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How to start Musical Instrument Tuning and Repair Business to make money for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Inspect musical instruments to determine maintenance needs or assess
damage.
• Repair or replace defective parts; work with a specialist to repair major
damage.
• Restring instruments as required.
• Tune instruments to improve the sound.
The Need
Musical instruments need to be maintained and repaired, and most require a professional’s
touch and equipment to stay in tune.
The heart of the market is piano tuning. Other jobs include restringing and
adjustment of stringed instruments and correction of problems with keys and
other controls on woodwinds.
Challenges
The biggest challenge is to find a steady source of new and repeat customers.
You’ll need a good ear for music as well as some basic mechanical skills.
Most people who perform this sort of work specialize in one area, such as
pianos, stringed instruments, woodwinds, band instruments, or percussion
instruments.
Modern electronic organs and amplifiers for electric guitars and other instruments
require special training and background in electrical and computer circuits.
Work on large instruments such as pianos is usually performed on location in
private homes, schools, and places of entertainment. Smaller instruments are
often given over to the technician to be adjusted in a workshop.
Make sure you have limited your liability before working on an antique or
especially valuable instrument.
Know the Territory
The traditional method of tuning an instrument was a well-trained ear and a set
of tuning forks: The technician would strike or pluck a string, for example, and
compare it to the reference pitch of the fork. That method still works, although
many technicians today use electronic devices that give precise readouts on the
frequency of an instrument’s sound.
To adjust a piano, for example, a tuner strikes a key and compares the sound
to the matching tuning fork; using a special lever or wrench, the tuner tightens or
loosens the strings. A standard piano has 88 keys and 230 strings; a typical tuning
session requires about 90 minutes.
Piano repair begins with checking the action of the mechanical linkages
between the keys and the hammers. Minor repairs can be accomplished by cleaning
or replacing worn parts; major repairs usually require removal of the piano to
a workshop and a complete or partial disassembly.
Guitar technicians repair and replace tuning pegs, saddle, and bridge. They
may also repair minor damage to the body and restring the instrument. The final
step is to precisely tune the strings.
Repairs and tuning techniques for violins are similar to those for guitars; the
technician may also fill in scratches and apply a fresh coat of appropriate varnish.
For brass and woodwind instruments, the technician checks the condition of
keys, pistons, and other parts; if they cannot be repaired, they can usually be
replaced.
Repairs to percussion instruments, including drum sets, require woodworking
and metalworking skills in addition to musical training.
How to Get Started
You don’t need to be able to play a piano or a guitar in order to tune or repair the
instrument, although you may have to fend off requests for demonstrations by
clients. The necessary skills are mechanical and auditory.
Some technical schools offer classes in tuning and repairing instruments.
Check for classes offered at community schools or colleges. You may be able to
train as an apprentice or assistant to a professional.
There are also many self-teaching books and some web sites that offer
instruction on repair and maintenance of musical instruments. Read magazines
aimed at musicians for leads.
Post flyers and ads in music stores, theaters, schools, and community centers.
Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.
Make yourself known to music teachers at local schools. If there are any
orchestras or musical theaters in your area, meet the director.
Ask friends and acquaintances to recommend your services; offer a bonus or
discount for business they direct to you. Ask satisfied customers to do the same,
and offer them a discount on future services for new customers they refer.
Up-front Expenses
For ordinary tune-ups you’ll need a small tool kit of wrenches, small pliers, and
special-purpose tools. For piano tuning, as an example, you’ll need tuning hammers,
mutes, capstan tools, and tuning forks. Prepackaged tool kits range in price
from about $50 to $200.
Most tuners use an electronic tuning meter as their primary or backup method
for adjusting the pitch of strings; meters range in price from about $50 to $250.
Other costs include those for training, reference manuals, and an inventory of
replacement parts. You’ll also need to pay for advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Basic tuning is usually charged at a flat rate. Repairs are charged at an hourly rate
plus the cost of parts and materials; you should be able to purchase parts at
wholesale or discount prices and resell them to your customers at retail prices.
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability
for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession.
You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.

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