Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Cable-Nelson Upright Grand


I have a Cable Nelson Upright Grand out of Chicago, Illinois, with the serial number 78343. It also has numbers inside the front cover that are etched/stamped into the wood. They are 343 and 23. Etched into the metal is Made - 1913. Can you give me any idea what the numbers mean?

I am having it tuned, repaired, and refurbished. I have owned it for thirty-two years. Previous to me, it was owned by a public school, which they last tuned in 1964 and 1966 (written in grease pencil on the inside). I bought it for $25.00 when I was student teaching and the principal wanted to move it out of a storage closet. It has three pedals. The middle pedal is inoperable. What would the middle pedal have done?

Hi Jennifer,

The serial number indicates the year of manufacture and the date etched onto the plate is correct; your piano was made in 1913. The other numbers are probably case numbers for identifying parts.

The middle pedal could have had one of three purposes:

1. It could have had a practice mute at one time in which depressing the pedal would drop a bar with felt between the strings and the hammers. This would kill up to 90% of the sound allowing someone to practice without disturbing others.

2. It could have been a pseudo sostenuto pedal lifting the bass dampers off the strings while the rest played normally.

3. It could have been a true sostenuto pedal in which keys depressed before engaging the pedal would lift the dampers and continue sounding while all other notes would play normally.

Your technician could probably restore the function of the middle pedal if this something you want to do.

I hope this is helpful. Happy New Year!

Sam Noel

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Samuel Noel


I am a contracted piano technician for Steinway and Sons in New York handling warranty issues, prepping pianos for the showroom and delivery; I also serve the City University of NY as a piano technician. I am also self-employed in New York. I apprenticed (Manhattan School of Music)in 1982 and was factory (Steinway) trained in 1983. I have experience tuning, repairing, reconditioning, and appraisals. Please note that appraising an instrument involves a visual inspection and knowledge of the local market area. I am not an expert in player mechanisms, refinishing, electronic keyboards, midi, nor organs. I love the work of making an instrument sound concert quality.


I successfully apprenticed at the Manhattan School of Music under Alan Buchman and Peter Favant in 1982 (also received B.A. in music from same school) and employed by Steinway and Sons in 1983 as a tuner-technician. I also served as service manager for Steinway. Presently, I service pianos for CUNY and I handle warranty issues and tunings for Steinway.

The Piano Technicians Guild, New York Chapter

Manhattan School of Music, BA; American Management Association certificate (Steinway and Sons); Queens College, CUNY, MA

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.