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Piano tuning; should the client or studio pay for it?
Old 8th July 2013
  #91
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🎧 10 years
The client may not be able to claim it as an expense unless they are a professional musician and are in the business of making music. The studio always can if they are offering a service for money. That is generally the case. In any event, receipts will be needed from the piano tuner in case you get audited by the tax man.
Old 8th July 2013
  #92
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psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave ➡️
The client may not be able to claim it as an expense unless they are a professional musician and are in the business of making music. The studio always can if they are offering a service for money. That is generally the case. In any event, receipts will be needed from the piano tuner in case you get audited by the tax man.
We could go into this further, but it doesn't really matter. In the professional world, the client pays for tuning in the day, and it's the studio's responsibility to make sure the piano is in good shape (which may mean paying for tuning once in a while).

At the end of the day, the client is always paying.

People can argue about what they think it should be like, but this is how it works!
Old 8th July 2013 | Show parent
  #93
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave ➡️
If the studio pays for it the studio can claim it for tax purposes as a viable operational cost.
unless you are using your studio as a front for laundering the proceeds of criminal activity, the cash is always going to be worth more to you than the deduction.

Quote:
If your goal is to make money, donating for a deduction may not be the way to go. The deduction is worth only a fraction of the car’s value. If your marginal tax rate is 28 percent, a donated car worth $2,000 will generate a deduction of only $560. You could get more by selling the car yourself.
you "find" and "claim" deductions in the things you have to pay for anyway

you don't start paying for things you don't have to pay for, just to get a "deduction".


since we have already established ad nauseam "who pays", the idea of a studio starting to pay for something they never paid for in the past, just to get a deduction, doesn't make any sense.
Old 10th July 2013
  #94
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think it may be a matter of the wrong question being asked. Of course the studio pays to maintain the piano, and this is on top of the very expensive costs of regular maintenance, property tax, and insurance (the extra insurance rider on my $120,000 piano isn't cheap). I look at my piano as an asset, and I keep it in excellent condition so that it remains such.

Therefore, our Artist Bank Stienway D is in a "standard state" of tune. It's in a strict temperature (73-75 deg F) and humidity (45-55%) controlled environment. It is only touched by trained hands. Its state of tune, ease of action, lack of noise is leagues beyond any household instrument. I offer its use free of charge with standard hourly rates.

BUT, if the client really wants the intonation to be at a level beyond standard tune, they must pay because it is expensive to tune it, and we would lose money on the session. And why offer such an expensive instrument for the chance to lose money?

Greg

.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #95
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The client pays for the tuning.
Would anyone expect the studio to pay for the guitar players tuning, even using one of the studio guitars? No.
If the drummer want them drums tuned he does or someone pays for it.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #96
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
A good tuning costs over a $100. Good mics pick up every nuance and if the piano is out of tune in the slightest the recording picks that up.

Every place, that is pro, you pay for the piano to be tuned. You can also pay to have the tuner on call so that they will come back and touch up the piano if the performer knocks it out of tune.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #97
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John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano ➡️
A good tuning costs over a $100. Good mics pick up every nuance and if the piano is out of tune in the slightest the recording picks that up.

Every place, that is pro, you pay for the piano to be tuned. You can also pay to have the tuner on call so that they will come back and touch up the piano if the performer knocks it out of tune.
"if"? more likely "when".
Old 11th July 2013
  #98
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eagle007's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
If you rent a car, who pays for gas ?
Old 11th July 2013
  #99
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RMJAZZ's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Pianos go out of tune at a moment's notice. You should have it tuned at the beginning of the day that you are using it for your recording.....and that is why it is standard for the client to pay. Tunning it once a month just doesn't cut it. Although I hear a ton of out of tune pianos on records these days....I have had them tuned twice per day before for certain recordings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLateNight ➡️
I've heard of a few people in my local music scene complain of the fee to have the piano tuned in a studio when their project requires use of the piano. In my personal opinion, shouldn't it be the responsibility of the studio to keep the piano in tune? Or is it normal to have a studio charge you for the fee of tuning the piano prior to a recording session. I'd imagine a lot of people use the piano, I'd think it'd be unnecessary to have it tuned prior to every session that uses it.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #100
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Ward Pike's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle007 ➡️
If you rent a car, who pays for gas ?
More like... "If you rent a car (Car hire), who pays for routine maintenance?"
Old 11th July 2013
  #101
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Why not factor a piano tuning fee into your monthly rates? (Get it tuned every so often, and divide the cost against your hourly rates over the course a month)
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #102
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John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
Why not factor a piano tuning fee into your monthly rates? (Get it tuned every so often, and divide the cost against your hourly rates over the course a month)
That's what most studios do.

But it's not in a recordable condition like that.

Tuning changes with temperature.

It really should be tuned on the morning of recording and again during the lunch break.

That's two visits of the tuner per day - minimum - it is also common to have a technician on site all day to tweak as required; especially when recording a solo pianl recital.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #103
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
Why not factor a piano tuning fee into your monthly rates? (Get it tuned every so often, and divide the cost against your hourly rates over the course a month)
The answer to that is simple. You really need to tune the piano the day of the recording --- sometimes you can do it the day before. A sudden humidity change could pop out a few unisons quickly.

Now, let's say you tune the piano every week and 'build that into the cost'. Well, the fact is, you never really know what the recording schedule is going to look like. So, a studio could easily lose a LOT of money doing often wasted tunings for no recording session. If you did build that into the cost you have to take into account all the possible loss. So now, for the client, the cost to record is higher.

Finally, while it is good to keep the piano in tune, such often tuning does put wear and tear on the piano.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #104
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
Why not factor a piano tuning fee into your monthly rates? (Get it tuned every so often, and divide the cost against your hourly rates over the course a month)
The answer to that is simple. You really need to tune the piano the day of the recording --- sometimes you can do it the day before. A sudden humidity change could pop out a few unisons quickly.

Now, let's say you tune the piano every week and 'build that into the cost'. Well, the fact is, you never really know what the recording schedule is going to look like. So, a studio could easily lose a LOT of money doing often wasted tunings for no recording session. If you did build that into the cost you have to take into account all the possible loss. So now, for the client, the cost to record is higher.

Finally, while it is good to keep the piano in tune, such often tuning does put wear and tear on the piano.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #105
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano ➡️
The answer to that is simple. You really need to tune the piano the day of the recording --- sometimes you can do it the day before. A sudden humidity change could pop out a few unisons quickly.

Now, let's say you tune the piano every week and 'build that into the cost'. Well, the fact is, you never really know what the recording schedule is going to look like. So, a studio could easily lose a LOT of money doing often wasted tunings for no recording session. If you did build that into the cost you have to take into account all the possible loss. So now, for the client, the cost to record is higher.

Finally, while it is good to keep the piano in tune, such often tuning does put wear and tear on the piano.
What are average rates for tuning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➡️
That's what most studios do.

But it's not in a recordable condition like that.

Tuning changes with temperature.

It really should be tuned on the morning of recording and again during the lunch break.

That's two visits of the tuner per day - minimum - it is also common to have a technician on site all day to tweak as required; especially when recording a solo pianl recital.
I asked the other poster what the average rates are for tuning are...but lets say you average out the costs of two visits a day...vs the day rate to have someone on site.

Then you could offer options no? A day rate for two tunings added on top of your regular rate costs for the day...(Only offered to 8 hour plus day rates), and the option to pay more to have the tech on site all day when it's going to be primarily about tracking piano for an 8 hour stretch.

Otherwise lets say you tune it once a month and factor that into overhead...that seems a happy medium so you aren't overly tuning it to the point of causing too much wear and tear to me...but at least its never really out of wack either. (So someone should be able to audition the piano even if it's slightly out of tune to get the gist.)

But I see no reason not to factor this into costs a client should be charged for.
Old 11th July 2013
  #106
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loujudson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
This is live, not studio, but a certain famous newage pianist played our club and the rider demanded the piano be tuned the day before, just before soundcheck, again after soundcheck, at intermission, and after the show so he could practice from midnight to 2AM. I feel this was a bit excessive, and doubt seriously he paid for it! Everyone knows his music, and his imittion jazz tunes, and he did fill the house the first day, so I guess it was worth it.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #107
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emrr's Avatar
 
24 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike ➡️
More like... "If you rent a car (Car hire), who pays for routine maintenance?"
I say wrong analogy, I agree with the gas analogy. If you rent a guitar, who tunes it, and when? You do, as needed, throughout the time you use it. If you can't tune it, someone else has to. Pianos require almost as much tuning, and it's a specialized skill requiring hired expertise.

Or this: Carry your own piano into the studio to avoid paying the studios piano costs. Now pay the piano movers, now pay the tuner at least double to correct the effects of having moved it; they probably have to stay on site all day.

The studio has already done a service by having a piano in the first place. Of course you are free to haul in a keyboard and trigger whatever samples you like best, if it's the financial and aesthetic route you desire.
Old 11th July 2013
  #108
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
I asked the other poster what the average rates are for tuning are...but lets say you average out the costs of two visits a day...vs the day rate to have someone on site.

Then you could offer options no? A day rate for two tunings added on top of your regular rate costs for the day...(Only offered to 8 hour plus day rates), and the option to pay more to have the tech on site all day when it's going to be primarily about tracking piano for an 8 hour stretch.

Otherwise lets say you tune it once a month and factor that into overhead...that seems a happy medium so you aren't overly tuning it to the point of causing too much wear and tear to me...but at least its never really out of wack either. (So someone should be able to audition the piano even if it's slightly out of tune to get the gist.)

But I see no reason not to factor this into costs a client should be charged for.
A studio would, I guess, have the piano checked and tuned every month or so as part of the regular maintenance.

Tuning morning and lunch would probably be offered by the studio as an option as they would use a local tuner who would tune other pianos on the down time.

A technician on site would be a lot more expensive and would probably be, for example, a Steinway approved technician and would possibly be arranged via the pianist or producer rather than the studio.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #109
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➡️
A studio would, I guess, have the piano checked and tuned every month or so as part of the regular maintenance.

Tuning morning and lunch would probably be offered by the studio as an option as they would use a local tuner who would tune other pianos on the down time.

A technician on site would be a lot more expensive and would probably be, for example, a Steinway approved technician and would possibly be arranged via the pianist or producer rather than the studio.
OK, there you go...the main thing is to have these rates listed, either in a PDF / brochure you give to clients, or on your website so you can always discuss them well in advance. But I what you're summarizing is totally fair. Part of studio management to me, has always been about breaking down costs in a realistic manner so the client doesn't have to feel overwhelmed with time management Vs. what they're paying. I don't and haven't ever owned a real piano though I've had plenty of weighted keyboards...so I just don't know what the costs would other than the few times I've rented out a spot with one.
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #110
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
OK, there you go...the main thing is to have these rates listed, either in a PDF / brochure you give to clients, or on your website so you can always discuss them well in advance. But I what you're summarizing is totally fair. Part of studio management to me, has always been about breaking down costs in a realistic manner so the client doesn't have to feel overwhelmed with time management Vs. what they're paying. I don't and haven't ever owned a real piano though I've had plenty of weighted keyboards...so I just don't know what the costs would other than the few times I've rented out a spot with one.
as should be clear by now, 'client pays for day of session tuning' is an industry standard practice. We have heard from people all over the world.

Anyone who is shocked by this practice can only be shocked by it ONCE.

In any case, I don't think I have ever just automatically booked the tuner and dropped the piano tuning bill on a client as a surprise . heh
Old 11th July 2013
  #111
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adrianww's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman ➡️
OK, there you go...the main thing is to have these rates listed, either in a PDF / brochure you give to clients, or on your website so you can always discuss them well in advance. But I what you're summarizing is totally fair. Part of studio management to me, has always been about breaking down costs in a realistic manner so the client doesn't have to feel overwhelmed with time management Vs. what they're paying. I don't and haven't ever owned a real piano though I've had plenty of weighted keyboards...so I just don't know what the costs would other than the few times I've rented out a spot with one.
For a straightforward tuning that doesn't require too much work on a piano that is reasonably pitched/roughly in tune to start with, you're probably looking at anywhere in the £50 to £100 range, depending on where you are, the person doing the tuning and the type of piano. (And that is pounds Sterling, not dollars - I assume that the US prices will be on a par, adjusted for the exchange rate.)

For more complex toning and tuning work, add a couple of hundred pounds. Maybe more depending on how much work needs done.

If there are individual strings that need replacing or fixing, add anywhere from maybe ten to fifty pounds, per string. If there are lots that need attention, budget several hundred to a couple of thousand pounds for a complete restring - possibly plus the cost of the strings themselves if they have to be ordered specially from the manufacturer (may well be the case for some).

For other tuning related or action repairs, it's often an hourly rate arrangement, with rates anywhere in the £30 to £100 per hour range - possibly even more if the tuner is particularly good or a specialist.

This is just from my own researches and a bit of web-trawling when I was thinking of buying a piano last year.

As for the original question here, I don't run a studio and I don't own a piano myself (yet!) I've also never been involved in any kind of professional studio session anywhere. However, as a keyboard player, I have always assumed that, if I was to be called upon to record something for someone and it involved a piano at a studio somewhere, then:

1) I would at least expect the studio piano to be reasonably maintained and in tune - possibly well enough to be acceptable for the session (depending on what was being recorded)

2) However...if the piano was key to the piece and needed to be in tip-top condition and tuned specially on the day, then I (or whoever booked the session) would be picking up the tab for the additional tuning, etc.

Given the costs involved, that's the only approach that makes sense to me at all. I'm glad to hear that it also seems to be the way that things actually work in the real commercial studio world. Kind of reassures me that I'm not detached from reality (well, not in that respect anyway).
Old 11th July 2013 | Show parent
  #112
ITJ
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ITJ's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno ➡️
I think every studio I've ever worked in charges piano tuning back to the client. And you've got to request a tuning in advance so it can be scheduled. Piano tuning can drift due to a variety of factors, so if you want it in tune for your song you need to have it tuned the morning/day of your session. And even then, it may drift during the course of the day...
Great post! Same here.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #113
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy ➡️
Therein lies the problem if the studio policy isn't that the client pays for tuning. Unless, of course, the hourly rate is $400.
I came up with a solution that seems to deal with this situation:

Client pays an extra fee (roughly equal to 1/4 the local going rate for piano tuning) per hour for the first 1-4 hours. If they are still in the studio recording after that, the price drops to the normal rate, but if they feel the piano now is not enough in tune for them, they can pay for another tuning.

Thus, if you have a few piano clients who say they only need an hour or two to record, the total of the extra charges will quickly pay for a tuning.

I tune the piano quarterly, since I have a family member that is studying piano who practices on this piano, so it is never horribly out of tune, in any event.

If I have a rock band, and they just need to add a line on the piano or a few chords, they can either play the piano as is or use a midi-sampled keyboard (for their purposes, absolutely indistinguishable from the real thing).
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #114
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2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➡️
When I record piano we have a technician on hand all day.

He tunes the piano before the session and again at lunchtime and is available to do any required tweaks the whole day.

This is paid for by the client, the same people who pay me to record and the same people who pay the pianist and producer.

A studio piano, I would say, should be in tune, but a recording session would require more than this and should be paid for by the client.
THIS!

We provide the client with a choice - take the piano as it is (good order and the tuning is close enough for most rock music) or have it tuned immediately before the session (client pays) or have the tech right there and all day (obviously the client has to pay).

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➡️
Tuning changes with temperature.
And with humidity. For that reason, if you have a decent piano, keeping both temperature and humidity constant will pay dividends.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #115
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fred2bern's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
At the end the client pays for everyting.
If you pay for your client, you close your doors.

I'm with John Willett: when I record piano chamber music I have a technician on hand - or available very fast. For piano concerto the technician stay there, no way to make a full orchestra wait for a tune correction.

Last edited by fred2bern; 3 weeks ago at 12:55 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #116
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psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabehizer ➡️
I came up with a solution that seems to deal with this situation:

Client pays an extra fee (roughly equal to 1/4 the local going rate for piano tuning) per hour for the first 1-4 hours. If they are still in the studio recording after that, the price drops to the normal rate, but if they feel the piano now is not enough in tune for them, they can pay for another tuning.

Thus, if you have a few piano clients who say they only need an hour or two to record, the total of the extra charges will quickly pay for a tuning.

I tune the piano quarterly, since I have a family member that is studying piano who practices on this piano, so it is never horribly out of tune, in any event.

If I have a rock band, and they just need to add a line on the piano or a few chords, they can either play the piano as is or use a midi-sampled keyboard (for their purposes, absolutely indistinguishable from the real thing).
Seems a bit overcomplicated to me. And financially no different to the “client pays” model.

I agree semi-regular maintenance tunings should be part of the studio budget.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #118
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santibanks's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
But how about voicing of the piano? Do studios generally allow for the piano to be voiced to the specifications of the player?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #119
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Ask any piano technician and he will let you know that in the case of a grand piano , by the time he has finished tuning it , its all ready out of tune. Like someone mentioned above we often have a tuner in for the morning of the session and hang around to see if any regulation is required. This is part of the session and a minimum requirement for commercial piano recordings so its part of the clients cost. Tuning a piano once a month or so will not keep it in tune..Thats not at all how the instrument works.....We often spend up to $3000 a year on regulation and servicing and voicing of our concert grand , these cost we encure as part of owning a very expensive concert grand piano. Tuning should happen every session and be payed for by the client.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #120
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psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by santibanks ➡️
But how about voicing of the piano? Do studios generally allow for the piano to be voiced to the specifications of the player?
I can only see this being an issue in classical venues, or recording spaces. Your average music studio has a piano at 440.

Again, I can't speak for everyone, but if we had a request for this, I'd say yes but it needs to be reset again on your dime.
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