However, if many other instances, if the right questions aren’t asked and the piano movers properly prepped as to the type of space they’re moving the piano into including simple things like stairs and turns as well as any oddities, even the most professional piano movers can run into serious issues.
Especially with larger acoustic pianos, there’s a very real chance that things go quite sideways if the preparation is lacking or you’ve chosen a sub-standard piano moving company.
We had a recent unfortunate incident with an Estonia 168 – a beautiful, handcrafted grand piano. This piano endured an absolutely catastrophic series of events that led to the instrument not being dropped just once, but twice, to the point where the instrument is now a complete write-off.
If it can happen to one of the largest piano dealers in North America, it can happen to you. If you’ve recently purchased a piano and want to ensure the piano move is as stress-free as possible, this article is for you.
Main Considerations When Preparing for Piano Moving
Pianos are some of the single most specialized objects that a mover can tackle. But before you even go ahead and book movers to transport your instrument or even get a free quote, it’s important for you as the owner to understand the important factors you’ll want to keep in mind when planning the move of your grand or upright piano.
The first thing to keep in mind is temperature. Not every country enjoys temperate weather all year round, and as a matter of fact, there are many countries where the piano is a very popular instrument with temperatures that drop below zero degrees Celsius for several months of the year.
Acoustic pianos in the vast majority of cases are actually sprayed and finished with polyester, and polyester just so happens to be a material that does not expand or contract very well at all. If a piano with a polyester finish gets below minus five degrees Celsius, there’s a very good chance that the polyester will crack if there is any moisture in the wood of the piano.
This type of cracking is referred to as a cold crack in the industry, and it is unfortunately very common. Knowing the expected temperature for the planned day of the move is really important if you’re having a piano in the winter months. If the temperature is anywhere close to minus 5 degrees Celsius, you should consider rescheduling your move or have the piano wrapped in several moving blankets while insisting that the movers use a heated truck.
If the piano moving services you’ve enlisted aren’t willing to accommodate or appear to be ignorant as to the risks of a move during cold weather, you may not be dealing with a mover with the proper know-how to keep your piano safe.
It’s not realistic to count on the movers that you have hired to pre-measure the clearances they’ll be dealing with when moving your piano into or out of your home or event space/venue etc.
Take the initiative and ensure that you have either measured or eyeballed with some level of accuracy the route in or out. We can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve heard about a mover showing up to a home, either not having asked right the questions regarding measurements, or realizing that they have arrived unprepared. Sometimes they try anyway and horror ensues, or they charge you anyway and have to rebook.
This is obviously especially crucial with long-distance moving, so it’s really worth it to save yourself the potential hassle – take those measurements and make that phone call!
#3. Pianos Require Tuning with Changes in Humidity
If you move from one part of a room to another in your house, odds are your piano will stay in tune. If however, you move your piano from one house to another, a tuning will absolutely be required.
Essentially anytime a piano is subjected to dramatic shifts in humidity, you will need to schedule a piano tuning if you’d like your instrument to be in tune. We’ve included this point here to make sure it’s on your checklist when scheduling a move.
#4. Remove All Accessories
Next on the list is to remove all accessories from the piano that could get damaged during the move, the most obvious being the humidification system if you’ve had one installed. Not all piano movers will know to remove the humidification system themselves, so you’ll want to do it ahead of time.
Before you go ahead and remove the system, you’ll want to make sure that the water tank is empty and then removed from the piano.
Beyond these types of systems, some pianos might have other accessories such as cables associated with a player system, or perhaps even a set of headphones plugged in.
#5. Be Honest About Your Move
If you are buying a new piano from a retailer, or simply looking to book a move from your old house to a new home for example, do not be dishonest about the potential difficulty of the move in an attempt to save a few dollars.
For instance, be honest about the number of stairs, the size and type of piano (don’t call your mid-sized grand a baby grand piano or large upright a spinet for example), and any tricky turns or clearances.
Having a bunch of stairs, tricky turns or a really large piano will push the cost of the move higher, but the risk of having a moving company show up ill-prepared to do the move has the potential to be substantially more expensive.
To hammer this point home, we’d like to mention two well-known moving disaster stories from the past decade or so. One story involved a Bosendorfer Imperial Concert Grand in England, while the other story involved Angela Hewitt’s Fazioli concert grand. In both cases, movers destroyed the instruments, and in both cases, they were prepared to move 9-foot instruments! This simply underscores how delicate the moving process is.
So, be honest about the complexity of your piano move, so that the movers will show up with the correct number of crew members (two men certainly aren’t moving a 9-footer even with a dolly) and a proper plan of attack.
#6. Make the Necessary Arrangements
This next one is for any of you city folk out there who live in condos and apartment buildings. If you need to book a service elevator or inform a concierge about a move, make sure you do so well in advance.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many cases where a move is booked for a particular day and the movers have given themselves flexibility in terms of when they will actually deliver the piano, only to find out the day before or even the day of the move that the elevator needs to be booked for a very specific, narrow window of time. Even the best piano movers aren’t prepared for this type of sudden logistical challenge.
Finding out in advance the exact window of time with which you have to work will ensure that your moving experts show up on time to pick up or drop off your piano.
So, if you are getting an instrument delivered and live in a condo or apartment building, make sure all of your ducks are in a row well in advance.
#7. Prepare the Area Where the Piano is Going
Last but not least is to ensure that you’ve prepared the area in your home or building where the piano is going to end up.
For one, you’ll want to ensure that furniture in the path of the move has been moved out of the way. Movers will not have budgeted the time to move couches, other musical instruments, cabinets etc. out of the way when they arrive, and in some cases, there may even be insurance issues with them moving anything other than the piano they showed up with.
Coasters or castor cups are other things you’ll want to have ready and in place for the movers. They may forget to ask if you have so you’ll want to make sure the coasters are in place, especially if your floors are made with a softer material that will easily damage.
We hope you enjoyed this general interest blog post about piano moving and some great steps to take before a move. If you live in South-Western Ontario and have piano moving needs, contact us today and we can connect with some great local moving companies with years of experience.
We also have contacts for piano storage services and crating for long-distance moves as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks for reading!