Piano Technician Vs. Piano Tuner
The business of piano maintenance and restoration involves numerous skill sets, which are much like the construction industry. Depending on the demands of the situation, knowing which skill set is essential for your piano and who to utilize to accomplish your task is critical.
To start with, most experienced technicians are about as big of a group of prima donnas as any group of pianists I have ever seen. Each considers themselves the only true religion and everyone else, or most everyone else, is a complete butcher.
The truth is that the best person to ask for help for your piano is an experienced dealer. If the first person he sends out to take care of an issue does not handle it correctly, he must pay somene else to go out and fix it right. This is the acid test because the dealer’s expense is directly affected.
We at Houston Piano Company are familiar with the work of most artisans in the Houston area. We have been focusing on these issues for 70 years.
As a general rule of thumb, most piano technicians are competent tuners whereas many piano tuners are not much good at repairing or rebuilding. Some technicians specialize in a narrow portion of the industry, and then there are some that can do most anything quite well.
Now a word about rebuilding and refurbishing... These terms can mean just about anything from blowing the dust out of an instrument to a little touch up and a tuning to a total restoration involving a new pin block, soundboard, refinishing, new action parts and on and on.
A piano repair estimate should be very specific and detailed including (but not limited to) what will be replaced or repaired, who makes the parts, how long it will take, and so on. I have seen people lose their piano and their deposit when a technician left town with no forwarding address simply because someone did not check out the person carefully and get recommendations. The cheapest price is often not the best choice.
One issue to be aware of is that you need to make sure you do not confuse sentimental value with financial value. If you want it repaired because it was your great grandmother’s, often you can purchase a beautiful, brand new piano for less than the cost of repairing the old one. Often I caution people that they will never be able to sell the piano for anywhere near what they put into it because it was a mediocre instrument when it was brand new. If it is a famous brand name (i.e. Mason & Hamlin, Bechstein, Bosendorfer, Steinway, etc.), then sometimes it does makes sense to rebuild.
We at Houston Piano Company (by far Houston‘s oldest piano dealer) have 70 years of experience helping people such as yourselves make wise choices on all of these matters. Call us at (832) 231-8810 so that one of our highly experienced associates may help you connect with the best choice to meet your needs.
Steve Merrill is co-owner of the Houston Piano Company.