Locating a Piano Tuner
Tuning a piano is a highly subjective process. Every piano has its own stringing scale design that gives it a unique degree of inharmonicity. Furthermore, one tuner often 'hears' things a bit differently than other tuners and thus each will tune according to his/her own particular style. The goal is to find someone that can competently understand your wishes and your piano's peculiarities in order to deliver the hoped for sound. This is usually not an easy task.
If you are thinking about trying to tune a piano yourself then please visit our page with resources and important considerations about learning how to tune a piano.
The difference between a tuner and technician
A piano tuner is someone who simply tunes pianos. Some may also have knowledge about additional aspects of maintenance and repair, but this varies with each. Many tuners are in the business of tuning only and refer all requests to repair or service pianos to technicians.
A piano technician is qualified to tune as well as service and repair pianos. A Registered Piano Technician (RPT) is a qualification awarded by the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) that certifies the holder has attained a high level of knowledge and proficiency in servicing pianos. The PTG is the most highly recognized professional organization in the industry and the standards that it sets and maintains for technicians are universally trusted. However, anyone can advertise themselves or claim to be a piano technician. Bonafide RPT's should be able to provide verification of this certification, usually with a card. It is generally best to opt for an RPT when seeking a tuner for your piano. Not only can they reliably tune your instrument, but they can also do any needed voicing, action regulation, and repairs as well as alerting you to other problems with your piano.
When seeking out a tuner it is usually best to get a reference from another piano owner, teacher, or other reliable source in the piano world. Each tuner/technician has a professional reputation that can best be learned from previous customers. If you have noone that can give you this sort of recommendation then the best option would be using the The Piano Technicians Guild RPT locator (US and Canada). Alternatively you can try locating one at the following online directories:
The Piano Resource Directory - US listings by state
Piano Acoustics Tuner Directory - US listings by state
The Pianoforte Tuner's Association - UK organization for piano tuners
Australasian Piano Tuners & Technicians Assoc. - Australian piano tuners http://www.aptta.org.au/find-a-tuner.aspx
The average piano tuning will cost around $100 in the US. If a pitch raise is needed then most will charge more, usually around $50. This can occur if the piano hasn't been tuned for a length of time or if the pitch has altered significantly away from standard concert pitch. A pitch raise is basically a double tuning, the technician must bring all the strings back to normal levels and then must fine tune each. Also be aware that many technicians will charge a service fee, even if they determine that the piano is beyond repair or untuneable. This is fair and understable in light of the fact that they have lost time in an effort to service your piano. This is just one more reason to make sure that your piano undergoes regular maintenance to keep it in good shape.
Finding the best tuner for you
Remember, every piano owner has different needs and wishes when looking for a tuner/technician. Some may simply want the best price while others may want someone personable that they can build a long term relationship with. You might have to go through a number of tuners over a period of time before your specific criteria are met.