When we relocated abroad, we found that preparing our piano removal was one of the most daunting tasks facing us. We have an old – and exceedingly heavy – upright piano. It probably weighs almost half a ton and is top-heavy to boot. Even a small spinet style of piano weighs around 300 pounds. It was also highly polished, and easily marked or scarred. Added to which our piano had sentimental value, which made transporting it a challenge. We knew that the piano removal would be one of the first tasks when the truck arrived. Being so heavy it needed to go into the container first.First we needed to ensure that there was a way out of the house to the lorry. Getting the piano through the French windows was easy enough – but the garden gate was too narrow – we had to take it off its hinges! We knew the removal men would have a wide dolly, as there was quite long gravel path. We made sure we discussed the piano removal in detail with them – and they had to supply extra manpower for this one item, as 100 pounds is all they should be expected to lift.The day came – and it was raining! We locked the lid, and wrapped it in padded blankets, supplied by the removal men. We taped the blankets in position, making sure the corners were very well protected. A plastic sheet went on top. The men gathered mostly at one end and slid the dolly underneath; very slowly they maneuvered it through the door and into the garden. Through the gate and then over the gravel to the van. Fortunately the van was equipped with lifting gear so it wasn’t too difficult to balance the piano and finally remove the dolly and strap the piano in.
This took some time, and even with the dolly, the men needed a break. It was lucky there were plenty of people around to relieve each other.
I was just glad I didn’t have a grand piano. Piano removal on this scale requires the experts. Most removal companies do not offer this service as it is specialized – and not that commonly needed, since grand pianos take up such a lot of floor space most house do not have room for them. Even a baby grand will require special help and equipment. The keys have to be locked down and they are moved on their backs, not the sides. A board is required to rest it on. Legs have to be removed and carefully padded and packed, and the whole unwieldy thing gently and slowly rolled along to the truck.
What not to do with piano removal
1. Do not drag the piano around on its castors – use a board or dolly – or if it’s small enough carry it, with sufficient manpower.
2. Never try to catch a falling piano. It will be damaged – but better that than you sustaining possible serious injury.
3. If stairs are involved, leave it to the professionals. And ensure there is plenty of room for them to jump out of the way if necessary.
4. Grand pianos of any size are much better left to the experts. They are very easily damaged, and clumsy to move. And they can weigh well over a ton.
5. Don’t forget to make sure the insurance cover is sufficient. If you are insured the piano removal will run smoothly – it you neglect this – something will go wrong (ref: Sod’s Law)
6. Don’t try to move your piano with too few people.
7. Don’t even think of moving a large grand piano if the exits are too small. The piano is moved on its end, not its side – so measure it – and the doorways.
Piano removal should not be undertaken lightly, but with forethought, patience and care (plus plenty of muscle power) it can be successfully achieved.
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