Questions about the upright piano

I have been offered a free upright piano, although, before I accept it I need to ask a couple of questions.

Is this even going to be possible without pro movers?

I hear the average 4 foot upright piano weighs around 500 lbs. There will be a total of 3 average men and a truck.

Could we carry it up three flights of stairs?

If I do take the piano what is a good way to find a reliable tuner.

Meaning, what information provides there credentials…Company Lifespan?

Are there any kind of certifications of piano tuning?

Yes, possible. However, unless you’ve done it before, and have all the right equipment, you are very likely to damage yourselves, the piano, the house you move it out of, AND the house you move it into. Oh, and the truck you haul it in. If you decide to try it (which I don’t recommend) do NOT roll it on its little wheels over a hardwood or linoleum floor, it will leave tracks in the flooring. Lay cardboard or something for protection.

If you know the people making the offer and/or the piano, that’s one thing. But if you don’t, it might be well worth $40 or so to have a piano technician evaluate the piano – especially if you’re going to spend $$$$ to get it moved. Pianos do develop issues with age. Some are easier to fix than others. The last thing you want to do is to go to all the trouble/backstrain/expense moving it only to find out that the pin block has shrunk, the pins are loose, and it’s never going to hold its tune.

If you have friends with pianos, ask them who they use.

Good luck!

Three people can lift one end of a piano, but not both. Firstly, access in/out of properties can be a major issue. Basically, the more steps, the bigger the problem. And steps made of stone can withstand a piano being rested on them (while you debate what you’re doing!), while wooden ones can’t.

The most important thing of all is to not let it fall, even an inch. A cracked soundboard is the deathknell.
However, this is the decider:

Forget it. Unless your friends are professional endurance athletes, nobody will tackle this challenge.

I helped move an upright piano down 3 flights of stairs a while back. The first thing we did was remove anything removable to reduce the weight. Things like the top, support columns, feet, keyboard cover and back were easily removed, this reduced the weight by about 1/3. The rest was wrapped in a moving blanket, strapped to a good quality handtruck and down the stairs we went. There was only 2 of us, the only problems was navigating a small landing at the bottom of the stairs. The new owner wanted the piano in a basement rec room and the only access was through a too narrow door or a large picture window. We recruited a couple of neighborhood teenagers and took the piano through the window opening. We put it back together and the new owner was very happy.

Is this even going to be possible without pro movers?

Possible? Yes. I’ve done it. I didn’t have steps to go up, though. Would I recommend doing it yourself? HELL NO.

Could we carry it up three flights of stairs?

Probably not. Me and 2 other guys barely managed to take an upright piano up through a sloped yard and in through the back door, which was one step up to the porch and one step up to get inside the house. I seriously doubt that we would have been able to get it up even one flight of stairs.

If I do take the piano what is a good way to find a reliable tuner.

You might try asking around local churches, schools, and other places that might have a piano and ask them who they use and if they would recommend them.

If you have a local symphony, community orchestra or college music department, call them for a recommendation.

We have an Upright Piano; I bought it for my wife as part of her Engagement gift.
When we move from our apartment to our first house, we had to get the Piano up two sets of stairs. It was five steps and then eight steps. Myself and one other friend took the bottom and a friend you lifted weights and worked out took the top by himself. We went up one stair at a time at his direction. We did this without tools or knowledge. It worked surprisingly well.
So it can be done. But all 3 of us were in our twenties and in fairly good to great shape.
To move the Piano back out of the house 3 professional movers did it with little problems. I had it retuned 2 years ago as a present for my wife for our 12th anniversary.
Finding a good tuner should be fairly easy, check with a local Piano/music instrument store. They usually sell used pianos and can recommend a good tuner. They might even be able to move the piano for a reasonable price.


As far as the value of the instrument, it is largely a matter of personal need to know. You can find an incredible Steinway M and get it hauled up to your loft by movers and love playing the thing for years, caring for it, tuning it and such. Do you care who owned it first? Where it has been?

The issues are physical- is the soundboard …uh…sound? Is it warped, cracked, etc. How is the harp? Is it damaged? How much money are you going to be into rebuilding the heads, etc ? Have you played it a lot? Have you played it a lot in a space similar to the space it will reside in? Do you know what you will be in for in terms of resonation in the room, etc ? Has it been exposed to lots of heat/sunlight/ humidity?

My wife comes from a family of fairly high-end classical musicians. Mostly violinists, but her mom is a pianist and teacher. For most of my marriage the MIL has had two Steinway Grands in the living room in her home. An M, and a slightly smaller grand. Wife got the piano from the third floor when we got married and had a house to put it in. ( 7 years into the marriage… ). It was a Henry F. Miller piano made in 1910. It was not in good shape cosmetically, the alligatoring was absymal due to the third floor heat and whatnot in the MIL’s house. It held tune fairly well, but was a big part of her childhood. She loved having it and played it for quite a few years.

It gave her pleasure to play it. When it was time to let it go and get a very pricey Roland Electric Piano with live action and a great sample ( She thinks the sample is a Bosendorfer ), she donated the Miller to her school district for the tax receipt.

Insurance is useless, it’s a free piano. What will it cost to move, re-assemble ( done by the movers- use real Piano Movers who are bonded- they have all of the proper tools to disassemble and re-assemble a piano ). You will need to have it tuned twice in short order, so find a sympathetic tuner. When it is reassembled, it will be a disaster and need tuning. That’s fine, but since it was moved and juggled around a bit, and will need to “settle in” to the humidity and heat/cool levels of it’s new home, you may well find that the tuning you pay for post-move is lost within a month. Expect a second tuning to be needed.

Hey man, go for it !! Free is free. As others have said, have a pro charge you a small fee to do an analysis of the instrument as it is now. Free may mean piece of unuseable shit. :slight_smile: Good luck with it.


That’s not how you move a piano to the top floor; this is how you move a piano to the top floor.

Thanks everyone;
Maybe I’ll just stick with the keyboard for now. It sounds like it is going to be a little too difficult.

I guess I’ll have to add it as a perk to the dream of owning my own house in a far away land from the cities giving away free pianos.

I grew up in an old house, any my parents considered it imperative that the kids learned to play music (they were both were born in 1915, when the piano in the parlor was the central entertainment for their families).

There are many reasons for the existance of movers specializing in moving pianos - amatuers try this at their (and the instrument’s) peril - the most common way to get a baby or larger grand on the third story involves opening a hole in the wall facing the street and hoisting the the thing up - not anything I’d even think of doing, and I know how to operate (most) of the equipment involved.

Back to the childhood home - when we moved, the spot where the thing had set for years had developed a distinct sagging - if the floor is not up to supporting the load, you will damage the structure.

Short form: If you ask a general topic message board to ask how to do something this complex, the odds are you probably should not try it.

I moved pianos way back when.

AFAIK, piano tuners belong to a guild, so there’s so many years of apprenticeship, certification, and so on. I’m not saying one’s as good as the next, but there are standards.

Three healthy men and a truck theoretically should be able to move a 4’ upright. Going upstairs you’ll have two pushing and one steering. If the stairs are tight and twisty it’s going to be a struggle even for pros. Basically it involves a series of moves where the piano is positioned for the big push, then everybody joins in for the heave ho. It’s a real teamwork job.

If you’re renting the truck and all the other stuff you’ll need to make the move (dollies, blankets, ramps, straps, etc.) you might not be saving all that much over having pros do it.

The thing with moving pianos is you don’t carry them. You either put it on a moving dolly and roll it or you slide it, preferably using a skid specially made for piano moving. The little wheels are mainly for fine-tuning placement. Also, you don’t always have to lift the whole thing off the ground to put it on a dolly. You can tip it and have someone place the dolly underneath, flat against the bottom of the piano.

Before moving the piano, be sure to disassemble it as much as possible. At the very least the legs ought to screw off if they’re not fixed at the bottom.

Securing it inside the truck should be done with straps unless someone in your crew is a genius with knots. Secure it to the forward wall to keep it centered in the truck, unless you’re counterbalancing it with other stuff in the truck.

Lots of stuff to consider, but it can be done, although three flights of stairs can be a lot, depending on how they’re configured. You run the risk of doing more harm to yourselves or your house than the piano. They’re pretty solid.

Your friendly neighborhood piano dealer should have recommended piano tuners. It wouldn’t hurt to ask about how much it would cost to move the piano, either. It doesn’t have to be one of theirs. Bottom line is it’s a free piano. If it’s any good and you want a piano this is a real windfall.