Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much do you charge for a tuning?
A: This is probably the most common question I receive, and one might think it’d be an easy question to answer. It would be, if all we were going to do is tune a piano. But this is almost never the case.
The first time we visit a piano, we will have no idea what condition it’s in and what we’re going to have to do to it. Do all the parts work? Is it 125 cents flat? Are there broken strings? Has it been cleaned in the last 75 years? Does the client want a tuning with a historical rather than an equal temperament? Was this client referred by an existing client? (See my web site section on Refer a Friend.) The list goes on and on.
What we can say is this: The first time we visit an instrument, we want to do the very best we can to bring up the piano to a minimum level of mechanical and acoustical condition without replacing parts or regulating the entire action. Typically, we expect to spend a couple of hours vacuuming, cleaning, polishing, lubricating, adjusting, and finally--tuning. If parts are missing, broken, or worn beyond hope; if the piano is really sharp or flat; if strings are broken or missing or the pin block is shot; if furry creatures have made your piano their home, then succumbed and gone to their reward, then we may not finish in two hours or even two visits. The only solution here is to talk about the future!
Q: But what if all I want is just a simple piano tuning with no frills?
A: To be perfectly candid, we enjoy servicing pianos because we’re good at it and it’s good to us. There is a reward above and beyond money in servicing pianos and meeting their custodians, and were we to have to begin doing no-frills tunings in order to compete for business based on some lowest common denominator, we wouldn’t care to remain in the profession.
There are piano tuners who would be happy to give you a no-frills tuning and take your money. We refer them to you via the Yellow Pages or Craig’s List under Pianos>Tuning>No Frills.
Q: On what do you base your charges?
A: We charge for labor by the hour, in 20-minute increments, one hour minimum, except for tuning. A service call that includes a tuning requires an hour and twenty minutes, minimum.
Q: Are you able to provide quotes for services other than tuning?
A: Yes. We base our quotes on an industry-recognized rate book compiled more than twenty years ago by Newton J. Hunt, a highly regarded piano technician from Dallas, Texas. Hunt’s Piano Technicians Guide estimates the time for accomplishing almost every conceivable repair operation on a grand, direct blow or drop action upright piano.
Q: Do you move pianos or will you help me move my piano?
A: No, but we can recommend qualified piano movers. (See my web site section on Resources We Recommend.) For what it’s worth, we equate the person who moves his own piano to the attorney who represents himself--he has a fool for a client. One slip and you could damage your piano, or more importantly yourself, for life.
Piano moving is not a job for anyone except a well-trained piano mover. No exceptions! Not even an experienced furniture mover should be permitted to handle your piano--not if you care about your piano and don’t want to put it at risk. (We can’t begin to tell you how many pianos we’ve seen partially or completely destroyed by furniture moving companies. Let them pack your dishes, your clothes, your dog, and your other furniture, but never let them near your piano.)
Q: Do you service pneumatic player pianos?
A: No, and we are currently unable to recommend anyone local to do the work. We would be happy to help you locate a technician, but bear in mind that the cost of servicing these instruments often far exceeds their intrinsic value.