The Great British Banjo Company launches first banjo to be manufactured in Britain for over 60 years

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A British-made banjo named after Edwardian explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has been launched by a small UK business called The Great British Banjo Company, marking the rebirth of an industry which has been dormant in Britain for more than 60 years.

The Shackleton Banjo, made in Britain by The Great British Banjo Company

The Shackleton Banjo, made in Britain by The Great British Banjo Company

Super-lightweight, handmade and affordable, the Shackleton is set to reinvent the British banjo scene.

A British-made banjo named after Edwardian explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has been launched by a small UK business called The Great British Banjo Company, marking the rebirth of an industry which has been dormant in Britain for more than 60 years.

The Shackleton Banjo, manufactured by Norfolk, UK-based company, is the only production volume banjo to be made in Britain, and one of only a handful of musical instruments of any kind manufactured in the country.

The company funded its development of the Shackleton through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which raised nearly £50,000 to become one of the top 2% most successful campaigns on the internet platform. The company has also raised more than £240,000 through conventional equity funding.

The makers say that the launch of the Shackleton Banjo, which is largely handmade and retails at only £495, is perfectly timed to coincide with the resurgence of interest in folk and acoustic music.

“There’s been a massive growth of interest in acoustic instruments, including banjos, in the last few years, typified by the popularity of bands like Mumford & Sons and the growth of the festival scene,” said Managing Director of the company, Simon Middleton.

Middleton added: “The Shackleton is the perfect instrument for so many of the new players, who are of all ages. It’s probably the lightest weight banjo you can buy, at just 1.5kg, which makes it so easy to handle and to carry, and the perfect festival and party instrument.

“But the Shackleton is also of a higher quality of construction and sound than any other banjo in its price range,” Middleton stressed. “It’s super lightweight, handmade and yet amazingly affordable. We think it’s going to reinvent the British banjo scene.”

The company has sold 150 of the banjos in advance and has interest from overseas distributors.

The Shackleton is designed and manufactured in the UK, using 90% British-manufactured parts. Neck and body are UK made, and most metal parts are also locally produced.

“We’ve used some USA-made specialist components such as Remo skins, D’Addario strings and Grover tuners because they’re the best available in the world,” said Middleton, “but this is a proper British-made banjo and therefore unique!”

The company will produce up to 500 instruments in the coming year with production planned to grow to include new models, as well as a clothing range and other Shackleton-branded products.

The Shackleton is so called because of the important role played by a banjo on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Endurance expedition which attempted to cross the Antarctic. The expedition became trapped and then crushed by the ice floes of The Weddell Sea and their ship Endurance sank.

As the ship sank, leaving Shackleton and his 22 men beleagured on the ice, Shackleton gave orders to rescue the expedition’s banjo, which belonged to meteorologist Leonard Hussey, saying: “We must have that banjo, it is vital mental medicine.”

In November this year, 100 years after the Endurance expedition set sail, a new expedition will attempt to cross the Antarctic on foot, following Shackleton’s planned route.

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition, led by Joanne Davies, will be taking a special version of the new Shackleton Banjo with them on their trip, and the British-made instrument is set to become the first banjo to be carried across the continent and played at the South Pole.

100 of the special ‘Expedition’ models of The Shackleton banjo will be available for sale later this year.

Company Information:

The Great British Banjo Company is a private limited company based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. The business was founded by Simon Middleton, a performing musician, high-profile brand strategy adviser, and author of the bestselling guide to small business branding Build A Brand In 30 Days.

For further information and photographs:

Visit: http://www.thegreatbritishbanjocompany.com/
Phone: 01603 305800
Email: simon(at)thegreatbritishbanjocompany(dot)com

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Simon Middleton

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