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#1180447 - 04/14/09 07:36 PM Rebuilder not in PTG?
si99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 43
Would it be unusual for someone who has supposedly been rebuilding and tuning pianos, including Steinways (I saw several at his home), for 30 years, not to be in the piano technicians guild?

Before heading over there I did a quick lookup on his name but did not find it on the PTG site. Is this an organization that you would expect any reputable tuner, techician, rebuilder etc., to be in? Or is it purely optional for people in that line of business.

He also refinishes grey market Yamahas.

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#1180452 - 04/14/09 07:47 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: si99]
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1470
Loc: Old Hangtown California
This topic could easily resurrect some passoniate responses.
For me, I only have experience within the Piano Technicians Guild so my answer would favor the Guild.
I could easily imagine the difficulty involved with learning rebuilding outside of and away from the most generous support and depth of experience that I have found within the Guild.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#1180478 - 04/14/09 08:42 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Gene Nelson]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

I would have to agree with Gene on this one but I will answer your two questions as best I can:

#1. No, it would not be unusual at all. Pianos have been around for more than 300 years and have been restored and repaired long before there was a guild.

#2. Yes membership is voluntary.

#3. Refinishing woodwork is a completely different career and has nothing to do with the restoration or rebuilding of pianos. Yes there is a cabinet woodworking and refinishing component to pianos, most factories have a complete cabinet division.

Refinishing however, is not cabinet building.

Think of it like painting cars. You don’t have to be a mechanic to paint your automobile.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1180495 - 04/14/09 09:23 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
RPD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 961
Loc: Kalamazoo Michigan
My 2 cents, tentatively offered...this has been a very heated and passionate topic here.

You will find qualified rebuilders who are in, and also some who are not in, the PTG. Membership is voluntary, but the Guild is a very important organization that places heavy emphasis on continued education and training/registering qualified technicians.

My own limited involvement w/PTG is not formal, although I (like others, I am sure) subscribe to, and literally digest the publications like the PTG Journal each month!

Many older or long established rebuilders served apprenticeships or were self taught, when apprenticeships were possibly more the normal way of entering the industry.

I'm probably the non-guild member who most frequently applauds the PTG, although I'm also aware of many fine tuner/technicians who operate independently. If you have a non-guild rebuilder/tuner who does good work, great....but if you're flying blind in searching for a good tech, you can find a high level of consistency by seeking out PTG tuners and rebuilders, FWIW.

RPD





Edited by RPD (04/14/09 09:26 PM)
_________________________
MPT(Master Piano Technicians of America)
Member AMICA (Automated Musical Instruments Collector's Association)
(Subscriber PTG Journal)
Piano-Tuner-Rebuilder/Musician www.actionpianoservice.com

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#1180500 - 04/14/09 09:32 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
I personally have found the best rebuilders are involved with the PTG in some way. They may not be RPT's but craftsman.
Many RPT's can not rebuild pianos.

Those that are members of the Guild and take in the conferences are often the most up to date on procedures, tooling and supplies available.

I have been taking up to two conferences a year since 1988 and I own much of my applied knowledge to ideas picked up in classes and in conversations with people willing to offer there wisdom gained through experience.

Guys like Del & Darrell Fandrich whom I will always appreciate for there gift of friendship and willingness to share.

If one is a member of the guild and doesn't read the Journal, take in local technicals and nation wide conferences, their really missing out of some of the best ways of keeping up with the trade.

Being a member of anything guarantees nothing. Always check many references.

My opinion cause I will never know everything. grin
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#1180507 - 04/14/09 09:45 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
One can say this with certainty:
Many, perhaps even most, of the finest piano technicians and rebuilders (in North America!) are members of the PTG.

The others....


... are not.




[ducking and covering]
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1180518 - 04/14/09 10:03 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Supply]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21394
Loc: Oakland
Quote:
The others....


... are not.

By that you mean the other of the finest piano technicians and rebuilders, of course. No argument with that!
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1180540 - 04/14/09 10:53 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: BDB]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5226
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Most of the really good technicians and rebuilders I have known over my 45+ years in this business have been members of the PTG.

There have been a few notable exceptions. But they are just that--a few.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1180551 - 04/14/09 11:11 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Del]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1068
Loc: PA
Ask him where he received his training.

Did you get his name out of the phone book or an ad, or were you referred to him?

You also didn't mention why you went to his home. Are you looking to buy a rebuilt piano?

Does he offer a warrantee?
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1180707 - 04/15/09 08:03 AM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: daniokeeper]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4914
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Just for the record, the PTG does not test rebuilding skills.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1180964 - 04/15/09 02:40 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: UnrightTooner]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
I am a long time member of PTG. I support and believe in the value of this organization. I have also know some top quality techs and rebuilder who are not. As was mentioned, the focus of the PTG is on piano servicing. The scope of complete rebuilding and refinishing is not a focus of the PTG, even though there are regular articles in thier publication to these activities.

I have also know of some very shady charlatans and down right rip off artists in the "rebuilding" business. Buyer beware! Get referrences and see examples of their work.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#1182311 - 04/17/09 02:40 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Marty Flinn]
si99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 43
Wow. Thanks for all the input. I was not expecting it but I am grateful.

I see a lot of strong views in this forum but I can understand that this is to be expected in a profession that some people got into because they were passionate about it. Those people probably don't have a lot of time for the hacks that lurk amongst any line of business.

I quite like the fellow and he seems to enjoy what he does. Joe, I only found about him through a grey market U1 advertised on Craiglist. Since he was a rebuilder (That's what he refers to himself as), I decided to come and take a look at what this was all about.

Now, to make a story longer (And I can see people rolling their eyes a little here, but bear with me), he is in a house that he bought as an investment property and it went bad with the meltdown, wouldn't sell, so he is sitting it out by living in it with his young daughter (Remember, this is just him telling me). I do not have any reason to doubt him. He really does come across as legit. But he's a single dad and with things slowing down he gave up his storage space and moved all the pianos into his house, which is a pretty decent size. I saw two nice Steinway grands, an unrestored K vertical and three grey market Yamaha U's.

He does three things: 1) Rebuild pianos, mainly Steinway, for customers. This is his love but he said it isn't enough income. 2) Recondition and sell the grey market Yamahas, and with the demographic in my part of the country there is always a healthy trade in that. 3) Source pianos for people.

He showed me the vintage Steinway action that he had just completely rebuilt with new parts, the original action, where the problems were etc. He showed me the new keys that he had just finished making with his key cutting machine (I think there is a name for this). The jobs looked perfect to my untrained eye. It was a good learning experience. He likes to talk and seems really passionate about what he does. Showed me where shortcuts can be taken on refurbishing the grey market items and the stuff that is important to do because he knows there are quite a few folks in that business around here.

I am pretty new to this so I am learning as I go. For all I know, I could have been fed garbage but I don't have the sense that that is the case. I figure that a sale of a piano also means an ongoing customer and word of mouth seems to be pretty important in this business. I just decided to do some checking so the first place I went is the guild website, didn't see his name on in and thought I would ask the forum. I didn't ask him why he was not a member, in case you are wondering.

Thanks everyone. I'll keep reading, learning and hopefully end up with a nice vertical for my $3k budget.

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#1182320 - 04/17/09 02:47 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: si99]
si99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 43
Oh and Joe, to answer your other questions, yes, he does warranty his pianos.

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#1182323 - 04/17/09 02:52 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: si99]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Because rebuilding/restoration is a boutique business now, a lot of fellows work from their home. In a lot of areas of the country the amount of rebuilds will not support having a storefront shop.

This does not diminish his quality of work in any way.

Someone like this will have a customer base that he has sold to previous and may have testimonials or thank-you letters from satisfied customers.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1182386 - 04/17/09 04:39 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Because rebuilding/restoration is a boutique business now, a lot of fellows work from their home. In a lot of areas of the country the amount of rebuilds will not support having a storefront shop.

This does not diminish his quality of work in any way.



Off topic but I thought came to me.

I have a commercial set up and I guess I have enough work to have a storefront set up.
I, every year have the fire marshal check out our shop and make sure we are working within the legal fire regulations. 3 hour fire ratings, metal doors, sprinklers, filters, air make up and material storage areas.
Our booth cost us $60,000.00 18 years ago. They check every business in our complex not just me.

I also have to give a report every year to my insurance company to make sure the products I own but more importantly my clients stuff is covered.

I have to carry major insurance. Last month I had a new piano in here valued at $500,000
also I have 9 customer Steinways here plus 40 other pianos.

I also have to renew my business licence every year.

O.K. to my question how do rebuilders working out of garages or basements get coverage and business licenses in other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Any problems refinishing in residential areas of cities?

I wounder if laws are easier in the U.S. cities or small towns.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#1182401 - 04/17/09 04:54 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1068
Loc: PA
Everything you said sounds great.

In converstion, I'd gently lead into how he learned his craft.

I'd also ask if he had a detailed list of what he did. New strings? New hammers? That sort of thing.

I agree 100% with Dan... Just because he doesn't have an actual storefront business certainly doesn't disqualify him from doing fine work.

Also, as has been pointed out by numerous forum members in numerous threads... It's important to make sure it's the right piano for you. This is a very personal decision that only you can make. Play it, listen to it, make sure you actually like it.

Good luck!
-Joe
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1182444 - 04/17/09 05:45 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: daniokeeper]
si99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 43
Verhnjak,

I think your post answers your own question.

There are many ways to run a business. At one end you have the employer who complies with the applicable federal, state and local laws, pays employee taxes, levies, maintains buildings up to fire standards, pays for insurance, etc. etc. At the other end you have someone who operates out of their house solo for cash. And you have those that lies between these two.

Don't get any of us started on this topic. Government beauracracy is to common sense what the sound of a beautiful piano is to fingernails on a blackboard.

Regards,

Simon

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#1182459 - 04/17/09 05:55 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: si99]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2401
Loc: Olympia, WA
Have you asked other respected technicians in your area what they think of the rebuilder's work? Most experienced field technicians will know about the work of the competent rebuilders in a given area.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1182850 - 04/18/09 09:56 AM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: rysowers]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Quote:
O.K. to my question how do rebuilders working out of garages or basements get coverage and business licenses in other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Any problems refinishing in residential areas of cities?


Rod,

We used to have a really, really, rotten piano 'tooner' who rebuilt, (supposedly) re-finished and all that stuff in a very large shop selling old worthless crappy uprights, re-finished first of course and new key tops; grands and whatever else he could get his hands on. He never did anything with the insides. He would sell (and this is 25 -30 years ago) the old uprights for $800-$1200 and GET IT. Grands were sold for much more. When we arrived only to find that this guy did the work, we would walk out 99% of the time because they were all total junk. Loose pins, not regulated, split bridges, you name it, it was wrong with it. He was had no credentials whatsoever and worked this way for his entire life time managing to stay busy because he was such a nice guy.

He was taken to court a lot yet, he managed somehow to stay in business well into his 80's. So, perhaps you are correct in your assessment that it is easier to be sneaky and say nothing about what business you are in here.

Of course, I'm an RPT, have a DBA (Doing Business As, which is voluntary so that nobody else in town can use my name)license and in one month will also become incorporated to save myself some taxes. But, I'm not required to have any other type of license that I know of.

I know of a few other fly by nights that do likewise, working out the back of their garages so that people don't really know what is going on in there...

That isn't to say all of the garage or house sellers are fly by nights but, you get my drift, I think... People can be as sneaky as they want and as dishonest as they want and get away with it most of the time anywhere.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1182998 - 04/18/09 03:06 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Because rebuilding/restoration is a boutique business now, a lot of fellows work from their home. In a lot of areas of the country the amount of rebuilds will not support having a storefront shop.

This does not diminish his quality of work in any way.



O.K. to my question how do rebuilders working out of garages or basements get coverage and business licenses in other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Any problems refinishing in residential areas of cities?

I wounder if laws are easier in the U.S. cities or small towns.

As for business licenses,they don't. It really depends on your relationship with your neighbors. If you got piano movers comimg and going in a residential setting,eventually someone will make issue. As for full on rebuilding,I think the facility reflects on the quality of your work. If you're just doing action stacks in your one car garage,it probably can be done. In that type setting you're limited in the tools,jigs and machines because of your space restraints. I don't know anybody drying and pressing new soundboards in their garage.
As for refinishing,it is impossible to get a permitted spray booth in a residential environment. A funny story! though not for the tech at the time. Upon spraying that polyester primer coat in his garage,he got a knock at the door.The fire marshall and the police had surrounded his house thinking he had a Meth lab in operation.Needless to say I do his refinishing now. grin
The same tech used to spray his cast iron plates which were hanging from a tree in the back yard.It's probably not much different than a mechanic fixing up a few klunkers in the garage as opposed to his day gig at the dealer. wink


Edited by pianobroker (04/18/09 03:08 PM)
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#1183035 - 04/18/09 05:14 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: pianobroker]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Around these parts of Ontario the municipal bylaws reign supreme. In my municipality you are technically not allowed to run any business out of your garage but you can from your home or basement.
As for refinishing, if your spraying anything other than spray bombs you must have a sparkless fan for extraction (they are not cheap) and submit to regular inspections; and if your sandblasting (a plate for instance) you have to submit samples to the Ministry of Environment for testing every couple months and be approved for the operation (not possible in a residential neighborhood.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#1183045 - 04/18/09 05:46 PM Re: Rebuilder not in PTG? [Re: Emmery]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21394
Loc: Oakland
Of course, none of those requirements precludes contracting those jobs out.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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