Having an acoustic piano in your home is a treat. Having to move it is not.
Throughout my childhood, I practiced on my grandmother’s 70-year-old upright piano – it didn’t stay in tune and some of the keys had chips in them, which would make my hand bleed. I still loved playing it and whenever I go home, I still do.
When it came time to move in the piano, I remember my dad and grandpa were thinking about doing it themselves. They decided to hire a moving company instead, and for good reason.
If you’re thinking of moving your piano, here’s what you need to know. Read on.
Why Hire Piano Movers?
The piano is a large, heavy and awkward musical instrument. And, among large and awkward instruments, the piano is still one of the hardest to move.
Pianos are often expensive and are sometimes valued family heirlooms. Additionally, the inner workings are delicate and vulnerable to breakage, and they simply are not meant to be moved often.
You can move a piano yourself, but it’s best left to movers if it’s particularly valuable or if there are stairs and other obstacles on your path.
Of course, the cost of moving a piano can be prohibitive, but it varies. The average cost is lower than I expected.
The Average Cost Of Moving A Piano In America
The average cost of moving a piano is around $150 to $300 for a local move and around $500 to $1500 for a long-distance move.
Based on my research, moving an upright piano locally will cost around $200, and moving a grand long-distance will cost around $1,050. Most people are moving upright pianos though.
As I’ll explain, these prices can vary widely depending on the size/type of the piano, distance of the move, moving circumstances and more.
So, here’s a general overview of how much you can expect to pay when moving a piano:
- Moving an upright piano locally can cost as little as $150 to $400.
- Moving a grand or baby grand piano locally can cost between $250 to $2,000. Baby grands and grands are much heavier and more complicated to move. In most cases, the fee should be less than $1,000, but it can vary.
- Moving an upright piano across long distances will usually cost over $500. Upright pianos can be included in other moving expenses, so it will be a flat rate plus whatever the per mile rate the movers are charging.
- Moving a baby grand or grand long distances will cost over $1,000, as you’ll need to move it twice and then pay the movers their long-distance rate.
Basically, you can move an upright piano in the city for just a little over a hundred dollars.
A grand piano over long distances can cost thousands.
What Affects The Cost Of Moving A Piano?
To get a better idea of how much moving your piano will cost, we’ve listed a few of the factors you should consider when getting a quote.
Type & Size Of Piano
As mentioned, upright pianos are much cheaper to move than baby grand pianos.
The heavier the piano, the more specialized equipment and workers you’ll be required to pay for. Expect an older piano to cost more.
The larger the piano, the more it will cost. Large pianos may require some disassembly and reassembly, and moves may need to crate and wrap some of the parts.
Besides the size and type of instrument, distance is the greatest factor affecting moving costs.
Typically, movers will charge between $1.50 and $2.50 per mile for a local move. This price can go up to $5 per mile on longer moves, to account for more gas, wear and tear, and risk.
The biggest challenge posed to piano movers are stairs. Regular stairs aren’t too bad, but steep stairs, spiral stairs and narrow stairs require several strong people and specialized equipment.
Moving something as heavy as a piano up and down stairs can be dangerous and it is risky for the instrument as well.
Some companies will charge an extra $5 to $10 per stair step or an extra $40 to $100 per staircase.
Make sure you let the moving company know about any stairs at the pickup or drop-off location, so that they can prepare accordingly and so that you are not surprised by the price.
Hourly/Flat Rate Prices
There are two ways moving prices are calculated, and they usually depend on the factors I’ve listed above.
Local moves charge hourly with a minimum of three hours. The hourly rates start at around $50 an hour.
Three hours is how long it takes to move a piano from its home, into a truck and into its new home.
Cross country movers will charge a flat rate. The cost of moving the piano may be built-in with the cost of moving other large furniture, which can ultimately save you money.
Piano movers cover at least $5,000 of insurance for free.
But if your piano is worth over $5,000, you may want to purchase additional insurance, often calculated at around $10 to $15 for every $1,000 of additional insurance.
Special Packing Requirements
As noted earlier, if you are moving a large, expensive grand piano, that piano may require dismantling and crating. This adds to the shipping cost.
Movers will remove the legs, pedals and charge around $100 or the service.
If the piano needs to be crated to be moved, crating service can cost upwards of $800. It can cost more for heat-treated crating.
If your piano cannot be moved into the building via stairs or an elevator, it is possible to move it into the building using a specialized crane.
This service is obviously difficult and expensive. It can cost between $750 to %1,000, but it is unlikely you’ll have to use it.
Rush jobs can add hundreds of dollars to the move.
After you move a piano, you’ll almost certainly have to re-tune it. The jostling around and the change in temperature/humidity will send strings out of tune.
We have a whole article on the price of tuning a piano – but it will probably cost around $100 to $150 depending on where you live and who you hire.
You should wait for a month before re-tuning the instrument, however, as pianos adjust to humidity over time.
Tips On Getting A Quote
Although you could Google piano movers and call them up yourself, there are a few things you should be mindful of when getting a quote. Here are some tips to help.
Ask Your Moving Company To Refer You To Piano Movers
Moving companies will either tie the cost of moving the piano into the cost of moving your other possessions, or they’ll put you in touch with a separate moving company.
Even if you’re just moving a piano, getting in touch with a moving company can be a good place to start.
Get Multiple Quotes
Get multiple quotes from movers. Competition for moving companies is stiff, and you can negotiate and get a better rate.
Identify & Specify Your Piano
Spinet or apartment sized pianos are less than 40 inches tall and weight 300 to 400 lbs.
Upright pianos weigh between 500 and 800 lbs.
Baby grand pianos and grand pianos are long and curved and they can weigh between 600 and 1,200 lbs.
Determine what type of piano you have and let the mover know.
Measure The Piano
Upright pianos should be measured from the floor to the lid. When you are measuring the width, measure from the back of the piano to the front of the keys.
Grand pianos should be measured from the end of the key bed to the bow of the piano.
Baby grand pianos are usually under six feet long and concert versions are over six feet long – sometimes up to seven feet long, and in exceptional circumstances, up to nine feet.
Let The Movers Know What To Expect
Discuss things like stairways, tight corners and gravel sidewalks. Also discuss any special requirements for the drop off location, like timing, elevator access, etc.
Moving A Piano In The USA – Not Easy, Not Always Cheap
So that’s how much does it cost to move a piano.
Moving a piano is never easy and it is not always cheap.
While moving an upright piano a short distance is affordable, the price can climb rapidly depending on other factors.
Here’s a basic equation you can use to calculate how much it’s going to cost to move your instrument:
Base rate of $50/hr + cost per mile ($1.50 to $3.00 per mile) + cost per stair ($5 to $10 per stair) + cost per obstacle ($40 to $200) + extra charge for special services = total cost.
From this guide, I hope you gleaned that moving a piano is a specialized service. Piano movers take their job seriously and want to protect your instrument.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate the best price possible, but keep in mind that it’s always worth keeping your instrument safe.