1. Substance versus Style
Get the piano to play its best before you put the makeup on. Beginner techs will often start out with a cosmetic makeover because it is the easiest part of any restoration to perform. It’s great to have a beautiful instrument, but ultimately it will be a disappointment if it doesn’t play well. Whenever possible, try to steer the customer toward making the instrument sing before addressing its shine if the budget won’t cover it all. Another style trap to avoid is the allure of custom color schemes. What you think is a cool color combo today might not be something you’d want to live with for years to come. Sure, it might garner some attention, but it may also cause you to sit on a piano and investment for a lot longer than you’d anticipated. In my experience, unless it’s requested by a customer, stick to black; it’s the classic and safe choice for piano sales.
2. Where to Begin?
You should always start from the key bed and work upward. This truly cannot be emphasized enough! Due to inexperience or laziness, beginning techs will often overlook or dismiss this important principle. You have to have a full understanding of the mechanics of the piano and what the adjustments you make will accomplish in order to properly set up an action. Starting from the ground up is pivotal; it’s like building a house on a shaky foundation, it will never be right.
3. Let go of the Ego
It’s ok to not know everything. We are all learning every day and, thankfully, there isn’t one of us who knows it all. I regularly see guys out there, amateurs and so-called experts alike, offering shoddy advice and spreading misinformation on forums and blogs to people who might not be knowledgeable enough to know better. It is completely understandable and encouraged to ask advice from those more experienced, just do your due diligence before accepting any one person’s word, including mine! This will only lead to further your own education and thoroughness.
4. Career in Fairness
Never under or over sell your abilities or the value you bring to your customers. Be straight forward with your customers and offer them a fair deal. They will appreciate your honesty and respect you for the talents you offer. You are dedicating your life to the craft of vintage keyboard restoration and I can vouch that it is a very important and rewarding career. I am blown away by how appreciative Vintage Vibe customers are; I hear it over and over each day. It is why I do what I do and why I love going to work every day. Take your time building your craft as well as your business. It is much easier to become great at something when it’s not attached to financial burden and the stresses that can come along with it.
5. Focus and Education
In whatever you do, never spread yourself too thin. Focus on being great at one thing and strive each day to do it better than you had before. When you’ve mastered that thing, move on to another. Here at Vintage Vibe, everyone is able to do it all, but we each have areas of expertise and the workload is divided accordingly. Many beginner techs come out of the gate thinking they can easily do it all and end up spreading themselves too thin. It waters down one’s focus, energy, expertise and credibility. Remember #3, about the ego? I have personally seen many techs perform museum quality cosmetic restorations but on the inside, where it counts most, it was clear that they simply didn’t know the fundamentals of piano work. To me this is a farce of the highest order. I believe that most players do not know the difference between what an average and masterful restoration feels like. It all comes down to education on both sides: the tech and the customer.