Hi All, Paul Murphy wants to know how to become a piano tuner.
Actually, it's fairly difficult, and it takes lots of practice.
There are many books on the subject of piano tuning because there are
so many different tuning methodologies. I feel certain that every
piano tuner has their own favorite book and/or method. I started with
the book, "Let's Tune Up", by John W. Travis, but now I have six books
on the subject, and each one explains things a little differently.
Learning how to use a tuning hammer is probably one of the most
important and difficult aspects of piano tuning. Many people believe
that a tuner simply turns the tuning pins one way or the other to bring
the string into tune. That is so wrong. Hammer technique is difficult
to master and it's very difficult to explain using words. That's why
the vast majority of tuners serve an apprenticeship under a qualified
tuner. They watch and learn. Then they practice and learn more.
According to my mentor (who was 93), once you've tuned 1000 pianos,
then you're probably ready to start tuning other people's pianos for
Now I realize that Paul is most likely considering learning about
tuning so he can tune his own instrument. I would suggest that he start
by tuning the unisons on his own piano. Once he's mastered the
unisons, then he can go on to the octaves. Finally, he can start
learning about temperaments and how they are correctly set.
Although this might not be the best of analogies, starting with the
temperament is like learning to drive at the Indy 500 race -- it's that
difficult. Tuning unisons is more like driving on the highway. It's
that easy (comparatively speaking).
John A. Tuttle