Piano tuner hits right notes

Piano tuner Reuben Barkley tuned the piano for Powderfinger's last album.
Piano tuner Reuben Barkley tuned the piano for Powderfinger's last album. Jacklyn Wagner

FOR Reuben Barkley, tuning and repairing pianos is in the blood.

Mr Barkley learnt the trade from his father, a pianola specialist, in his early teens.

“He always had that stuff around in his workshop,” Mr Barkley said.

“I didn't really plan to be a piano tuner but it seemed like the logical thing to do.”

Pianos needed tuning once or twice a year, with those used for performances were tuned before each use.

“You use a tuning hammer to turn the tuning pins. It's a lot like turning the tuning peg on a violin or guitar,' he said.

His tuning talents have also come in handy for hanging out with the stars.

“I've tuned the piano at John Butler's house and I tune the piano at Studio 301 and they're all famous bands in there.

“I tuned the piano for Powderfinger for their latest album. It's a lot of pressure tuning in there.”

Mr Barkley also repairs pianos and said this job was akin to being a car mechanic.

“The inside of a piano has more moving parts than a car engine.

“It's quite intricate, so tuning and repairing is a technical job - like a mechanic.”

The repairs often require some interesting tools.

“This one is a damper spoon bending tool,” he said, pulling a misshapen metal probe from his repair kit.

“You need a lot of special tools, so my kit looks like a surgeon's kit.”

While the average tune takes about one to two hours for a regularly maintained instrument, adjusting those which are old or have not been tuned in years is far more difficult.

“You get the odd mishap with really old pianos.

“I've worked on pianos up to 130 years' old, and when they get above 80, the wood is cracking and falling apart.”

Mr Barkley recently opened a repair shop in Gumtree Village in Goonellabah.

For more information about his services, visit, or call him on 66284475 or 0422221116.

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