Sykes & Sons Pianos is a family-owned business, which is built on the belief that high-quality standards and customer care are of the utmost importance; an ethos that has been nurtured and instilled over three generations of devoted craftsmen.
Over the years, we have provided musicians throughout the UK with high-quality, reconditioned, restored and rebuilt pianos, with no compromise on workmanship, materials or guarantee. This high level of service is what our reputation is built on, and as a result, a high percentage of our business is from repeat customers and referrals.
We are very proud that our clientele includes many professional musicians, tutors and even other piano firms, all of whom rely on our in-depth expertise of the instrument.
We also consider ourselves fortunate to have such a wealth of experience from our team of piano tuners and technicians, who are not only entrusted to service the pianos of many private individuals but also several of the UK's leading institutions of musical excellence.
Macauley has always been a talented creative, with an expressed aptitude for woodwork and design throughout his early education. He aspired to become a craftsperson at a young age and always had a readiness to work alongside his seniors and hone his skills.
Macauley officially started his career in this industry when he was 15 years old, laboriously preparing old pianos that had become available to us through part-exchange. The preparations of these pianos often included completely stripping the casework in order to refinish them before they underwent further restoration.
This early experience in refinishing pianos helped Macauley develop an expansive knowledge of surface preparation and become proficient in not only the traditional finishing techniques of French polishing but also advance in the application of more modern finishes. Macauley learned how to work with a great number of evaporative, reactive, and coalescing finishes, from nitro-cellulose to oils and water-based lacquers.
Macauley gradually progressed into the more mechanical elements of piano restoration, under the close stewardship of senior technicians, starting with dismantling piano actions to ready them for reconditioning. He passionately pursued every opportunity to refine his knowledge of the piano and develop his skills in the craft of reconditioning.
He began to self-fund his own private restoration projects and by the time he was 18 years old, he had sold over 100 instruments under his own name, consisting of both upright and grand pianos. He continually invested the profits of his labor into his tool and piano literature collection and the garage at his parent's home was eventually completely commandeered to become a piano workshop and base of operations for the young apprentice.
Today, Macauley leads Sykes & Sons with a unique approach to piano retail.
Rather than offering every available model on the market, Macauley insists on carefully hand-selecting each of the pianos, choosing from brands and vintages that he trusts and has only the utmost confidence in.
Macauley has a particular passion for British and European pianos and is committed to preserving the reputations of our most esteemed brands, which we are sure you will agree is reflected in the writing of his descriptions for each of the instruments we offer for sale.
Macauley insists upon a preparation process that is sympathetic and honors the individual characteristics of their makers, which is coupled with thoughtful consideration for the requirements of his clients.
Health update and changes to the business in 2023
After over 10 years in the driving seat of the business, Macauley took an extended step back from Sykes & Sons at the end of 2021, over concerns for his health after failing to fully recover after contracting COVID-19.
Prior to becoming ill, it was typical of Macauley to spend long hours in the workshop, preparing pianos for his clients, but he found this and the administrative responsibilities evermore difficult as his physical and mental fitness continued to decline.
Macauley was referred to a specialist clinic and started receiving treatment for Long-COVID and Post-COVID postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTs) at the end of 2022, but he and his healthcare professionals strongly suspected that an unknown, underlying condition had predisposed him to the long-term effects of Covid and was exacerbating the symptoms of his post-covid infection.
After a long investigation and stream of referrals, Macauley was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a hereditary connective tissue disorder, in mid-2023. He struggles most with chronic fatigue, widespread joint pain, and postural intolerance but is making steady progress under his tailored treatment regime. He receives frequent physiotherapy and is under the continued care of his local cardiology department.
As of September 2023, Macauley is making a gradual return to work with a renewed focus and commitment to continuing the work that Sykes & Sons is known for.
Macauley has abandoned plans to move the company to larger premises and has decided to keep this business on a small scale which he can easily manage. This decision to retail on a small scale allows him to invest extra time and materials into enhancing every detail of the piano's performance in an unhurried way, his preferred approach. This will also give the business further resilience in these uncertain economic times that we all find ourselves in today.
He will work primarily from his fully equipped, climate-controlled home workshop, where he feels most comfortable. Macauley's workshop is large enough for all of the reconditioning works and offers ample space to display over 20 pianos at one time.
He will of course have the help of his family and other technicians, and will almost always be accompanied by his assistance dog in training, Willow.
Willow is a working-line Labrador with an impressive ancestral lineage of champion gundogs. She is trained to help Macauley with practical tasks such as retrieving dropped items and alerting him to a reduction of his blood oxygen or abnormalities in his heart rate. Willow has become an invaluable companion and source of support for Macauley and she is always happy to meet and greet customers who wish to see her.