Why You May Want to Learn How to Tune Your OWN Piano.

Pianos are not as popular as they were 100, 70, even 30 years ago.

They used to be the entertainment centre of the home. Then, with the advent of radio and television, it wasn’t the phenomenon it used to be. It was still quite popular, just not the same.

Now, the computer, video games, tablets and smart phones are competing for our entertainment hours.

The guitar has also become, in my opinion, the number one musical instrument played by North Americans. I can’t prove this, it’s just a feeling.

Pianos have also become smaller, which means the allure of their full size ancestors, is being lost. Smaller pianos don’t command the same awe as that of turn-of-the-century full size uprights, with their majestic detail, long bass strings, forgiving geometry, and impressive tone.

“But”, you say, “I love the piano. It will never go out of style.”

I agree with you. But the numbers don’t lie.

Look at this chart of US piano sales from 1900 to 2007.

US Piano Sales 1900 - 2007

It doesn’t look good.

But the real picture comes into view when you consider what will happen to piano tuning as less and less people play the piano.

Pianos need to be tuned, and piano tuners tune pianos. But they don’t do it for free. Piano tuning prices have increased dramatically in recent history, as the price of gas has gone up, and tuners have had to travel farther to find customers.

Look at the following chart. It is a dramatic illustration of New York City including outlying areas. Each circle represents the territory of one piano tuner. Within that territory, a tuner would presumably, be charging the going rate for piano tuning.

Lots of piano tuners

As less and less people take up the piano, demand for piano tuning will drop, and there won’t be as much opportunity for someone to make a living tuning pianos. The result will be less piano tuners, and those that are left will be charging premium dollars to travel to the areas not serviced by a local tuner.

Less piano tuners
(Note: the maps are not intended to depict actual tuners and their areas. They only illustrate the relative affect of lower tuner numbers on piano tuning prices.)

As there are less and less piano tuners, there will be more and more areas that are not being serviced by a local tuner, and if you live in one of these areas, you may have to pay more to get a competent tuner to tune your piano, or accept someone who is sub par as a tuner.

This is not a joke. It is happening right now. Because of a low demand for piano tuners on the Canadian province island of Prince Edward Island, Canada, the local tuners do not get as much practice tuning pianos, and as a result, the University has had to use a tuner from the mainland. Recently he retired and they were forced to pay me to fly 1400 kilometres from Montreal, to tune ONE piano, and then fly me home, the SAME DAY! With airfare and tuning, the cost to the University was about $800!

Their choice was, use a local tuner who may not be as proficient to tune the Steinway grand for a visiting performer, or pay for someone to come from away. If you live in a similarly underservivced area, your options will be the same. However, there is another option.

Learn to tune your piano yourself.

The pros to learning to tune your own piano are:

1. Save money on tunings.
2. You don’t need to be as versatile since you will only be tuning one piano over and over, YOURS!
3. Even if you just learn to do touch ups, you will be able to reduce the number of times you need to pay for the professional tuner to travel to you.
4. Tuning can be a fun and rewarding skill to learn, if it is taught right.

So, if you think this is something you might like to try, take some time to watch my free lessons and drop me a line.

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