INSTRUMENT REPAIR & RESTORATIONAlternate Career Titles:
Instrument Repair Expert, Instrument Restoration
Career Overview: Repairs/Restores musical equipment that is broken, scratched, or is not working.
Career Salary Range: $9 to $55+ an hour
Become an Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist
Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialists usually thoroughly enjoy playing, hearing, and learning about the construction of instruments. When an instrument is damaged or broken, it is the Instrument Repair and Restoration specialists’ main responsibility to restore it. He or she usually specializes in a particular type of instrument like strings, piano, organ, brass, or percussion instruments. Sometimes, the Specialist will find they need a part for an older instrument that isn’t even made anymore, in which case they need to create and build new parts.
It is common for many Repair and Restoration Specialists to know how to play a variety of instruments, which is helpful in repairing or restoring an instrument to its original state. He or she can work in a music store, factory, or school, where the individual is paid a weekly salary or commission or works by the hour. They can even work in a museum, where he or she can restore instruments from earlier time periods. As more knowledge and experience is acquired, he or she might decide to work for themselves as a self-employed Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist.
The Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist might turn to building, designing, or supervising the production of instruments for manufacturers, shops, or individuals, in addition to their repair work.
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Due to a shortage of Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialists, salaries can be quite high. Of course, the salary amount still depends on the experience level of the Repair and Restoration Specialist, and the geographic location where the Specialist lives and works. All things considered, he or she might earn between $25,000 and $100,000 plus annually. If the instrument is rare or difficult to repair, one can even earn $250 or more per hour.
As mentioned, the shortage in skilled Specialists translates into a lot of opportunity for the talented applicant.
Once an individual has been trained in the craft of instrument repair and restoration, he or she must find a skilled craftsman or craftswoman to work with as an apprentice – a training period which usually lasts between 2 and 5 years. After the apprenticeship, the Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist might work in a shop and then they might move on to become self-employed.
Education and Training
To become a Specialist, one needs appropriate training in instrument technology and repair. A knowledge of woodworking and/or metalworking is also required, which is acquired usually in high school. One can also find additional training at many technical schools and colleges. To be a good Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist, one must know how to play a variety of instruments.
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Experience, Skills, and Personality
As mentioned, one must serve as an apprentice to a talented individual, which usually lasts between two to five years. The Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist needs a good musical ear, and must have a total dedication to learning the craft, showing a great deal of patience and above average mechanical ability.
Unions and Associations
Individuals can belong to the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the National Council of Acoustical Consultants (NCAC), the Piano Technicians’ Guild (PTG), or the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA).
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Find an instrument repair and restoration shop to apply for a job at any level, so you can watch, learn, and gain experience.
- Become skilled in as many repairs as possible by learning to do minor repairs, such as changing or replacing strings on stringed instruments.
- Network by joining professional organizations.