October 2, 2023

Safe Storage - Can a Grand Piano be Stored on its Side?

The grand piano is one of the most iconic musical instruments. Its elegant curved shape and full, rich sound make it a staple in concert halls and living rooms alike. But that beautiful form comes with some functional challenges, especially when it comes to storage and moving. 

So, can a grand piano be safely stored on its side? Storing a grand piano on its side is generally not recommended, as it can put pressure on the soundboard, shift internal parts, and cause structural strain over time.

Let's take a deeper look at the subject.

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Can a Grand Piano be Stored on its Side? Not Without Risks

Storing a grand piano on its side, also called "lying down" the piano, is generally not recommended and can lead to piano repair. Here's why:

Putting Pressure on the Soundboard

The soundboard is the large, slightly curved wooden panel under the strings that amplifies and projects the vibrations of the strings. When a grand piano lies on its side, the full weight of the cast iron plate and heavy metal strings presses down on the soundboard. This constant heavy pressure can warp or crack the soundboard over time.

Shifting of Internal Parts

Grand pianos are precisely calibrated instruments with thousands of moving parts that must stay perfectly aligned. Laying a piano on its side allows small shifts and changes in positioning that can throw off the careful regulation of the action and hamper the instrument's playability and tone.

Structural Strain

The rim, legs, lid, and other structural elements of a grand piano are designed to bear weight in the proper upright orientation. Storing the piano on its side places stress on joints and angles that they are not built to withstand long-term. This can lead to cracking and warping.

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When Storing on its Side May be Necessary

However, there are some circumstances when laying a grand piano on its side for storage is unavoidable. This includes:

  • Narrow doorways or staircases when moving the piano
  • Fitting the piano into a small room or storage space
  • Transporting the piano, such as for concerts or servicing

In these cases, the piano must be laid on its side, but precautions should be taken to minimize damage, and the time spent in this position should be as short as possible. It is recommended to consult a professional piano mover for guidance.

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How to Store a Grand Piano on its Side Safely

If you must lay your grand piano down for storage, follow these tips to help protect it:

Choose the Proper Side

Grand pianos are designed to lay on the cheekblock side, which is the edge opposite the keyboard. Laying it on the keyboard side puts direct pressure on the keys and action.

Pad Vulnerable Areas

Use furniture pads, moving blankets, or foam to cushion the rim, legs, and pedals. This helps absorb shock and distribute weight.

Lock the Pedals

Engage the middle "sostenuto" pedal to lock the action in place before laying down. This prevents shifting.

Go Slowly and Gently

Carefully tilt the piano down at a shallow angle using multiple people to prevent sudden jerking motions.

Limit Time Spent Lying Down

Only keep the piano on its side for the absolute minimum time needed. The longer it stays like this, the more potential for problems.

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The Healthiest Storage Option: Standing Upright

While taking precautions can reduce the risks, the healthiest way to store a grand piano long-term is in its normal upright position. This keeps everything structurally aligned and avoids putting unnecessary pressure on vulnerable components.

Look for storage in a climate-controlled area that allows a minimum of 5-6 inches of clearance around the piano's perimeter for airflow. Be sure to maintain proper humidity between 45-70% to prevent cracks from swelling and shrinkage.

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With some care and planning, your grand piano can stay in top playing shape and delight you with beautiful music for years to come! Proper storage is essential, so weigh your options carefully. Get creative with spaces if needed, but try to keep that grand beauty standing tall.

About Fairfax County Piano Tuners by PianoCraft

Fairfax County Piano Tuners by PianoCraft is a professional piano tuning and repair service providing expert care for pianos in Fairfax County, Virginia, and the surrounding areas. With over 50 years of experience, their master technicians use precision tuning techniques to keep your piano sounding its very best. Contact the team at (571) 281-2595 for quality tuning, repairs, or maintenance.


Can you store a grand piano upright?

Storing a grand piano in its normal upright position is the healthiest long-term storage method. Standing upright keeps the piano's structure properly aligned and avoids putting pressure on vulnerable components like the soundboard. For ideal storage conditions, allow at least 5-6 inches of clearance around the perimeter for airflow and maintain 45-70% humidity. Keeping the grand piano upright reduces the risks of warping, cracking, and shifting of internal parts over time.

Can you leave a piano on its side?

It is not recommended to leave a piano on its side long-term. Laying a piano horizontally puts pressure on the soundboard, allows the shifting of delicate interior parts, and causes structural strain. Only keep a piano on its side for the shortest time necessary, such as carefully tilting it when moving through narrow spaces. To minimize damage if a piano must be laid down, take precautions like cushioning vulnerable areas, locking the pedals, moving slowly, and returning it upright ASAP.

Do pianos have to stay upright?

For optimal piano health, upright storage is highly recommended whenever possible. Laying a piano down can put pressure on the soundboard, shift internal parts, and cause structural strain over time. However, circumstances like moving through narrow spaces may require carefully laying the piano on its side for short periods. To minimize damage, precautions should be taken, like cushioning vulnerable parts, locking the pedals, and limiting time spent down to the bare minimum.

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