How do I move a piano the length of Britain?
January 4, 2009 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to move an upright piano from Essex to Edinburgh (UK). Am I mad?

It's the piano I learned to play on. Although it's in reasonable condition, it really doesn't have much intrinsic financial value, only sentimental value (which is high - I played it a lot in my teens). My parents have finally decided they want rid of it and were planning to sell it/get it taken away, but said it's mine for the taking - if I can arrange to move it to my place. Unfortunately my place is a first-floor flat in Edinburgh, and they live in mid-Essex.

Does anyone have any recommendations of long-haul piano movers and any idea how much this might cost? I know the transport will be worth more than the piano, and will be more expensive than buying myself another second-hand piano - but I'd be really sad to say goodbye to this piano after so many years of shared joy and suffering.

I also have quite a few boxes and bags of stuff I'd like to move the same route. If I'm paying someone to drive all that way for me it makes sense to get them to take these too. But should I be opting for a specialist piano-mover, and would they also take other stuff alongside the piano?

The only similar thread I can find is US-based.
posted by penguin pie to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As it's an upright, you could do it yourself (and of course a helpful friend). If you hired a van, you could take the piano and the other belongings at the same time.

Your local tooling and machinery rental place will have wheeled platforms available, so some physical strain is only needed to lift the piano onto the platform and then from the platform into the van.

Your real problem would be getting the piano into the first-floor flat, for which you would need some kind of professional help once in Edinburgh.

However, paying for someone to lug the piano into the flat, for the van hire and petrol costs will all add up. I have no idea how much a specialist piano removals company costs, so do the sums and see which works out more reasonably.
posted by idiomatika at 6:27 PM on January 4, 2009

I moved an upright piano three times in the US, one of those times by myself, and had no problems using a rental truck, a pallet jack and piano dolly, and careful planning in regard to truck ramps. If the piano has to go up any incline, you will need at least 3 strong people, but if everything is level then you can probably tackle this yourself if you're strong. The only tricky part is making sure it doesn't topple over on its back as the center of gravity is not in a convenient place.
posted by crapmatic at 6:40 PM on January 4, 2009

From the experience of an old acquaintance: be prepared to pay to have it tuned after the move.
posted by batmonkey at 7:03 PM on January 4, 2009

I am based in the U.S., so can't offer any advice on vendors. That being said, I would expect that you will be able to find a moving service that offers piano transit as well as the rest of your stuff. As long as they're experienced and have references, you can use them with relative confidence.

Unsolicited advice: Before you devote resources to this chore, think about if you're really going to play the instrument much, or if you're better off using the money toward a newer, better quality instrument that will give you years of pleasure.

I had to make a similar decision when I changed coasts here in the US - my old piano went to a great home where it is still in use and lovingly looked after.

Best of luck, regardless of your decision!
posted by pianoboy at 8:40 PM on January 4, 2009

I did a very similar move a few years ago: a cheap upright piano from Manchester to a 3rd floor Edinburgh flat. It's easily do-able by yourself if you can muster the manpower. You'll need to hire a van - make sure it has anchors on the inside walls so you can secure the piano inside. Ideally you want someone to come north with you so that they can drive the van back the next day. Buy or build a skate - I used 2"x3" timber and 4 castors ordered off the internet. To get it up the stairs you'll need to adopt a rhythm of lift, move it up one step, rest - so the bottom panel will get completely abused. If you're bothered about scratches, cover it with something (old carpet?) It took 5 guys to get mine up the stairs. If it's a typical Edinburgh tenement block, you might have a mixture of straight and curved stairs - figure out in advance which will be the difficult bits and which is the best way to lift it before you embark on your journey. My piano had handles on the back, but they were covered by a bit of plywood - I only discovered them when moving it for a second time! And you will need to get it tuned after the move. Any questions feel free to mefi-mail me.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:15 AM on January 6, 2009

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