Piano Tuning About Us

Hi. My name is Duane Graves. I am a certified piano TECHNICIAN (2013) and the owner of Duane's Piano Tuning & Technology. 

The next few lines are written so that you may get to know me a little and understand my journey to this point.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I am retired from my job that I held in a factory that manufactured kitchen cabinets and counter-tops. At this factory I was a Foreman (22 years) then a kitchen Cabinet Design Expert (21 years) all for the same firm in my home town of Minto, New Brunswick.

All tolled that was 43 years straight ahead. I could say "what a jail-sentence" but at first it wasn't all that bad. That is until the company was sold, not once but twice, in the span of about three years.

The third owner moved in and announced on the first day that I would be let go or really forced into retirement. Others followed, of course, but I had this little business going called Duane's Piano Tuning & Technology that I started in 2013 so off I went to employ myself at that.

The above paragraph was necessary to show you how this business began but there is more to it than that. Let me explain.

THE STORY BEGINS

I began playing piano about 27 years ago. I was 40 years old when I really got the bug. I remember I lived in a wee small house with my wife and our two small children and there was an auction at a local Church and one of the items was a full upright acoustic piano. That caught my attention as I had been playing around with the piano at my own Church at the time but was sick of going out of the house every time I wanted to practice. So, I went to the auction with the intention of out-bidding everyone for that piano. I was on a mission. 

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The long and the short of it is that I won the auction and paid something like $400 for a worn out upright piano that was about 100 years old. Of course, back then I didn't know a thing about pianos: how to play them, how to tune them or how to tweak the action of them. 

But, I did purchase this heavy monster and me and a couple of friends loaded it on a half-ton truck and brought it to my place. Now, as I said I had a small house at the time. How small you ask? So small that we had to take two doors off the house in order to get it inside. Once inside it took up so much room that one of the little living room chairs had to be taken away. Needless-to-say, my wife was "not" impressed but the kids and I had a great time learning to play the piano.

That being said, let me now tell you how my business got it's very humble beginning. In time me and my family bought another house that was much bigger and my sister wanted the old piano so I gave it to her. Now, in our new home it wasn't long before I decided I wanted another piano besides we had room for it this time. I bought the next piano "new" (no mileage as they say) this time and learned to play on it pretty-good and so did one of my daughters.

Over the course of time I had it tuned quit regularly and it's with one of these times when it needed tuned that I received inspiration to "tune it myself". I remember the day very well. I was playing my (by the way it is a white upright, which you don't see too many of these days) piano and noticing several of the notes were not sounding like they could or should, it seemed to me. So, obviously, I thought I have to get it tuned and then it struck me like a voice from a cloud saying, "YOU tune this piano....YOU will do it...." 

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That is literally how this all began. I went from that very moment to my computer and located an on-line study course that went into detail. The tuition was kind of expensive but I was driven and took the course for the next 8 months through correspondence. Passed the final papers and formed and named my business. 

Finally, in the spring of 2013 I booked my first two appointments. One for the morning and one for the afternoon. I was scared to death. Shaking in my boots. Jumpy as a goat....whatever.....but I carried on and am glad I did because that's how you grow and that's also how you learn. 

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Immediately, though, I found out some things. Which summed up are that the textbook study is one thing but the "hands-on" part is an experience in itself. Like a "Baptism-by-FIRE" or something and the reason I put it that way is because you have to get used to the fact that (#1)-the customer "loves" their piano (so don't screw it up); (#2)-don't stand there and tell them how horrible their piano is (even if it is) and (#3)-the reality is that about 25-35% (seems like) of all pianos you attempt to tune have to have some sort of adjustment or repair done to them first because you can't tune a piano that doesn't play properly. That's where the rubber meets the road. This was mind-boggling then but I must say it is exciting and very rewarding now to be able to fix a piano then tune it.

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So, anyway, over the last six years I have managed to get a clientele and have tuned and repaired nearly 500 pianos in that time. And truly I will tell you I love my job and love the people that I deal with.

It's very exciting to go into a home and see the eyes of the kids light up as I begin to take the top and bottom front panels off exposing the working parts of their piano. Often owners will take pictures of this and send them to family members wherever they live (via the technology of the day) and that could be literally anywhere in the world. 

I also enjoy the variety of ethnic groups that I meet and learn so much from them about hospitality and lifestyle. Some pianos tune harder than others in that they will not keep their tune being older usually and this should be no surprise. As well as some are in need of repairs that require the "action" taken out of the piano and placed on their living room floor as repairs are done right then and there whenever possible.

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration I don’t think you can ever go wrong”.
— Ella Fitzgerald

In the end I will tell you with all honesty I will probably do this until I am physically unable to continue and, Lord willing, that will be many years from now.

I try to keep my prices at a reasonable rate and have learned to charge not by how long it took me to repair something for instance, but by how long it should have taken me. This type of mindset always works in the customers favor. 

Thank you for reading this. I hope I didn't bore you too bad and that you will invite me to tune your piano soon. My motto is "I will always leave you "in" and "with" a tune". 

I hope you are having an exceptionally good day.

Duane Graves 

Duane's Piano Tuning & Technology
Ph 506 327-0108 cell or 506 327-3068

www.pianotuningfredericton.com