Walker Piano Key Service

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Home Care for Your Piano

April 30th, 2008 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Walker Piano’s Thoughts on Moving a piano

Moving a piano is a complicated process. There is risk to the piano, risk of bodily injury to the movers and others and risk to other property. Although moving a piano may appear to be a simple process, hidden factors compound the task. Pianos are complicated to move and should only be moved by professionals who are careful, properly trained, and insured. They must also have the proper equipment.

Verticals (uprights). These pianos are the most common and the easiest to move. They are moved by tipping the piano and sliding a piano movers’ dolly underneath or lifting the piano up onto the dolly. The dolly has a strong frame for moving and large rubber wheels for ease of moving and not scratching the floor. The piano is transported to its new location and removed from the dolly. The piano should be covered to avoid scratching or damaging it.

The wheels attached to vertical pianos themselves are rarely designed for moving, and are primarily used for cosmetic effects. With studio pianos that have larger, double wheels, they are designed for short moves. When moving studio pianos beyond the immediate room or for more than just a few feet, a dolly should still be used.

Grands. They are moved by covering the piano, removing the left leg, and gently lowering the piano over onto its straight side. The piano is then lifted up onto a flat, padded board called a ‘skid board’. The lid is allowed to overhang the side so as to not pressure it. The piano is blanketed, strapped down and the other legs and pedal lyre are removed. (*NOTE: The “pedal lyre” should be removed first before removing the left leg, since it does not support any weight) Additional care should be added to insure that the piano parts that can rub together and scratch must be secured. The skid board with piano is tipped and a piano movers dolly is slid underneath for transport to its new location, where the procedure is reversed.

Contrary to popular legend, proper piano moving does NOT affect the tuning. Tuning is affected by changes in climate such as temperature and humidity. If a piano is properly covered during the move, it will not feel the environmental changes such as going from indoors to outdoors and back indoors again. The piano WILL go out of tune if exposed to a climate change such as going from a dry home to a humid home.


Much of a piano is made of wood, and pianos are therefore extremely sensitive to the fluctuations in humidity. The piano’s wooden soundboard is designed to have an arch, or crown. The crown increases or decreases with changes of humidity, changing the tension on the strings and throwing the instrument out of tune. Larger fluctuations in humidity can affect regulation, and even cause parts to crack. If humidity changes are extreme, the soundboard can warp so much that it collapses and loses its crown, which may require rebuilding or replacement of the instrument.

Piano owners can prevent these problems by controlling humidity. Most technicians recommend an indoor relative humidity in the range of 30% to 50%, kept as constant as possible. Keeping the piano away from air vents, heaters, open windows, open doors, direct sunlight, and the kitchen can help prevent damage, since all these are potential sources of sudden changes in humidity. However, even with these precautions, changes in weather will affect indoor humidity. Ideally, a piano owner would use a hygrometer in conjunction with a humidifier and dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to keep the humidity of the room housing the piano constant year-round. In cases where controlling room humidity is impractical, an in-piano humidity control system (such as the Dampp-Chaser) may help, though there is some controversy among technicians about the efficacy of these systems.


Pianos are easily damaged by liquids. Liquid spills may only damage the exterior finish; however, a spill which reaches the inside of the piano can cause costly damage to the action or soundboard. Piano owners should protect their instruments by keeping liquids away from the instrument. Dust in between the keys can interfere with the action but can be minimized by keeping the lid closed when the instrument is not in use, however, the lid should be opened at times to ensure air circulates to prevent mould from growing. If a spill occurs, immediate action should be taken by removing the keys, cleaning them in a grease cutting solution and allowing them to dry. Careful disassembly, and reassembly should be taken if done by anyone other that a technician


Pianos are fine furniture, and in this role they benefit from cleaning and polishing, done carefully to avoid introduction of any fluids into the piano’s interior. For many piano finishes, dust removal is better done with a feather duster than a cloth, which minimizes the abrasive effect of the dust. A piano technician should be consulted for recommendations on cleaning and polishing products suitable for a piano.


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