Moving a grand piano without removing the legs and lyre: We delivered a grand to a customer who thought he was being helpful when he removed the entire sliding-door assembly from the family room. He didn’t realize that a grand piano is moved only after it’s been laid on its side and its legs and pedal lyre have been removed. The caster wheels attached to the legs are designed for minor adjustments of location in-room, not for the driveway or the yard. Stories abound of grand pianos being dragged over cement, gravel, grass, deep carpeting, or in-floor heating ducts, only to have the legs snap off and the instrument collapse. In addition, a grand must be protected by the proper special equipment before it can be moved. The piano is placed on its side on a special moving board, and secured with straps and blankets. The lid is either removed or positioned to protect it from damage.
Almost as scary as moving a piano yourself — or scarier, depending on the outcome — but without the cost savings, is finding a nonprofessional mover. Typically, this category includes anyone who will move anything anywhere for one low price. They can be found online at what seems like a cheap price, and some of them demand payment before pickup. To make matters worse, sometimes these folks are merely brokers and have no truck or workers. They take your money, then find someone to do the job. There’s a well-known saying: “The bitterness of poor service remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” This is very true of piano moving.
Professional furniture movers are a step better, but you run the risk of being assigned to a driver who has little training or experience in moving a piano. Many drivers hate to see a piano in a shipment because they know pianos require special care. When the largest household mover in the U.S. bought another large mover in the 1990s, the wife of one of their top managers hired my company to move her piano. She knew the system, and wanted the comfort of knowing that the crew moving her cherished instrument moved several pianos every day, not several a year.
The best way to avoid unprofessional service is to look for a professional piano mover. You can find good companies online. (Yellow Pages ads are old-school; some professional movers, particularly those who provide interstate service, don’t advertise in local books.) Just check a few important issues: The name of a company that specializes in moving pianos will most often include the word “piano” or “keyboard.” An interstate mover’s website should offer its Department of Transportation (DOT) number, which indicates that it is regulated and has the required insurance and authorization. Some states also regulate intrastate movers, and require them to publish their state registration number in advertisements. Regulated or not, a company should be able, on request, to show you proof of insurance. The company’s actual street address should accompany a local phone number. Check the company’s Better Business Bureau rating at www.BBB.org. Check for its membership status in the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), or that the owner is a member of the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG). How long a company has been in business will suggest whether it has been able to weather economic storms while continuing to satisfy its customers. A positive reference from one or more friends, family, or a professional such as a piano dealer or technician is always helpful. I suggest you exercise a reasonable amount of due diligence, and try to use a company for which you have been given two or three referrals.