We recently wrote about how to move an upright piano. If you thought that was tricky, wait until you learn how to move a grand! Both types are heavy and have many delicate parts. While an upright typically weighs between 400 and 800 pounds, a grand can weigh from 500 to 1,200 pounds.
That’s a lot of instrument, and because of that, you will need helpers. We recommend four or five, which will allow you to take turns lifting and spotting.
You should also consider hiring a professional moving company. If you do, make sure they have experience moving grand pianos and that they come well-recommended. You can check Yelp or Google Reviews to see what other customers think.
If you do decide to do it yourself, follow these instructions.
When you know what day you will be moving your piano, it’s time to get prepared. Reserve a truck rental for the day, and make sure the truck has a ramp. Contact friends who can help. They should be in better-than-average shape and free of back or joint problems.
Get your supplies together as well. You will need approximately 15 moving pads, a piano board, heavy-duty moving straps with buckles or strong rope, packing tape, bubble wrap, some plastic sandwich bags, a 4 wheel dolly, and a stair ramp.
On the day of the move, you’ll start by disassembling the piano.
Start by removing the lid, which will be attached by screws and hinges. Remove them carefully with a matching screwdriver, then place the screws and hinges in a one of the plastic bags and label it “Piano Lid Parts.” With one of your helpers, lift the lid carefully and wrap it in two or three moving blankets. Use packing tape to secure them.
Next, remove the lyre. This is the part that includes the pedals. Unscrew it from the body of the piano and set it nearby. Keep its screws and metal plates in a labeled plastic bag labeled “Lyre Parts.”
Preparing the Body
This is where the piano board comes in. A piano board is a piece of equipment specifically designed to move a grand piano. They can be expensive, so if you have time and the inclination, you might want to make your own.
Place the piano board on the ground, its length parallel to the long, flat side of the piano body, and tilt that part of the piano onto it. Do not let the weight of the piano shift to the legs, which can break off at this angle. Do this slowly and carefully with three or more people, and remember to lift and set it down using your legs, not your back.
Wrap the piano body with moving pads. It will probably take three or four, depending on the size. You can leave much of the bottom area, where the legs are attached, unwrapped, but the blankets should cover the top and sides.
Use the moving straps to secure the piano to the board, and the buckles to make sure it’s on tightly. They idea is to keep the piano steady and in place. During this entire process, one or two people should make sure the piano doesn’t tip.
Remove the Legs
With the body secured to the piano board, remove the piano legs. It will have three or four, depending on if it’s a baby grand or a full grand. Use an Allen wrench or the correct sized screwdriver, place the screws in a bag labeled “Leg Screws,” and set the legs aside with the lyre.
Protecting the Lyre and Legs
Wrap each pedal, and then the rest of the lyre, in bubble wrap, and secure it together with packing tape. Then, wrap the piano legs in moving pads, each in a separate moving pad or small blanket. It’s important to make sure they are completely covered to protect the wood. Use packing tape to make sure the legs and lyre remain in their bundles.
Moving the Piano from the House to the Truck
If you have stairs at your home, leading down from your door or porch, put the stair ramp in place. Roll out the ramp from the back of the truck as well, and make sure that there’s plenty of room to maneuver the piano to the door, and from the door to the truck, so it doesn’t bump into anything.
Have three or four people lift the piano and piano board onto the four wheel dolly. You may want an additional person spotting and making sure they lift the piano high enough before lifting shifting it over. Then, have two or three people, one at each end and one to keep the piano steady, roll the piano to the door. There, the piano may need to be lifted again, the dolly pushed over the threshold, and the piano placed back down on the dolly.
Roll the piano carefully down the stair ramp. Really watch where you’re going, and watch for bumps in pavement, as you roll the piano to the truck. Once at the base of the truck ramp, push the piano up it, with one person at the top to steady it, one person on either side to spot it, and one or two pushing from the bottom end.
On the truck, lower the body from the dolly and secure it, with ropes or straps, to the wall, with the padded side against the wall. Carry the lid in and strap it to another wall. Both the body and the lid, when well-strapped in, shouldn’t move any more than an inch. Place the wrapped legs, lyre, and plastic bags of parts in the truck bed. Lock up the truck, and you’re ready to go!
At Your Destination
Once you have the piano at your destination, and you have your strong helpers with you, you’re going to reverse the process.
Make sure you have the truck parked where you’ll have a clear path into the home or office. Open the truck and roll down the ramp. If the building has stairs to the front door, set up the stair ramp over them.
Unstrap the body of the piano from the wall and use the same lifting procedure as described before to get the body onto the dolly. Make sure there is nothing in the way of where you plan to put the piano, either outside or inside. With your helpers and spotters, slowly roll the body down the ramp. Carefully roll it to the stair ramp and up, then through the door, and into the right room.
Two or three of you can then carry in the lid, lyre, legs, and parts in. Screw the legs back onto the piano base, then have several helpers lift it and place it carefully upright. Unwrap the body, the lyre, and the lid, and reattach these parts with the correct screws, hinges, and plates.
Yes, moving a heavy grand piano is hard work, but with the right helpers, you can get it done. Just remember to thank them once you’ve finished the job.