Category Archives: Piano Tuning

The busy bee that is me (business matters)

The last few weeks have been… different. When it comes to finding new clients, I’ll be the first to admit that haven’t always been the most merchantable nor the most sedulous; thus I have had to get used to other piano tuners taking the lion’s share of new work in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. At first I didn’t complain about this: after a few years of due diligence, my perseverance had since paid off when satisfied customers began recommending me (this was particularly helpful when piano teachers recommended me to students looking for a Sheffield-based piano tuner). Word of mouth was enough to make piano tuning a viable enterprise.

Around 2017 – 2018, some saddening personal circumstances focused my attention back towards my piano tuning pursuits and my lack of visibility online. This led the to question “could I be doing more?” Unlike my early lacklustre efforts, I began utilising the internet with new rigour, ensuring my presence is conspicuously ever-present rather than a footnote on the bottom of a google search. I have steadily made myself known and this has resulted in an abundance of calls & emails which are very much welcome. Honesty is the key: all the relevant information one could want can (hopefully) be found on the website and if it can’t be found, I’m always quick to answer emails, texts and phone calls. I can safely say I’ll never be one for “hidden charges” and the like – that much is obvious at a quick glance of the website.

The light has began to shine on me again and I am most grateful for the continued interest in my work – this is still a growing piano tuning business after all, and new patronage is needed for its continued operation.

– Richard Lidster,  Piano Tuner Sheffield

Commission for piano sales

While I’m primarily a Sheffield piano tuner, I occasionally sell pianos (usually ones in the £500 – £1000 range – perfect for upgrades). I’m particularly drawn to ‘Chappell’ and ‘Challen’ pianos from the early to mid 20th century, as they tend to age significantly well and keep their tone. In an ideal world I would have a workshop set up to do repairs on both the action as well as more aesthetic improvements (polishing and refinishing pianos), but I live in a small flat without a garage so this isn’t practical at present.

Sometimes I receive an enquiry from someone who wishes to sell a piano, but would like to book a piano tuner beforehand. This is an excellent idea as it allows me to look over the action/mechanism and give it a worthy assessment. Minor TLC can be performed if the customer is pushed for time, and more extensive repairs can be done (my fee for repairs is £20 per hour).

If you would like me to use my contacts in the piano trade to speed up your sale, I charge a commission of 10-20% of the sale (depending on the value of the piano). I am often in contact with people who wish to upgrade their piano and have got in the habit of saving their details for when the perfect piano comes along.

The last time I did significant restoration work before selling a piano (i.e. not the usual repair work undertaken in a customer’s home) was when I still lived with my parents in 2012. They had the room for me to set up a mini workshop and on my time off I would take in free pianos found on Freecycle and restore them to the best of my ability. It was a great learning experience coinciding with my time studying piano tuning and repairs at college, away from Sheffield. I would recommend every aspiring piano tuner and tech to do this while learning their trade, nothing quite compares to throwing yourself in at the deep end this way. This was before I had gathered a sizeable set of tools, so jobs such as re-stringing were especially challenging, forcing me to think outside the box and use household items such as screwdrivers to make a neat coil. Once you have been a piano tuner for several years, you will become quicker at your job, partly through experience and partly due to the useful piano tools that are able to be purchased on the market today.

Now taking early morning bookings

For home bookings I can now book you in for a piano tuning at 8:30 AM or 9 AM on a week day morning. I have hitherto saved early morning slots for professional venues such as schools, churches, recording studios, but those enquires have sadly declined somewhat over the last sixteen months – particularly schools.

From my experiences piano tuning in Sheffield and beyond, I have found people have wildly different views on booking tradespeople to their homes under current circumstances, but rest assured I am taking the covid-19 precautions very seriously, with frequent testing and following all procedures that keep the customer happy. The customer is always right and your wishes will be respected.

I will rearrange a booking at the slightest sign of any symptoms. I’m vaccinated and very careful to social distance and regularly sanitise work hands, car and piano tuning kit (particularly the piano tuning lever and paps wedges that I regularly handle throughout the day). If you have any concerns, I’d be happy to discuss it with you before you book the piano tuning.

 

Piano Tuner Scarborough?

I will resume my visits to the North Yorkshire region after the 12th of April. Not only would it have been unsafe to travel there at the height of the pandemic, but the demand for piano tuning in Scarborough just wasn’t there. I’m starting to receive calls and will be happy to resume piano tuning in Scarborough as soon as possible. I started as a Sheffield piano tuner and still live in that city, but earning a living at this trade requires extensive travelling so please don’t think making a journey to your area is a hassle – it’s all part of the job.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield

Happy New Year! (and why I’ve been late with reminders recently)

A happy new year to you all! I’m not a fan of the icy Sheffield weather in January, but 2021 already looks a promising year for piano tuning! I’m excited about the list of goals I have set myself for what I want to achieve this year. Many of them are modest goals related to the organisation of my business, but with 2020 being such a slow and disappointing year for piano tuners I’m excited to turn over a new leaf. This will be the year I get it all together and my business will be run as smoothly as it was from 2017 to 2019 (the golden years).

I’ve seen some beautiful pianos being sold over eBay recently, so I hope that’s a sign that more people are paying attention to the piano (and more people need their piano tuning!). Sales of classical music are on the rise and I see many younger people turning to the timeless masterpieces rather than repetitive modern music. Maybe the slower pace of life has improved their taste? Who knows?

One of the most pressing goals I have is the need to revamp this website. It has the same layout it had in 2014 and looks horribly dated. More care and attention needs to be paid to it, but I’d like a talented web designer to give it an overhaul and that’ll be expensive. Once I have the funds, I assure you it will be done.

My final belated apology is to anyone who booked me in 2019 and had to wait a while for their yearly reminder. During lockdowns I was hesitant to contact anyone as there was a high chance they’d postpone the booking. After the present disorder and tumult, I will be more prompt and punctual in my reminders – most people need them or they forget. Six months is preferable, but at least once a year is the minimum required for most pianists.

Robert Jenrick confirms booking a piano tuner is allowed under new lockdown rukes

Concerned about the legality of booking a piano tuner or other tradesperson while you have a little bit of time off? You shouldn’t be. Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State For Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that booking tradespeople (plumbers, electricians and… yes, Sheffield piano tuners) is allowed under the new lockdown rules. What a relief.

I’m operating under regular hours in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire region. The only port of call I won’t be able to manage on my various journeys will be the Scarborough and North Yorkshire piano tuning base I have developed since 2015… at least for another two weeks. It’s more ethically agreeable to wait until I have a larger number of enquires from that region to reduce the number of visitations in the current climate.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.

How is the Sheffield piano tuner dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Many people are asking how the Sheffield piano tuner is coping with the pandemic and what his available hours are for piano tuning.

Business hours are back to how they were during the lockdown, but he is taking more precautions to avoid catching the virus and potentially spreading it to others (being particularly mindful of the elderly occupants at his  Sheffield residence). Here are a few steps he is undertaking to ensure everyone stays safe:

  1. Before the piano tuning , he will politely ask the customer to clean the keys (rub in vertical motions to prevent dirt getting down the sides) with an antibacterial wipe.
  2. He will take care to maintain social distancing during every visit.
  3. Bookings are arranged geographically, so that one day will be for Sheffield piano tuning, one for Leeds, one for Hull, etc (piano tuning in 2020 requires wide travel)
  4. For customers who are particularly anxious, masks are kept in the car to be worn on request.

These steps will be rigorously followed for the foreseeable future. He is very appreciative of anyone who books a piano tuning during this difficult and uncertain time. If anything changes this website and blog will be updated immediately.

Can I tune my own piano?

Straight from the horses mouth… some wise words here:

It isn’t a job for the layperson I’m afraid – the art of setting the pins must be performed with masterly finesse if the piano is going to stay reasonably in tune for another six months. It took the Sheffield piano tuner many years of practice to become adroit at this and there’s still room for improvement – I’m sure there always will be.

He is right about electronic piano tuning apps as well, in the last ten years they have improved dramatically, although developing a good sense of equal temperament is also a must. When it comes to piano tuning, regulation and servicing – leave it to the professionals! The Sheffield Piano Tuner is always happy to help.

Special hours for Scarborough, Bridlington and Filey piano tuning

A brief window of opportunity for piano tuning in Scarborough and North Yorkshire next week. I shall be able to fit a Scarborough piano tuning in at either 8 PM on Friday the 21st in the evening, or 8 AM on Saturday morning. If you live nearer to Bridlington, a piano tuning on Saturday afternoon would be perfect. I am not in area as much currently as my work demands me to stay in the Sheffield and Leeds areas, so this could be your only chance before 2019!

Merry Christmas

Richard