How Our Pros Move Pianos
Unless the piano is very small and light, it is almost always placed on a special skid called a piano board. The piano is covered with blankets and strapped to the board. If the piano is to be moved over a level surface for any distance, the piano board is put on a dolly – a small platform on wheels- and rolled to its destination, such as a truck or stairway. At the stairway, the dolly is removed and the piano is slid in a very slow and controlled manner up or down the stairs. Our pros move pianos like no one else.
A grand piano is moved on its side, straight side down. First the lid and the pedal lyre are removed. Then the leg at the straight side of the piano is removed and the piano is carefully lowered down to the piano board. After the remaining 2 legs are removed, the piano is covered with blankets and strapped to the board. Stripped down in this manner, a grand piano is quite thin and will actually fit through a door or other opening very easily.
When a piano must be moved to or from a floor other than the first, many movers prefer to hoist or rig it rather than move it up or down stairs. Believe it or not, moving a piano by stairs is actually more dangerous, both to the piano and to the movers, than hoisting it through an upper-story window with a crane. Most movers will consent to moving by stairs when only one flight is involved, or when no other alternative is possible. Of course, if the building has a freight elevator that can support the piano, that method is preferred over all others.
Basically, it is the customer’s responsibility to make sure the piano will fit in its new location. This means not expecting a piano to be hoisted in a window that’s too small, or carried down a stairway with too low an overhang, or moved around a corner that’s too tight.
Corners are the hardest to judge because they can’t be easily measured. An experienced mover can usually judge these situations pretty accurately by eye and may prefer to visit the moving sites prior to moving day if there is any question about the difficulty of the job. This probably won’t be possible if the move is a long-distance one. If the piano won’t fit in its intended location, the customer will have to pay for its delivery back to its point of departure, to an alternate destination, or to storage.
Excerpt taken from The Piano Book: The definitive source book on buying & owning a new or used piano by Larry Fine. Click here for more info.