Congratulations! You’ve bought a Piano!

(Or: What to know before the delivery.)

Before your piano is delivered, plan its placement very carefully. Think of a piano as being part of the family. Pick a room where it will be in the center of the action. You will want it to be part of celebrations, and most of all, you will want to be able to hear and watch your children practice, and celebrate with them their accomplishments. If the piano is put in a room in the basement where no one wants to go, just so it will be played out of ear-shot, I guarantee you that it won’t be played.

It you live in a modern, insulated home, it doesn’t really matter if it is on a inside or an outside wall. It’s far more important that it be as far away as possible from heat registers, windows, and fireplaces. The goal is to put the piano in a position where you yourself would be comfortable sitting for a long period of time: someplace where the temperature and humidity is reasonable constant, and away from heat sources. Sunshine on your shoulders may make you happy, but it could damage a pianos finish, and the concentrated heat could damage the soundboard and pinblock, leading to costly repairs.

Ideally, an upright piano should be placed so that you can insert your closed fist behind it. This will ensure that not only can the sound bounce off the wall properly, but it will also allow the tuner to lift the lid without damaging the wall. Try, if possible, to ensure that it is not right up against a side wall either, especially on the right-hand (treble) side. When the tuner is working on the section, having a little room makes the job ten times easier.

Placing a grand piano properly in a room is actually a very tricky thing, and many people have strong feelings about it. If you face the tail into a corner, the player will be facing the wall, and may feel a little isolated. If you face the keys towards a wall, you won’t be able to see a player’s hands. I personally feel that it’s more important to have the keys face outwards. It makes the piano seem more accessible, and certainly makes the tuners job easier if he or she has to access the action.

A good compromise, though not always practical, is to have the straight side of the piano against a wall so that the lid opens into the room, the performer can see the audience, and vice-versa. NOTE: Make sure it’s not sitting over floor vents!

If you live in an apartment, or in a side-by-side, and you’re concerned about the sound of the piano disturbing your neighbors, there are a number of simple things that you can do to lessen the transference of sound. First of all, the piano is actually a percussion instrument, and a lot of the sound it transfers is the thumping of the keys. Placing the piano on cushioned castor cups, or on a carpet, will stop a lot of that thumping transferring through the floor. If you have an upright piano that has to be against an adjoining wall, you can get a piece of mattress foam cut to the size of the pianos back, and place it between the piano and the wall.

Some pianos are equipped with a “Practice-Pedal” which drops a piece of felt between the hammers and the strings. This is a great idea when the player is practicing scales and technique, but it’s not a good idea to use it constantly when practicing. A big part of learning to play the play is listening to the sounds you are making.

In an apartment block, it’s always a good idea to get to know your neighbours, and arrange times when you or your children can play when it won’t disturb others. Do this first, and think of it as a way to build community, rather than having to get an angry phone call from the Super after the fact.

If you are lucky enough to not have to worry about the neighbors, and live in a home where the piano can be in a relatively large room, It will sound best if the room has hardwood floors rather than broadloom, but the piano should still be sitting on castor cups. If you think that you may need to shift the piano’s position every once in a while, you could arrange to have the pianos metal wheels replaced with rubber-wheeled castors, although this detracts a bit from the look of a grand.

One more important fact about the piano’s “wheels”: They are not made for rolling the piano around, they are designed for small movements only; pulling an upright away from a wall, shifting a grand a few inches to the left or the right. If you want the piano to be truly movable, it must be fitted with proper rubber- wheeled castors, or in the case of a grand piano, either a tripod or leg dollies.

If you do have to shift an upright, there are handles on the back for one hand, and the other hand should be on the front of the keyboard. Never push an upright piano backwards holding the piano near the top: It could tip backwards causing injury to yourself, or worse, to the piano. If your piano has free front legs that are not connected to the bottom of the piano, try to lift slightly on the keyboard as you move. These legs are known to snap off, toppling the piano forward. If you have to shift a Grand, it’s highly recommended that you use three strong people: two on each side of the keyboard, and one big brute on the tail end. Be very carefully if running over carpet, or bumps on the floor. It is not unheard of for one or more of the legs to snap off, bringing the piano crashing to the floor. Once again, any moving of more than a foot should be done by professional movers unless the piano is specially equipped.


– Jamie Musselwhite