Scott E. Thile, Piano-Instrument Technician
Murray State University, Department of Music
Phone: 270-809-4396, fax: 270-809-3965 (attention Scott Thile),
Workshop: FA 2011 (Old Fine Arts Building)
Mailing address: Scott Thile, Department of Music, 504 Fine Arts Building, Murray, KY 42071

The instrument shop is staffed by student assistant, Josh Cole during the following hours for the Spring 2010 semester::

Monday: 10:30 to 12:30
Tuesday: 9:30 to 11:00
Wednesday: 10:30 to 12:30
Thursday: 9:30 to 11:00
Friday: 10:30 to 12:30

Scott Thile's office hours are 2 to 4PM Monday thru Thursday, but vary according to the work at hand: Please call 270-809-4396 or send an E-mail to set an appointment:


  • Piano and other Keyboards:
    Concert preparation, tuning, maintaining, and rebuilding the department's eighty five pianos, touch up tuning and minor repair of two pipe organs, and harpsichords.
  • Winds, strings, and percussion:
    The instrument repair shop also performs minor repairs, cleaning and maintenance for the music department's brass, woodwind, percussion and string instruments, as well as managing instrument inventory and loans.

Background, Training and Affiliations :

  • Registered member of the "Piano Technicians Guild" (PTG) since 1978.
    President of the San Diego chapter (1983 - 1985).
    Occasional speaker at PTG conventions and seminars
    Served on the PTG's College and University Technicians (CAUT) committee (1996 - 2003).
  • Webmaster for "The CAUT Page".
  • Pianopedia - Sysop for a new wiki for piano technology.
  • Former member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT).
  • Concert Piano Technician for Idyllwild Arts (formerly ISOMATA) Idyllwild, CA. 1986-1995
  • Apprenticeships under several master technicians in Southern California 1978-1981.
  • Empire School of Piano Technology 1979.
Other Experience and Interests
  • 1974 to present: Double bass player -

Grumpy Old Men (2004 to April 2009, April 2009 to present occasional sub). Todd Hill Quartet (occasional sub, 2006 to present). Former credits include recording and touring with Chris Thile, mandolinist and recording artist. Recording and touring with the award-winning new acoustic music group Nickel Creek (1988 - 2000), on Sugar Hill Records. Former bassist for the La Jolla Civic Orchestra. Former bassist for Peter Sprague's Dance of the Universe Orchestra (1976 -1978)

  • 2003 to 2007: Director, RadioMinistries, an NPO providing communications solutions for missions.
  • Pipe making (tobacco pipes).
  • (SYSOP for Pipedia, a wiki for tobacco pipes and all things related)

Research: "Restoring Key Coloration to Period Music Through Historical Tuning in Unequal Temperaments"

Essays: Traditional Acoustic Versus Digital Pianos; Which one is right for you?
Preparing the Concert Piano "The unseen artist".

Job Description:

When I came to Murray State in August of 1995 I was not given much direction as to the specifics of my of my position other than an extremely broad job description. It had been indicated that piano tuning and service would be 80% of my work I find that I can best serve the department through flexibility in the actual nature of my position, while also keeping piano work as the top priority.

My job currently involves the following tasks for the music department in order of priority (as I see it):

  1. Piano tuning, maintenance, and complete rebuilding;
  2. touch up pipe organ tuning and repair (we hire a professional organ technician whenever possible);
  3. harpsichord tuning and minor repair;
  4. electronic keyboard minor repair and trouble shooting;
  5. string, band, and percussion instrument minor repair and inventory management, including loans to students and work study student oversight.

Piano Service Priorities:

Because piano work is my top priority, I keep forms in the mailroom, and on my door to request piano service when needs are noticed by faculty, staff, and students. I have a policy to attend to these requests ASAP, normally within a day of receiving them. However, I receive very few requests and so I attend to things based on my own system of priority, which is as follows:

1. Concert prep for every concert.
2. Breakage or failures get fixed the same day I receive reports whenever possible.
3. Piano prof's studio pianos at least once every month.
4. Grand piano (2nd floor) practice room pianos every month.
5. Choir room every month. Other classroom pianos 3 to 4 times a year.
6. Vocal and double reed studios 3 times a semester. Other studios 2 times a semester.
7. Third floor practice rooms twice a year.
8. Regulate and voice critical pianos once per year.
9. 1 grand rebuild a year (but the timing depends on the nature of each rebuilding project).

I don't always meet these objectives, but I normally come close in most of these areas.