I am a certified PDS [PianoDisc System] tech and have installed over 250
units and counting. The income from this work has been tremendous. I
currently charge $950 per install and the dealer is happy to pay for the
quality of my work. I include regulation and tuning with the service.
I used to charge less and share the income with a partner, but
nevertheless if you do the math you can see I have made a _lot_ of
income from these. Installing PDS has paid in full for building our
workshop, from the architect to the last roof tile.
My point is this: If you want to become a PDS installer then get
the factory training, learn to install and repair them correctly,
become certified, and do it right. The training is free but there is
a waiting list and they give preference to full-time techs. They do,
however accept part-timers.
Don't attempt to locate a second-hand service manual and make it a
do-it-yourself weekend project. It is _very_ involved and it is _easy_
to screw up -- badly! If you learn to do it correctly you could
probably make a tidy income on the side.
Now the disclaimer: Do not expect this to become an instant gravy
train. I was exceptionally fortunate to find a dealer who's owners
were very outgoing and friendly, highly successful, in need of an
experienced installer, and were willing to trust my work.
It can also be highly stressful work. Around Christmas, when they
sell units faster then we can install them, I sometimes work seven days
a week until 2:00 A.M. to finish pianos to be delivered the next day.
You need lots of space, quality equipment, and should be an experienced
piano technician to regulate the piano and the player correctly together.
A player system can only perform as well as the piano is capable of
performing. In other words, if the piano needs work and isn't working
to it's potential, the player isn't going to make it magically sound
great. Regulation and voicing is critical. Even new pianos rarely
come regulated and prepped out of the crate. I end up spending half
a day just getting a brand new piano to perform half way decently on
it's own. Older pianos can be a huge headache and we often charge
a sizable amount extra for them.
In my opinion what you are attempting to do is a tremendous mistake.
Although the bottom has pretty much dropped out of the player piano
market, someday it will come back and someone will appreciate the
instrument as an Ampico. I think I would rather give it away or put
it into long term storage then to cut it up for a PDS. For probably
under $8,000 you could get a decent new grand piano with a warranty.
One such brand we have had a lot of success with is the Bergmann
TG-150 or TG-175. It is built by Young Chang and is a decent quality
piano for the money. With minimal regulation and a good quality PDS
install we have gotten these to perform very well with excellent
expression. There are of course other options as well. Please --
leave the Ampico alone, spend the extra money, and do this right.
Rob Goodale, RPT
Las Vegas, Nevada