Piano Tuning Tools

Questions And Answers About Piano Tuning Courses

Piano Tuning And Repair For Profit


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Q. What should I look for when choosing a piano tuning course?

First and foremost, quality of instruction. It is important the lessons be technically accurate and clearly written. Piano tuning is not the obscure topic some assume it to be, but it is a technical subject and can be made obscure by a shoddy writing technique. I've used a simple, non-technical writing style with step-by-step directions, review questions and scores of drawings. You don't need to be a techno nerd to comprehend the assignments. If you can read at a six grade level and have normal hearing, you should have no trouble following this course. Theory, though useful later, is relegated to an appendix section so you can concentrate on the "how-to" aspects of tuning and repair.

It is also important to learn to tune by ear, using the acoustic phenomena of "Beats". Unfortunately some piano courses rely entirely on electronic tuning devices. While electronic aids can be helpful to experienced technicians (particularly in noisy bars and concert halls), it is critical that you learn to tune by ear before relying on them.

An electric tuner cannot cover an inability to tune by ear. The concept of "beats" (which are a particular type of soundwave) is the essence of tuning theory. If you begin your training only learning to follow a digital tuning device, you'll be at a serious disadvantage when you begin to compete in the marketplace for residential tunings. Do it right. Learn to tune by ear first and you'll have a solid basis for using electronic devices later, should you choose to do so.

"PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR FOR PROFIT" covers the subject of "beats" with detailed instructions and practice assignments. You'll be taught to easily hear this unique soundwave and control it's speed in a scientific system of tuning that has been used by professional technicians for well over 120 years. Also, consider the quality and quantity of tools the course provides (if any) and the accessibility of the instructors (if any). And finally, price...how much do you have to invest? In this field, as in many others, high price is not always commensurate with high quality.

Q. Why is PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR FOR PROFIT superior to other courses on the market?

If you've researched this subject much, you've no doubt encountered several so called home study "schools" of piano tuning on the Internet. Who's kidding whom? A school is a building with moldy classrooms, teachers in flannel suits, and really lousy sloppy joes in the cafeteria...not to mention massive libraries, research facilities and football teams. Obviously, buying a mail order course is not the same as attending a real university and nobody in their right mind would claim that it is (except, of course, the guys who own the mail order "schools"). But unfortunately, most of us haven't the time or resources to enroll at M.I.T. However, a good mail order course can offer suitable training provided it is comprehensive, clearly written and supplies the tools that would otherwise be unavailable to the layman. In fact, according to a Keyboard Magazine survey, mail order courses provided the training for about half of working technicians.

"PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR FOR PROFIT" is the distillation of my 40 years experience as a professional self-employed piano technician. It covers all aspects of tuning AND repair and regulation in eight illustrated lessons (beware of "tuning only" courses; a professional tuner MUST be able to make common repairs and regulations). In addition, the major tuning exercises in the text are supplemented with an .html style audio/visual program on a USB flash drive that lets you see as well as hear the tuning procedure on your computer, plus an illustrated ebook of piano regulation and repair (a handy reference for your computer), and short video "tuning tips," playable on any device with a USB port.

I also provide an extensive set of top quality professional tuning, repair and regulation tools that will form the basis of a lifetime tool kit. In addition, the course includes two unique sections on starting and maintaining a business from your own home, covering such topics as advertising, contacting supply houses, keeping tax and customer files and finding clients. It also includes a separately published booklet, "Piano Tuner's Pocket Companion" -- information that is essential to actually earning a living in the trade, and usually omitted from most courses. Plus, you'll receive instructions for buying further tools and supplies at wholesale prices from the tuning supply houses. If you shop around a bit, I think you'll see that no other course provides such extensive tools and instructions at such a low price (and shipping charges are already included).

Q. Do you offer technical support?

Yes, indeed. What good is a home study program if you can't ever reach an instructor to ask questions or seek advice? When you purchase my course you can get any assistance you require learning to tune by contacting me by mail, e-mail OR telephone, anytime you need for as long as you need (during reasonable daytime or evening hours, of course). I'll be happy to discuss any subject you're experiencing difficulty with and help provide a solution. Be advised; there are "schools" out there that will fall off the radar screen once they've cashed your check. This is my business, not my hobby, and I am available well after I've spent your money.

Q. Some correspondence "schools" give out a diploma with their course? How important is this?

Since piano tuning is an unregulated trade and requires no particular qualification to practice, except the ability to do the work and, perhaps, an inexpensive business license in your town or city, a diploma from a mail order course is worth about the price of the paper it's written on. After all, anybody with a computer can buy (or print) any kind of diploma and fill in the blanks with whatever they want. Piano owners are rarely interested in how you came to acquire your tuning skill, only that you are competent and stand behind your work. In any case, they would hardly be impressed by a mail order diploma from some one (or place) they never heard of. A real diploma from a real Conservatory of Music or college, if you can find one, might look nice on your wall, but who will ever see it? More valuable advertising would come from membership in the Piano Technican's Guild when you have mastered the skills taught in this course from regular practice.

Q. How much can I expect to earn as a professional tuner?

Piano tuning fees range from about $70 to $120 or more per tuning, depending on the city or area you live in. Since a normal tuning takes about an hour or less, you can see that piano tuners make a very substantial hourly wage. How much you make in a year, of course, depends on your fee and the amount of work you do. Most tuners begin part time until they have built up a clientele. Well trained technicians can add greatly to their income by doing common repair and regulation work. Four full lessons in Volume Two cover all aspects of piano repair and regulation, including a "quick guide" that allows you to easily find detailed instructions for making most common repairs to the keyboard, action, soundboard and soundboard bridges.

Frankly, your financial success in this trade is limited only by your skill and dedication. Nationally there are not enough technicians to tune the millions of pianos in homes, bars, schools and nightclubs, and tens of thousands of new pianos are being sold each year. Consequently most pianos go untuned. The potential for growth of this business is considerable for the competent technician.

Q. Just how difficult is piano tuning?

Well, it ain't rocket science. It is, however, a skill that takes systematic study and practice to attain. The main requirement in this study, as in any other, is your dedication. If you are serious about learning, have a piano to practice on and follow the assignments, this course will provide everything you need to know to get started in the business.

Q. Will I need to buy more tools to do the work?

No. All the specialty tools you'll need to finish the course and learn the material are provided (click here to see a list of tools supplied). However, you'll need to supplement the tool kit with a few common tools you probably already have on hand, or can get cheaply at the hardware store, such as needle-nose pliers, inexpensive wire cutters, a flashlight and a couple of screwdrivers. Naturally, as you gain experience in the business as a professional you'll want to acquire a few more tools for convenience and you'll be able to do that at wholesale prices following the information in the business section of the final lesson.

Q. Can I deduct the cost of the course from my income tax?

A. Probably, in most cases, IF you actually begin working in the trade as a professional piano tuner. Under current IRS regulations, the cost of continuing education and learning a new trade, as well as the cost of the tools you purchase for your business are legitimate deductions. So, of course, are the expenses of running the business, such as cost of supplies, parts, transportation, business phone, etc. I'm not claiming to be Henry Block here, certainly, so check with your tax consultant or call the IRS for more detailed information on educational deductions.

Q. How long will it take to learn tuning?

That depends on the time you have to devote to study and practice, but with a reasonable effort you could be earning income within two or three months. There is no time limit with my course as there are with some "correspondence schools," so take all the time you need. The more you practice the more competent you'll become.

Q. Why does PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR FOR PROFIT cost less than similar courses on the Internet?

One reason is that I am not a "school" and don't have the high overhead of a corporate business -- I am a working piano tuner myself. But the wholesale cost to me (and to my competitors) for the materials we all provide amounts to several hundred dollars. Adding a traditional retail markup allows me to keep the price under $450 and pass the savings on to you and still make a fair profit. I honestly do not understand why others are asking $1200 or more for the same or similar materials and instruction. My competitors' prices, with the exception of one, seem highly inflated to me. As a working piano tuner, my reputation is worth far more to me than making a quick buck on the Internet by gouging my customers.

Back in 1992, the year I began writing my course, Keyboard Magazine published a review of so-called "correspondence courses" offered in the various magazine classified ads at the time (there was, of course, no Internet then and mail order items were advertised in magazines like Popular Science.) Keyboard's review found most courses provided cheap tools, sloppy type written directions, poor or no illustrations, and inaccurate technical information. From what I've seen online, most still do, except the Randy Potter School. That course received an A rating from Keyboard. The price for the Potter course, however, was over a thousand dollars back then -- I believe it is nearly $2000 today. It does offer many extras, including a state certified diploma, and appears to be a legitimate technical school. So if you have that much to invest, it seems fair enough. But piano tuning can be learned for far less investment and with fewer frills -- the key is regular practice, quality tools and support from an experienced piano tuner. PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR FOR PROFIT provides all that and more, and comes with a money back guarantee.

Q. What are your qualifications for writing a piano tuning course?

I've been a full time piano technician for the past 40 years (as of 2021) and have tuned (and repaired) thousands of pianos for thousands of professional musicians, schools, music stores, night clubs and individuals, including a 10 year stint as the official tuner of the Kansas City Jazz and Blues Festival. I studied writing at the William White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and prior to building my own successful piano service business, I worked as a news reporter and editor. I've used all my writing and piano technology skills to provide you with the kind of detailed, organized and comprehensive information that I wish had been available to me when I began my own career.