How Do I Become an Instrument Mechanic?

Alex Newth

One of the most overlooked jobs in the music industry is that of an instrument mechanic. These professionals must possess a special set of skills and have a suitable background to repair, tune, and maintain instruments. To become an instrument mechanic, you'll need to learn about the types of instruments you want to work with in detail. Being an expert at playing an instrument isn't usually required, although you must know how the instrument should sound when working correctly, along with every part of the instrument and its purpose.

An instrument mechanic is responsible for repairing musical instruments, like the organ.
An instrument mechanic is responsible for repairing musical instruments, like the organ.

Unlike many specialty jobs and careers, if you want to become an instrument mechanic, you do not necessarily need to earn a college degree. An associate's or bachelor's degree in some form of arts — preferably music — may be beneficial, but training and experience in making instruments, carpentry, and other hands-on repair are advisable. Simply knowing how to play instruments is not sufficient for repairing them. Instead, the best way to get the experience necessary to become an instrument mechanic is to work as an apprentice to an established mechanic or get training from a skilled repair person.

Most of the skills required to become an instrument mechanic must be acquired through being around instruments and training with established instrument mechanics and repair people. It is not necessary to be an expert at playing the instruments that you are repairing, but you should have a better than average knowledge of how those instruments should sound and work. You'll need to know every part of the instrument you are working on, and why each part is important.

The qualities required to become an instrument mechanic are generally broad in nature. You should enjoy music, and be capable of playing the instruments that you will be repairing. Patience is required to handle and repair the small and fragile parts of instruments, and you'll need to be thorough and detail-oriented to do the job well.

Some workshops require their employees to travel to a client's residence to inspect and tune instruments, so if you want to become an instrument mechanic, you should be comfortable working in a variety of locations. You'll need to have good interpersonal skills so that you can communicate with the client to determine the problem, and also inform the client of the procedures, costs, and other details of the repair. It's important that you communicate this to clients without talking down to them, or using too many technical terms that may be confusing.

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