I need to say at the outset that at the price Roger Waring charges
for restoring the complete player AND piano action, I could make
a fairly healthy profit by having him rebuild the mechanisms. There
are, of course, numerous aspects to piano action restoration. Some
immediate questions would be, (a) does that include new hammers,
dampers, bridal tapes, abstract felts, spring felts, hammer rail
and damper rail felts, new buckskin on the butts, damper lever
felts, sustain bar felts, new shanks and flanges. etc.?
Exactly what constitutes restored to you?
The same question applies to the player mechanism.
I can spend 60 hours rebuilding a Standard player mechanism or
knock it out in 40. Even at only $40.00/hr that would be $2400-1600.
Where I live, a decent auto mechanic makes more than that. The
average piano tuner commands a minimum of $50.00/hr and the median
price for a tuning here is $60.00. Why bother buying all those
rebuilding supplies (which will account for a minimum of 15% of
your profit), special power tools and jigs and the list goes on?
All a tuner needs is a small well outfitted tool box and a few
well chosen repair parts. And there at least 20 pianos for
every player so you're chances of staying gainfully employed
are far greater. The point here is, what's the incentive to
go into player restoration when you are qualified as a piano
tuner who makes more money/hr?
My other point is that, for me, those numbers just don't add up.
And we haven't even considered regulating the actions, tuning,
tubing, odd peripheral devices, keybed or keys.
In closing, I should also say that when I started working on
player pianos some 25 odd years ago, I charged $22.00 for a
tuning and my labor rate was $25.00 plus parts and I think the
minimum wage was about $2.75/hr. Now the minimum wage is about
$5.00/hr (I'm guessing here), so following suit, if my skill
level stayed the same I'd be worth about $46.00/hr today.
John A. Tuttle (email@example.com)