Home page

Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners

At a Glance

  • Usually specialize in one type of instrument
  • Use a variety of specialized hand tools
  • Work alone most of the time
  • Typically work a standard work week
  • Train through apprenticeship programs
  • Have a good ear for music

Career summary

Musical instrument repairers and tuners adjust, repair, and tune instruments to improve their sound.

Musical instrument repairers and tuners usually specialize in one type of instrument.

Details of the job differ depending on the type of instrument. All musical instrument repairers and tuners share some tasks. Repairers first examine the instrument and check its parts. They may take the instrument apart to repair or clean it. They repair or replace broken or worn parts and put the instrument back together. Repairers sometimes carve replacement parts such as wedges or plugs. Musical instrument repairers also repair cracks, dents, and breaks in wood and metal instruments and drums. Finally, they clean and polish instruments.

Musical instrument repairers perform many tasks specific to the instruments they work on.

Piano repairers adjust the alignment and string spacing on pianos. They also adjust felt hammers to increase the mellow sound of the piano. Pipe organ repairers adjust lips, reeds, and other parts of pipes to regulate the airflow and loudness. They also assemble new organs in churches and auditoriums. A large organ might take weeks or even months to finish.

String instrument repairers may assemble new instruments. They adjust trusses and bridges to obtain proper string tension and height. They may also refinish instruments with varnish to protect the wood.

Percussion instrument repairers replace drumheads on drums. They remove the drumhead by removing tension rods with a drum key. They cut a new drumhead from plastic, place it over the rim hoop, and replace the rim on the drum. Percussion instrument repairers also solder or weld the frames of mallet instruments and metal drum parts. They may also clean, sand, and paint various parts.

Musical instrument repairers use a large variety of tools, depending on their instrument. They may use:

Most repairers also tune instruments. They use tuning tools ranging from tuning forks to electronic tuners. Methods vary depending on the instrument. Piano tuners increase or decrease string tension with a tuning hammer. Tuners of stringed instruments adjust string tension by hand. Pipe-organ tuners move metal slides on pipes to change the pipes' speaking length. Wind instrument tuners file metal reeds until they reach the proper pitch.

Related careers

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to musical instrument repairers and tuners.

Common work activities

Musical instrument repairers and tuners perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, musical instrument repairers and tuners:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Musical instrument repairers and tuners frequently:

It is important for musical instrument repairers and tuners to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for musical instrument repairers and tuners to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Musical instrument repairers and tuners need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a musical instrument repairer and tuner, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most repairers and tuners learn their skills through apprenticeship training programs. Union and non-union apprenticeship programs are available. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:

Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information (external link) website.

You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. 

Some musical instrument repairers complete formal training programs. Some professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer programs in this area. After completing a two-year program, you earn a certificate. You can also earn a certificate through a correspondence course. Organ repairers may need a certificate in electronics. Some instrument repairers have a bachelor's degree, though not always in instrument repair.

Most, if not all, instrument repairers know how to play the instruments they repair. For some instruments, this is necessary.

On-the-job training

Instrument repairers learn additional skills on the job. You work with an experienced repairer and tuner and begin as a helper. You work on more complex tasks as you gain experience. Training includes instruction in:

Training may last from two to five years.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many musical instrument repairers and tuners are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire musical instrument repairers and tuners who have formal training in instrument repair. Employers who hire inexperienced workers as trainees look for people with knowledge of music. They also look for applicants with good hearing and mechanical ability. For those who deal with customers, a neat appearance and helpful manner are important.

Costs to workers

Workers must supply their own tools, except for larger tools. Costs vary depending on the number of different instruments being repaired or tuned. Some may join a professional association and pay a membership application fee and annual dues.

#Deleted $ amount we listed since no way to verify possible tool costs, 3/8/07, CJ.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


#In Washington, the average entry-level wage for musical instrument repairers and tuners is $12.55 per hour ($2,175 per month).

#Updated ES wage info 07.16 sd

Musical instrument repairers and tuners (SOC 49-9063)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $13.61 $15.93 $19.87 $24.39 $29.38
Monthly $2,359 $2,761 $3,443 $4,227 $5,092
Yearly $28,310 $33,120 $41,340 $50,740 $61,100
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $13.40 $15.24 $18.96 $23.27 $27.11
Monthly $2,322 $2,641 $3,286 $4,033 $4,698
Yearly $27,866 $31,713 $39,429 $48,394 $56,384
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $15.51 $18.99 $23.88 $27.91 $30.40
Monthly $2,688 $3,291 $4,138 $4,837 $5,268
Yearly $32,255 $39,502 $49,678 $58,037 $63,223
    Vancouver Hourly $10.96 $12.03 $14.37 $18.92 $28.31
Monthly $1,899 $2,085 $2,490 $3,279 $4,906
Yearly $22,790 $25,026 $29,890 $39,351 $58,890
United States Hourly $10.91 $13.46 $17.47 $22.84 $28.37
Monthly $1,891 $2,333 $3,028 $3,958 $4,917
Yearly $22,700 $28,000 $36,330 $47,500 $59,020

Wages vary in different areas of the country and are usually higher in urban areas.

Full-time musical instrument repairers and tuners who are not self-employed may receive benefits. Common benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Those who are self-employed must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners (SOC 49-9063)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 303 4.0% 16.1% 29
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 18 16.7% 15.2% 2
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 11 9.1% 14.1% 1
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 18 11.1% 14.6% 2
    King County 135 -4.4% 19.6% 10
    Pierce County 71 8.5% 15.2% 7
    Spokane County 32 -9.4% 13.9% 2
United States 8,900 -9.0% 5.2% 800

National employment

About 14% of musical instrument repairers and tuners are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is declining. Most job openings will result from repairers and tuners retiring from the occupation. Because this occupation is very small, the number of openings will be very low compared to most occupations. However, training opportunities are difficult to locate. Therefore, job opportunities should be very good for those who receive training.

Other resources

National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (external link)
PO Box 51
2026 Eagle Road
Normal, IL 61761
National Flute Association (external link)
70 East Lake Street, #200
Chicago, IL 60601
Percussive Arts Society (external link)
110 W. Washington Street Suite A
ndianapolis, IN 46204
Piano Technicians Guild (external link)
4444 Forest Avenue
Kansas City, Kansas 66106
The Violin Society of America (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters