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If moving were only cardboard boxes life would be so much easier. But sometimes moves come with bigger items, like pianos! Moving a piano is a difficult and often dangerous task but many people just think one thing when it comes to moving a piano: that it’s heavy. Let’s look at the intricacies of moving a piano and why it’s best to call a professional moving company experienced at moving pianos and give these instruments the care they require.
You may not realize it, but there’s a lot to a piano when you lift the lid and look underneath at the inner workings. Pianos are incredibly complex but their outer casing can fool those not familiar with the instrument.
Pianos are the largest percussion instruments, and have several moving parts. Percussion? Yes! Pianos belong to the class of instruments we associate with hitting with sticks. This is because we strike a key which in turn activates a hammer that thumps a string, producing a specific note. Pianos have 88 keys, hammers and dampers, and 176 strings; there are two for each note. The hammers are meant to hit the related two strings at a precise location to make sure the sound is pure and unmuted. Each string is tuned to produce the notes of the musical scale, in half tones, at its exact pitch. Hammers and strings are sensitive to jostling, humidity, heat. Moving and storage can wreak havoc on pianos.
In addition to these parts, most pianos have three pedals located at the center of the base of the piano and controlled by the pianist’s foot or feet. The una corda pedal is the leftmost and shifts the entire inner workings to the side so that when it is depressed the hammer only hits one string, changing the quality of sound.
The middle pedal is known as the sostenuto pedal. This one sustains selected notes based on when the pedal is depressed and the keys are struck. It is a tool of the most skilled pianists and sensitive, especially on older pianos.
Found all the way to the right is the damper pedal. This pedal sustains all notes played while depressed and releases them when it is lifted and is often used to develop harmonies or chords without losing movement. It’s how a smoother, more echoed sound is accomplished - the pianist lifts her fingers but the notes go on.
With all of those parts, it’s easy to see why only movers with experience and expertise should move pianos.
Pianos are incredibly heavy - weighing anywhere from 450 to 1,200 pounds. This can mean big damages to walls, staircases, windows, floors and people, if they are not properly equipped to and experienced at moving pianos. Moving a piano requires significant assessment and equipment and must be planned carefully for navigating steps, corners, and entrances. Older pianos can be significantly heavier than new ones. Older pianos have metal on the insides whereas newer ones often have lightweight materials like plastics. This means that an upright from the 1920’s could easily weigh 800 lbs. which is more than a baby grand manufactured in the 1990’s - something an experienced piano mover will understand.
There are things you can do to help your movers move your piano successfully. Here’s a great checklist of what to do before calling piano movers and before they arrive to move your piano that will help keep things simple and quick.
1. Write down the style of piano, year it was manufactured, and its measurements (height, width, depth). If you don’t know the year, your piano tuner can probably give you a good estimate.
2. When you call a piano mover, be sure to give them the information from #1 as well as information about the layout of where the piano is kept. Figure out which doorways and doors it will go through and measure those - also let the movers know of staircases, landings, and other obstacles to the move.
3. Remove everything from your bench and piano’s top. Pack books, sheet music, and other items that are in your bench and on the top of the piano. Be sure to label the box with piano related items so that you can quickly return to playing once you’ve moved!
4. Research piano tuners in your new locale. If you are moving your piano to a new home, you’ll want to give it a few weeks to rest and adjust and then call a tuner. Many piano tuners book up in advance so you can do this before moving and set an appointment for a later date. The moving process can disrupt your piano’s tuning, and the humidity and other weather conditions will also affect your piano. Once it’s been there for a few weeks and adjusted to its new environment it will need to be tuned. Call us, we would be happy to recommend a great piano tuner in your area.
Between the delicate nature of pianos, their huge amount of moving parts, and their weight, it’s best to call a professional mover who knows about moving pianos rather than attempting to move it yourself. The damage to your home or the instrument is far more costly than calling a piano mover.
All Jersey Moving and Storage are experienced at and highly skilled in moving pianos - whether it’s to another floor in your house or across the country! Call us for a free estimate and we will help you get it done quickly and safely so that you’ll be tickling the ivories again in no time.