Where do I start? I’m not going to lie…moving pianos is no fun. I’m sorry that this is your reality. At this point in my life, I will pay cold hard cash for professional movers to take care of it so I don’t have to.
If that isn’t an option for you, don’t worry, it can definitely be done! It will take some time, require a few helpers, and a pickup truck. Although not required, I would suggest ordering a couple of pizzas for the “volunteers” once you’re all done. Thank me later!
Note: In this article we will be focusing on moving the most common type of household piano: The Upright (as pictured below).
If you are moving a grand piano…my condolences. Please do not attempt to move it yourself and call a professional.
Preparing the move
Before you start rolling the piano out the door, you need to make a plan.
Consider the following:
- Do you have enough people to help with the move?
- How will you protect the piano during the move?
- Do you have a clear path from point A to B?
Getting some muscle to help with the move
At minimum, you want four able-bodied men or women who enjoy crossfit (ok it doesn’t have to be crossfit). Ideally I’d want to have six people. Not all to be lifting, but some to help with coordinating and looking out for potential hazards.
The best way I’ve gotten help is literally offering free food for anyone who came and helped. If you got neighbors you talk to, try reaching out to see if they can spare some time helping.
Be prepared as this could take 2+ hours just to get it out of the house and into the truck.
How to protect the piano during the move
Pianos are as much strong and sturdy as they are soft and delicate.
The casing is solid wood with a cast iron plate inside which adds a lot of weight and yet, the hammers inside can be misaligned or even break if you’re not careful when moving.
It is also likely your piano won’t sound the same after the move. You’ll want to call a tuner if you notice it sounds like a piano from a saloon in the 1890’s (unless, of course, you play a lot of ragtime music, then you’re probably good).
First thing you want to do is protect the wood and finish by wrapping it with non-slip blankets. Use some moving bungee cords to secure the blankets in place. Your piano should now look like a piano burrito (heh).
One thing to note is many upright pianos have front legs that are purely decorative. It’s likely they can break, so don’t put any weight on them.
Make a clear path
Grab a measuring tape and find the path of least resistance for your piano. The last (and final) time I moved my piano, we had two options.
- Go around the corner of the banister and down a small flight of stairs
- Go straight out on the patio down a large flight of stairs
We ended up having to take option 2 even though stairs are a beast to deal with when moving a piano. The reason we did it is because we simply did not have enough room to clear the corner of the banister to take it out that way.
You might have an idea where you want to take it out from, but do your due diligence first and make sure it will fit. Your helpers will be grateful you did.
Moving the Piano
If you’re moving on carpet or wood flooring, you’ll want to use some moving pads. If you’ve never used them before, you’re missing out. I throw four of those under each corner of my upright piano and I can move it across my room with a simple push.
The moving pads can’t help you much when you get the piano outside. You should be able to roll the piano on its’ wheels but don’t rely on the wheels on the front legs (remember they’ll break!). Ideally you’d have a piano dolly or enough help to lift the piano up completely.
You might have enough muscle to lift the piano into the truck with the tailgate down, but if you’re not sure, don’t attempt it. It’s not worth throwing out your back.
A good alternative is this:
Line up the piano about 2-3 feet behind the tailgate of the truck, with the tailgate down. Have a few people lift up the piano at a 45 degree angle and hold it while another person slowly backs up the truck to meet with the piano. Gently lower the piano onto the tailgate and have everyone lift the remaining end of the piano up onto the bed of the truck.
I feel like I should add a disclaimer that this could likely damage the piano if you haven’t taken the proper precautions as previously mentioned. But you’ve already slaved away this long getting it in the truck, so let’s chalk that off as a win.
Securing the Piano in the truck
You can’t just expect the piano to stay in place driving it around town. If you have to drive a long ways, you will want to pay extra attention to this part.
Get some good straps for the piano. You can tie down the piano with these as long as you have the non-slip blankets I mentioned earlier so it won’t damage the finish.
You can lie the piano on its side or back, but I would suggest avoiding that since it can cause a hammer or some other part to fall out of place. It would also be good to get some extra blankets to put under it to make sure it’s not going to be moving or rocking while driving.
Don’t do this alone if you don’t have to. But if you do, wear protective clothing, protect the piano before you lift a finger, clear a path, and get some muscle to move it.
Reach out if you have any other good tips for moving a piano in a pickup truck!