How do I move an upright piano without piano movers?
January 22, 2004 7:35 PM   Subscribe

I've been given a free upright piano but with one catch: I have to move it myself. Any advice on how I can do this myself? I have access to strong men and a sizable pickup truck, but paying someone to move it ain't an option, y'all.
posted by mcsweetie to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
 
feed them a really really good meal and they'll do it, if they're real friends.
posted by amberglow at 7:44 PM on January 22, 2004


you want to rent a couple of piano jacks. i'm not sure if that's actually what they are called, but i once had a job delivering pianos for grinnells, and we used these nifty padded gizmos, one on each end. you tighten up the straps, step on the pedals and the things jack the piano up about three inches on casters. these things also had solid handgrips so that two men could move it up or down stairs, etc. very handy rigs. if there is a large piano retailer in the area inquire there, they'll probably rent them out by the day or know who will.
posted by quonsar at 7:53 PM on January 22, 2004


like this! (see why you want to *rent* them?)
posted by quonsar at 7:56 PM on January 22, 2004


moving a piano is a pain in the ass since you can't turn them sideways, etc. like other types of furniture. I moved mine three times, and finally left it with my ex.

also, in case you didn't know, you'll need to budget for a piano tuner. my piano was a refurbished turn of the century, burl walnut, birdcage action, upright, imported from England. by the third tuning, the pegs had tightened to the point where it was iffy whether it would survive another one.
posted by lola at 8:13 PM on January 22, 2004


Give me a fulcrum and I can move the world!
posted by y2karl at 10:56 PM on January 22, 2004


Go pro...and you'll have to get a tuner in afterwards. (Unless you want to sound like you play in a 1870s western bar ;-)

It is a horrible job for an ameteur...

y2karl: Wasn't it Give me a place to stand...?
posted by i_cola at 1:16 AM on January 23, 2004


with enough people you can lift it up and put in the back of a van. i once drove a transit van round cambridge with someone bashing out tunes on a piano in the back :o) we didn't treat it as anything special, just a big heavy thing.

and i got fed well as a reward.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:20 AM on January 23, 2004


lola's right about the tuner. you can move an upright without piano movers (never never never if you value your grand piano allow regular movers or just guys to move your grand or baby grand), but you can't move it without throwing it out of tune.

you'll keep it in tune longer, too, if you place it against an interior wall of the house/apartment. try not to place it directly against the wall where the HVAC duct runs through, or directly above/beneath a vent. those temperature/humidity changes not only throw it out of tune quickly, but also run the risk of warping the sounding board.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:22 AM on January 23, 2004


I inherited the family upright when I moved out on my own and have moved it several times. every time with no more then three guys, but once up (then back down when I moved) stairs.

Now that I'm in a house I hope it's in its final resting place, and it was tricky to get it in there because there were tight corners. We ended up using a little 2'x2' dolly thing, tilted the piano up on end, and navigated it that way. Since the piano is a bit old and hasn't been cared for (hasn't been tuned in years despite being near the ocean climate) I didn't worry about knocking things out of tune, and now the kids can bang away on it happily without me worrying too much.

Hopefully you don't have stairs to worry about, but we did manage to do that once as well. We just had 10' long planks that we rolled it down.

God bless Dads.
posted by jmackin at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2004


I just had a similar situation - free upright, if you move it yourself. In this case, it was a very good piano, going from one city to another about 70 miles away. I hired piano movers and was very satisfied with the bargain (compared to buying a new or even used upright of this quality). So if it's a good piano I would suggest you re-look at the concept of hiring pros. If it's an old clunker and you just want to have something, anything, in the house that can be played in something approaching in tune, then I guess it might not be worth it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2004


I have moved an upright piano in my Chevy S-10 pickup truck and it was a haul, but it did okay. Four guys lifted it in there and the one we were moving had handholds and wheels so it was not too tough to scott around. You'll need rope or straps to tie it securely into the truck [or van], a blanket oor two to wrap it in if it's worth not dinging up, and something with wheels to scoot it around on if the piano is unwheeled. Friends should do this for you if you feed/water them. Otherwise I'd put up a sign someplace [or check Craigslist depending where exactly you live] and see if you can find the perpetually-looking-for-work Man with a Van to help you out. It's a 3-4 person job, but it's not anywhere near impossible.
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2004


Second the 2' piano dolly. We had our upright moved a couple of times by a man who did it all by himself, using the dolly. It was amazing. He somehow wiggled one corner, then one side onto the dolly, which appeared to be made of 2"x4"s covered with carpet strips, mounted on heavy duty industrial casters. He then proceeded to get it down the truck ramp, up the driveway, up the steps (3) onto the porch, down the hall and into the living room in the wink of an eye. I've never seen anything like it.
posted by Lynsey at 10:09 AM on January 23, 2004


I got a free upright piano a couple weeks ago and I ended up giving it away. First I took it to the intended user of said piano's house and it couldn't make the turns in her staircase. Then I took it to my house, which has a lot of really steep stairs to go up, and then a tight bend. We took it out of my truck and then started with the moving it up the stairs, but the expert (intended user) was convinced that our amateurish wrangling of it up the stairs would render it useless. So I stuck it on the curb, posted "free piano" on craigslist and it was gone a few hours later. Its a sad story and a cautionary tale: free pianos are free for a reason, don't waste all the time and energy moving it out of some lady's apartment in new jersey, onto your pickup, and back to your house unless you know it fits up the appropriate stairs and you've got the equip to get it up there.

Oh yeah, I didn't have any dollies/pianojacks (until this post I didn't know there were such a thing), and I planned on wheeling it up some big planks. The planks explodified when I was taking it off the truck. Maybe good tools/not doing it in on a during a snowstorm cause you need to empty your pickup right away would help.
posted by jeb at 4:20 PM on January 23, 2004


so, here's the story!

I got some strong fellas, planks, ties, and dollies and drove an impossibly big pickup truck (I understand the big car thing even less now) and drove it to the house with the piano only to find that it was a hunk of junk. several keys were broken and it was already so impossibly out of tune that moving it would probably render it fire wood. on top of that, for whatever reason the whole thing was painted white, poorly, and the homemade paint job was flaking off and chipping and looking exceedingly tacky. I said thanks, but no thanks and split to go watch The Wizard again. hell of a movie!
posted by mcsweetie at 4:57 AM on January 24, 2004


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