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How to Pack a Guitar, Piano, and Other Instruments

August 8th, 2013 - 3:54 PM

Packing Guitars, Pianos, and Other Instruments

Most musicians are comfortable with transporting their instruments to places like lessons, jam sessions and performances, but packing them for a long-distance move is a whole different story.  Today we’ll take a look at how to pack and move things like guitars, pianos and other common instruments.


How to pack instruments

Let’s start with how to pack a guitar…

How to Pack a Guitar for a Move

Let me start by recommending that you take your guitar with you rather than packing it into the moving truck – they’re delicate instruments that require special care. If taking it with you isn’t an option, here are some tips for protecting it in a moving truck.

  • You’ll need a box large enough to hold a hard guitar case (with your guitar inside). If you don’t have access to a box this size, you may want to build a custom box. You can see how to do that here. The case should fit inside the box with at least 2” on each side.
  • Start by loosening the strings. This will help you keep from putting too much stress on the bridge and other parts of the guitar.
  • Place the guitar inside the case and pad it with crushed packing paper. Pay special attention to the neck heel, headstock, end pin, and neck because these are areas that can be damaged easily. You’ll also want to add packing paper over the bridge for extra protection.
  • Close the case and give it a gentle shake. If you notice movement, add more packing paper. The guitar should fit snuggly with no movement inside the case.
  • Prepare the moving box by placing crushed packing paper in the bottom.
  • Place the guitar case inside the box and completely fill the space with crushed packing paper (the case should not move around inside the box).
  • Once secure, use packing tape to tape the box closed and label “FRAGILE.” 
  • Make sure heavy items are not loaded on top of the box inside the moving trailer or Cube.

According to guitar experts, it’s important to keep in mind that your guitar will need some time to acclimate to its new environment, so you’ll want to wait a few hours before opening the case when you get moved in.

How to Pack and Move and Piano

First, if you’re moving a piano down stairs, calling a professional should be the first thing on your to-do list. A multi-story move with a fragile piano is not something to try on your own.

Now, there are two main types of pianos: uprights and grand pianos. If you’re moving a grand or baby grand piano, we recommend hiring a professional – their unique construction requires special care. Grand and baby grand pianos are very heavy (500-1300 lbs.), and because they don’t fit through standard doorways, they’ll normally need to be moved on-end.  

If you’re moving an upright piano, here are some tips to protect it in transit.

  • Make sure you have help. Upright pianos can be heavy, up to 400 pounds! It’s recommended that you have at least one person for every 80-100 lbs.  
  • Measure your piano and the doorways. Make sure you have at least a 1-2 inch clearance on each side. If necessary, remove the door from the hinges or take the door jambs off.
  • Lock the lid and the keyboard lid.
  • Wrap the piano fully in paper padding or furniture pads (furniture pads recommended) to avoid damaging it while carrying it through doors and into the moving truck. Use plenty of packing tape to secure the padding, but be careful not to tape directly to the finish. Focus on protruding and/or fragile parts like the legs, pedals, and music desks.
  • Use a moving dolly to move the piano out of the house and into the moving truck (the casters on pianos are not made to move across the floor or irregular ground – only to position it).  
  • When lifting and moving the piano, keep in mind that most are very top-heavy and unstable – especially while on the moving dolly. Lift and push the piano with extreme care.  
  • After loading the piano into the moving trailer, remove it from the dolly and lock the casters (if applicable). If it does have casters, you can also place 2x4 or 4x4 wood planks from front to back under the piano to lift it (this will help alleviate strain on the casters).
  • Secure the piano against the wall of the trailer with moving straps (they’re stronger than rope and are less likely to move out of place in transit).

Be prepared to have your piano tuned once it’s unloaded at your new home.  

Moving other Musical Instruments

For other musical instruments, we recommend first placing them inside a hard case (similar to the guitar), then placing the case inside a sturdy moving box. If you’re moving stringed instruments, make sure to loosen the strings before packing.

  • To pack musical instruments, place them in their case and pad the case with crushed packing paper for a snug fit.
  • Tape the case shut, or if you have a decorative case, use plastic stretch wrap to keep it closed.
  • Prepare a moving box for the case by placing crushed packing paper in the bottom.
  • Place the instrument case inside the box and fill all empty space with crushed packing paper until it doesn’t move when you give it a gentle shake.
  • When loaded into the moving trailer or container, secure it and be careful not to place heavy items on top.  
  • When you arrive, allow the instrument to come to room temperature before opening the case and playing it.

If you have more questions about moving a guitar, moving a piano, or moving other instruments, just leave a comment. I’ll do my best to help you figure it out.

If you’re moving long distance, we would love to help. Call 800-413-4799 for an instant moving quote.