How To Become A Piano Tuner Or Piano Technician? — Guidance for You

If you’re passionate about music, becoming a fortepiano tuner or technician can be a rewarding career choice. However, getting started in this field can be challenging, especially if you’re not sure where to begin.

How To Become A Piano Tuner Or Piano Technician?

How To Become A Piano Tuner Or Piano Technician?

In this article, we’ll provide guidance on how to become a piano tuner or a piano technician yourself. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician looking to switch career paths, this article will provide you with valuable insights to help you pursue your passion for fortepiano adjustment and maintenance.

Who Are Piano Technicians?

Fortepiano tuners play a crucial role in the musical instrument repair industry, performing the following functions:

  • Using a tuning fork or hammer to tune the A or C note in the middle of the fortepiano, as well as other notes in the central octave.
  • Assessing and adjusting the pitch of each note to ensure intervals like the fifth or third sound harmonious.
  • Repairing or replacing any broken strings in the pianola using up to 13 specific tools.
  • Placing rubber or felt strips between the fortepiano strings to mute them for testing.
  • Disassembling and rebuilding pianola models to their original condition or per the customer’s specifications.

These tasks require essential skills, a skilled hand, and a good ear to ensure the perfect pitch and proper fortepiano functionality.

As a technician, much of your day is spent traveling to various locations to tune fortepianos onsite for clients. Daily workload varies as fortepianos are delicate and susceptible to factors such as temperature, humidity, and usage.

In addition to adjustment repair pianos, your duties may involve repairing or adjusting the strings using specialized equipment, assessing the tension of hammers, and fixing piano keys. Fortepiano adjustment generally takes around one hour, and piano tuners can typically tune up to six pianos per day.

How To Become A Piano Tuner Or Piano Technician?

Piano tuning and repair

Overall, the career path of a professional musician & piano tech is dynamic and rewarding, requiring deep knowledge of the piano industry and attention to detail to deliver high-quality melody and proper piano functionality.

Career Insights for Piano Technician

Work hours for this role vary between full-time job part-time and part-time, with an average of 45.2 hours per week. Much of the work is done in residential, commercial, or institutional settings such as churches and schools. You may also need to take on work in the evenings or on weekends. Alternatively, some piano technology specialists choose to be self-employed and work on individual projects on their own hours.

Over the past five years, employment opportunities in this field have increased by 34.4%, and total employment growth has been steady, with 4,300 men and women employed part-time or full-time. Building a solid reputation and expanding your contacts can lead to great success in this job sector.

Piano tuners are hired by various establishments such as piano dealerships, repair shops, concert halls, halls, event venues, recording studios, music colleges, clubs, churches, private homeowners, and musicians. Earnings depend on the number of years of experience, rates charged, and the volume of business generated.


Piano tuning in the concert hall

As vacancies are not frequently advertised, it might be necessary to relocate for better employment opportunities. Job seekers can apply for work through employment agencies, newspaper classifieds, and online job banks.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Piano Technician?

To repair pianos, you don’t necessarily need a profession, but you do need to acquire the necessary skills and experience. Here are some steps you can take to become a registered piano technician and technology specialist:

  1. Learn the basics of sound theory. Understanding pitch, harmony, and tone is essential in the world of fortepiano adjustment.
  2. Learn the piano. You need to be able to play the fortepiano to know what it should sound like.
  3. Spend time around pianos. Start by observing and watching fortepiano tuners at work to see how it’s done.
  4. Train with established piano tuners. Intern or train under an experienced piano tuner to gain practical experience and learn from someone who has expertise in the field.
  5. Take piano adjustment courses. This step can help you acquire essential skills in fortepiano tuning, how to handle different types of pianos, and understanding the piano design and the proper use of instruments.
  6. Certification. You can obtain attestation from organizations like the Piano Technicians Guild informally to demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

Overall, a strong ear for music and technical expertise are the most critical qualifications for becoming a successful piano technician. Learning the craft through apprenticeship and training alongside experienced technicians, as well as certification, can increase your chances of finding work in this field. 


Is It Possible To Make Money Tuning Pianos?

It is possible to make money tuning pianos. Many piano technicians typically trade by the hour, and fees can range from $50 to $200 or more, depending on geography and the tuner’s experience level. Establishing a reputation for high-quality work can lead to more business through customer referrals and word-of-mouth. 

Additionally, some piano specialists choose to offer services such as restoration or repair work, which can generate additional income. Piano adjustment can be a lucrative and rewarding career for those with the right skill set and dedication to building their business.

Is It Difficult To Become A Piano Tuner?

Becoming a piano tuner requires a combination of technical aptitude, music knowledge, and practical experience. Some people may find it more challenging than others to acquire the necessary skills, but with dedication and persistence, it’s achievable. It’s not required to have formal qualifications to become a pianola tuner, but learning the basics of music theory and obtaining practical experience through internships or technical training under experienced piano tuners is essential. 

Taking courses in piano tuning, adjustment, and repair can also help in acquiring advanced skills, understanding various types of pianos, and learning the proper use of equipment. Attestations from organizations such as the Piano Technicians Guild can demonstrate expertise in fortepiano tuning to potential employers.

Overall, while it may take some effort to become a skilled piano tuner, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding career for those with a passion for melody and technical expertise.

How To Become A Piano Tuner? — In 6 Steps

Step 1. Understand The Job

Working in the arts alongside talented musicians may seem romantic, but it’s essential to understand what the job entails before jumping in. Fortepiano adjustment requires that musicians with a specific skill set and an understanding of different types of pianos, such as grand, electronic, and upright pianos.

Here are some key traits and new skills you will need to succeed as a piano technician:

  1. Diligence. No two fortepianos are the same, so becoming proficient in fixing each type of instrument requires extensive training and practice.
  2. Musicality. Though you don’t necessarily need to be a skilled keyboardist yourself, you must have a good ear for melody to determine if the instrument sounds correct.
  3. Dexterity. Pianos work often involves minor repairs and woodworking. If you’re skilled with your hands and comfortable using tools, then this profession might be an excellent fit for you.

If these traits describe you, and you’re confident that you have the skills to be a professional organization succeed, then it’s time to invest in the right instruments for the job.

Step 2. Get The Right Tools

To get started as a piano tuner, you’ll need access to a piano. Perhaps a friend or family member owns a spinet in their salon or a baby grand hiding in their garage.

Here are the essential tools you’ll need to tune a piano:

  • Tuning hammer
  • Tuning fork or electronic tuning device
  • Mutes
  • Temperament strip

Some kits come with a how-to guide that explains the basics of using a tuning hammer, tuning fork, or electronic tuning device. However, keep in mind that most successful piano tuners undergo an apprenticeship or training before starting their business. Obtaining training and attestation can also help convey professionalism to potential clients.

Get The Right Tools

Step 3. Take A Fortepiano Tuning Course & Get Licensed

If you know a master piano tuner, you could ask to complete an apprenticeship. Some melody schools and colleges may also offer classes for piano students to understand the instruments they play better. However, working with a piano string and understanding sound is better learned through practice with a teacher or certified piano technician.

Several organizations license piano technicians, including the Piano Technician Academy, which licenses Certified Piano Tuners (CPTS), and the Piano Technicians Guild, which allows members to apply as Registered Piano Technicians (RPTs).

The Piano Technicians Guild does not offer training programs to tune pianos but provides links to a variety of educational resources. A self-taught tuner can take several exams on pianola design, theory, and repair to apply for RPT certification. After developing the skills to tune any instrument, it’s time to promote your business.


Step 4. Fine-Tune Your Marketing

Once you have the necessary skills and training to become a piano tuner, it’s essential to promote your piano technology business effectively. Here are some steps you can take to market your fortepiano tuning services:

  1. Create an online presence. Build a website and create business pages on Yelp and Facebook with keywords related to your local area to ensure you show up in search results.
  2. Outreach to pianola enthusiasts. Contact local schools, piano teachers, and musical groups directly to let them know about your services.
  3. In-person marketing. Attend recitals and concerts to network with pianola enthusiasts and post flyers in your local area. Always carry your business cards with you.
  4. Highlight your specialty certificates. If you’ve obtained a diploma or specialty certificate, make sure to advertise them to bring legitimacy to your business.

Implementing these marketing strategies can help you attract new clients and grow your piano tuning business.


Step 5. Protect Your Business

As a professional piano tuner, there are risks associated with doing business. Here are some potential scenarios to consider:

  • If you were to damage someone’s piano while tuning it, they could sue you for property damage, and you could be held responsible for the cost of a new instrument.
  • Because you work with your head inside the piano, there is a risk that a client could trip over your extended feet or equipment, resulting in bodily injury and a potential lawsuit.

Insurance helps protect piano tuners from these types of risks. At Thimble, our general liability insurance can provide investigation, defense, and settlement for third-party claims stemming from property damage, bodily injury, and personal and advertising injury.

Step 6. Understand Piano Technician Salary

The average salary for a Piano Tuner-Technician is around $39,500, with a salary range of $22,000 to $109,000. Piano Tuner-Technicians usually earn set fees per tuning, ranging from $100 to $185. 


Wanna Become a Piano Tuner? Get Started!

In conclusion, becoming a piano tuner or technician requires a blend of technical skills, musical knowledge, and real-world experience. With proper training and a diploma, however, piano tuning can be a fulfilling and lucrative career. 

Remember to invest in the right tools, establish a solid marketing plan, and protect your business with insurance. With diligence and perseverance, you can build a thriving business and contribute to the world of music for years to come.

If you’re interested in learning more about how often you need to tune a piano and how much it costs, check out our article “All About Piano Tuning”.

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