I started playing piano in second grade on a second-hand upright piano bought for me by my grandma.
I played that piano for 20 years.
Later, with my first big work bonus, I bought myself a baby grand piano. It really is my ‘baby.’
It’s also my ball and chain.
I can’t tell you how many of our housing decisions have rested on one key factor: Is there room for the piano?
Scratch that. I CAN tell you.
It has been ALL of our housing decisions. *sigh*
My upright piano lived in five different homes. My baby grand piano has lived in six different homes and two different storage places.
Needless to say, I have a fair bit of experience hiring piano moving and storage companies.
I’ve never had a piano moving disaster (thank goodness), but I have had regrets on my hiring choice.
Based on my experience, here are the 11 things to know before hiring a piano moving and storage company.
I’m going to break this post into three parts:
- How to select a piano moving company.
- What to do when the movers arrive.
- How to select a piano storage company.
HOW TO SELECT A PIANO MOVING COMPANY
Tip #1: Read Online Reviews (with a grain of salt)
Online reviews are helpful, but take them with a grain of salt. Look for over-arching themes, not the one person with a horror story.
Tip #2: Ask For a Referral From a Trusted Source
Referrals are your best bet for finding a piano mover you can trust.
Chances are you probably know someone with a piano. Ask them who they used for moving their piano and what the experience was like.
Call a piano store to see who they use for their piano moves. I prefer to ask the question that way instead of asking who they recommend. Sometimes the store might recommend more than one company for the sake of fairness, but I just want to cut to the heart of the matter. Who do they trust?
If you are making a local move you can also ask your piano tuner. They are in the business. They hear things. They see things. And they have to fix pianos that break during a move.
Tip #3: Be Honest
When hiring a piano moving company, be honest about your situation. Don’t tell the piano mover about the stairs, but then forget the super steep hill they will have to park on.
More information means the movers can bring the right equipment and number of people with them. For instance, if your piano needs to be moved across a grassy area, that requires a different dolly than if the surface is all paved.
A baby grand piano can be moved with two people if you’re dealing with flat surfaces and a couple of steps, but you need at least 3 people for anything more complicated than that.
I recommend taking pictures or a short video and sending it to your piano mover. A good piano mover will want this information.
Tip #4: Ask About Insurance (Theirs and Yours)
Ask the piano mover if they are insured and what their insurance covers. They should be able to provide proof of insurance if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Ask your insurance company (renter or homeowner) what your insurance covers and what happens if you need to make a claim.
Not only is this for your peace-of-mind, but you are better off having all the facts before you make a hiring decision.
Tip #5: Trust Your Gut
If you’re like me and have a large sentimental and financial investment in your piano, then trust your gust when hiring a moving company. You want someone who understands you might be nervous about moving your piano. You want someone with experience and who arrives at the job prepared.
I once hired a moving company to move some large pieces of furniture and appliances. Oh, and they also “moved pianos.” Sure, they were able to move it, but they didn’t have the correct tools to take apart my particular piano. I knew right then (and too late) that piano moving wasn’t the main focus of their business.
Thankfully it all worked out in the end, but this company also tried to charge me for all the extra time it took to take the piano apart and put it back together because they weren’t prepared. Lesson learned. I should have hired a moving company whose main focus was pianos.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE MOVERS ARRIVE
Tip #1: Be Ready
Be ready when the movers arrive to pack and unpack your piano.
The movers will note any damage (scratches, etc.) to the piano when they pack it up. I usually take pictures too.
If there is anything left in the piano or piano bench, it is going to be packed up. This last move I found a Nerf bullet in the piano. A common thing to find packed away are remotes!
When the piano arrives at its new location know where you want it placed. Make sure there is a clear path to the area.
Also, keep in mind that for safety’s sake, kids and pets should be out of the way during both the move in and out.
Tip #2: Love Where It Is Before They Leave
When the piano movers set up your piano in the specified location, don’t feel bad about kindly asking them to move it a ‘little to the left’ or whatever direction the piano needs to go.
That said, I always feel bad about asking them to make these small adjustments, but they, in turn, reassure me that they want me to be happy with the piano’s location.
Plus, if you are dealing with a grand piano, it’s just safer to have the piano movers do it!
Tip #3: Be Nice
Human kindness goes a long way. I always ask the movers if they want water or a Coke. And I let them know they can use the restroom too.
It’s not a requirement, but I like to tip the movers if I feel they’ve done a great job. I usually give the cash to the lead mover and ask him to split it with the crew.
HOW TO SELECT A PIANO STORAGE COMPANY
Tip #1: Piano Storage Needs to be Climate Controlled
Here’s why you shouldn’t place a piano into a regular storage unit that isn’t climate controlled. Pianos respond to the weather. Humidity, in particular, not only makes a piano go out of tune, but the wood in the piano swells. Given the wrong conditions over an extended period of time, the wood in a piano can warp.
A piano tuner told me about a family who worked for the U.S. State Department in the 1990s. Their piano, which they had spend thousands of dollars restoring, sat in a shipping container in Honduras for 16 months.
A shipping container! In a hot, humid country!
The damage was as bad as you can imagine. The cover for the keys had warped into a boat-like shape and would no longer close.
I’ve stored my piano in long-term storage twice. For peace of mind, I always opt to store the piano in a piano storage facility. The reason for this is that their business is pianos so they have a vested interest in keeping mine safe.
You don’t want your piano to end up looking like this…
Tip #2: Ask Questions
If you are placing your piano in long-term storage, then make sure you have a basic comfort level with the storage company you have selected.
They should welcome your questions if they are a well-respected company. Ask about their insurance and if you like, you can ask to tour the facility.
Definitely ask for specifics about how the piano will be physically stored and handled during the time it is in their care. Most likely, your piano will be wrapped when they collect it from your home and it will remain wrapped until it is back in your possession. It will also be tagged with your name and the type of piano, so that it is always identifiable as yours. Your piano will likely share a space with other pianos.
Tip #3: Don’t Forget to Update Your Contact Information
Do not forget to keep the storage company apprised of any changes to your contact information. For instance, we moved out of the country and had to change phone numbers. I made sure to let the piano storage company know to reach me via email for the foreseeable future. They also need to be able to contact you if any issues arise with billing or the piano itself.
Moving might not be the happiest moment of your life, but it doesn’t have to be miserable either.
I hope these tips on the 11 things to know before hiring a piano moving and storage company will help you with your next move.
If you have any advice, please share it in the comments below. You never know who you might help!
This is not sponsored, but because I will get asked and I’m happy to share, here are two companies I have used in the past:
If you are in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, I had an excellent experience using Piano Works for piano moving and storage. They moved my piano into storage and kept it for two years while we lived in Ireland. Ask for Linda and tell her that I sent you.
If you need a long haul piano mover, I can’t say enough good things about Harris Brothers Piano Movers. They moved our piano from Georgia to New Jersey. They also do short moves if you live in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire or Connecticut.
P.S. I have written about my piano a couple of other times.
If you want to know how I dust the glossy surface of my piano and keep it streak free, click here.