Piano action

The life of a piano tuner is an interesting one. You meet great people, clients fuel you with plenty of coffee. If you are anything like my brother Richard, you might event get offered room, board, and a meal with the family.

Making a living

Tuners make as good an income as their professionalism, ability to service pianos well, their organization of client contact, and their learning curve. The more you know, etc.

In Houston, at the time of writing, tuning average around $200 a tuning, we are slightly higher than this rate. If you organize 2-3 tunings at peak time = 52 x 10 x $200 can add up to a good salary. However, you must account for down seasons such as the summer months of June – August as families are on holiday. As families with young children will be your most active clients.

Tools, tools, tools

When it comes to tuning pianos, you need some basic tools to start. A tuning lever to alter the pitch, and wedges to isolate certain strings. However, when you find your first broken string, you soon learn how to order them correctly. When a key sticks, which lubricants work on wood, vs felt. Then you need parts, pianos have 10,000. If you live in a centralized city, you can organize to return with the parts. If you live in a large city like Houston, you need to carry as many essential parts as possible in your vehicle.

How to Keep it interesting

As a piano tuner those slow summer months can be filled with restoration jobs, and reconditioning work. Quoting for reconditioning work can be a challenge, but it will give you time away from the pressure of an in house visit. It will allow you to collect your thoughts in your own space, and allow you to take on more diverse jobs, as well as service older actions. Tuners that learn as much technical work as they can, have more interesting careers in general.

Another side of pianos, is the voicing. Learn to voice.

It’s nice to alter the sound, and make the piano sound like it ‘should’, however, if you can reshape, and alter the tone of the piano. You can improve the sound or ‘tone’ of the piano. This is very fulfilling, and can lead to more delicate work on higher end pianos.


About the author : Evan Roberts

Piano enthusiast, Oxford Brookes music grad with a passion for worship. Church music coordinator, songwriter, and owner of Roberts Pianos Houston.

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