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MMD > Archives > January 2004 > 2004.01.05 > 05Prev  Next

Moving Pianos Aside for Cleaning
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Preface: My customers are typically delighted when I move
their piano way from the wall before starting any work. Most folks
break out the vacuum cleaner and vacuum behind the piano while I'm
setting up to tune. I can't recall the number of times I've heard,
"Oh!  That's where 'such and such' disappeared to."

As a matter of almost daily routine I move spinet, console, and upright
pianos in the homes of my customers. I always insist on doing the job
myself because it's simply easier than when the customer "helps".
Anytime two people are involved in moving a piano, there's a natural
(but incorrect) inclination to 'work together'. That equates to "dead
lifting" the instrument, and that requires a lot of strength.

There is only one "trick" to safely moving a piano away from a wall.
That trick is to tilt the piano very slightly so that the front
wheels (casters) are not making contact with the floor (or carpet).
Essentially, the 'science' of moving the instrument without damaging
anything is to focus the weight of the piano onto one wheel, and then
move (or rotate) the opposite end (the end that you are lifting) to
a new position. Then, move to the other side of the piano and repeat
the procedure.

Mind you, you don't have to be a strong person to accomplish the
task.  I'm 5' 10" and weigh 153 lbs. But, what I do know is how to
use leverage. Even if I can't lift an upright off of the floor (on
one end), I can lighten the end enough that the back wheel (on the
side I'm lifting) doesn't drag across the floor.

Another point with regards to spinets is that the vast majority of
front legs are only screwed into the keybed. Typically, they can be
easily unscrewed and put off to the side, out of harms way, during
an actual move. As has been correctly mentioned in previous postings,
the front legs of a spinet (and many console) pianos were not designed
to be used for rolling the piano around.  For all intents and purposes,
they are cosmetic. And, most spinet and console pianos have four
casters under the bottom of the piano anyway.

Also note that approximately 80% of the weight of any upright piano
is in the back of the instrument. Point being that lightening up the
front of the piano is typically very easy.

In conclusion, by using leverage and tilting, an average man (and
many women) can easily move a piano away from a wall for cleaning
or accessing a wall outlet (which many people 'hide' behind the
instrument). I move the piano away from the wall about four to six
inches before I start tuning or doing action work so that the top
has enough room to rest safely against the wall. Also, I always place
a hand towel between the top and the wall so that there's no chance
of accidentally marking the wall or damaging the top.

Post script: I've also eliminated nuisance noises (that caused the
customer to call me in the first place) by removing debris that fell
down behind the piano and landed in such a position that it was
touching the soundboard. Point being that when you can solve a nagging
problem for your customer within moments after arriving, they will
typically let you do whatever is needed to further enhance the quality
of the sound of the instrument. So, for a couple of minutes of work
that you don't charge for, you get a few hours of work at your going
rate!    :-)


John A. Tuttle
Brick, NJ, USA

(Message sent Mon 5 Jan 2004, 18:23:11 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aside, Cleaning, Moving, Pianos

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