So, you’ve found your new dream home. It’s perfect. You can’t wait to move in. There’s just one question you’re dreading finding out the answer to…
How the heck am I going to get this piano to my new place?!
Yeah. It’s nerve-wracking.
You might cringe when you think of someone taking apart your instrument and carting it somewhere—even down the block. But never fear! By the end of this article, you’ll know:
- What’s a fair price for moving a piano
- What’s a ripoff
- What to expect with different pianos (upright, grand, etc.)
- What to ask movers before you let them touch your beloved piano!
Let’s rock ’n’ roll. Err… let’s arpeggiate ’n’ sustain.
The average cost of moving a piano
In 2020, the national average cost to move a piano is around $400.
Now, that number is the average across all kinds of pianos, from 300-pound spinet pianos to nine-foot concert pianos weighing half a ton or more. That number also doesn’t specify any particular moving distance. So, below we’ll walk through how much it costs to move a piano based on the size, form, and weight of the piano. We’ll also discuss the distance of the move, since the cost of moving a to another state isn’t the same as moving it up your stairs.
Cost based on the size of your piano
What size piano are we talking?
If you’ve got a small upright piano, up to about 48 inches high from floor to lid, it’ll cost around $250 for a local move. The price will come in closer to $500 to $750 for a long-distance move, such as a move across state lines.
Some websites suggest that you can move an upright piano for as little as $200, but in our own experience, that’s rare, and it’s only possible with a small piano that’s going a short distance. (Sorry).
If you’ve got a grand piano, even a baby grand, movers will need to partially disassemble it to carry it and get it through doorways. That comes at an added cost. You can expect to pay $600 to $1,000 locally and $800 to $1,200+ for a long-distance move.
These are fair prices for the job. If you see eye-popping prices that undercut these by a lot, unfortunately, they’re probably too good to be true. When it comes to moving a piano, it’s wise to stay on the safe side. Movers who charge too little are likely less experienced and more likely to damage your instrument!
If you’re moving a grand piano long distance or overseas, you need to ask about heat-treated crating to keep the instrument in an appropriate climate during its journey. Heat treated crating will cost about $1,200.
Additional charges you might see
Many moving companies will charge a flat base rate for moving the piano, then add variable pricing for specific aspects of the move. So, the base rate they’ll advertise on the website is not your full, final cost of moving the piano. Two additional costs are commonly added: charges for distance, and charges for staircases.
As a rule of thumb, the additional cost to move a piano up the stairs is $5-10 per step, on top of the base rate.
Then, as with most other things, movers will often charge per mile. For a local move, $1.50 per mile and up to $3 per mile is typical. For a longer distance move, you might still see charges of $1.50 to $3 per mile, but they can also get up to $8 per mile.
Also, some moving companies have a “hardships” category. This is for situations when the piano needs to be trucked across rough terrain. You might see an upcharge for that—but don’t write off a company for charging hardship fees. It can be a good sign that they’ll be more careful with your instrument.
Here’s a video with information on how much it costs to move a piano:
Specialized company vs. general moving company
When should you opt for a specialized piano moving company? It definitely makes sense if you have a piano with an unusual shape or features, like a square grand. It’s also a good idea if you have a unique vintage piano, a scroll player piano, or a super expensive piano. A general moving company might not have ever seen a piano like this, and it’s wiser to entrust your unique piano to people with relevant experience.
Specialized piano moving companies often charge 30% to 50% more than a general moving company. They will also have itemized charges to account for any special features or attributes of your piano. Both specialized and general moving companies will itemize difficult aspects of your move (e.g. moving the piano up a multi-flight staircase).
The upside of hiring a specialized piano moving company is lower risk of error. You can also rest assured that expert piano movers will have the resources to store your piano in a climate-controlled environment to minimize warping and make it easier to return the piano to perfect tuning.
Exactly how your grand piano should be removed from your home
There’s only one way to pack up and move a grand piano or baby grand piano safely. Here’s what you should expect to see your movers doing. You can even ask them about their process in advance to see if it lines up with this.
- The piano is wrapped across the top and all around the sides with protective pads, blankets. etc.
- The movers grab hold of the left front corner of the piano, with one member of the crew standing by.
- The one by-standing crew member get under the piano to remove the corner leg while the crew lifts the corner off the floor gently.
- With half of the crew holding the legless corner, and the other half holding the opposite side of the piano, the crew lowers the legless corner to the floor.
- As the legless corner is lowered, the movers on the opposite side should be lifting up to keep the weight of the piano off the remaining diagonal legs. This is important. It prevents the remaining legs from breaking under the weight of the piano.
- The piano is set on its long side onto the piano board, which the movers should have brought. This is a padded, narrow platform that has metal brackets on both sides for strapping the piano tightly onto the board.
- The piano is strapped to the board.
- Once the piano is strapped to the board, the other two legs are removed. Then, the crew can get a rolling dolly under the board by tilting the board and moving the piano onto the dolly.
When this is all done, the body of the piano is vertical, and the movers can roll it out the door.
Piano moving insurance
In case of the unthinkable, you’ll want to insure your instrument during the move. Moving companies should include up to $5,000 in insurance at no additional cost. If the instrument is worth more than that, you can expect to pay up to $20 more in insurance per addition $1,000 in value.
What to ask movers before letting them move your piano
We recommend getting quotes from three moving companies before picking one to move your piano.
- Do you have trained, full-time staff who have moved pianos before?
- What is included in the base rate of moving the piano? What additional charges might be expected?
- What information do you want me to provide before you come and move my piano? Different pianos come with different moving techniques and pricing. It’s a red flag if movers don’t talk to you about this right off the bat. Movers should ask you about the measurement and type of your piano, and they should also look into the kinds of staircases, doorways, and other obstacles they might be dealing with in both locations.
Tipping is customary for piano movers. $20 to $40 per mover, depending on the complexity of the job, is a nice gesture.
Post-move piano tuning
So, your piano is standing in your new place, safe and sound. Finally! What a relief!
If you sit down to play it right now, you won’t like what you hear. It’s going to be out of tune.
Even the best expert movers can’t avoid the jolts and bumps that will knock your instrument out of tune. So, in addition to your moving cost, you need to plan for tuning costs.
If you’ve owned a piano long enough, you probably already know how much you’re willing to pay to have it tuned. But, typically, a professional piano tuner charges $100 per hour to come in and tune your piano.
Tips for finding responsible piano movers
Before you go, a quick note about picking a piano moving service: get firsthand information. Please, please, please read online reviews of moving companies. Specifically, look for reviews by people who mention moving a piano. This is one of the best ways to make sure your instrument is in great hands throughout your move.
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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.