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Musical Instrument Tuner/Repairer Job Description, Career as a Musical Instrument Tuner/Repairer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Apprenticeship or Certification

Average Salary $24,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

Musical instrument repairers and tuners are specialized in inspecting and repairing musical instruments that have been damaged to repair them back to working condition. They use a variety of tools and techniques to keep instruments working in proper condition. Instrument repairers can re-attach strings or hardware that have broken or detached themselves, alter an instrument that will not properly stay in tune, or restore instruments that have not been played for several years. Most instrument repairers have a general idea on how to play a variety of instruments in order to understand how they work.

Education and Training Requirements

Most instrument repairers and tuners obtain their experience through working as an assistant or apprentice to an experienced instrument repair worker. Although it is not required, it is preferred that someone who works in the field of instrument repair to have prior experience playing in a band and understanding the basics of how instruments work.

There are some colleges with specific training programs to teach the mechanics of instruments and how to determine the correct pitch. Throughout training, an instrument repairer will have to learn the construction and specific musical qualities of different instruments. They will also need an ear for pitch, and be able to tell specifically whether an instrument is playing sharp or flat as well as how to fix the problem.

Getting the Job

To get a job as a musical instrument repairer or tuner, the right candidate will understand the basics of sounds that come from a variety of instruments. They will understand the mechanical aspects behind the construction of instruments and know which tools need to be used to fix specific parts without causing more damage.

Instrument repair workers do not have to know how to play each instrument, but should still understand the basics and have an interest in how they work. The repairer should also be able to explain to customers what caused the instrument to play out of tune, and what steps they can take to help keep instruments in tune at all times.

Excellent customer service skills are also necessary for a job like this. Someone who not only knows how to fix the instrument, but helps customers understand how the instrument works and why it has developed problems is important in order for the business to succeed.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

After an instrument repairer or tuner gains experience in the field, they may discover they have an ear or hand for a specific type of instrument. Some workers move on to work specifically with string instruments such as guitars, while others specialize in wind instruments such as saxophones or flutes.

Some musical instrument repair workers may even venture off to start a repair business of their own. If a repair worker gains a positive reputation, they will gain more and more customers that trust them with their instruments and go to them every time they need a repair or assistance. Most repair workers who specialize in specific types of instruments wind up starting a business of their own to prevent competition amongst other repair workers. They may specialize in string instruments, while the other worker in town specializes in wind instruments. This will prevent too much competition among workers and keep both businesses running steady.

Employment for musical instrument repair workers is continually on the rise, as the field was commonly sought out by the baby boomer generation. As baby boomers get older, they may want to retire or hand their business off to someone else. This provides plenty of openings for students who want to work in a repair shop or start a repair business of their own.

Working Conditions and Environment

Most instrument repair workers work at a music supply store or in a shop. Customers will make appointments or come in when they need a repair and depend on the repairer to fix their instrument in a timely manner, sometimes even on the spot. If business is good, a repair worker will have to be able to quickly and efficiently repair or tune an instrument to keep customers satisfied and coming back.

Some repair workers and tuners do not only work in a shop. Some make house visits for larger instruments such as pianos or cellos. They will have to be comfortable going into a customer’s home and quickly fixing or tuning the instrument.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a musical instrument and repair worker is about $24,000 per year. The repair workers salary greatly depends on location of their business, experience in the field, and their reputation among customers. A repair worker will make more money if they work in a city with a large music scene such as New York or Las Vegas. If the worker is in a larger city like this, they will also have to compete against other repair workers since there is likely to be more competition in a city with a large music scene. They will have to maintain a reputation of quickly and effectively repairing instruments and being able to explain to customers exactly what was done.
Benefits in this field vary according to employers.

A musical instrument repair worker who works in a small music store will likely receive health benefits and vacation time, while a self-employed repair worker will have to buy their own insurance and work vacation time around their busy season or appointments. They will also have to let loyal or frequent customers know in advance if they will be unavailable for last minute repairs.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, Inc.
P.O. Box 51
Normal, IL 61761
(309) 452-4257

Band Instrument Repair Technicians
P.O. Box 28
Annville, PA 17003
(717) 867-0473

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts