How to Evaluate a Piano w/ Eathan Janney

How to Evaluate a Piano w/ Eathan Janney

In this podcast episode, PTRH host Eathan Janney discusses various aspects of piano evaluations and appraisals, with a focus on templates and procedures. We emphasize the importance of precision and professional training when providing formal assessments but also touch on how informal evaluations can benefit clients.

As an example we highlight the recent evaluation of an Estonia Grand Piano, detailing that process which included photographing every aspect of the instrument and rating its components like soundboard, bridges, and pin block. A thorough evaluation procedure notes the condition of important components and offers recommendations for improvement as needed or desired by the client.

It’s important to balance thoroughness with brevity in reports. It's valuable for a report to include pricing options for different service levels from basic touch-ups to full upgrades. Valuations can include assessments based on new replacement value if pristine; reconditioned value after improvements; current as-is value; minimum price points to not sell below; and maximum potential sale-by-owner prices.

We advise against making arbitrary judgments without proper expertise but instead suggest gathering opinions from experts to guide valuation decisions. We share anecdotes and examples of how to consult experts after conducting technical inspection and photography oneself.

We share a systematized evaluation form that can be used via mobile device, which helps generate detailed client-ready reports while facilitating discussions about potential enhancements for pianos post-tuning sessions.

Despite efforts at streamlining processes, sometimes  filling out forms is tedious and can be a roadblock. Our colleague in the audience, Carl Lieberman, shares  his practice of consulting trusted dealers or conducting online searches when approached by people wishing to sell pianos – often providing reality checks for owners' inflated expectations.

For appraisals related to insurance or donations, we recommend seeking professional appraisers due to legal complexities involved. We highlight customer service strategies during appointments such as offering actionable advice on instrument improvement while being transparent about repair timelines and costs.

A fully engaged audience adds to the suggestion. Garrett Labor Guide is mentioned as a helpful tool for technicians' time management during repairs. Ultimately, great evaluations will establish trust through honest recommendations. A thoughtful approach to evaluations fosters further business opportunities.

About Eathan Janey:
Eathan is the founder and creator behind Piano Technicians Masterclasses and Piano Tech Radio Hour. He’s dedicated to expanding educational opportunities throughout the piano and music industries and beyond. He’s a Registered Piano Technician, holds a PhD in Neuroscience and is an active entrepreneur having founded a portfolio of high-impact businesses in the music, media, events and emerging technology.

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Creators and Guests

Eathan Janney
Eathan Janney
Eathan has 20 years of experience as a piano technician. He studied with Dave Miller, the staff piano technician for the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Dave Carpenter, the inventor of the Verituner electronic tuning device, provided mentorship for Eathan in Chicago. Eathan also worked with Ken Eschete and Bill Schwarts, the staff piano technicians at Northwestern University in Chicago. In 2009, he founded Floating Piano Factory of New York, a company that allows piano technicians to move from Apprentice to Craftsman level while offering value pricing to clients as technicians progress toward mastery. In 2017 he founded Piano Technicians Masterclasses, an online project designed to offer cutting-edge instruction from piano industry masters to anyone on the globe with an internet connection.
2020 Piano Technicians Masterclasses