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  1. #1

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    Default Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    For what they do I think the pay should be more.

    I am talking about techs that know what they are doing and can repair all band instruments. I am not talking about Hank the handy man who can do odd jobs and also try to fix band instruments.

    If there is a music store that sells band instruments they should also be able to fix everything they sell from Piccolo to Tuba. I am talking about a tech that can do that.

    Not talking about repairing saxes , but all the instruments.

    Customers go to a repair shop with a instrument that does not work and they don't know why. The tech has to find the problem and know how to fix it, That is a lot to know. I have learned how to do that over the last 50 years.
    I also can test play all the instruments

    I think pay should be for what they know how to do, not how much time is spent on the repair.

    Of course the customer does not want to pay much.

    If you take a power tool,toaster,radio,CD player T V,motor,blender and things like that in to be repaired there is a bench charge just to find the problem. And you don't get that charge back if you have it fixed or not. I have never had a bench charge ever.

    Just think ,every time a instrument comes in if I charge 75 dollars just to look at it.Figure 20 instruments a week ,that is about 6000 dollars a month. It is standard for above items but not for horns.

    A horn comes in because it does not play and I just hook a spring back and takes me ten seconds ,how much should I charge. If I charge anything the customer would attack me. I fixed the horn because of my many years of experience and I knew what to look for and how to fix it.

    Some customers think that if you are doing a school horn it should be done cheap or no charges at all because it is for school.

    With some of the home repairs I have seen and the bad repairs that other shops do I would think the professional repair tech should be well rewarded for good work.

    Don't get me wrong I charge pretty good for my work and I am at a stage in my life that if I loose some work because of what I charge that is O K. I have all the work that I want. I am 70 and cutting back a little.

    I think as a whole good techs are not paid what they should when you take into account the skill involved in fixing instruments.

    That is just the nature of the business.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Sadly this is why I'll probably never end up being a tech. It just won't pay the bills raising my family.

  3. #3
    estagro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    I know what you mean. In my case I took 3 horns to the shop. My tech repairs all woodwinds, so, I took everything. The sop had a little issue, he didn't charge me for that, but because he had to do some other work on my alto and my clarinet. Anyway, even if you fix just the spring in a second, the knowledge you need to get to the solution faster should be compensated in your pay. That's your expertise at work. Someone less experienced may take longer. (I'm a process engineer, when fixing machines, experience will get you to the solution faster and it may seem like you did nothing)

    I have to say, it is a tough bussiness. Many people would probably want the work done for free. And that's just not how it works.

    All the best...
    Piano: Hyundai (Upright) Sop: Phil Barone; Selmer S80 EAlto: Selmer Series III; Rousseau NC4
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by estagro View Post
    Anyway, even if you fix just the spring in a second, the knowledge you need to get to the solution faster should be compensated in your pay. That's your expertise at work. Someone less experienced may take longer. (I'm a process engineer, when fixing machines, experience will get you to the solution faster and it may seem like you did nothing)

    I have to say, it is a tough bussiness. Many people would probably want the work done for free. And that's just not how it works.
    You think it's any different in the IT business? I have some 20-odd years of experience in that field and more or less get the same hourly rates as some hot-off-the-uni-press engineer. It's the diploma on the wall that counts these days, not the experience...
    Ben

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by tictactux View Post
    It's the diploma on the wall that counts these days, not the experience...
    I think that the diploma gets you in the door but the experience moves you up the ladder. I interviewed two people for an IT position and while they had impressive CVs and diplomas it was obvious that from speaking to them that their experience was lacking. As a result they weren't hired. In saying that 50 years experience is far greater than any diploma.

    I'm not sure that not charging that much for a quick fix that your experience made you find quickly is a judgement on your experience but maybe a business decision? Doing those quick fixes for a small charge or none will bring the people back for the bigger fixes. Maybe that's why you’re in business for 50 years.

    Ciarán

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    As a pro player, charge me anything you deem necessary and fair to both yourself and me. I respect your experience and need you to be quick and competent. I don't play for free and you shouldn't work for free. I personally don't think most experienced techs charge too much for any of their services but I can't afford to wait and I need you to put me ahead of harry the hobbyist and willy the weekend warrior. I'll pay extra for that.
    "there are two means of refuge from the misery of life-music and cats," Dr. Albert Schweitzer

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Over here in the UK I know a good tech, does woodwind and brass. He points out that he has £10,000 of tools, approximately 20,000 US dollars, who knows how many years experience, gives a lot of free advice, is well respected as a sax player in various bands and orchestras. He took my sax to his home/workshop in the West Country, stripped it, cleaned it, lubricated and reassembled it, adjusted various point screws, regulated it and returned it a week later as an incredibly improved instrument that I improved my confidence no end. All this for less than a third of the average weekly wage. He has been given a recorder to modify for a friend with very little movement in a finger. Have seen a photo of the result and I am amazed at the price. He had to meet the friend, measure and design a key, manufacture it, send it for gold plating, he insisted on that as there is a gold coloured band on the end, yet it was a lot cheaper than going to a recorder maker and having a special made with the resultant year odd wait.
    Some brass band guy brought in a low background instrument, quite badly damaged. It took around a day and a half to restore it to 'used instrument' rather than 'worthless wrecked instrument' status. The bloke then complained that he'd charged him for under four hours work.
    When you think of the golden hand shakes CEOs get for wrecking companies with sub prime mortgages and similar mistakes, your tech is an incredible bargain. Please don't quibble, he's almost certainly doing it for job satisfaction rather than aiming at a million in the bank.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Personally I don't care what you charge as long as your work is absolutely positivily perfect every single time. No horn leaves the shop without going over it with a microscope.

    You don't find hardly any techs with this attitude. Maybe a half a dozen in the U.S. at the very most.

    It's a complete waste of my time and time is money if that horn isn't set up like I want.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician hornfixer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Hi Ken good to see your type. I agree with you.
    For what they do I think the pay should be more.

    I am talking about techs that know what they are doing and can repair all band instruments. I am not talking about Hank the handy man who can do odd jobs and also try to fix band instruments.

    If there is a music store that sells band instruments they should also be able to fix everything they sell from Piccolo to Tuba. I am talking about a tech that can do that.

    Not talking about repairing saxes , but all the instruments.

    Are you saying that you should get paid more then someone that only works on saxes, because you work on all instruments or because you have more experience?


    If you take a power tool,toaster,radio,CD player T V,motor,blender and things like that in to be repaired there is a bench charge just to find the problem. And you don't get that charge back if you have it fixed or not. I have never had a bench charge ever.
    You are hurting yourself if you don't have a minimum charge.
    I have always had a minimum charge. Today it is $35.00
    ** NEW ** MK VI Alto Saxophone Repad on DVD ** NEW **

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/034-BIRDS-EY...-/121473126723?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Soup and sandwich, horse and carriage, starving and artist.

    There are few things quite so common in this world as exceptional skills which are the result of painstaking prolonged dedication and effort and fequently considerable expense and are, in the end, very poorly rewarded by society.

    I personally am pretty close to cost no object in terms of getting quality work; but have had a very hard time finding it and wind up doing a lot myself that I know could be done better....but in fact usually isn't. While posts here discuss tolerances of ten thousandth's of an inch for several inch wide leather over felt disks (fatuous on the face of it- though I admire the philosophy) the vast bulk of the shops cater towards the "keep 'em playing on the cheap" philosophy espoused by school band departments and parents- because that's by and large where the paying customer base comes from. There are a lot more Yugo's than Lamborghini's. Many of these customers feel in essence as though they're doing "the music folk" a favor merely by having their kids take music. They should be rewarded for their virtue.

    This is closely akin to those free opera events where hugely talented musicians who have devoted their life to the art perform for free to crowds who largely feel that the artists actually owe them for the crowd's attendance. Much of the time this is reinforced as the performers will actually "applaud" the audience for showing up. The "exploding beer in the coat liner" commercial sums up the prevailing attitude. One doesn't actually enjoy the music- one accrues virtue by putting up with it.

    So; I agree that your skills are of more value than you probably get for them, think that the price of them is what it is and is more likely to go down than up, and, sadly, wish you good luck.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Throw traditional strings in the mix and thats me. I focus on sax, but can and do fix em all. To me, you have to do this for the love of the work, not just the money. The thing is that most good techs have a skill set that would allow them to make much more money in other fields, so to repair instruments has to be a choice. I really like what I do, I wish there was more money in it, but I would have to move to a bigger city, or start marketing snake oil to make much more in this biz, so I am happy to be where I am. Hey if you are willing to work hard and smart, you can feed your family doing repair work, you might not have 2 new cars in the drive, but you can get by.

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician hornfixer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    The problem with band repair is that you can only do so much work in a day so you are limited in how much you can make.
    I have found that the only way to make more is to buy and sell.
    ** NEW ** MK VI Alto Saxophone Repad on DVD ** NEW **

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  13. #13

    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    As a related effect of the economic realities it seems likely that the seemingly obvious "Sure I'll take a well paid time consuming job working on Mr. Fixit's horn (probably have to redo all that slipshod shade tree work)- good money" would be a no brainer. The problem is that when you take in that once a month job from Mr. Fixit and his "happy to pay" ilk you wind up driving off ten of those pay-the-minimum but pay-the-rent (however minimally) band parents who in turn tell ten friends each, "Don't go there." The choice isn't quite so clearcut for many shops.

  14. #14
    SOTW Contributor 2011 jbtsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by hornfixer View Post
    You are hurting yourself if you don't have a minimum charge. I have always had a minimum charge. Today it is $35.00
    What will it be tomorrow?

    Our shop's minimum charge is $8.50. We do not charge the minimum charge to put a spring back on a cradle or to tighten a pivot screw/rod back in it's post. The customer good will and the chance that they will bring the instrument back when they need more extensive work is worth far more in the long term than the $8.50 profit we would have gained.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heath
    Personally I don't care what you charge as long as your work is absolutely positivily perfect every single time. No horn leaves the shop without going over it with a microscope.

    You don't find hardly any techs with this attitude. Maybe a half a dozen in the U.S. at the very most.
    I can't agree with this statement that there are only a half dozen techs in the U.S. that do work at this level. In my experience there are many. You just haven't heard about them because they are too busy doing excellent work in their service area and don't have time or need to promote themselves all over the internet as some of the others do. There are a few of these whose reputation far exceeds the actual quality of their work.

    John

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN K View Post
    For what they do I think the pay should be more.
    Well that depends on just how much we're talking about, doesn't it?

    I don't agree with the minimum charge at all, personally. I mean those here that charge one, I doubt I would have a problem with, because the work would be good...but in principle, that means the customer has to pay you money, and even if you're no good at the work, you get some money for a bad job. I think, if other venues have a minimum charge, they should stop, not have us start up. I can understand if there is always a cost...like if it took you an hour to diagnose, or an instrument is shipped to you that you must ship back, but in most cases, I doubt the technician loses anything just by looking at an instrument.

    Charging by what you know...sure, people aren't going to want to pay it, and I think for good reason. In a business, time is money, and 10 seconds is not a lot of money. The vast majority of people have to give up a day's pay to pay a 75 dollar minimum, and I don't think years of experience justifies charging that (or even close) in between a bathroom break. If a person is paid 10 bucks an hour for some job, for example, a repair tech should definitely make more--let's say 75 bucks an hour (more than anyone needs with any financial responsibility)...then if a job takes you 5 minutes, then you get 6.25 while the other guy gets like 83 cents...that's already a big difference...turning that into 900 bucks an hour just because you have experience, not to mention the job being much easier than all those skills require (a spring hooking or similar task), is somewhat ludicrous in my mind. Now if we're talking about a tech working under someone who is paying them poorly, that's a different story.

    Take a good repad with adjusting and such...something actually worth the recompense....let's say you charge $400 and it takes you all day. You've still made what a lot of people make in a week in one day, and it involved something you enjoy doing instead of busting your butt and taking orders from some irate boss. No doubt, that's what the experience and knowledge gets you, but I'd say it's quite enough.
    -Luke

  16. #16
    Forum Contributor 2008 dave2sax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN K View Post
    A horn comes in because it does not play and I just hook a spring back and takes me ten seconds ,how much should I charge. If I charge anything the customer would attack me. I fixed the horn because of my many years of experience and I knew what to look for and how to fix it.
    If you charge a standard "bench" rate like $35 or more for a ten second repair and the customer is aware of this fact, it's likely he won't be a repeat customer (I wouldn't be). So, instead of charging $5-10, you may get an extra $25-30 this time, but in the long run you risk losing a lot more than that because you just lost his repeat business for future (more lucaritive) repairs.

    Just last week I had an experience to offer an analogy. There's a convenience store I frequent daily, it's on my way to work and I'm there all the time...snacks, drinks, coffee etc. I spend probably at least $50 a month there if not more. Last week I went in and bought a juice drink, the owner I see all the time was at the register and I paid her.

    Came back to the car, and my 4 year old daughter wanted her own cup with some juice in it. No problem, back into the store to grab an empty coffee cup. The owner (who I just paid seconds ago) saw me walking out with the empty paper coffee cup and said "Hey - those aren't free, that'll be .25 cents!" I said "Really? .25 cents for an empty cup? I just bought a drink from you and my daughter wants some" She repeated ".25 cents please".

    Okay, you got me this time. I paid her a stinkin' quarter - but she just lost $50 a month of my business because she wanted a quarter for an empty paper cup. So, the moral is sometimes you got to judge whether or not a short term loss is better than losing a long-term gain.

    Alienating customers over petty things is usually not good for business in the long run. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to gain customer trust and loyalty, and a bigger, better payoff down the road.
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  17. #17

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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    I think it's also relevant that there are some tasks on instruments (of which rehooking a spring is a fine example) that do not require years of experience and play testing ability. It requires about 5 minutes of instruction, and then if someone can't do it on their own, they are either not mechanically inclined in the least, or have a bad memory. I was able to rehook a spring in middle school. Does that mean someone should come to the short version of me and pay me a minimum charge of $35-$75 because of "what I know"?
    -Luke

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician hornfixer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    I always check the horn over with the customer and show them what is wrong and what I am going to do to it. Any repairs I can do during this inspection is free ( hooking on a spring, straighening an octave key, adjusting a bridge key, etc.).
    The customer is only charged if the instrument is put through the shop.
    ** NEW ** MK VI Alto Saxophone Repad on DVD ** NEW **

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    I just want to clear something up. It does NOT take a technician "10 seconds" to go over and diagnose a horn. If they're doing it that quickly, they're going to miss something.

    In addition, a minimum shop charge is a good thing, IF it goes through the shop. Hornfixer has the right idea...you always explain to the customer what is going to happen to their instrument. Yes, putting a spring back on requires years of experience to detect/see in that small of time...but you didn't lose any time out of it. You can reattach and then move on to the pro repad you're doing.

    I think estimating a horn (the process of writing up an estimate of work for a horn when the customer is not present) should absolutely have a minimum charge. I would say a good, competent tech can look over any horn within 3 minutes and completely diagnose what it needs. But, when theres 40 horns that need to be estimated...thats 2 hours worth of work. You should absolutely be paid for that work.

    The shop I go to does $10 for estimates (which are then applied to the cost of any repairs done) and a minimum shop charge of $25. I think this is very fair to both parties, and they haven't had many problems in the 30 years they've been in business.

    Saxaholic

  20. #20

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    Default Re: Pay Scale For Band Instrument Repair Techs

    Quote Originally Posted by Saxaholic View Post
    I just want to clear something up. It does NOT take a technician "10 seconds" to go over and diagnose a horn. If they're doing it that quickly, they're going to miss something.

    In addition, a minimum shop charge is a good thing, IF it goes through the shop. Hornfixer has the right idea...you always explain to the customer what is going to happen to their instrument. Yes, putting a spring back on requires years of experience to detect/see in that small of time...but you didn't lose any time out of it. You can reattach and then move on to the pro repad you're doing.

    I think estimating a horn (the process of writing up an estimate of work for a horn when the customer is not present) should absolutely have a minimum charge. I would say a good, competent tech can look over any horn within 3 minutes and completely diagnose what it needs. But, when theres 40 horns that need to be estimated...thats 2 hours worth of work. You should absolutely be paid for that work.
    For the most part, I agree, but the question of the thread was essentially whether the instrument tech deserves more pay than he/she gets, not if the presently charged amount is fair.

    All the same, I think a minimum charge is kind of shrewd...because if you don't get a lot of business, you are not losing anything by taking some time out to give an estimate...meanwhile, if you do have 40 horns worth of business, then in that 2 hours, you've probably secured several thousand dollars worth of business! Even if you haven't, it's definitely a comfortable sum. No need to salt the customer's tea by tagging on another 10 or 20 bucks.
    -Luke

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