When servicing an old upright piano for the first time, one never knows what they’re going to run into.   In this case there were three notes that didn’t play at all and the piano hadn’t been serviced for approximately 7 years, so it of course needed a pitch raise, not to mention the gathering of dust and debris that had to be cleaned out.

I opened up the piano, took inventory of the necessary repairs, and then set out to bring the piano back into good playing condition.  This began with cleaning the instrument out, vacuuming it completely.  Then I repaired 2 broken hammers using all original parts (which I was fortunate to find inside the piano.)  And then re-glued a jack that had come unglued.

The "jack" is the L shaped piece that I pointed to with the red arrow.

The “jack” is the L shaped piece that I pointed to with the red arrow.

How Old Is My Piano?

A frequent question that comes up is “how old is my piano?”  In an effort to find out, piano owners will often open up their piano and look for a date inside.  The problem is there usually is a date inside.  However this is usually NOT the date the piano was manufactured, but rather one of two things: either (1) the date the piano manufacturer was founded, or (2) the serial number of the piano.

In the case of this piano the number stamped in ink on the inside of the piano was 1881.  Now let’s be honest.  If you saw 1881 inside your piano wouldn’t you assume it was built in 1881?  Of course, most people would!

However, upon further investigation, and a bit of research in the Pierce Piano Atlas, as well as some collaboration with fellow technicians, we found out that the Merrill Piano Co. of Boston was not even founded until 1885, and thus deduced that 1881 could not possibly be the year the piano was manufactured!  🙂  More than likely, in this case, the serial numbers were not actually accounted for until 1904 when the Pierce Piano Atlas records the first Merrill serial number of #11,000.  It can get kind of confusing, but we can reasonably assume that because the company was founded in 1885, and serial number 11,000 was built in 1904, that this piano, serial number 1881 was built somewhere in the earlier part of that 20 year gap that has gone unaccounted for (probably between 1885 and 1890).

Back to the service call: I finished up by doing a pitch raise, fine tune and then a mini concert.  I charged them 125+tax and they tipped me an additional $30 on top!  The funnest part, aside from meeting wonderful new people, is being able to bring musical harmony to a home through proper and professional piano tuning services!

Here’s a little plug for these clients, the Willoughby’s who home school their 7 kids (!).  If your’e interested in getting Firearms Training then that’s what Dan does when he’s not serving as a police officer.  Click below!


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3 Responses to Merrill Old Upright Piano

  1. Jackie says:

    Hi I have a Merrill Boston Upright
    And the number in wood backing Is 84155
    What year wood this one be built and do you know value

    • Duncan says:

      Hi Jackie, is it possible that the serial number is 44155? If so that would make your piano having been built around 1924. 84155 isn’t showing any results as their last serial numbers were in the 47000 range.

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