparent before a tuning. Moving a piano, in and of itself, doesn't usually cause it to lose its tune. Churches, country clubs and concert halls move their pianos around from room to room, sometimes daily, with no problems. In fact, bands often move pianos from town to town without significant changes in the tuning IF the climate doesn't jump from desert to swamp or from heat to extreme cold. When pianos do go out of tune from moving humidity is usually the culprit -- too much or too little can have a big impact on the piano's wooden pinblock and frame, but around your house, not likely.

But now another word of warning: Seriously. If you are moving a piano around the house, be very careful of its legs (and your back). Grand piano legs (and the thin spindly front legs of verticals) are NOT designed as moving dollies, even if they do have casters on them. To avoid breaking the legs, lift the front of the piano slightly to relieve the downbearing on the legs. This is especially important on carpeted surfaces.

A vertical piano with good casters can probably be rolled on hard floors if you relieve the weight on the front legs a bit. And of course, get help - at least two people for small verticals and three or more for small grands which have three legs to deal with. The more helpers you have the better on the piano legs. Better yet, rent a dolly. You can probably find one easily at your local U-haul store. And your back will thank you.

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