Robert Estrin - piano expert

How Do You Find the Serial Number on Your Piano?

A useful tip for anyone who owns a piano

In this video, Robert shows you how to locate the serial number on your piano. That may be useful for several reasons.

Released on March 4, 2020

    
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, welcome to pianobuyer.com. I'm Robert Estrin and today's question is, "How do you find the serial number on your piano?" There are a number of reasons why you might want to know when your piano was built. The piano's age, along with its condition, and any repair work done to it will affect its value, which you might need to know if you're considering buying or selling it or for an insurance claim or charitable tax deduction. You might also need to know just a serial number for a Bill of Sale, insurance rider, warranty claim or moving or storage receipt.

Well, the serial number determines the age of your piano. Once you find it, you can reference the Pierce Piano Atlas, which has all the piano brands with the serial numbers, so you can determine when your Piano was built. What are some of the first places to look for a serial number on a piano? Well, if you look inside the piano at the plate, you may find a date and think, I've got it, but it's not so simple. In fact, the date of manufacture is never stamped on a piano. These dates usually refer to prizes that were won or patents that were awarded, but never the date of manufacture.

So you've got to dig a little bit deeper. If you're looking at a grand piano, the first place to look is under the music rack. You can simply slide the music rack out towards you. Some pianos, it lifts out and underneath, usually on the left hand side on the plate, you'll see a series of numbers and that can very well be the serial number of your piano. Reference the Pierce Atlas, and you're done. But sometimes, you'll see two sets of numbers or even more, it can be very confusing. Well, model numbers generally are letters and then sometimes they have numbers in them.

So, if you see a letter followed by a bunch of numbers, the first letter might just be the model followed by the serial number. Over on the right hand side, you might see less digits. This could be an inhouse numbering system they use when they were manufacturing the piano, or sometimes it's an artist number for a concert grand pianos. Well, suppose the piano has been regilded, that is, the plate has been painted over. Does that mean you can't figure out the serial number? Well, the good news is pianos almost always have the serial number in more than one place and more than that, the serial number isn't always found on the plate.

Sometimes, it's found stamped into the soundboard, usually towards the front of the piano. Look at the soundboard and you'll see notched into the soundboard, you might see numbers. I've even seen it in the back of the soundboard. Sometimes, even in the rim of the piano, under the, where the lid lifts up, you might be able to see some numbers there. like I say, it takes a lot of detective work. Now, suppose you look all over the place inside the piano, you still don't see it. Well, then you have to go a little bit further.

Something you can do on your own, what's really not that hard, is to take the key slip off in front of the keys. Some pianos, it just lifts out. Others might have a series of screws you take out, carefully lift up the key slip. It may be a little bit difficult to lift up, so just try one side or another and pull it out. And then you'll see either on the key slip itself stamped into the wood or it could possibly be on the key frame of the action of the piano. Still no luck. Well, you still have some possibilities. But at this point, you can check underneath the piano, take a flashlight, and I've seen it in all sorts of places.

Typically, it will be behind the pedal lyre on the piece of wood behind that whole assembly, but I've seen it in other places back there. Sometimes, even on the bottom of the soundboard. Too bad, there isn't a standard for places where serial numbers are found on pianos because we're still not done yet. Other places you might want to look, you may want to have your piano technician look for it because you can potentially damage the piano taking it apart, but I'm going to show you a little bit, how you can find the serial number or more likely how your piano technician can find the serial number. If you still haven't found it anywhere, you can then remove the action, taking out this cheek box screws on the ends of the piano.

The key slip has already been removed and now the fallboard can sometimes lift out, but an older piano's, the fallboard is a attached to the cheek blocks and this can be tricky to take out because they can just fall off, which is why you probably want to use a technician. But the good news is that the serial number is very oftentimes stamped in the cheek blocks and if you still can't find the serial number, then you can pull the whole action out. The serial number might be stamped somewhere else on the action, or pull the action out completely. Put it safely on a piano bench or a table and hunt down inside the piano with a flashlight.

You didn't think this was going to be so complicated, did you?Well, the good news is, most of the time it's not. Most of the time, it is right on the plate, but this just gives you some resources. Now, is there ever a time when there's no serial number at all? Yes, this can happen because maybe a manufacturer put it only on the plate or the soundboard, maybe both and maybe the plate was regilded and the soundboard might've been replaced and you might have no way of determining even the manufacture of a piano if they didn't.

On some stencil pianos, that is OEM pianos, that are sometimes produced for other manufactures. It's all but impossible to figure out. Not just a serial number, but even the make of a piano. What about upright pianos? Where are the serial numbers found on those? Well, most often, right in the front, open up the top and look inside. If you don't see it there, you can look around back and sometimes you'll see the serial number stamped in the back of the piano.

Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at pianobuyer.com. There'll be more videos to come. See you next time.
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