Piano moving advice?

<p>Long story short (hopefully): My sister is moving and no longer wants the upright piano that belonged to our grandparents. My brother who lives overseas would like us to hang on to the piano for his kids, which means transporting and storing it. The piano is quite old (at least 60 years) and not in great condition, but holds sentimental value for my brother.</p>

<p>Does anyone know roughly how much it will cost to move a piano about 80 miles? It is coming out of a first-floor living room and directly into a ground-level storage unit. </p>

<p>It's a typical storage unit - water-tight, but not temperature controlled. Given that the piano hasn't been tuned in years and won't be until my brother moves back from overseas (in about 6 months), is the lack of temperature control an issue?</p>

<p>OOPS - meant to post this in the Cafe. Mods, please move :)</p>

<p>Lack of temperature control is def an issue. I would make sure you didn’t put it on an outside wall (ie better against an interior unit). We had a 100yo upright grand moved about 30 miles from a first floor to first floor for about $250 10 years ago in a major metro area. If there is any way the piano could be stored in someone else’s home for the 6mths to avoid the winter months, which will bring extreme temp flux. from day to night, that would be much better. Even when in your home a piano should never be on an exterior wall.</p>

<p>I second what blueiguana said. It would probably be less of a hassle and less expensive if you could get on an email listserve (at work, perhaps) and find a local family that would volunteer to have the piano in their home for six months and pay for a tuning themselves (maybe someone whose kids want to try piano but aren’t yet committed to it?). Unless it’s a humongous upright, several adults could pick it up and put it on a trailer for a drive across town (we’ve done this without a problem). I wouldn’t attempt as an amateur piano mover to take it 80 miles; in that case, you’d need to contract with a mover, who will also charge to wrap and cushion it.</p>

<p>PRJ, blueiguana is right, serious temperature variation is bad for a piano. Can you find out more about how old and what type of piano this is? Does your brother expect to play it once he returns?</p>

<p>Following on gadad’s thoughts, you could also check with your local music store. There may be a piano student starting out whose parents haven’t yet invested in a piano, waiting to see if their student stays interested for a few months. If you agree to move it, ask them to tune it, they get to use the piano, and you don’t have to pay storage (and have a tuned piano when your brother gets back!). Count on six strong adult men to move the piano if you are going to try yourself (four on the sides, two on the ends… even from first floors at some point your are going to be at an incline getting in the door). Make sure you have moving straps, etc that will make it much easier.</p>

<p>Temperature and humidity control are a big issue in piano storage… Needs to be climate controlled.</p>

<p>As to moving the piano, a U-Haul is probably fine, so long as you securely strap it down. It’s so far out of tuning whack at this point, likely, that 80 miles of road isn’t going to do much more damage than the years have done. It’ll take a couple of tuning sessions to get it back to playing condition once it gets to its final destination.</p>

<p>(Expertise: Worked as a piano technician apprentice at the Shepherd School at Rice when I was an undergrad; cared for ~50 pianos and assisted with the care of the concert grands.)</p>

<p>If the piano hasn’t been tuned in years it’s possible (depending on the quality of the instrument) that it won’t hold a tune or will require more than one tuning before it’s playable. You might want to have a piano technician look at it before you offer it to anyone. It would be an unpleasant surprise if some one got it set up in their home and then learned it required a greater investment than they expected. (I pay about $100 to have my piano tuned.)</p>


Our tuner always recommended we have the piano tuned after a move, and about every 6 months if it is being used, so even if someone else gets it tuned now, chances are, the brother will need to tune it again after he gets home and moves it again. At least, if he expects to play it.</p>

<p>I had my childhood piano moved 8 times in 14 years. Including once from a 2nd floor to a 3rd floor, and subsequently out of the 3rd floor. I always had professional movers do it. It’s really not worth taking the chance that your friends will be injured or cause damage to the piano. Just pay to have it done. They know what they are doing, and are covered in case of damage or injury.</p>

<p>^ Thank you for the correction regarding the piano tuning. I should have at least accounted for the fact that it would need to be tuned after it was moved again to it’s final destination.</p>

<p>Our piano is beautiful, however after two very reputable tuners looked at it they both agreed because of the age neither would touch it. So although we’ve had it for 10yrs, obviously I’m not up on tuning frequency. It was given to us so I wasn’t upset. I love the history behind it and play it out of tune when no one is around.</p>

<p>We inherited a 50 year old family piano that hadn’t been tuned in years but had been stored in heated, humidity controlled homes or storage places. STILL after a couple of years, it was still not able to be tuned to pitch. It drove my musician kids CRAZY to play it. We finally sent it to heaven and bought a new piano.</p>

<p>If it’s going to be used as a piece of furniture, fine, but don’t expect it to hold a tune well if it has not been tuned regularly over the years. The pins probably need to be driven and the board is probably not going to take much of that.</p>

<p>I agree–the issue is whether this is really a decent piano or a “PSO” (piano-shaped object).</p>

<p>OP here - thanks for all the great advice and information!

LOL - that is exactly the issue! I’m pretty sure it is more of a PSO with sentimental value. I’ve since learned that the piano was tuned a little over a year ago, but (I’m getting this part third-hand) there were issues even then with the tuning. So I don’t think the idea of asking someone to “piano sit” is viable. My inclination at this point is to give my brother the option of paying $350 to move and store it in a cold storage unit, and then figure out if it is worth restoring when he gets home, or paying someone to evaluate it now and then deciding whether it is worth keeping.</p>

<p>Just a thought–if it really is a PSO (or even a POS), but has some sentimental value, you might consider getting a cheaper mover to move it, as opposed to a professional piano mover.</p>

<p>Good thought Hunt. But since I don’t <em>know</em> whether it is just a PSO, I think I need to err on the side of caution. Also, it is apparently an antique, PSO or not, so that probably warrants the extra expense. </p>

<p>I’m pretty sure that by virtue of its age and sentimental value, it’s not a POS ;)</p>

<p>Unfortunately, there are very few pianos that are valuable as a result of being antiques, unless they are very fine pianos. Do you know what make this piano is? If it’s a Steinway, the advice will be different from what it would be if it’s a no-name (even if very nice-looking) piano.</p>

<p>I was really using the term *antique" to mean something that is really old and should be handled with care by movers, not implying that it has great value. It is a Kohler and Campbell, and I really don’t know how old it is. I remember my grandparents shipping it to us in the early 60s but I don’t know how long they had owned it prior to that.</p>



<p>That’s a great description! That’s exactly what we have … we have an Adam Schaaf piano (baby grand) from the 1920’s that belonged to my H’s grandmother (she played professionally). It has her signature underneath it, because it was an engagement gift from her fiance, and she wanted this piano so badly she crawled underneath it and signed it so she knew she’d get the right one. When she passed away, no one wanted it - it had been painted Pepto-Bismol pink (along with everything else in her apartment - don’t ask). We took it and had it professionally restored, which took almost a year and was an education in and of itself. It now looks beautiful. But, no one in our household plays beyond the occasional tinkering at the keyboard, so it really is a PSO with strong sentimental value. I think we probably paid more to restore it than it was even worth!</p>

<p>EDIT: So now I’m curious and I looked online. I found a piano that looks identical to ours (Adam Schaaf baby grand, mahogany, 1920’s, Louis XV style) that is selling for $30,000. You’ve all made my day!! LOL. But H would never sell.</p>

<p>There’s a book called “The Piano Book” by Larry Fine that has a good discussion of used pianos and their value–it’s been updated a number of times. You might find it at the public library.</p>

<p>I was able to successfully research our piano on the internet, contacting a dealer across the country who called me personally. We were able to find the manufacture number which indicated it was much older than we thought, over 100 years old.</p>

<p>We used The Piano Book when we bought our current piano; it’s a great resource. My son began his lessons on a PSO that came along with the house we bought. Once we decided he was a committed student we upgraded (with money we had foolishly put in a UTMA for college). It took us a while to find a home for the POS (a baby grand) and we were seriously considering gutting it and turning into a “piano bar”. Fortunately, a buyer came along before we embarked on that project.</p>