Choosing a Piano Tuner
Found in: Equipment
We have a limited range of access to piano tuners in our area and many of my students have opted for a piano instead of a keyboard. I have had piano tuners denigrating one another, being rude to the office staff at a school and one recently trying to sell his pianos to students and criticizing the students own pianos I thought a bit indelicately.
It’s a science I don’t pretend to be expert about and students often ask whom I recommend. I want to be bipartisan with that query so I’m not favoring anyone –but i want to be able to give good advice for a quality student playing experience (of course).
I wondered if anyone has some overall guidelines e.g. –should they show me they are a current member of a piano tuners association and keep themselves updated before I employ them?
e.g. I found the Australasian Piano Tuners and Technicians Association website but there wasn’t much on what to look for in a piano tuner in their FAQ’s which is what I’m looking for. Also the costs we should be expected to pay for a tune/regulation whatever.
Elaine., South Carolina
I don’t know if it’s different in AUS – but in the US, there is a difference between a tuner and a technician. A tuner is trained in just tuning. A technician can repair and rebuild. Sometimes the same person has both skills- but not necessarily. It’s best they are trained in both so they can take care of little problems like stuck keys at the same visit when they are tuning.
I’ve had well-credentialed tuners who were of all different ability levels. Check with local universities or other local piano teachers for recommendations.
I don’t really have know of any guidelines, but I had a friend who used to tune pianos for a living. He tuned mine for a few years before we lost contact. I found Greg through a musician friend’s recommendation.
As far as I can recall, Greg did say that traditional piano tuning is a dying trade, with the advent of the digital tuner.
My summation of the scenario is that the old school went through rigorous training, which included building/rehauling pianos, using tuning forks and tuning with their ears. The new school relies on digital tuners, and may not include rebuilding pianos. And then there are those who received old school training but learnt to work with new technology. It’s quite possible that there are other possible permutations which I’m not familiar with.
I’ve come across a few piano tuners over the years. I’ve only gone with recommendations and they have all worked really well. I bought an old German piano to start teaching on, then upgraded it a year later. The family run business has been in business for many decades, and they are a family of musicians and tuners.
Hope this helps shed some light on the matter.
BTW, piano tuners can get frustrated with tuning old pianos that are not able to maintain concert pitch. It might be an idea to speak to them before getting them out to do the job.
I’m a Piano tuner/Tech as well as a teacher. Most of the tuners I know have the idea that what they do is some mystical experience when in reality tuning an instrument is the basic’s that need to happen before the instrument is played. I have found many tuners who believe that what they do is greater than what is really being done. Most only want to tune and work on high level instruments and will not just come in and work on the instrument in front of them without prejudice. It runs deep in the business and is a big problem. Most don’t even play professionally and some don’t play at all. That to me a huge problem. Most will make you believe your piano will stay in tune for some extended period of time and most can’t wrap their heads around that the instrument will be moving out of tune as they hit sidewalk….I’m not saying that all are like this but I can say the majority of the tuners in my area are.
The business is mostly made up of older men most are in their second or third career and tinkering is what makes them happy. Most never talk about music because they have their esoteric heads in the wrong place and they want you to believe that what they do is mystical and magical. When in reality they are just simply putting the instrument in tune….nothing more….They don’t design them, they don’t build them, we simply maintain what has already been designed and created.
I can tell you that I wanted in this program so that I could move away from tuning and repair the business and other tuners…good luck…when you find a one who will work for your needs grab tight most work for their needs…
Jan D., Ohio
I have only been happy with one piano technician that I have used over the years, even though we have an abundance of piano tuners in the area. Most want to come in and tune as fast as they can and get to the next appointment. The one that I have used for the last few years is on staff at a local college, works with the local philharmonic and premiere concert venue in town, etc. He sometimes travels an hour or more to clients in a larger city/area than we live so I take that as a compliment to him and his skills as a technician. I would check with other professionals in the area for recommendations. I pay much more than I would have to pay the majority of piano “tuners” in the area, but he is always willing to take the extra time to take care of any issues that may need addressed and if he can’t take care of them at the time, he will make an appointment before he leaves to come back.
I only recommend him to my students because I know he will do a great job. If they choose not to use him and have a bad experience (which many do because they decide who to use based on price), they are on their own. I don’t say anything negative about any particular tuner unless I am asked if I have ever used them (and then I usually just say I wasn’t happy with his service) and if I don’t know a tuner, I say that I can’t recommend him because I haven’t had any experience with him.
Also, I have used piano store tuners when I bought a “new” used piano and haven’t been happy. Three different tuners just wanted to get in and out quickly and none would/could take care of any issues with the piano even though I had bought it from their store. When I found the tuner I have used for the last several years, he took care of a few minor issues with my piano as well as voiced and regulated it and I felt like I had a brand new instrument – it was great before but it was awesome after he worked on it. There is much more to that story, but I’ll leave it at that.