There has been much discussion of how much or how little mechanical
musical instruments are selling for in this economy. However, with
gasoline prices at historic highs and building materials becoming more
and more scarce, and shipping prices doubling on most everything, the
player technician has a hard row to hoe. While piano tuners always
have work, some of us prefer to stay in the shop to finish up
restorations as much as possible.
My prices for tuning have gone up for the first time in most of a
decade, simply because of a travel fee I had to add on for service
calls to the home. It now takes well over $50 to fill the service van,
and I have not seen any price that I pay still the same as it was the
last time I paid for anything in any store.
The price for rebuilding pianos and players is locked in at the signing
of the contract. For decades we have not worried about being able to
complete a job for the money we contracted for. With next winter's gas
prices projected to be double last year's and last years having been
double the year before, there is a very real danger of our losing our
rebuilders to other means of employment.
I know of two rebuild shops that have closed down and one more that is
seriously considering it. Just as the Great Depression of the 1930s
was responsible for most American piano makers closing their doors,
will the present day "Bush depression" be responsible for most piano
rebuilders closing their doors?
My suggestion to you is this: If you ever plan to have that instrument
restored that you have stored away, now is the time to have it done
-- while you can still find a restoration shop worth its salt. While
I have no plans to close down, I am beginning to feel the crunch. If
we did not do player restoration at the speed at which our techniques
and specialized pieces of equipment allow, I am sure we would feel the
crunch much more.
In fact, if I had an influx of more business, I would try to get
a couple of those closed down technicians to move here and get to work
in our shop. I still have the problem of getting it all done. I have
at least two youngsters who would love to move here to be trained as
well. I am not sure our economy will allow for that for the foreseeable
I hear about these closings because people send me their pianos from
all around the country for restoration and they complain they cannot
find anyone local near them to do the work.
My advice to you is find a good technician and send him your instrument
for immediate restoration.