Things You'll Need
- Small stepladder
Upright pianos are stamped with a serial number when they are manufactured. The serial number is a four- to eight-digit number used to determine the age of the piano. Often a serial number will also include a letter. If you know the manufacturer of the piano and the serial number you can then determine its worth. Manufacturers are not consistent with placement, so serial numbers can sometimes be confused with case or part numbers. Look for a number with the correct amount of digits located in the following places to research your upright's history.
Lift the lid and locate the gold harp or plate. This is the large cast iron plate that the bridge sections and strings are attached to. It is the most common serial number location for most older uprights and some newer models. The number should be visible along the top on the left or right side, or in the center.
Locate the oval opening in the gold harp or plate. Using a flashlight, look through the opening at the pin block directly behind. This is another common location for the serial number on older uprights. You might need to lift or remove the upper front panel or use the small stepladder to gain a clear line of sight.
Lift the upper front panel. Look at both the left and right sides of the piano case. Some uprights have the serial number stamped into the wood of the case in either of these locations.
Lift the lid of the piano. Examine the top of the pin block area on both the right and left sides. Some newer uprights have the serial number stamped in these locations.
Many newer upright pianos will have the serial number on the back of the piano. If you have not located your serial number yet, access the back of the piano. The serial number could be anywhere across the top of the back on a label, a small plaque or stamped into the wood.
Lift or remove the upper front panel and look at each of the hammers. The serial number could be printed on one of the hammers near either end of the piano. Or it might be printed on one of the keys in the area behind the nameboard. These are frequent locations for newer or imported pianos.
Contact your piano tuner or ask a local dealer for help if you have not found a serial number in any of these locations. Occasionally, a piano will not have a serial number. Your tuner or a dealer might be able to give you a rough estimate of age by inspecting the piano or looking at photos.
Accessing the website for your upright piano manufacturer can give you an idea of how many digits their serial number contains or if it uses a letter. If your upright does not have a serial number, pictures of similar pianos on your manufacturer's website may give you a rough estimate of age
Use caution when lifting or removing panels on older uprights; their age may have weakened the wood.
Tamra Spurlock joined the freelance writing community in 2010. She specializes in technical writing for the utility industry, employee training and development. She holds Train-the-Trainer certification through the University of Richmond and an eLearning Instructional Design certificate from the American Society of Training and Development.