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How to Ship a Piano with TSI

Posted in Shipping on Feb 11, 2015, tagged with special care

Whether you’re a professional pianist, a part-time tickler of the ivories, or merely have a musical family member, you likely understand that shipping a piano isn’t the same as shipping a piece of furniture. A piano is more than simply an expensive musical instrument, especially if it’s one that has been in your family for decades. Whatever the feelings are towards your piano, you know that you want it to arrive in pristine playing condition.

Thankfully, all that requires is a bit of preparation.

How to prepare your piano for shipment

The first thing you’ll want to do when getting your piano ready to ship is gather supplies to protect it. Pick up:

  • Moving blankets
  • Several rolls of packing tape
  • Rope or twine
  • Thick, stiff cardboard
  • Piano board, also known as piano skid board
  • Moving straps
  • Screwdriver
  • Moving dolly

With your supplies in hand, you can start dismantling and wrapping up your piano:

  • Remove any detachable pieces - For a grand piano, this could mean taking off the the lid, legs, lyre, and pedal box, and wrapping them separately in their own moving blankets, securing the blankets with tape. For a standup piano, secure any moveable parts that can’t or can’t easily be removed with rope.

  • Protect the keys - If your key lid or fall board doesn’t lock, cut a piece of cardboard to fit snugly over the lid and tape it down to keep it in place during transport before moving onto the next step. Or, if you piano doesn’t have a key lid, place the cardboard directly over the keys to protect them.

  • Cover and protect remaining components - Using thick or multiple layers of moving blankets, wrap the casing, soundboard, strings, and keys. Secure the blankets in place with packing tape, taking care not to get any tape on the surface of the piano where it could damage the finish.

  • Protect it with cardboard - For additional protection, cut some of your thick, stiff cardboard to size and affix it over top of the moving blankets with packing tape on any side of the piano you think needs it. On a grand piano, this could be the top and bottom, whereas for a standup piano, you may want to protect the top, back, and sides.

  • Load it onto the piano board and/or dolly - For grand pianos, slowly and gently lower the wrapped piano onto the piano skid board and attach it with moving straps to secure it in place. For upright pianos, you can carefully load the piano onto the dolly and attach it with moving straps, make sure you have multiple spotters to help keep it upright during transport.

Moving the piano yourself

Before you try lifting the piano, take a tape measure and figure out the size of the hallways, doorways, large windows, elevators, and the truck. You’ll need to find the easiest way to let this instrument slide through without banging into everything. This is one of the first things professional piano moving companies do. You don’t want to end up having to try and dislodge a grand piano from a doorway, hallway, or worse—stairwell.

To make the process even easier:

  • Open all doors along the chosen pathway out of your home
  • Move any inconveniently located furniture
  • Cover any corners, railings, or door frames the piano might bang into with padding materials

When to hire movers

Hiring movers to relocate your piano is recommended if:

  • You have an expensive, valuable, or delicate antique piano that requires special care or equipment, such as climate controlled trucks
  • You can’t source help from friends or family
  • You have an injury or pre-existing condition that limits your ability to lift heavy items
  • Your home layout is difficult to navigate
  • You’re moving long distance

To hire movers, there options available will depend on the movers you select. They may only offer standard shipping, where you will need to prepare the piano for moving yourself and possibly move it outside for pickup. Or, they might offer something like white glove shipping, where only thing the customer is required to do is call to book the shipment and be available when the movers show up—other than that, the movers will organize, prepare, load, and unload everything for you.

When hiring movers, make sure to provide as much detail as you can about:

  • The accessibility of the piano - Movers need to be made aware of how many flights of steps they will need to carry the piano down. They also need to know if they will have any problems getting it out of the door.

  • The size and the weight - Be as accurate as possible with the weight and the size. This will help determine how many men will be needed to load the piano on the truck.

All details that are given to the sales rep will help them provide you with the most accurate possible quote and prevent any unexpected changes in fees later.

PRO TIP: After the move, arrange to have your piano re-tuned and wipe it down with a damp washcloth.

Conclusion

Due to their size, shape, weight, and value, moving a piano may seem like a daunting prospect, but a little preparation, information, the right supplies, and some assistance can make the process a lot easier.

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