Play the piano. Beat each key on its own to see if it makes sound or works at all. Ignore the setting at the moment and focus on mechanical problems. Note if keys are missing. Check if the pedals are working or if they are stuck, broken or disconnected. Look at the piano cabinet and note some scuffs, scratches and holes. Write down problems you notice and be specific (which keys are missing / not working), to help you during repair.
Open the piano lid. Depending on which piano you have, this can be as simple as lifting the platform up (with most Baldwins), or it can get more complicated. You may need a wrench to loosen nuts on the back of other piano marks. Remove debris that may be in the piano; Make sure you do not throw away pieces that belong to the piano, but may have broken off (it has hammer heads). Number the keys from left to right – it will help to keep order if you need to remove them.
Fix the areas for upright action that need attention. The action is a complicated structure that is the mechanical skeleton of the piano sound and hammers the string on the sound card when you play a key. Find a solution to any problem with the action without removing it, but if removal is necessary, take it in stride. Disconnect the pedals from the action and remove the screws that hold the action in place. Make sure you do not lose any parts – select them to put them back in place later. Using both hands, hook your fingers through the metal belts in the middle of the action and slowly lift up and out.
Start repairs by attaching or replacing missing parts (keys, hammer heads, screws, pedals). Upright piano uses hammers attached to the keys to strike the string, so check for connection problems, make sure all parts are in place and connect to each other. The pedals must be connected to the keyboard with sticks, and if someone is loose or broken, they will not work. Tighten the loose pins. After the action and the musical part of the upright are repaired, start working on the cabinet. Dust, polish or buffer scratches in the wood. Replace broken or fragile wooden legs, tighten any loose nuts or bolts.
Be aware of the sensitive nature of the sincere piano. Upright piano restoration can be fun, difficult, expensive and exciting. Understand that piano restoration is not cheap or fast and some parts (like a cracked soundboard) can be almost impossible to repair on their own. Replacement parts can be expensive. Restoring an upright piano requires patience, work, knowledge and the right tools. It is possible to completely restore an upright piano without having a professional job, but some critical factors must be considered.