The RPT exam is the most grueling test a technician can take in the piano world. Back in the 1970’s a group of technicians within the Piano Technicians Guild initiated an exam to raise the bar and create a good standard for tuning, regulating and repair of pianos. It is in three parts: 1) Tuning 2) regulation and 3) repairs with a written exam which must be taken and passed before any of other three may be attempted.
Each of the 3 major exams are subdivided into smaller parts. For instance, the repair test has hammer shaping, broken string replacement etc and the tuning test has setting the temperament, string stability, etc. In order to pass and receive the Registered Piano Technician status (RPT) one must pass every part with an 80% or better.
I am not an RPT yet but I am gearing up to take the tuning exam soon, the hardest of them all. To pass this one I must tune, aurally, A4 to 440hz then set a good temperament and begin tuning outward from there. It is broken into 8 parts: 1) setting A440, 2) temperament, 3) unisons, 4) stability 5) midrange 6) bass 7) lower treble and 8) high treble.
For the regulation exam I must assemble and regulate a single note grand action model and a triple note vertical action model. I will be given only one specification and must deduce the rest as I go. Both have about a 60 min time limit. The action models are similar to these:
Here they are partially disassembled:
Studying and practicing for these exams has taught me so much and has been a blast in the process. I look forward to being able to call my self an RPT one day, hopefully this year. We’ll see!
A technician can be good without taking the exam; however, there are two reasons why I would take it. 1) We really are not as good as we think we are and this process refines us. 2) And it gives some sort of credential which can help establish trust with a new customer before any work is done.
I have been working in this field since 2002 and was about to attempt this exam 2 years ago when life through a curve ball and I had to put it on the back burner. But now I am here again and working hard to prove my skill and establish a reputation of excellent yet affordable. If you would like to know more about RPT or the Piano Tchnicians Guild you can visit their website at ptg.org