As a matter of course, your illustrious Sheffield piano tuner has had another long week of paying careful attention to such frequencies as 440, 156.82, 104.66, and 131.87 for twelve to fourteen hours each day (I must be good at this by now surely?) and tweaking/tuning musical notes to such frequencies to set a piano to equal temperament in a musically pleasing manner. As such I haven’t been able to update my availability page since last Friday, but hasn’t been by choice. I’m not quite as busy next week, and have lots of availability after the 20th of September. Most customers don’t book that far in advance, but I’m happy to work around your schedule. If you’d like a last minute booking it might be easier to arrange that via phone call (07542667040) as slots that were advertised via text can soon be snapped up.
Outside the world of piano tuning, I have still been recording local musicians and singer-songwriters in my spare time as mentioned before. I love sound and capturing combinations of sounds but that can be a distracting and time-consuming hobby. After all my long hours of piano tuning in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Chesterfield I have been able to afford a few microphones that were once outside of my budget. I may use this piano tuning blog to link some of my recordings, recently using a Neumann u87 and a vintage ribbon microphone in the future. Moving them around the room and closer or further away from the source is what I love doing at the moment, trying to master the art of recording is something I will be pursue for many years.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of my piano tuning “career”, when I enrolled on my piano tuning and repair course back in August 2011.
What made me decide to become a piano tuner? Long, long ago back I was a youth not long out of school, deciding what I wanted to do as a job, I was watching my own piano being tuned and serviced by another Sheffield piano tuner. I was interested in his technique and had questions about how he learned such a unique skill. I knew I wasn’t the archetypal piano man, but I’d always had a good ear for music and the moving mechanical parts interested me. At the time I wasn’t doing very much apart from reading books and listening to music, but the clock was ticking and I knew I should learn a profitable skill as soon as possible to avoid drifting. I thought piano tuning be a nice way to earn a comfortable living doing something moderately enjoyable and that not too many other people could do.
Was becoming a piano tuner a good decision? It depends on the day you ask me. The work itself is rewarding, but building a clientele in a declining industry has been a long, difficult slog and the battle is not yet won. Some weeks the money is very good, but suddenly there’s a drop off and it’s not always easy to predict when and why. I think it would have been a more satisfying job in the 1980s or earlier when pianos were ubiquitous and taken more seriously. However, there are signs of a piano revival which is nice to see.
What I hadn’t anticipated was how expensive piano parts would be to have in stock. I generally like to have back up action parts with me to avoid any second visits to the customers home and have been successful in this regard. But the sheer number of felts, hammers, springs, flanges, screws, glues, files, bridle tapes, strings, jacks, wippens, key coverings that I need to have in the car has taken years to build up. Unfortunately there isn’t an ‘industry standard’ for each part, as each piano is a different size and many are built in different countries and by different brands.
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.
Here’s a quick update for my customers in the Scarborough region, or anyone looking for a new Scarborough piano tuner. I will be in your area much more frequently tuning and servicing pianos in people’s homes, churches and other venues. I might even enjoy a quick walk on the beach if I get a lunch break.
The ghastly nature of the pandemic drastically limited my work and my willingness to travel last year. Things are almost back to normal, albeit with careful health and safety procedures in place (regular hand washing and social distancing, and I will also wear a mask on request).
Many residents of Scarborough and Whitby are looking for a piano tuner who is young and highly motivated and willing to go that extra mile. That’s me (except for the young part). I’m always happy to tune ANY piano and value all my customers equally. All done at a reasonable cost.
I greatly look forward to seeing my piano tuning business bounce back to how it was at its zenith (2018 – early 2020).
Another reminder that I am working normal hours during the present lockdown. Please see previous blog post if you have any concerns about the legality of booking tradespeople at this time.
– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield
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.
I’ve only been making very sporadic trips to Scarborough since March, due to a sudden drop in demand. If you are in Scarborough or a nearby area there’s a brief window of opportunity to have your piano tuned next week. I have an available slot left for 2 PM. If you’re interested, please contact me to book:
Thanks for reading and stay safe.
-Richard Lidster, Sheffield Piano Tuner.
Please view my other blog for a post advertising a new song we’ve just recorded:
Apostle – Reaper
Yes, I have a Piano Tuner Sheffield website and a Piano Tuner Leeds website. It’s difficult to keep on top of both websites sometimes, but as far as booking customers in both areas? So far, so good. There seems to be more work in West Yorkshire, particularly in Leeds and Harrogate where a lack of piano tuners (mainly due to older piano tuners retiring from the trade) has increased demand – so much so that I can group together Leeds piano tuning jobs with Sheffield piano tuning jobs. That’s always nice. Honestly, I quite enjoy the long drives between cities as well as seeing new localities after the piano tuning work. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like work.
The problem with Sheffield is that there are already several Sheffield Piano Tuners currently active so for a city of its size I have fewer clients than you’d expect. Down south there doesn’t seem to be many Chesterfield Piano Tuners, so I get several jobs a week in that area. Rotherham is also a popular area – perhaps I should call myself the Rotherham Piano Tuner instead!
More and more piano tuning work in Hull and Humberside recently, so a third piano tuning website might be on my list shortly!
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!