There are plenty of piano-moving horror stories, precious pianos getting jammed in tight spots, being damaged beyond repair. Consider your back and the poor piano: think about leaving the move in the hands of the professionals.
For piano teacher Heather Hobbs, moving home involves an additional stress – the transporting of her two pianos, which are not only the tools of her trade but also her precious art objects. But so far, so good.
“It’s not as traumatic as you might expect it to be,” Heather says. “We only ever had trouble once. We were moving into a place with stairs and the removalists didn’t send enough people. I had a big, old German piano and they couldn’t physically carry it. They were about to drop it, and my husband had to step in quickly to save it. The problem was that the removalists didn’t have a proper piano trolley – they were carrying it on leather straps.”
When Heather last moved, she engaged a removalist who not only had the necessary equipment but was also properly covered by insurance.
“In our last house my studio door was opposite the staircase and the removalists had to turn the piano on its side to get it out. I was worried that everything would move inside the instrument, but the technicians knew what they were doing and there were no problems. That’s the advantage of using a proper removalist.”
Jessica Merlo of Melbourne-based Piano Moves says that by using a non-specialist to move their piano home owners risk delays on moving day.
“Every day we get people ringing us because they’ve got a settlement deadline of 2:00 p.m. and they’re stuck with their piano because the furniture removalists are unable to move it. The removalist has promised to move it over the phone, without looking at it. Then they turn up and the instrument is bigger or heavier than they realised, there are steps, or it as to go up or down stairs, and they say they can’t move it.
“We know of one case where a general carrier actually got a piano stuck on the stairs and they had to call the fire brigade to remove it! We can tip pianos on their end and our guys know how to manoeuvre them through really tight spaces.”
“A piano is more than a piece of furniture. It needs to be treated with care and moved by a specialist. The biggest risk is that it may be dropped, because in some cases it can’t be fixed.”
Professional piano movers have purpose built equipment, piano trolleys, hydraulic tailgates, ramps, and stair-climbing equipment that other removalist companies don’t have. Also check your movers are covered by comprehensive insurance for pianos.
The website of Sydney-based F. M. Olde Piano Removals features a series of photos of a $125,000 Bosendorfer falling off the back of a truck – every pianist’s nightmare. F. M. Olde spokesman, Lorne Jones, says you don’t just get anyone to move a piano.
“We have trucks designed for moving pianos and different types of trolleys for different pianos. We use a cradle for a grand piano, which must be moved on its side. If a piano’s going interstate or overseas it would have to be crated. If it’s going locally, it’s covered in padding.”
Lorne says there is also an additional “per-step” charge where pianos must be moved up stairs.
“Sometimes pianos can’t be moved on a trolley. If they need to be lifted up a long way we use straps, which go over the guys’ backs. It takes a long time for guys to learn how to lift a piano properly. When you first do it you get the shakes. You have to get used to carrying that sort of weight. It takes time to get the leg and back strength to do it.”
After the Move:
Pianos are temperamental objects and when you move one you incur the additional expense of having it retuned to maintain the sound quality.
In a new environment, the piano may be affected by differences in humidity and temperature.
Opinion appears to be divided on how long to leave the piano to settle into its new home before having it retuned.
Consult your trusted piano tuner for advice on piano movers and when to tune after the move.
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