Hi! I am Kate Reynolds and I have been repairing instruments professionally since qualifying with a City & Guilds qualification in 1986.
In addition to working for myself, I was a repairer for TW Howarth's when they had a shop in Brighton. After that branch closed, I co-founded a shop in Hove, not very creatively called 'Ackerman and Reynolds' (now Ackerman Music) in 1994. It was really quickly very successful but after six years I moved on and in 2000 started a new business, Fab Music, also in Hove.
I wanted to run an old fashioned shop where there was time to know my customers, explain in detail about instruments, and just have a chat and build relationships. I tried to offer excellent service and had a very loyal family of customers who stuck with me for nearly 15 years. The fact that many were very upset and some even cried when I said I was shutting the shop is testament to the success of Fab!
In 2013, after 19 years of combining of running a shop alongside my repair service, I decided to close the shop and concentrate solely on repairing, where my expertise, experience and enthusiasm truly lie. This also allowed me to have a lot more freedom over my working hours.
My shop is now my workshop at the same address in Hove where I now have the luxury of deciding when to work and for how long. I have been told by more than one customer that when you find a good repairer that you can rely on, you don't let them go - like plumbers, car mechanics and electricians! I have customers that have been with me for over 30 years now and I very much enjoy that continuity. I am happy that I provide a good service that can be relied upon long term. I sold some of my customers their very first instrument and have looked after all their subsequent upgrades over the years. I have customers from primary school children to ninety-plus year olds. I work on beginners instruments and professional instruments, ancient family heirlooms to shiny new beauties.
For the last few years I have enjoyed being one of the visiting teachers for woodwind repair at Trevor Head's Instrument repair school in Wales. It's a beautiful location and i like to be passing on what I've learnt over the years and being challenged by my enthusiastic students. I was surprised to find out that I was in fact, a pretty strict teacher with high standards! Luckily my students seem to appreciate the results this brings, eventually, and I am very happy to have been at least partly responsible for there being a few more repairers in the world.
When I am not repairing I like to spend my time making sculptures and slightly odd pots out of clay, drawing and painting, saying hello to the sea, which i am lucky enough to live a few minutes away from and playing the cello, not very well! I also love to go adventuring in my old but loved camper van, especially to the Highlands of Scotland.
A very old photo (look at that hair) that can stay on here for now to give you a laugh! I think the workshop back then looks quite cool and Dickensian, probably perpetuating the idea that all repairers work in cellars in the dark amongst the cobwebs.
photo Jenny Berg