How To Move a Piano: A Piano Mover’s Guide

Posted in: I'm Moving, How To Pack, Loading & Unloading Guides

How do you move your piano? As with moving anything, the answer revolves around three objectives:

  • Keeping your piano safe
  • Keeping your home safe
  • Keeping yourself safe

No matter what type of piano you have, the best way to accomplish all three is by hiring a team of piano mover pros. Moving a piano on your own (or hiring non-professionals) is simply not a good idea.

Many (but not all) moving companies you find will move pianos as part of what they do. There are even a few who specialize in only moving pianos! The former might be a bit cheaper, while specialists will likely be more expensive.

How much does it cost to move a piano?

Another common question. And the answer is always the same.

It depends.

It mostly depends on:

  • What kind of piano you have
  • How heavy it is
  • How many obstacles (stairs) the movers will have to negotiate

The ballpark is typically between $200-1,000+, touching on both ends of the price spectrum

And it’s a safe bet that hiring piano moving specialists will cost more than having a typical moving company do it as part of your overall move.

As for how many movers you need, and therefore how much it might cost, figure:

  • 2-3 movers for a vertical piano (or 4 if it’s on the heavy end)
  • 4-6 movers for a grand piano

Multiply by your movers’ hourly rate (very roughly $25-40) and there’s your estimate! 

If your total sounds a little high, remember what counts: protecting your piano, protecting your home, and protecting yourself. Hate to say it, but getting that locked down no matter the price should be music to your ears.

Who should I hire?

Who you hire will depend on these questions:

What type of piano do you have?

The two major types of pianos are vertical pianos and baby grand pianos. A baby grand piano is an entirely different beast from a vertical piano, and it will impact who you hire.

While many standard moving companies have the tools and the know-how to move a baby grand, as you move up the scale toward larger, heavier and more expensive grands, you should consider hiring a specialist.

How heavy is your piano?

Is it a three-foot, three hundred pound spinet, or a five-foot, half-ton upright? Moving a Piano

Even if you somehow don’t know this, a moving company will either ask, or take an educated guess based on the info you provide, then prepare accordingly.

Where do you live?

Surprisingly, some states have very specific laws regarding piano transportation, due to weight regulations. Unless you are a touring musician, you’re unlikely to know your particular state’s laws, as well as any sticky interstate regulations. Professional movers will likely know all this info for you already.

What is the path out of your location like?

This is strictly the path from piano to truck. Distance is not a problem. Staircases are significant. The more you have and the heavier your piano, the more expertise and number of movers becomes a factor.

How does an upright piano get moved?

Very carefully, we hope. But if there are no staircases to negotiate, don’t be surprised if only two movers show up. Even for a heavier vertical piano, all it takes is for one person to lift one end and one person to position a 4-wheeler underneath.

Centered and balanced on that wheeled wooden rectangle, your piano will be a piece of cake for your movers to roll down the hallway and out the door. (If you clear the way for them beforehand, they’ll appreciate it!)

On average, the process of handling a piano – from wrapping it to moving it to securing it on the truck – only takes about an hour. Multiple flights of stairs and tight pathways will, of course, require more time. 

How to move a piano

But just like every other piece of furniture, a piano needs to be wrapped in thick, protective moving pads. It might seem strange if – potentially – your movers don’t wrap your piano before moving it. However, pads can make it tough to get and keep a firm grip on just about anything bulky and heavy. As a professional mover myself, I personally prefer to wait until the piano is on the truck before wrapping it up. Your movers might want to do the same.

Your movers will also likely have no problem negotiating a step or two (or three) without the aid of a third set of hands.

An entire staircase almost always requires a third person who (absolutely) should be helping out on the lower end of the piano, whether going up or down. The mover handling the higher end, meanwhile, will be bent over trying to keep their side under control. Here, too, a second set of hands is helpful, if not crucial.

But this is a professional’s job. Resist the temptation, if one arises, to jump in and help. Please, trust me on this.

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Though I’ve never done it myself, it is entirely possible as a last resort to turn a vertical piano upside down. If your movers do this in order to slide your heavy upright down a flight of stairs, understand it is not for any reason but the safety of your piano and your home – and possibly the movers themselves. (You may, however, question them if they try to slide your piano, on any side, across a bare floor or bare steps if that piano has not been pad-wrapped!)

What should I expect if I have to move a baby grand piano?

A grand piano requires an entirely different approach, not to mention totally different equipment. And if only two movers show up? Get between them and your piano and demand they call the office and double, if not triple their manpower. The steps for moving a grand piano show us why.

How to move a piano

Don’t try this at home. When you hire a professional to move your baby-grand piano, this is exactly what you should expect them to do:

  • Your piano is wrapped – across the top and all around the sides
  • All but one of the crew grab hold around the left front corner of the piano
  • The one remaining mover crawls under the piano to remove the bolt from that corner leg. The crew lifts the corner slightly off the floor
  • The mover under the piano (gently) bangs the leg loose from its bracket with a rubber mallet
  • Half the crew holds that now-legless corner up while the other half grabs hold of the piano along the opposite side
  • Legless corner gets lowered to the floor while the movers on the opposite side lift up to keep the weight of the piano off the two remaining (and now diagonal) legs. (This is critical to make sure those legs don’t crack under the piano’s considerable weight.)
  • The left side of piano – the longest side – is set on the piano board the movers need to have brought. This strong narrow platform is padded, has a raised lip on one end, and sports two metal brackets on each side for the ratchet straps necessary to keep the piano strapped tightly to the board
  • Once the piano is strapped firmly in place the remaining two legs are removed, the piano is tilted so a 4-wheeler can be placed under the piano board, and the crew keeps it steady as they get rolling

That’s a lot of technical stuff. Could you even keep up?

Normally, the grand piano will remain on the piano board all the way to the owner’s new living room. But if you rented a rig from Budget truck rental and are using local moving labor like HireAHelper provides, expect the move-out crew to take your piano off their board once it is on the truck. They’ll set it on extra pads and strap it tight to the (inside) wall of the truck, and the unload crew will put it on their piano board to haul it into your new home.

Don’t worry, many of HireAHelper’s movers are well-qualified to handle your piano. Just make sure to checkmark that you own a piano while browsing the nationwide marketplace. And be sure to let the winning mover know what kind you have so they can bring all the right equipment – and enough manpower – to do the job right. Your piano deserves it.


Illustrations by Subin Yang

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