Finding a piano tuner is similar to finding any other service professional. There is no “best practice” and you never know quite what you’re going to get. That said, there are many resources available that can help you make a more informed decision. Here are some ideas for finding a piano tuner, ranging from the patently obvious to (hopefully) ideas you might not have thought of before.
Ask a piano teacher or musically-inclined friend
Piano tuning is, at least historically, a referral based business. Piano teachers are picky about their pianos, and will have put in the time and effort to find a piano tuner who satisfies their needs.
Use the PTG website
If your main concern is that your piano tuner is qualified, you can use the Piano Technicians’ Guild find a technician service. Registered piano technicians (RPT) are required to pass a series of qualifying exams insuring tuning skills and competence in common repairs. That said, not all good technicians are guild members, and perhaps vice versa (depending on who you ask). Guild membership is expensive, which acts as a deterrent to otherwise qualified or part-time technicians, and guild members may charge slightly more for their services. Overall, though, they are a pretty safe bet.
Use internet resources with reviews
Chances are, if you’re reading this post you’ve already thought about using the internet to find a piano tuner. There are many websites that allow reviewing of businesses or contractors, notably Angie’s List and Yelp, and more recently Google and Bing. Reading reviews by past clients can be helpful in making a decision, but shouldn’t be considered the final word. Needless to say, not all good technicians are on Yelp, and not all the technicians on Yelp are good.
Use the phone book or Craigslist
There is probably a section for piano tuners in your local yellow pages. You can also usually find some by doing a search on Craigslist. Be sure to search in the “Services” section of the site, and not “For sale” which is Craigslist’s default search. Also, make sure to review the credentials of your prospective tuner. Craigslist is probably the place where you can find the least expensive tuner, but it’s also where you’re most likely to get a beginner, or worse, a faker.
I wrote this post because I’ve been seeing a lot national and international traffic on my blog. If you’re in the Seattle area, [shameless plug] I of course hope you’ll contact me, but even if you don’t I hope you found this post useful.