Moving Baby Grand Piano
Should You Do It Yourself?
Should you move your own baby grand piano or any other grand 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 the motivation but it usually isn’t worth it.
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.
My 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 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 get the piano moved to its new location safely without damage.
Again 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 good tie down straps and additional padding.
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.
Cost of moving baby grand piano
Some piano movers will charge by the hour and others will charge you by the job. Steps will be in addition to the normal charge. They will try to get as much information from you as possible so they know what is involved such as steps, tight quarters, accessibility etc. Information you thank me be important may be very important to the mover. I know from experience that piano owners who do not move pianos do not understand how important some minor details are. I always ask a lot of questions but I rarely get complete and accurate information about the situation.
You may not want to hire a piano mover to move a piano somewhere within your house. By being careful and using common sense you should be able to do it yourself. If it is a grand piano you can reposition it within a room by getting at least three guys around it and lifting it slightly and rolling to where you want it. You don’t lift it up in the air but instead take some weight off the legs so you don’t damage them. Upright pianos can simply be rolled to a different location in a room if the castors are good enough to roll. This applies to larger uprights that have legs that are supported at the bottom. Smaller pianos that have free standing legs require more caution. These legs are very easy to break because they can get caught in the carpet. These pianos have to be leaned back slightly to take weight off the front legs as you roll it. The casters on these smaller pianos typically don’t roll very well so be careful.
Prices for moving and pianos may seem high to you but if you damage the piano or injure yourself or a friend the price for moving will all of a sudden seem quite reasonable or cheap. By the time you purchase or rent the equipment needed to move the piano including a truck or trailer you may not be saving very much money at all. Another thing to keep in mind is that it's the piano owners’ responsibility to make sure that the piano will fit in the new location before the piano is moved. If it does not fit, the owner may have to pay an additional charged to get piano moved back to where it came from.
Whatever you would save by moving it yourself, is not worth the risk that you are taking.
It is very important thats you ask your mover if they have insurance. If they do, ask specifically what the coverage is. Some movers insure by the pound and the amount of coverage on the piano is quite low. You must know this ahead of time in case you need to purchase additional insurance
Whether you need to make a local move or across the country, I can help with it. If I can't make the move personally, I will put you in contact with someone that can.
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