To DIY or Not To?

Is it a good idea for you to move your own grand piano or any other piano for that matter?  Unless you are experienced at moving grand pianos and have the “specialized equipment” that a grand requires, my advice is not to do it yourself.  I realize the temptation to try to save some money is probably what would drive you to do such an adventure in the first place, but it usually isn’t worth it in the long run.

A baby grand piano can weigh about 500 pounds and a full 9’concert grand can weigh as much as 1300 pounds.  Unfortunately, along with the weight come problems of balance and inertia.  Knowledge in knowing how to deal with these problems can make all the difference in moving a piano safely and efficiently.  Lack of knowledge in these areas can lead to disaster and injury.

The purpose here is to discourage you from moving your own piano due to the potential dangers you may encounter such as damage to the piano, other items near the piano such as furniture and walls, and serious injury to yourself.  Professional piano movers make it look easy, but it is more difficult than it appears.  This information is not intended to teach you how to move a grand piano but instead to give you some knowledge of how it is done so you can hire a qualified, professional piano mover.

The basic procedure of moving a grand piano one is to put its flat side of the piano on a skid board.  To do this, the front leg at the bass end of the piano must be removed first.  Then the bass corner of the piano must be lowered onto the skid board.  There are two ways to get to this point.  Some people remove the lyre and the leg and then lower that corner and down the skid board.  Others leave the lyre in place and use it as a pivot point to lower the bass corner onto the skid board.  If you use the latter method, it is best to use a brace to support the lyre to reduce the chance of damaging it.  At that point, the piano will be at an angle with the bass corner and resting on the skid board and the next step is to go ahead and tilt the piano up on its flat side on the skid board.  However, before you put it all the way up on the side you are must secure the lid in some manner so that it does not fall open when you put in that vertical position.  Then the legs and the lyre are removed, and the piano must be well padded and strapped to the skid board.  At this point, the skid board can be lifted up at one end and placed on a piano dolly and moved to the desired location.  If you are moving a piano out of the house and into a truck or trailer, ramps will make the job much easier.  Again, this is not to train you how to do it that is to give you basic knowledge so that you can be sure that the job is done properly.  If you decide to try it yourself anyway, I accept no responsibility for this is just some basic information.  There are a lot of variations and more details than this and all movers have their own particular way of doing things.  The goal is to get the piano moved to its new location safely without damage.

This is just for informational purposes; certain equipment is required to move a grand piano.  You need a good four-wheel piano dolly, a skid board, straps for the skid board, blankets, pads and a sturdy ramp just to get it out of the house.  You will probably need a ramp to get the piano in the vehicle that is transporting it and then you will need a good tie down straps and additional padding. And may I add, able body human’s to do the job with no difficulty due to lack of strength and skill and agility.

While I also do not recommend you move your own upright piano it is less complicated and requires less equipment.  A lot of the same problems of weight, balance, and inertia, vertical pianos are also top-heavy especially the old, taller uprights.  To move these, they are generally moved away from the wall, one end is lifted up in the air while the other end stays on the floor and a dolly is positioned near the center of the piano underneath with the dolly flush to the backside.  Once a dolly is in position, the piano can be rolled to its new location or outside to a truck.

Remember that whenever a piano is being moved, regardless of who is doing the moving, it is best to go slow and not rush it. Moving pianos faster is not better.  That is when you run the piano into door jams and walls and damage both.

Another point to remember is if you're using a professional piano mover you should examine the cabinet of the piano with the mover to identify any existing damage to the piano before it is moved.  That information should be noted and then you will be able to tell if there's any additional damage after the piano has been moved.

Please allow me to remind you, whatever amount you would save by moving it yourself, is not worth the risk that you are taking.