Are piano tuners who are members of the PTA really any better than those who are not?
This is an interesting question and one which doesn’t have a straightforward answer. If you are looking for a tuner and don’t have a recommendation to go on, then getting in contact with a Member of the Pianoforte Tuners’ Association (MPTA) either through the PTA website or in Yellow Pages or similar, is an essential first step. To become a Member, applicants must have had at least five years experience in tuning pianos and pass an advanced examination in tuning, repairing and general piano knowledge. This requirement is the Association’s greatest strength but also a major stumbling block in attracting new Members amongst existing established tuners. Some very good tuners are reluctant to put themselves through the ordeal of being judged by their peers and manage well enough on their own. There are, however, plenty of ‘tuners’ out there with no formal training and no real skill either who can fool some of the people often enough to supplement an income derived elsewhere, possibly teaching piano. Members of the PTA have to conform to certain standards or face possible disciplinary measures via a complaints procedure, which is, happily, rarely used! As was mentioned in the last issue of Pianist, training opportunities for student piano tuners may be reaching crisis point which could encourage more and more amateurs to call themselves tuners. Why take that risk when employing a qualified tuner who is a Member of the Association is just as easy?