How to Move a Piano

This is very important. How "do" you move a piano? It weighs as much as a horse and is not nearly as cooperative. I think the short answer is you move it ".....very carefully". So, in this article I want to inform the reader to consider several points when moving a piano. 

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It seems to me, speaking as one who owns and plays a piano, that at some point your piano has to be moved. Now that could be a far away move to another town or even another country or just up four steps to another room in your house. Whatever the case that piano has to be dealt with and it's not going to be easy.

So if something is difficult in life and it will not go away on its own then the only thing to do is proceed with the task. Now, the best way to approach this is to have a plan of procedure. Don't you think? As with any difficult project the procedure is much smoother when we have a well thought through plan. 

Let's prepare one now that includes various aspects and try to make this plan as complete and thorough as we can beginning with:

Safety Features

The very first point that I would make in terms of safety features is "....hire the professional piano movers!" Now this might be out of the question but, please, hear me on this. There are a lot of real good reasons to hire the pros and not the least of reasons is the obvious heft of an acoustic piano.

Piano moving is a trade in itself and trade personal specialize in their field. An upright piano can weigh between 400 and 900 pounds. Grand pianos can start at 650 pounds and go all the way up to 1300 pounds. At these weights you could be looking at serious injury with broken bones and dislocations if it were to get away on you. 

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It seems to me another good reason to use the pros if you can is because your piano is generally the most expensive and handsome piece of furniture you have in your house. Being that heavy it is obvious that one false move and you can do a lot of damage to yourself, sure, but also to the piano itself. 

Moving a piano is a "calculate" move and so another reason you should use a professional piano mover is to draw upon their experience in forecasting that move. For instance, moving a piano almost always requires that piano to go through a small door space or some other tight squeeze that will require the piano to be in awkward, off balance, positions. You see where this point is
going I'm sure. 

Listen, my friend, when this piano you and your buddy are moving starts slipping out of your grip it will go to the lowest place pretty quick and you won't be able to stop it and injury's may be the result. Serious injury sometimes. So please consider what I am saying here. 

Let me give you a list of questions you can mull over in your mind before you attempt that move. Questions like:
    (1) Why do I need a Piano Mover anyway? 
    (2) How are pianos moved?
    (3) If I hire a professional piano mover, does it mean that my piano will not be damaged?
    (4) Are all piano movers equally proficient?
    (5) How do I find the best piano mover?
    (6) Are all companies similarly insured?
    (7) How much does it cost to move a piano?

Now, after all that if you are still bent on moving that big black lug by yourself then 'more power to ya' as the old saying goes. 

Clearly, as to the list below you may not need "all" the tools mentioned and described. You will, of course, use your common sense to carefully consider what kind of move you are attempting and the tools that will accomplish this move best for you and your helpers. 

With that thought in mind let's spend some time acquainting ourselves with the tools available depending on the nature and severity of this piano move.

HOW TO MOVE A PIANO -- without the pros

Supplies Needed for Moving Upright or Grand Pianos. Just to point out that I will provide some images of these tools but they can be found readily on places like U-Tube or even just Google the item. This way you will know what they look like and see the operation of them first hand. 

        Four Wheel "Piano" Dolly

For any piano move at all a "four wheel piano dolly" would be a very good first choice. This is the kind that has four wheels on the floor and is of rectangular construction. This is not your regular type dolly and here's the reason they are different.

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All the wheels are four inches high and are made out of rubber to protect any kind of floor surface especially the hardwood floors so prevalent in homes today. On closer inspection you will see these "piano" dolly's have two sets of ball bearings.

One set around the wheel axle and the other set around the swivels. The reason for this is ease of turning movements considering always the heft of pianos and the easiest way to maneuver them around corners and through doorways in the house. When moving a piano try very hard to get
this "Piano Dolly" type as opposed to the regular typical dolly. You'll be glad you did.

        Hump Strap

You will also need what is called a "Hump Strap". You'll be asking yourself what in the world is a Hump Strap anyway. Good question. They are straps made out of four-ply burlap and are generally four inches wide and fifteen feet long.

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A hump strap is designed to "extend" the movers arms and are strong and soft making the strain easy on you as you lift . They act as a rope actually but much more effective. Excellent in moving a piano up a flight of stairs by wrapping the hump strap around both arms at the wrists and behind the piano wheels.

Then one step at a time you lift the front part of the piano up a step while two helps on
the back of the piano keep pace. Hump straps reduce strain on your neck and back and are considered essential to any piano move which requires an up or down stairs piano move.

        Locking Belt  

This again will depend on the type of piano move you are making. This "Locking Belt" has various names in the industry. You might be familiar with it when it is called "E-track Belt". In any case this is a heavy duty and durable strap which is generally two inches wide and at least fifteen feet long and is equipped with a ratchet on one end that is designed to draw and clamp and tie down all loose pieces in place.

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Tying down a load safely is tough but crucial. That's why these tie down ratchet straps are made out
of the most reliable materials available with the highest standard workmanship: to ensure that your cargo is secured, keeping your load and all work people safe.

        Piano Board

This piano moving tool is more commonly know as a "skid board". This board is of course padded and wrapped in cloth. These skid boards are designed to be strapped to the long edge of a grand piano then placed on the dolly for moving about.

This provides a strong flat base for the heavy awkward grand to be supported on. A "skid board" is generally made from two inch pine and is about eight inches wide and six feet long. 

        Quality Packer Tape

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Again it should be stressed here that you should not hold back in terms of packing tape. Purchase the very best available as it is not that much difference in price anyway but you'll be glad you did.

You should purchase tape that will last longer and I personally like the clear plastic tape that is out there. Make sure it advertises as extra strong and used for heavy duty jobs. The strong adhesive and tape backing will keep seams closed during the rough handling. 

       Quality Movers Pads

Movers Pads come in a variety of weights and fabrics. These offer extra cushion and protection. They are commonly called mover blankets. Some would question the reason for purchasing these heavy duty blankets and again that depends on the individual, the amount of care in the piano and the move itself.

Like anything else these blankets can usually be rented at truck rental outfits like U-Haul, Budget, and Penske. Another option is to use your own blankets and comforters found regularly in your home especially if the move is not real drastic or far ranging just beware that by using your own they may get permanently marred or soiled.

The thing is this you are seeking to form a buffer for the heavy but beautiful features of your piano to keep it from being dinged, scratched or punctured in the heat of the move.

        Shoulder Harness

It seems like very often there are new inventions coming into play when lifting heavy objects like pianos and so it pays to check out current tools available. One of these is the shoulder harness. Some call this the "Shoulder Dolly" which has been proven to help individuals lift, support and move large heavy objects safer and easier and more efficiently.

The "Shoulder Dolly" won't make you any stronger than you are without it but it is specifically designed to promote and facilitate proper lifting techniques. The Shoulder Dolly uses your legs and shoulders to lift items hence making the load feel lighter. 


May I just reiterate the very important point here of "SAFETY FIRST". I have given you a lot of information to this point with more to come and therefore, it will not be considered bad judgement on your behalf to now seek the help of a professional moving firm. 

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Let us be reminded that serious injury can be afflicted moving these pianos. I mean just let one person throw their back out while in the process and the entire mission with all the planning and equipment acquired, purchased or rented has been a failure. 

On the other hand if you proceed then know that this is not all about strength. It's also about technique when using major muscle parts of your body like your legs and your back and knowing your body and how much it can lift even with modern equipment like Shoulder Dollies, Locking Belts and Hump Straps. So, if you are equipped, up to date, have a good plan, have ample man power and are determined then by all means proceed.   

        Moving An Upright Piano

May I just say that "EVERY" piano move will have its own path to take. I say this at the beginning because although I will mention some ideas of for instance taking a piano up or down a set of stairs what is said here may be slightly different than the way it is in the particular home layout you are in. The stairs may be steep or shorter or wider.

There may be fewer of them than I indicate in my instructions so you will be required to introduce adjustments to your own scenario. Please be advised that I am merely providing "examples" for you to get an idea of what you are up against. 

Lets consider the "Upright" piano first of all. When moving an upright piano you will need at least two men for the more simple moves from one room to another. If you are going up a flight of stairs then three men are recommended for balancing and lifting support. 

You will need to use some of the equipment mentioned previously of course and again it is so important to be prepared or in other words know exactly what you are up against and what it will take to land this most heavy object in the spot you have in mind. 

This plan will have considered the flooring you are going across not to mark it, what wrapping, strapping and dollies will be necessary to land it and the obstacles that could be a factor in the process like space required in doorway. Again, always think in terms of safety first. 

When you are moving an Upright Piano up or down stairs remove the floor dolly. Then realize this type of move is always done "one-step-at-a-time" and in slow motion if necessary. There are tricks to any trade and it doesn't hurt as part of the preparation to consult an experienced mover. 

Another good part of the preparation planning is to study a couple (or more) u-tube videos dedicated to piano moving. You will be much more confident and secure when you have your plan well studied and advice taken ready to be used if necessary. As always your mindset should be "safety first".

        Moving A Grand Piano

Obviously, this is going to be a painstaking task depending on the extent of the move once again. Just one look at a grand or even a mini grand piano you have a tendency to be intimidated right off the bat. Keep in mind though these pianos also can be manipulated and moved to the required location with minimum effort when the proper thought and safety precautions are applied. 

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Again I will give some common procedural outlines to follow but common sense must be used as every move is different according to the layout of the surroundings and where you need the piano rest in the end.

We should start by removing the music stand and move it separately if possible. The peddles can be removed to avoid breakage. It's quite easy. Simply remove the screws that hold the pedal assembly in place with the rods that support it. Wrap it and the rods.

When the piano is ready to be set up again--reverse the process. Cover the keys with cloth, then close the key cover. Same thing as an upright piano.

Next thing is to make sure the piano is wrapped carefully with the piano blankets and pads and that they are supported by lots of tape. Take the leg on the curve off first then the other two. Wrap them separately for shipping.

You will need to place the long edge of the piano on a "piano board" mentioned in the equipment list above. This will support the piano for lifting and installing a dolly or two whatever is needed for moving across open areas. 

As with the upright piano you will need to decide when to remove the dollies and certainly going up or down stairs will generally require this adjustment. Moving the piano up or down stairs may be made a little easier if the shoulder harness can be applied but caution is given here as to the weight of the piano. 


Once again I would caution the head mover to have his homework done. That homework would include a study of relevant u-tube videos and please, do not under estimate the value in these videos. Some of course are better than others but I have no doubt that if you will investigate even briefly here you will find the instruction video that nearly if not totally fits your situation. 

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Another good point is to either get the advice or better still the help of an experienced piano mover for the chore. You'll be glad you did. 

Some choices are needed to be made at this point and I trust that the article before you will give enough knowledge and insight to make these choices more accurately. All the best to you as you accomplish this move and as a last shout out in whatever way you
choose please do so with safety in mind. 

Written by Duane Graves