How to Move a Piano Without Professional Movers

everything you need to know about moving a piano

Your home is unique because of the distinct pieces you’ve chosen and collected. Of all the items that make your house a home, your piano is likely one of the most treasured – and valuable. Moving a cherished possession, that happens to also be fragile, heavy, and cumbersome, is no small feat. 

Not only does piano moving require specialized equipment, training, and skills, but there are important steps to complete before the actual move – and moving a piano in New York City poses distinct challenges. Most buildings have strict moving requirements and many, such as pre-war walk ups, don’t have elevators but do have tight stairways and narrow doorways – features that can add up to potential headaches and stress when moving a piano. Samba Moving provides you with everything you need to know so your piano can be moved safely with the best of care.

How Do You Prepare a Piano for Moving?

Prepping your piano – and the space around it – is a critical step in the safety and success of its relocation. Whether you’re planning to place your piano in storage or transport it to a new home or venue, be aware that taking the proper steps before moving can make or break the success of the move. Follow these steps to properly prepare for your piano’s move:

1. Remove All Objects From the Piano

Music books, pens, pencils, framed photos, your cherished Chopin statuette, and anything else sitting on or in your piano must be removed.

2. Thoroughly Dust and Wrap the Piano

All pianos must be wrapped to protect them throughout the move. Especially if your piano case is made of fine, highly polished wood, you will need to thoroughly dust it, then protect it with heavy, clean moving blankets. If the surface of the piano has even a minor layer of dust, the wrapping process and the slight movement during transport can press the dust grains into the surface and cause scratches. 

3. Remove and Wrap the Legs, Lid, Pedals, and More

You probably already know that if you’re moving a grand, baby grand, or parlor grand piano, the legs, lid, and pedal lyre will need to be removed. In some cases, for example with a piano such as a Steinway B, the key panel will slide out for removal before being wrapped. 

Each removed piece should be carefully wrapped in clean blankets. The piano body will also need to be well-wrapped and secured with wide strong webbing straps that can act as handles for the movers to grab and stabilize the piano in tricky situations.

4. Remove Obstacles in the Moving Path 

Before the move, picture your piano all wrapped up and ready to go out the door. 

Are there obstacles in the way that will make the move to the door more difficult? Are there particular furniture pieces that the movers will have to carefully navigate around? If so, move those pieces well out of the way in order to provide direct access to the front door.

 Creating a direct path will not only make moving your piano easier and save time, it will also help protect your furniture and accessories.

5. Decide Where Your Piano Will Go in the New Location 

If you’re not storing your piano but are planning to move it to a new home or venue, the move will go much more smoothly if you determine where you want the movers to set up the piano upon delivery. 

  • Decide on the placement ahead of time so that the piano can be unwrapped and set up in its new setting without going through the trial and error process of trying to decide where it looks best. 
  • Knowing where you want your piano placed when it arrives at your new home will allow the movers to develop and determine an efficient moving plan.
  • As you’re considering its new location, remember to try to keep your piano away from direct sunlight, and avoid placing it directly over or under heater or AC vents. Understand how natural light enters the room, both throughout the day and throughout the seasons.

What Should You NOT Do When Moving a Piano?

Knowing what you shouldn’t do when moving a piano will help both you and your piano stay safe throughout the move.

1. Don’t Underestimate the Weight of Your Piano

Upright pianos can weigh from 300 to 800 pounds. Horizontal pianos, from baby grands to concert grands, can weigh from 500 to 1,200 pounds. You risk serious injury if you try to lift and carry a piano. Employ a team and use a piano dolly.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Size of Your Piano

Vertical pianos, from spinets to uprights, can range from 36 to 60 inches in height. Horizontal pianos, from baby grands to concert grands, can range in length from 4.5 to almost 9 feet. 

  • Don’t forget to measure your doorways, hallways, and stairways and be sure to take tight corners into consideration.
  • While vertical pianos are easier to move through tight spaces, horizontal pianos are best moved by experienced professionals.

3. Don’t Forget to Gather Sufficient Supplies and Materials Before the Move

Don’t risk damage to your treasured instrument because of insufficient supplies and materials. Be sure to have plenty of clean moving blankets, ratchet or webbing straps, a piano dolly, and the appropriate tools for removing and reassembling parts.

4. Don’t Forget to Clean Out the Piano

Pens or pencils, coins, paperclips, and other do-dads can fall into the piano, especially on pianos that are used frequently. Be sure to inspect the interior of the piano before moving it. If small objects are left inside, they can get stuck under the hammers or strings and cause damage.

5. Don’t Move the Piano on its Casters 

Pro piano movers never move a piano on the small wheels or casters that sit at the base of the legs. The wheels are designed to allow for slight adjustments in place but never to move the piano any distance whatsoever. Moving a piano on its casters causes undue stress and potential damage to the piano’s legs.

6. Don’t Forget to Take Pictures of Your Piano When the Movers Arrive

The best way to document the condition of your piano is with a set of photos taken from all angles. Compare the photos with the condition of your piano after it has arrived at its new location so ensure there has been no damage.

Can You Damage a Piano By Moving It?

The short answer is yes, you can damage a piano by moving it. There is especially a risk of damage if you’re planning to move a piano yourself, because there’s a lot that can go wrong. However, if you hire professional, experienced piano movers, it’s extremely rare that your piano will be damaged. 

Risks of a DIY Piano Move

What can go wrong with a DIY piano move? Well, actually more things can go south than you may realize. Even though you can muster a few friends who are willing and ready to tackle the chore, it’s very likely that they don’t have the experience to deal with the mere weight and awkwardness of a piano. Some of the most common problems with DIY piano moves include scratching the finish, dropping the instrument, bumping the piano into walls, door jams, stair railings, and worst of all – the piano getting away from you when going down stairways. You can easily picture these disasters!  

But the piano itself isn’t the only thing at risk during a DIY move. You and your friends are at risk of seriously getting hurt. Imagine being the point person on the downstairs end when the piano decides to take off and run free. The weight of the instrument causes it to act like a run-away train that’s impossible to stop. The person on the downstairs end could get crushed. In addition, there’s the risk of back strains and leg or shoulder sprains – these are the types of injuries that can end up being life-long problems.

Here are a few tips that professional piano movers employ to help prevent damage: 

Once the legs, lid, and pedal assembly are removed and carefully wrapped, you can tip the piano up on its side. Most commonly, pro movers place several clean moving blankets on a piano dolly, place the dolly next to the piano as a few people carefully tip the piano onto its side and onto the dolly. Then the piano body is wrapped and secured to the dolly.  

If you feel uneasy about moving your piano on your own, it’s far better not to take the risk. Professional piano movers have the training, the expertise, and the experience to relocate your piano damage-free. When you trust Samba Moving to relocate your piano, you can rest assured that our moving crew will handle your piano with ultimate care.

How Much Does it Cost to Move a Piano?

On average, it costs between $400-$600 to move a piano in NYC. However, each and every piano moving situation in New York City is as unique as the variety of housing and building types. From pre-war walk ups and vintage jazz clubs to elegant brownstone galleries and sleek highrises, the circumstances of the building will determine the uniqueness of your piano move – and help determine the cost. 

In addition to considering your building type and its challenges, your quote will be customized based on a number of factors that can include details such as:

  • The distance your piano will be moved 
  • Whether stairs are involved and if so 
    • the number of flights of stairs
    • how many stairs per flight 
    • whether the stairs are straight, curved, or spiral
  • Tricky or narrow doorways
  • Tricky or narrow hallways with turns
  • If an elevator is available and if so, the size of the elevator and when it can be scheduled
  • The distance from your home’s entrance to the street for loading/unloading
  • The footing under the outside space the piano will be moved across – Is there hard-surface, gravel, sand, grass, etc.?
  • The type and weight of the piano you’re moving. A concert grand will cost more to move than a spinet piano. A very valuable one-of-a-kind antique upright may cost more to move than a much larger baby grand.

It’s faster and easier than you may think to find out how much it will cost to move your piano. Just ask Samba Moving for a free quote right now!

Why Should I Hire a Professional Mover to Move My Piano?

After reading about the required prep to avoid damage, various do’s and don’ts of moving your piano, and the common ways pianos get damaged in moves, you can see that it’s a demanding job to move a piano safely. 

To Avoid Damage

If you have a bunch of beefy friends who offer to help, you may be tempted to go the DIY route. It’s true, a group of friends with some muscle can pick up a bulky 300 pound spinet piano, carry it down stairs, and load it into a rental truck. But can they manage a valuable baby or parlor grand through doorways and down stairs, let alone get it into a truck? The potential for damage  is huge and there’s absolutely no guarantee that they can handle the move without damaging the delicate inner-workings or finish of your treasured piano. Hiring professional piano movers is the best way to protect yourself, avoid personal injury, and injury to your friends.

To Ensure Use of the Proper Equipment and Techniques

Ensuring that a piano is moved safely requires a crew of trained and experienced professionals who employ specific techniques and use specialized equipment. Concert grands, parlor grands, and baby grands need a certain amount of disassembly and reassembly that only experienced pros know how to manage. They strategize the move ahead of time to take into consideration various challenges such as stairs, tight hallways and doorways – always keeping in mind the welfare of your piano. Professional piano movers calculate every step of the move to ensure the piano’s safety along the route. They use specialized moving trucks that are fitted with lift gates, climate control, and air-ride suspension.

For Ultimate Protection

And speaking of protection, what about insurance should the unimaginable happen? A reputable professional piano mover will be licensed, insured, and fully bonded. These qualifications provide you with peace of mind from the time the moving crew knocks on your door to the time you thank them and say goodbye for a job well done. In addition, professional piano movers won’t change the price on you once the piano has been unwrapped and set up in its new location. In short, hiring a professional piano mover is the best way to assure your serenity and well-being when relocating your treasured piano.


When Samba Moving handles your piano move, you can trust that our highly-experienced and trustworthy team will carefully and expertly prepare your piano for the move, then transport and deliver it safely to its new location to your specifications. Contact us for answers to any questions you may have, from how to schedule the move with your building super to help with moving furniture to clear a path in preparation for your piano move. At Samba Moving, we provide the finest piano moving services available.

Samba Moving is delighted to provide free piano moving quotes. Request your complimentary estimate today!