After finding the right instrument, case, accessories, and teacher, the next decision you’ll be confronted with is finding an instrument repair technician to take care of routine maintenance and emergency repairs. Similar to purchasing a used car without taking a test drive first, you shouldn’t just choose a random repair technician without talking to or visiting their shop first. Here are a few pointers for finding the right technician, and advice for how to make the most of the relationship once you’ve established one.
Which Instruments Do They Repair?
Some shops specialize in student models only, while others cater to a specific instrument. There is a tremendous variation in the complexity of the parts in a student model when compared to a professional model so, if you’re playing a professional grade instrument, find someone with the experience, parts, and qualifications to match. Don’t fall for the “they all work the same” routine, as a technician who is unfamiliar with your instrument or model could do more harm than good. When visiting the shop, take a look around the shop and at which instruments are on the bench- this should be a good indication of their specialty.
Is the Shop Fully-Stocked?
This may be difficult for you to determine on your own so, if you’re having trouble evaluating how stocked the shop is, be straightforward and ask. In some cases, a repair shop will have everything on hand for virtually any repair, while smaller shops will need to have certain parts delivered. While the latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it could be if your instrument is in need of a quick, emergency repair. In most cases, your local repair shop can refer you to someone in emergency situations. Ask specific questions about the technician’s diagnostic and repair techniques and evaluate their answers against the other technicians you interview.
How Qualified is the Technician?
As a general rule of thumb, your instrument technician should have musical skills equal to your own. If your tech can’t play your instrument it may be difficult for them to determine if it’s in peak shape or if they’ve fixed certain problems. Don’t expect a non-musician to be able to repair your instrument as well as a musician with 20+ years of experience. Most (but not all) instrument repair technicians in the United States are members of NABIRT. Although this isn’t the only association for professional technicians, it is the most well known. These professional associations provide continuing education and have membership requirements, so ask to see your repair technician’s qualifications.
What Should I Tell the Technician?
Just like a visit to the doctor, you should tell your technician everything- even if the damage is a result of your own carelessness. Be as specific as possible and don’t forget to mention minor problems that only come up every once in awhile. If you find yourself scrambling to remember everything that’s wrong with your instrument, create a list that you add items to over time. This way, you can hand the list to your technician when you take your instrument in for maintenance. When you head to the repair shop, bring your usual setup as the technician may want to hear you play. And don’t forget to bring your case! The technician likely won’t fix your instrument on the spot, so it’s best to protect your instrument until he or she can get to it.
What Do Their References Say?
Any reputable repair technician will be happy to provide you a list of references. If they dodge the subject or flat out refuse to provide references, they’re probably trying to hide something. Would you trust a car repair technician to repair your car without first checking out their reviews or getting a referral from a friend? If you answered “no”, why would trusting someone to repair your instrument be any different? Before visiting a repair shop, check out their reviews on Yelp, and make an educated decision based on what you read. And don’t only focus on the negative reviews- read through the positive and average reviews, too, for a complete picture.
How Long Will the Shop Keep My Instrument?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer for this question, and it usually depends on the type of repair. For example, minor repairs can sometimes be performed same-day, while a more in-depth fix may take a few days. One word of advice: never rush the technician, unless you’re OK with low-quality work. If you have an emergency repair that requires the repair technician to work overtime, be prepared to pay a little extra. Often, the tech will provide a reasonably accurate estimate of how long the repair will take, and will keep you updated if the timeframe changes. In most cases, repairs tend to take longer than one day but less than a week, so plan accordingly. Most repair shops don’t have loaner instruments so, if you think you’ll need one, speak with your child’s music teacher as they may have an extra on hand.
Should I Ask for an Estimate?
In order to avoid any surprises on your bill, always ask for a written estimate. In most cases, the repair tech will provide one without being asked, as written estimates protect both parties. Not only will it protect you from being overcharged, but it will protect the technician from accusations of overcharging.
When your instrument is ready, head to the shop with your estimate in hand and, if the bill is higher, ask the technician for an explanation. In many cases, a part was more expensive than initially expected or the technician had to spend a little more time with your instrument. In some cases, repair shops may charge a small storage fee for every day you leave your instrument there so, if this is the case, be prompt to avoid any extra fees.
Does Music & Arts Do Repairs?
If you’re already renting (or have purchased) an instrument from Music & Arts, you may find it easier to have your instrument repaired at one of our repair shops. Music & Arts has over 30 repair shops located throughout the country, and all repairs are performed by leading professional technicians in the industry. Service is affordable, timely, and unconditionally guaranteed so you can rest assured knowing that the quality is backed by the Music & Arts brand. With services that range from dent removal and adjustments to bridge replacements and valve repairs, you can bring your instrument in for routine maintenance or emergency repairs.
If your instrument is in need of repairs or routine maintenance, please take it to one of our stores or rental affiliates. If you aren’t located close to a store location, please contact us at (888) 731-5396 for specific instructions. For more information about repairs at Music & Arts, check out our Repair FAQs.