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Moving a piano

In the house were we lived for eight years there is a narrow hallway leading to a small door. it is at a rather difficult angle, and yet if the door were open you would see that somehow, beyond reasonable expectation, someone was able to get a grand piano into the room beyond. I used to tell people that we started with the piano and built the home around it. Or that if was done with a really enormous pair of tweezers, like a ship in a bottle.

It is a shame I don't have a picture to show you. It took three guys who looked like they played for the Dallas Cowboys close to two hours of huffing and puffing to somehow get the piano around the corner and into the room. And they hardly even wrecked the molding. Once there was a rather distressing sound, but nothing was irretrievably damaged.

When it came time to remove the piano, a couple of skinny guys got it out in about 20 minutes. Apparently if you use the hallway to make a three point turn instead of trying to put the thing straight in from the living room it goes faster. I had mentioned that plan eight years earlier, but some folks don't care for geometry. It just shows there is more than one way to get a piano into a room.

An upright piano is usually not such a big deal. A grand piano is where things get complicated. The piano I own is six-and-a-half-feet long from keyboard to tail. But some pianos can get up to 9 feet long. There is an Italian company that likes to make them 10 feet long. How on earth are you supposed to get one of those through a doorway?

The standard method is to remove the legs of the grand piano and the trap-work, which is the part in the middle where the pedals are. Then you turn the piano on its side, but not before you've wrapped it up in a nice layer of bubble wrap or blankets or something. This is to protect the piano from collisions with the walls you aren't supposed to collide with.

The piano is then placed on a dolly or cart and wheeled to its next destination, which is probably a truck so it can be transported to another location. Once there, it is off-loaded, and the process is reversed. The piano is put in place, with or without wheels under its side (in which case the movers attach ropes and do some heavy heaving), then two of the legs are re-attached, the piano is lifted into a horizontal position and one of the movers lifts up the piano while the other attaches the legs. This is done with a large screw or two which is not noticeable normally.

Did I mention they generally take the blanket off first?

It is usually a good idea to get piano movers rather than attempting this yourself or with soon-to-be-ex friends. For one thing, the reputable ones have insurance in case something terrible happens. And invariably there will be stairs or openings that are barely large enough for the piano to fit through and you will want people who have had to cram a piano through the eye of a needle once or twice before.


Most pianos come with wheels on them but these appear to be largely ceremonial. If a piano is actually going to be mobile in any real sense of the word most people have the piano put on casters which are basically dollies with much larger wheels on them that the piano can use to ride around in style.

Of course, there was a time when a few of us moved a piano my parents had lent to a neighbor up the street back to our house after the neighbor girl stopped playing the piano. It was just a couple of house away and downhill. I remember using the upright piano's actual wheels to pilot the instrument down the street and into our driveway. I suspect we had to lift it over the threshold and I don't remember the stairs into the living room very well. I guess once I recovered from the hernia all my memories must have been erased.

At any rate, you probably want to have it done by professionals. Just don't hire these guys.




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