The duties of an instrument maker depend a great deal on the types of instruments he or she makes, though in general these responsibilities break down into duties for makers of musical instruments or makers of technical instruments. Musical instruments are designed and constructed by an experienced instrument maker who physically constructs an instrument for general use or to the specific standards of a musician. A person who makes technical instruments, on the other hand, usually works with scientists, engineers, and technicians to create a variety of tools to assist them with a range of specific needs.
One of the most common types of instrument maker is a person who constructs and repairs musical instruments. Construction usually consists of either developing a basic instrument that can be used by many different musicians, or taking information from a particular musician to make an instrument specific to him or her. An instrument maker uses this information to construct an instrument, usually by cutting and shaping pieces of wood, metal, and other materials. Depending on the type of instrument, the maker then may need to fit it with strings, make holes in it, or otherwise make it ready to create music.
An instrument maker is also frequently responsible for repairing musical instruments. The duties necessary to repair an instrument can vary quite a bit, depending on the damage or problem with the instrument. Many of these duties are similar to construction, however, with cutting and fitting of new pieces being quite common. After construction or repair, the maker typically tunes the instrument and plays it to ensure it is ready for use.
Someone who designs mechanical or technical instruments, however, is responsible for somewhat similar duties but with very different purposes. An instrument maker typically works with technical professionals, such as engineers and scientists, to understand the types of instruments they need for various tasks. If these instruments do not already exist, then the instrument maker designs an instrument to make the task easier or otherwise helps within the technical field.
This often involves taking measurements and designing an instrument to meet specific needs. Crafting a technical instrument may then be done using metal, glass, electrical components, and a number of other materials that depend on the nature of the instrument. An instrument maker then tests the instrument to ensure it is effective, reliable, and accurate for whatever tasks it is designed to accomplish. Reliability can be crucial, since instrument failure could result in a loss of research data, while accuracy ensures that data collected with the instrument is useable and precise.