Why do you need a professional piano mover?

One of the first things any new piano owner asks is do I really need a professional piano mover to move my piano?  The fact that it is a seperate profession in the moving industry dictates that the answer must be yes, but does not really answer the question.  With todays tougher economy many people are asking this even more to try and save a few extra dollars by going with the cheapest option or without and hoping the regular mover can pull it off.  To properly answer this question, you must ask another question: Would you trust your car to a person without a license and/or has barely ever driven a car before?  If you answered yes to this, than you have answered your own question: the risk is worth the chance.  I will never say that a household mover cannot move a piano or that you and some buddies that you could bribe with a case of beer couldn’t do it, because many people have successfully pulled this off.  But you will also have heard about many of those who did not.  Who’s household moving company said that they could, then when the actual movers showed up said we don’t have the equipment and know how to do this.  The household movers who lost control of the piano and dropped it on the floor and rammed it into a wall.  Who’s friends have injuried themselves doing this and unable to work for the next number of weeks.  And the most common comment: “We did it, but I would never risk doing that again.”

You have to understand that pianos are heavy, where the light pianos weigh in at about 400 pounds and the big ones over a 1000 pounds.  You have to understand that pianos are top heavy and that most of the weight is focused in less than 25% of the actual piano and are really easy to tip over if you do not know what you are doing.  And most of all, you have to understand that when something goes wrong, it goes wrong fast and furious.  When something goes wrong you have a split second to react and if you are not in the right spot hold the piano the right way, there is no way for you to stop what is happening next.  You have to realize that when something goes wrong, people get hurt and anything in its path is a target to be damaged.  You might have an old upright piano that is not worth very much and you think is worth the risk of inexperienced movers, but is the hardwood floor the piano is travelling over, the painting on the wall, the table in your hallway, worth more to you than the piano?  Is the risk and cost of damage worth saving a few extra dollars?  The average damage claim from a piano move gone wrong is almost always more then the cost of the move itself.

Let me share some common true stories with you:

Piano Moving Story #1: I was at one ladies apartment and she had a nice high gloss black Yamaha apartment size piano.  The piano looked perfect with one major exception: Every corner on the piano was chipped.  I pointed them out to her, she acknowledge they were there and we proceeded to move the piano without her giving an explaination as to how they occured.  We took the piano out of the apartment and down the hallway to the elevator with the lady watching us like a hawk.  The elevator door opens, I look at the size of the elevator and the size of the piano and instantly know it is not going to fit in an upright position.  I use a piano moving technique to put the piano on its side which makes the piano dimension smaller and role the piano into the elevator with plenty of room to spare.  I look back at the lady and she is in stunned shock with her mouth hanging wide open like it is about to hit the floor.  Can you guess how all the chips I pointed out got onto the piano?  For those that cannot, the previous person that moved the piano forced it into the elevator in a way that didn’t fit.

Piano Moving Story #2:  We receive a panic call from a person who hired another cheaper mover that said they could move pianos.  She asked if there is anyway we can get over there asap.  The mover she hired said they could do it, started to do it and then abadoned the move and drove away.  We showed up on site and see a basic full size upright piano move going up a straight flight of stairs.  We then get the story: The first movers, moved the piano to the bottom of the stairs and flipped the piano on its side to go up the stairs.  They didn’t put moving blankets down to protect the piano or the floor.  They took the wheels off the bottom of the piano, so they could slide it up the stairs with catching on the stairs.  The movers at the top of the piano then disappeared back to the truck.  The mover at the bottom of the piano wondered what happened to his co-workers.  He goes to the front door and yells something to them (they are in the cab of the truck).  They yell something back and next thing you know the last mover is running to the truck, jumps in and the truck is driving away with the wheels to the piano in one of the movers pocket.  The lady is speechless and looks at her piano wondering what do I do now.  We then complete her job and she asks us where can she get replacement wheels for her piano?

Piano Moving Story #3:  We receive a call from a lady who was referred to us by another company that advertises themselves as piano movers.  They showed up with 4 movers and said they couldn’t do it and to call us.  I have to give them credit that they knew their limitations and knew that they were in over their heads without attempting the move and damaging her piano and walls.  It was a small apartment size piano going up a flight with a tight turn at the top.  Thankfully it wasn’t moving day and the lady did not have a house closing to worry about and was able to properly schedule it with her.  We then show up, do the job with two of our movers, damage free and shake our heads thinking this is a standard piano moving job, what professional piano moving company could not do this.

There are thousands of piano moving stories like this out there and if you think all movers or even piano movers are equal, you are greatly mistaken.  Just because you can physically drive a car without insurance, does not mean you should or are legal to do so.  Do you hand your keys over to your kid(s) without making sure they are properly trained to do so?  And if they are legal to drive, do you still hand over your keys to your sports car or a set of keys to a beatup car you are not afraid to get damaged?  Piano moving is no different: it is all about risk and exposure.

If you want my advise?  Hire the professional, the risk isn’t worth the few dollars you might save trying to be cheap.  Even professional piano movers are not perfect, but they are sure worth it.