Grand Piano Trucks: What Are They and Do You Need One?
Updated: May 17
Most grand pianos found in homes are moved into a pre-selected location and set up there never to be moved again..or at least until the piano owners buy a new home and relocate the piano to its new home. When a piano is placed in a static location, the only concern may be to protect floors and make sure the piano is not moved by accident allowing the piano casters (or wheels) to damage the flooring. We address this concern in our earlier blog article on piano caster cups. However, there are times, especially in an institutional setting where a piano needs to be frequently moved about the space.
Moving a Piano and Piano Legs
Piano legs are designed to carry the weight of a grand piano and when still in good condition, to allow some movement of the piano if done carefully. This of course assumes a piano is well built and in good shape and the piano legs are in good condition and well attached. If the piano legs are loose, have loose glue joints or inadequate or improper locking mechanisms to hold them firmly attached to the piano, then the piano should not be moved without taking extreme precautions. Those might include hiring Fort Worth piano movers to inspect the piano legs and to move the piano around the room for you.
In an institutional setting such as a school, church, concert hall stage, recording studio or teaching studio, a piano may need to be moved often. Even with adequate help who are strong enough to move the piano around, the frequent stress of moving will eventually cause damage to the piano legs, not to mention the flooring.
Moving a Piano on a Grand Piano Truck / Dolly
Grand Piano trucks (or Dollies) are designed to make the moving of a grand piano from place to place within the same space much easier and safer. A grand piano truck / dolly is shown in the image below. This device is a “Y” shaped steel platform with each of the 3 arms of the “Y” supporting one of the pianos 3 legs. The piano truck is made with large rubber wheels which roll smoothly and efficiently while protecting any type of flooring in the process. Because the piano legs are effectively joined as one into the grand piano truck, there is no pressure on the piano legs as the piano is moved. This maintains the condition of the legs and prevents much of the stress on the legs that comes from moving a piano that is not on a grand truck. This makes moving the piano a much easier and safer process.
Installing a Grand Piano Truck
While we will not go into all the technical details and processes involved in the safe and proper installation of a grand piano truck, we will offer an overview of what happens. First, the existing piano wheels (casters) must be removed from the pianos legs. This will almost always require the removal of the piano legs. Once the original piano casters are removed, the legs are reattached to the grand piano. This process is needed so that pianos legs will rest securely in the 3 leg receivers built into the grand piano truck. It also places the piano at the proper height for playing the piano. You may notice a slight difference in the height of the keyboard after installation, but it is minimal. Once the casters are removed and each leg reattached, the piano is set onto the grand piano truck and all of the grand trucks connecting bolts and pieces are tightened down securely.
Options Available for Grand Piano Trucks
Two important options are offered with the grand truck. One is locking wheels, which we feel are crucial and really should not even be considered an option. Locking wheels will prevent the piano from swaying and moving as the piano is played but will also prevent catastrophes such as a piano being rolled off a stage. See – they should not be an option.
The other option is size. Both the size (meaning length of the grand piano) as well as the size of the original piano casters (wheels). Some concert grand pianos are manufactured with very large casters. Late model Steinway concert grands built in New York and earlier model Steinways built in Hamburg Germany are examples of concert grand pianos which have these larger casters. These large piano casters require the piano legs to be shorter than they would be with a smaller standard sized caster. This is an important factor when ordering a grand piano truck for a concert grand piano.
The size / length of the grand piano also determines which size of grand truck you will need. Four sizes of grand trucks are typically produced by the manufacturers. The smallest truck is designed for pianos in the 4'-6” to 5'-11” size range. The next larger size accommodates pianos in the 6'-0” to 7'-6” size. However, there are important exceptions. Some 6'-0” and 6'-1” pianos by some piano manufacturers require the smaller sized grand truck to be used. This is all due to the dimensional placement of the legs on the piano from one manufacturer versus another manufacturer. The next to largest grand piano truck accommodates a 9'-0” concert grand piano. Finally, for those rare pianos larger than 9'-0” in length, there is a truck made especially for the 9'-6” Bosendorfer Grand Piano.
We should also mention a couple of other options. While black is the standard color, there is an option for a brown grand piano truck which will better match wood-tone grands. There is also an option for double truss leg pianos. These are piano legs found primarily on pianos built in the 1920-30's and are essentially two separate legs joined as one to form a single leg structure. These will normally have 2 casters per leg as well.
Install When Having Your Grand Piano Moved
An additional factor to consider. While a grand piano truck can be installed at any time, it is easier and more affordable to have the installation performed while your grand piano is set to be moved anyway. This is because when the grand piano is on its side for the moving process, the legs are already removed from the piano and this allows for much quicker removal of the pianos original casters.
Grand Piano Leg Dollies
Finally, there is another type of device available to make moving a grand piano easier. Notice we did not use the word “safer” … only easier. The grand piano leg dolly is a device that contains a steel cup which is either round or square to accommodate the piano leg. Again, the original piano caster will have to be removed for installation. These steel cups have 3 (in the case of the round cups) or 4 (in the case of the square cups) rubber wheel casters. These rubber wheel casters do turn and roll easier than the original brass piano casters. While each leg is set into these cups, there is not connecting steel mechanism which attaches all 3 together making it one cohesive unit as in the case of the grand piano truck. Because of this, there is still danger that the legs can be damaged or even snap off while being moved. So while it may make moving the piano around the space a bit easier, it is not necessarily safer. As a matter of fact, one major manufacturer of the grand piano leg dollies makes the following disclaimers:
For Specific Applications Only:
Recommended for Hard Surface Floors (Not Carpet)
Recommended for moving pianos short distances
Recommended for moving pianos within a room
Recommended for grand pianos under 6' in length
Not to be used in place of a Grand Piano Dolly
Not recommended for schools
Not recommended for stage applications
As you can see, the use of the grand piano leg dolly instead of the grand piano truck opens you up to much potential risk to the piano and to persons near the piano. While the Leg Dollies are a more affordable option, we believe in the long run the best investment is a grand piano truck.
PianoProsDFW not only moves pianos, but we also sell grand piano trucks (and grand piano leg dollies). While we are aware that you can purchase these devices online from various sources, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering doing so. First, the weight of the grand piano truck is extraordinary and shipping costs are very high due to the weight. This typically is not factored into the price you see from online vendors.
Secondly, the grand piano truck will ship in 3 very heavy boxes containing over 60 (yes SIXTY) parts. All of these parts must be assembled and assembled correctly. This is a time consuming task for even those of us who are experienced at their assembly. This assembly is also not factored into the online vendors prices. We believe purchasing a grand piano truck from us and having us assemble it is a great value, especially considering all the safety considerations of proper assembly and installation of a piano truck.
Finally, the installation of a grand piano truck is a process best left to experienced professionals. Remember, piano legs must be safely removed, casters properly removed, piano legs properly re-installed onto the piano. The process of installation also requires a proper sequence of tasks to followed in order to ensure no damage is done to the piano or the installers. Finally, if important assembly or installation processes are omitted, serious damage or injury could result. Again, we feel purchasing your grand piano truck from Piano Movers such as your Fort Worth piano movers; PianoProsDFW is in the long run, the greatest value.