Should I Become a Guitar Technician?
Guitar techs specialize in stringed instrument technology, providing support for all issues relating to electric and acoustic guitars. They might work in music shops repairing, tuning and finishing guitars for customers. Techs may also be hired by bands to maintain and prepare instruments before, during and after shows, including the set-up, stringing and tuning of guitars, bass guitars, pedals, cables and amplifiers. Additional responsibilities include instrument shipment between shows and maintenance during recording sessions. Securing employment with a band may be a competitive endeavor, and travel is often required for those positions.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; some community colleges offer programs in guitar technology|
|Training||Apprenticeships or on-the-job training may be available|
|Key Skills||Hearing acuity for tone and pitch, ability to play guitar; electronic tuning devices, hand and power tools; woodworking|
|Salary||$33,150 (Median annual salary for musical instrument repairers, May 2014)|
Sources: Guitar tech job listings (October 2012), Guitar technician education programs, O*Net Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
While a high school degree is not necessarily required, it does provide an edge for graduates who wish to become guitar technicians. Students should concentrate on classes such as music, band, English, shop class and mathematics. A major part of any education should include guitar lessons. Techs often need to be able to play by ear and must be able to pick up on any nuances in an instrument's sound and tuning.
Step 2: Study the Guitar
Guitar technicians must be proficient in not only playing the guitar, but also in the construction of the instrument. They need to know how to repair and rebuild guitars from scratch as well as stringing and tuning the instruments. They need to understand how all the parts of the guitar interact to produce clear musical notes. This knowledge can be obtained through formal education, experience, working under a knowledgeable guitar tech or with other experienced musicians.
Step 3: Consider an Associate's Degree
Many community, vocational or technical colleges offer technical and musical programs for those who wish to become guitar technicians; many are instrument construction and/or repair programs. Guitar tech courses include construction, set-up, structural repair, fretwork, structural design and finishing for acoustic and electric guitars. Any courses involving musical theory and music technology may be helpful in advancing a guitar tech's career.
Step 4: Work with Bands
While many individuals who want to become guitar technicians dream of working with big-name bands, it is more realistic to work with smaller bands first to gain experience. Local bands often need extra help with many of the technical aspects of show production. Techs may be asked to perform other tasks besides guitar maintenance, such as stage set-up and breakdown, driving the tour bus and selling merchandise. All of these activities can provide techs with invaluable knowledge regarding staging live performances.
Step 5: Create a Network
Guitar technicians usually find jobs with bands through word of mouth. Bands or other techs often recommend guitar techs they know for upcoming gigs. Producers and road managers often maintain lists of guitar techs that they can trust to be reliable and experienced.