Piano Age & Value

  1. Age determination and serial numbers
  2. Assessment Table for used instruments
  3. Repair and purchase of very old instruments

1. Age determination and serial numbers

Would you like to assess the age of a piano? Are you also interested in the residual value of the piano?

For determining the age of a piano you need the serial number it received from the manufacturer. The serial number is usually a five- to nine-digit number. It can be found on the pin block, sometimes also on the inside of the case or on the sounding board under the pin block of the instrument. In order to facilitate finding the serial number, the following images demonstrate where the serial number usually can be found on grand pianos and upright pianos.

Serial numbers on grand pianos
Serial numbers on upright pianos

In order to be able to assign the serial number to the year of production, here you can find lists of production for some of the most well-known manufacturers and corresponding year entries.

Only the age of the instrument can be determined via the serial number. The model and value of the instrument are independent of this.

In assessing the current value of a piano, not only is the age relevant but also—above all—the current condition of the instrument. Decisive factors are: general condition and tone, frequency of use, construction, climatic damage, pest infestation and the like. Depreciation in value is caused by abrasion, lack of care, non-craftsman repairs, etc. Therefore, an exact value assessment can only be carried out by a judicial assessor/master piano craftsman.

In order to give you an idea as to whether a value assessment by a specialist and master piano craftsman would still be expedient, we provide you with a table to assist you in arriving at an approximate value.

2. Assessment Table for used instruments

3. Repair and purchase of very old instruments

Viennese−Style Action

Continually old instruments show at antiques dealers or inheritances. This old grand piano often works with a Viennese−style action. The pictures above show how you can detect a Viennese-action. The arrows show you the damping and the fulcrum of the hammer handles which mark this difference. You can see a picture of the cross−section of a Viennese−style action under the menu item «Technical Information».

Why should you refrain from instruments with a Viennese−style action? The last instruments constructed like this were built in Austria around 1920. That means, instruments containing a Viennese−style action are older than 90 years by now. Such musical instruments are not suitable for a serious piano education. For this reason, these grand pianos should not be used for beginners and piano students.
In most instances, service or repair works do not make any sense with those grand pianos. Exceptions are a special age (historical value) or antiquarianism (special inheritances). In this cases, the focus does not lie on the current value but on a sentimental value.

Tonal as well as in terms of technical requirements (repetition, precision of the regulation) these instruments do not meet present standards. The tuning pitch is often one-half or whole−tone too low.

Second−hand upright pianos

Concerning pianos the term «second−hand» can mean many things. It can stand for relatively young instruments as well as for 100 years old instruments. Because of wonderful veneer works or beautiful carvings, technical and age-related deficites are overlooked.
Today the decision of investing in further service and repair works or buying a new piano is not easy. In these cases, the owner has to take technical requirements, for example, the condition of the mechanics (wear and tear), the keys (key bushings and key top), the pin−block (strength of the tuning−pins) and the sound−board into account. To evaluate the technical condition of an instrument you should always consult a specialist. Very often defects are not visible fort he layman. For the instrument shown on the pictures above repair economically does not make sense anymore (keys and mechanics are worn out, the pin−block has got hidden cracks, the soundboard is burst several times).
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