Job Guide - Musical Instrument Maker/Repairer (2022)

The Job and What's Involved

Musical instrument makers/repairers build, repair or renovate musical instruments.

Most specialise in one instrument family such as string, brass, percussion, keyboard or woodwind instruments, or individual instruments such as the guitar or violin.

Their skill in producing and maintaining instruments with a high quality of sound ensures a great many people get pleasure from playing or listening to music.

Their job can include:

Building a new musical instrument. This requires great accuracy and precision as any minute variation in shape can make a big difference to the sound of the finished instrument.

Repairing an instrument damaged in an accident, eg repairing cracks in a violin, removing dents from a French horn or replacing damaged parts of an instrument.

Renovating an instrument to top-quality condition. This may be because of an instrument's age, general wear and tear caused by long-term use, or because of lack of use for some time.

Instrument makers/repairers use specialist tools and equipment for cutting, bending, shaping and jointing instruments, and polishing wood and metal surfaces.

Different materials and techniques are used according to the type and age of instruments. Lathes, planes and other traditional tools are used when working with wood or metal; fibreglass, plastic and electronic components are used on more modern instruments such as electric guitars and electronic keyboards. Instrument makers/repairers may also fit electronic units such as guitar pickups or other amplification aids.

Musical instrument makers/repairers usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Many are self-employed or work for small businesses, so hours may vary according to the number of orders and client deadlines. Evening and weekend work may be required during busy periods. Part-time work may be available.

Work is carried out indoors, in small workshops or factories. It can involve long periods of sitting and/or standing. Large instruments, such as organs or grand pianos, may be repaired away from the workshop in venues such as church or concert halls.

Adhesives, polishes, varnishes and other materials are used, and need to be stored safely and correctly. There may also be sawdust or metal filings in the working environment. The job may not be suitable for people with certain allergies.

A driving licence may be useful for location work, transporting instruments and equipment, and visiting clients.

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The usual starting salary for a musical instrument maker/repairer may be up to £15,000 a year. Many instrument makers/repairers are self-employed so earn set or negotiated fees per job.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Musical instrument makers/repairers work throughout the UK, although more work is available in highly populated areas. The National Association of Musical Instrument Repairers (NAMIR) has around 200 members in the UK, Europe and Australia.

Jobs may be available in small musical instrument repair factories or in repair workshops attached to music retailers. There can be strong competition for what is a small number of jobs.

Vacancies may be advertised in local and national newspapers, specialist journals or by word of mouth.

Education and Training

It is necessary to gain specialist musical instrument making/repairing skills and qualifications. The ability to play a musical instrument is also useful, but not essential.

Specific qualifications include the ASET Certificate in Classical Musical Instrument Technology at Levels 2 and 3, and the City & Guilds course in Musical Instrument Making & Repair at Level 3. ASET and City & Guilds can provide details of centres providing these courses.

London Metropolitan University offers a Foundation Degree and Degree in Musical Instruments. A minimum of two A levels/three H grades or equivalent are required for the degree course, and one A level/two H grades for the Foundation degree.

Merton College, London, offers the ASET Certificate and other courses in guitar, violin, woodwind and brass instrument making and repair. These are available on a part-time basis.

The School of Musical Instrument Making, Restoration and Repair at Newark & Sherwood College offers instrument making and repair courses, covering classical guitar, piano, violin and woodwind instruments.

The Trevor Head: Training in Musical Instrument Making and Repair School runs musical instrument repair courses in brass and woodwind instruments, guitar and violin.

West Dean College also runs short courses in making musical instruments, including early woodwind, keyboard and stringed instruments, guitar and violin.

Candidates should contact individual universities and colleges for specific entry requirements.

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Degree courses usually last three years, Foundation degree courses two years. Courses in this subject include considerable practical work as well as theory, assessment and examinations.

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New musical instrument makers/repairers in a small factory or workshop normally receive on-the-job training from experienced staff.

The Cambridge Woodwind Makers are a registered charity and run a centre that has been developed especially to encourage a younger generation of instrument makers to emerge. They offer repair and maintenance courses where you can learn to repair and maintaininstruments; either your own or others.

The Institute of Musical Instrument Technology runs a membership scheme, open to student and qualified instrument makers/repairers. They maintain a register of professional people, hold educational meetings and produce a members' newsletter.

The British Violin Making Association and NAMIR also have membership schemes and provide members' forums to share good practice and practical advice.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A musical instrument maker/repairer should:

  • Have a good knowledge of traditional and modern musical instruments.
  • Be very skilled at working with their hands.
  • Be able to produce accurate, detailed and precise work.
  • Have a good ear for pitch and quality of sound.
  • Be patient, with good concentration skills.
  • Be able to trace and solve problems.
  • Have good personal communication skills.
  • Be prepared to keep up to date with new techniques.
  • Have knowledge of electronics if working on modern instruments.
  • Have the business skills required for self-employment or running a small business.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion opportunities are limited. There may be possibilities for promotion to senior maker/repairer or supervisor in some small factories or workshops.

Self-employed musical instrument makers/repairers progress by gaining a good reputation and through word of mouth recommendations from their clients. Some move into lecturing or teaching.

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Get Further Information

British Violin Making Association (BVMA),
The Secretary, 7 Widcombe Parade,
Bath BA2 4JT
Tel: 01225 337734
Website: www.bvma.org.uk

City & Guilds, 5-6 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DE
Tel: 0844 543 0033
Website: www.cityandguilds.com

Institute of Musical Instrument Technology,
Northfield House, 11 Kendal Avenue South,
Sanderstead, Croydon, Surrey CR2 0QR
Tel: 020 8660 1719
Website: www.imit.org.uk

London Metropolitan University,
Admissions Office, 166-220 Holloway Road,
London N7 8DB
Tel: 020 7133 4200
Website: www.londonmet.ac.uk

National Association of Musical
Instrument Repairers (NAMIR)
Tel: 01303 269062
Website: www.namir.org.uk

The School of Musical Instrument Making,
Restoration and Repair, Newark &
Sherwood College, Friary Road,
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire NG24 1PB
Tel: 01636 680680
Website: www.newark.ac.uk

Trevor Head: Training in Musical Instrument
Making and Repair School
Tel: 07971 083 089
Website: www.trevorhead.co.uk

West Dean College, West Dean,
Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0QZ
Tel: 01243 811301
Website: www.westdean.org.uk

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FAQs

What is an instrument repairer? ›

Musical instrument makers and repairers create new musical instruments or repair ones that have been damaged.

What do instrument makers do? ›

What does a musical instrument maker do? Musical instrument makers produce and maintain instruments. They may work on a range of instruments, however most will specialise in a particular one.

What are instrument makers called? ›

A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər; AmE also /ˈluːθiər/ LOO-thi-ər) is a craftsperson who builds or repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box.

What is an instrument technician in music? ›

As a Musical Instrument Technician, you will design, make and repair musical instruments such as string, woodwind, brass and electronic instruments. You'll also clean and tune instruments, and give advice on how to look after them. Sometimes you could be involved in reproducing and restoring very old instruments.

How much does a guitar luthier make UK? ›

£549 (GBP)/yr

An entry level luthier (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of £19,759. On the other end, a senior level luthier (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of £28,614.

How do you fix a brass instrument? ›

Repairing Brass Instruments - YouTube

Do luthiers make good money? ›

The salaries of Luthiers in the US range from $19,960 to $61,290 , with a median salary of $38,609 . The middle 50% of Luthiers makes between $35,492 and $38,608, with the top 83% making $61,290.

What is a guitar repairer called? ›

In general, a luthier is a craftsman who makes and repairs stringed instruments. Most luthiers specialize in working with one type of instrument. A guitar luthier has studied and trained in the art of guitar repair and construction.

How do you train to be a luthier? ›

How to become a luthier through formal education
  1. Start early learning music in secondary school. ...
  2. Get a bachelor's degree in music production. ...
  3. Specialise in string instrument technology. ...
  4. Take some courses in acoustic engineering. ...
  5. Join extracurricular music activities on campus.
11 Jul 2022

How do I fix my flute? ›

Flute Expert explains How Flute Repair Works - YouTube

How do I become an instrumentation technician UK? ›

Training and Experience Requirements

Instrument Technicians should have a level 3 NVQ or SVQ certificate and or an OPITO / ECITB Technician certificate. An engineer would be expected to have these as well as additional relevant experience and ideally a degree in an engineering discipline.

How do you become an instrument engineer? ›

Individuals pursuing a career as an Instrument Engineer need to obtain a college degree and considerable experience within the industry. Employers seek candidates with a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as mechanical engineering, computer engineering, or electrical engineering.

How do you become an instrument designer? ›

Electrical and instrumentation designers typically hold a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or a related field. They are expected to have some years of experience as an instrumentation designer or in a similar role.

How much is it to fix a guitar? ›

Acoustic Guitar Repair Rates
ServiceCost
Minimum bench fee$40
Restring, oil fingerboard, polish & tune$40
Set-up$80
12-String setup$120
17 more rows

What instruments does a luthier make? ›

A luthier is an artisan who makes or repairs stringed instruments such as cellos, violins, guitars, mandolins, dulcimers and banjos. The word luthier comes from the French word luth, which means lute, and the art of making and repairing instruments is a centuries-old tradition.

How much money can you make making guitars? ›

The annual income of a luthier was somewhere between ​$31,424​ and ​$59,983​, according to a snapshot of positions listed on Indeed in 2022.

How much does it cost to repair a trumpet? ›

Brass Repair Pricing Prices do NOT include parts.
InstrumentGeneral ServiceOverhaul Student Instruments
Trumpet or Cornet$60-$90$550
Single Horn (3 Valves)$90-$125$1,065
Double Horn (4 Valves)$60-$90$1,540
14 more rows

How much does it cost to repair a trombone? ›

Trombone Repair Services
ITEMIZED REPAIRSCOST
Restring all Rotors Repair Single Rotor (incl. restring) Pull Slide Repair Slide Lock Solder work (ea. point)$30.00 +$20.00 each additional item
Remove Minor Accessible Dents$50.00
All Other Dent Work$75.00/hr

How do you repair a hole in brass? ›

Brass Repair Made Easy. And Copper. Bronze. Aluminum. In ... - YouTube

Do you need to go to college to be a luthier? ›

The education needed to be a luthier is normally a bachelor's degree. Luthiers usually study music, business or general studies. 41% of luthiers hold a bachelor's degree and 21% hold a associate degree.

What is a master luthier? ›

our playing skills as well. Grow up and grow old together, what a wonderful image to behold. By the way, a master luthier suggests someone who can make an instrument sing, while a luthiery master only builds. singing instruments. May be that's what a diploma only indicates, a luthiery master.

How much does being a luthier pay? ›

How much does a Luthier make in the United States? The salary range for a Luthier job is from $44,453 to $64,976 per year in the United States.

What is a violin repairer called? ›

Definition of luthier

: one who makes stringed musical instruments (such as violins or guitars)

What is a violin bow maker called? ›

The French word for bowmaker (bow maker) is archetier for one who makes bows of the string family of instruments such as violin, viola, cello and double bass. Root of the word comes from archet—pronounced [aʁʃɛ]—the bow.

How do you become a guitar tech? ›

How to become a guitar technician
  1. Learn to play the guitar. Since most guitar technicians are also skilled musicians, a good first step may be to learn to play the guitar. ...
  2. Develop skill in guitar repair. ...
  3. Consider formal education. ...
  4. Explore employment opportunities. ...
  5. Consider freelance or contract work. ...
  6. Develop your network.
20 Apr 2021

How many hours does it take to build a guitar? ›

Re: How long does it take for a luthier to build a guitar? Kathrin Hauser: 240 hours.

How long does it take to become a violin luthier? ›

Violin Making & Repair is learned through hands-on work. The program follows the highest standards of the craft and teaches repair, restoration, and set-up of stringed instruments. Over the course of this three-year program, you'll build six violins and a viola. You keep and can sell all instruments you build.

What is the tuning part of a guitar called? ›

Acoustic Guitar

The first section of the guitar is called a headstock, on which you will find tuners and tuning pegs. The tuning pegs allow you tune the guitar by tightening or loosening the wires.

How much does a flute overhaul cost? ›

Overhaul
Overhaul Type/LevelOverhaul Fee
Flute - Feltfrom $1,595
Flute - Straubingerfrom $1,795 (add $200 for conversion from felt pads)
Piccolo - Feltfrom $1,295
Piccolo - Straubingerfrom $1,395
2 more rows

Is it hard to Repad a flute? ›

Although replacing flute pads isn't an inherently difficult task, it does require a certain element of skill and expertise. For this reason, Music & Arts recommends having your flute pads replaced by a professional repair technician who not only knows exactly what they're doing, but has access to all the right tools.

How long does it take to repair a flute? ›

For a beginner's instrument, I will need it for a week. For an intermediate or professional flute, I will need it for two weeks. Prices are listed here. Major mechanical or body work or special requests for buffing and spring replacement may result in extra cost.

What are the key skills of instrument technician? ›

Skills and knowledge
  • Skills.
  • Working with Technological Equipment and Machinery. Debugging and Reprogramming Technical Systems. ...
  • Operating and Repairing Equipment, Machinery and Vehicles. Mechanical Installing, Maintaining and Repairing. ...
  • Analysis. Examining and Diagnosing. ...
  • Communication. Advising and Consulting.
16 Aug 2022

WHAT is an instrumentation apprentice? ›

Your work will include the maintenance and repair of all instruments used in the measurement and control of process variables. You will carry out installation, maintenance and calibration of measuring instruments, sensors, transmitting and controlling devices and systems.

How to become a Music technician? ›

Most music technicians begin with specialized training. Technical schools, colleges and universities offer certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in music recording technology. A typical degree program can include courses in physics, electrical engineering, electronics and computer programming.

What are the key skills of instrument technician? ›

Skills and knowledge
  • Skills.
  • Working with Technological Equipment and Machinery. Debugging and Reprogramming Technical Systems. ...
  • Operating and Repairing Equipment, Machinery and Vehicles. Mechanical Installing, Maintaining and Repairing. ...
  • Analysis. Examining and Diagnosing. ...
  • Communication. Advising and Consulting.
16 Aug 2022

How much does an instrument technician earn in South Africa? ›

The average salary for a instrument technician is R 25 409 per month in South Africa.

How do you become an instrument mechanic? ›

The Industry Training Authority's Certificate of Qualification as an industrial instrument mechanic requires completion of a four-year program of in-school and work-based training or a four-year apprenticeship program in industrial instrumentation.

How do I get into instrumentation? ›

If you want to become an instrumentation engineer, you need a bachelor's degree in electrical or mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, or a closely related subject. In addition to your educational requirements, you must have strong analytical problem-solving skills to work in instrumentation.

What are the main responsibilities of a process and instrumentation technician? ›

Install, repair, and maintain assorted plant control and process monitoring instrumentation. This includes; electronic, pneumatic, hydraulic, and microprocessor based control and monitoring systems.

What is the role of a control and instrumentation technician? ›

Performs tests and maintenance on mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation equipment; interprets readings and outputs of equipment; ensures proper functioning of equipment and related information systems.

What does instrumentation Artisan do? ›

To design, install, commission and maintain hardware & software for control systems and instrumentation systems. To perform engineering-related projects and design out recurring engineering problems.

Where do instrumentation technicians make the most money? ›

Highest paying cities for Instrument Technicians near United States
  • Houston, TX. $32.75 per hour. 10 salaries reported.
  • Kansas City, MO. $31.79 per hour. 7 salaries reported.
  • Miami, FL. $31.78 per hour. 7 salaries reported.
  • Tucson, AZ. $30.47 per hour. 66 salaries reported.
  • Baton Rouge, LA. $30.14 per hour. ...
  • Show more nearby cities.

How much does instrumentation artisan earn in South Africa? ›

The average artisan instrumentation technician salary in South Africa is R 360 000 per year or R 185 per hour. Entry-level positions start at R 360 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R 4 896 000 per year.

Where can I study instrumentation in South Africa? ›

The Bachelor of Technology in Process Instrumentation at Vaal University of Technology in South Africa is an education programme in the field of process instrumentation.

What does a measurement technician do? ›

The measurement technician is in charge of calibrating measuring tools and machines following certain rules and standards. Your responsibilities in this role include conducting routine checks and periodic testing on all measuring equipment and performing other related duties under the supervision of an administrator.

What is instrumentation trade? ›

Instrumentation and control technicians work with a wide variety of pneumatic, electronic and microcomputer devices used to measure and control pressure, flow, temperature, level, motion, force, and chemical composition.

How much do instrumentation technicians make in Texas? ›

The average salary for a instrumentation technician in Texas is $83,500 per year. Instrumentation technician salaries in Texas can vary between $22,000 to $144,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more. Was this helpful?

Is instrumentation a good career? ›

In the private sector too, Instrumentation engineers are in high demand. A skilled Instrumentation engineer with sound knowledge of operations and machinery controls is in great demand in private sectors. The average salary for Instrumentation engineers in the private sector ranges from INR 3,00,000 to INR 4,00,000.

What do I need to study for instrumentation? ›

Subjects required for instrumentation course N1-N3
  • Mathematics N1-N3.
  • Engineering Science N1-N3.
  • Industrial Electronics N1-N3.
  • Instrument Trade Theory N1-N3.
27 Sept 2021

What education is needed to become an instrumentation technician? ›

Instrument technicians need an associate degree in instrumentation technology or a related field; some employers also prefer or require certification in instrumentation technology.

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