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Charging for Piano Tuning.

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by longsoughtfor, Mar 1, 2004.

  1. Does anyone here charge clients to get a studio piano tuned for a session? I have always seen this as a normal thing studios (especially low cost studios) do and have had other clients pay for it without compaint but I have been trading emails with a prospective client recently and she seems fairly put off that I am asking her to chip in 1/3 of the tuning cost for her session.

    What do you do?
  2. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Kevin, I never did, unless they wanted a special temperment. I had a good tuner and, with proper care, the piano would stay in great shape for some time.

  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    We do a lot of classical recording in various halls. It is always the policy that the producer pays for the tuning unless the hall we are using provides this service as part of the hall rental which again is paid for by the producer.

    Most pro studios add this in to their fee structure and don't charge separately for it. the musician or artist is renting the studio for the session and everything in it should be in working order including the piano, drums, amps and microphones.

    Maybe your client is upset that this is a separate charge and maybe feels that she will be nickel and dimed to death with small fees on top of the recording charge.

    It is your studio and your piano and should be in tip top shape for the recording. I would suggest looking at your fee structure and make the piano tuning charge one that is rolled into the overall fee structure.

    There is a studio near here that had a fee structure that was so complicated no one could understand it. There were charges for every variant. Different fees for tracking, different fees for mixdown with and without the artist present, a fee for renting the studio, a fee for renting the drums, a fee for tuning the drums, a fee for rental of the amplifiers, a fee for having extra people in the session, etc. etc. I convinced the owner to set a fee that was reasonable and cut out all the other fees as no one could keep track of them nor understand them. His business has been better since people know that the hourly charge covers everthing,

    Hope this helps.

  4. Thanks guys. Our rates are pretty low at the moment and perhaps it's time to look at increasing them. I explained to this client that the way we are able to keep our rates low is by asking for a small amount($30 in this case) to go towards tuning. She is OK with that.

    Thanks again.
  5. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Guest

    All the major studios here in NYC charge for piano tuning. Anywhere from $60 to $90.
  6. Paladyne

    Paladyne Guest

    that has been my experience as well.
  7. ryanhewitt

    ryanhewitt Guest

    Same in most all LA studios too....

  8. mkruger

    mkruger Guest

    It's like calibrating tape machines. In a professional environment the client should not be paying for tuning or tape-cal. Like tape-cal, tuning is regularly schedualed maintenance.

    Very often clients want tape machines to be calibrated differently. This is not a regularly schedualed maintenance so the client is billed.
    Tell the client your piano has recently been tuned and is still in perfect tune. If the client still specifically requests a tuning then I would bill them accordingly without discussion. Your invoice should reflect the charge. If the client complains and they are a customer you hope to have back again in the future then I would happily deduct the charge and explain that in the future they will need to pay for it.

    [ March 09, 2004, 12:04 AM: Message edited by: Mike Kruger ]
  9. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Guest

    Maybe that's how it works at all the big studios in Swiftwater, but, it's really NOT how it works!
  10. mkruger

    mkruger Guest

    There are no big studios in swiftwater.

    I see your a new member to this site, so here is somthing you should know about this organization. These posts are here for people to give and listen to other peoples advise. Different opinions are what make these posts work. We are not here to argue. I ejoyed reading your posts and advise and you should respect mine as well. Maybe I should have worded it differently but I think everyone understands that it's only my opinion. If you don't like it then ignore it and keep your mouth shut.
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Not in Cleveland, Ohio. Many times the pianos are tuned ONLY for a gig and the rest of the time they are kept in good repair but not constantly tuned. To get them to a level that they can be used for recording takes calling the tuner and having them tuned. This is not something that the client wants but needs so they simply roll the cost into the hourly rate. If they do something different in other parts of the country it is a regional thing.

    Most pianos should be tuned on a regular basis to keep them in good repair and if that were the case here then you are correct the client, if he or she wants a special tuning, should pay for it but that is not the way it is at least here.

    As I mentioned in my previous post most of the recordings I do are in halls of classical pieces and the producer picks up the tab for the tuning. Just to be on the safe side the piano is tuned a couple of days before hand and then brought into final tune and octaves checked just before the recording session is due to start. If it is a really important CD recording session the tuner is ususally put on call fot the whole session and may stop by to fine tune things when we take a break.
  12. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Guest

    Then you'll also notice that I registered almost a full two years before you did.

    I realize now that you were stating an opinion but it was worded in such a way that it appeared to be factual, when indeed it's not. On most of the sessions that I'm involved in pianos are tuned several times a day and the client pays for each and every tuning. We're talking studios such as Avatar (Power Station), The Hit Factory, Right Track, Sound On Sound, Sony, etc.

    I'll gladly keep my mouth shut, providing you word your posts more carefully. Before I make any posts on this forum or any other, I make sure that I've got my facts straight. Anybody who doesn't deserves to get called on it.

    You're correct, I probably shouldn't have been so sarcastic on my previous post, and for that I appologize.
  13. ozraves

    ozraves Active Member

    Feb 25, 2002
    oklahoma city
    Home Page:
    the standard practice can vary. but, the norm is for there to be a charge for piano tuning. and, as jan points out, certain tracking scenarios can involve tuning the same piano throughout each session.

  14. slicraider

    slicraider Guest


    Having met Jan on a session at The Carriage House in Stamford Ct.. True to his reputation as validated by his numerous associations in NY he was a perfect gentleman and true professional. He is right about the client being charged for tuning and I would add that additionally any good NY Studio aligns and azimuths it's machines to the client's reference tones on a daily basis. Otherwise what would be the point of printing them in the first place. Another thing anyone in NY who has made it past general assistant knows is that they do not vocalize an opinion without knowing the facts and would do so only in the most curtious way and only when it was their place to comment.

    Let's face it. When everyone is a professional it all comes down to your people skills.

  15. bap

    bap Active Member

    Nov 22, 2003
    I have never paid for a studio tuning, but maybe whoever paid for the studio did. I'm not sure, but in controlled climate conditions of a good studio, pianos are less likely to go out than they are in spaces with varying temperature and humidity.

    When I have paid to use a space with piano for recording it has always been a church or hall with a good instrument and acoustics. I always try to get a good instrument but expect to pay for tuning as well as minor voicing and regulation if things are not quite up to snuff.
  16. mkruger

    mkruger Guest

    It's not that I don't agree with Jan, I do. When you read the first post it gives me the impression that the guy is talking about “low cost studios”. I posted a reply that I thought was better tailored to the original question. Jan is talking about major studios and sometimes things need to work differently in project studios because there is more of a concern over cost and obligation. I think people have overlook that. My post is merely a suggestion on what to do in that environment. If I were in a major studio I would defiantly agree 100% with Jan.

    The only reason for my second post was because I didn’t like his sarcasm. I was at fault for not making myself clear in the post. We cleared things up and everything is just peachy... :) I like the guy, I’m familiar with his work and I think he does a fine job.
  17. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Guest

    While I personally wouldn't disagree with the above, I must say that even the most expensive piano in a climate controlled room doesn't stay in tune enough from day to day in a $200/hour studio. The same goes for a studio charging $50/hour. What's the point of recording the thing if it's out of tune, even slightly. It's made of wood...it's DESIGNED to go out of tune!

    In response to the original poster, the client IS responsible (even in budget studios) to cover the cost of piano tuning the piano. I've never seen it built into the hourly or daily rate, it's always a line item, just like a rental.

    Studio rates are lower than they were 20 years ago, overhead is out of control and clients are constantly hammering studio managers to lower the rates ever further. I can't understand how ANY faciltiy can include a piano tuning in their rate.
  18. sosayu2

    sosayu2 Active Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    i don't make any money off of the tuning, i charge the client what they charge me to tune it....60.00
    if i had a perfectly climate controlled room with perfect humidity and didn't have people banging on the thing constantly it would probably stay in tune for longer than a week.
  19. bap

    bap Active Member

    Nov 22, 2003
    If it's a critical recording the piano will be tuned, no matter. With no moving, constant temperature and humidity and a master technician looking after it, a good piano will not stray far.

    There's a story [maybe even true] of the great Steinway technician, Franz Mohr, tuning Horowitz's piano for a Carnegie recital. The piano was then flown to Chicago for a recital. Upon it's return to New York, the piano was still in good enough tune to satisfy Horowitz. Experienced professionals would go to Steinway NY to study with Mohr, and most would spend at least 6 months before tuning a piano to his satisfaction.

    The quality of technician makes a BIG difference. There are many techs I know who have taken all the courses and belong to all the 'Guilds' whose tunings won't hold for 3 days. Others on the same piano in the same room can make it hold for a month. I personally have my favorite tech.
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