New Handmade Banjo is as American as Baseball and as British as a Morris Minor says British banjo maker Banjos Direct

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UK banjo retailer and manufacturer Banjos Direct, has released new details of its Islander OB-01 open back 5-string handmade banjo: believed to be the only production banjo currently being made in England. The handmade banjo will be "as American as baseball and as British as a Morris Minor" according to the makers. It features traditional old-time design and styling, and is based around an ash block-rim, maple neck with carbon fibre reinforcement, and a traditional dowel stick instead of the more conventional steel coordinator rod.

Islander OB-01 banjo rim on lathe

Islander OB-01 banjo rim on lathe

The Islander OB-01 is as American as baseball and as British as a Morris Minor!

UK banjo retailer and manufacturer Banjos Direct, has released new details of its Islander OB-01 open back 5-string handmade banjo: believed to be the only production banjo currently being made in England.

The handmade banjo will be "as American as baseball and as British as a Morris Minor" according to the makers. It features traditional old-time design and styling, and is based around an ash block-rim, maple neck with carbon fibre reinforcement, and a traditional dowel stick instead of the more conventional steel coordinator rod.

Founder and CEO of Banjos Direct, Simon Middleton, explained why the Islander OB-01 was being made to this particular specification.

"Ash is a very dense and purposeful wood. You could also say it is both as American as a baseball bat and as British as a Morris Minor! It has lent itself to both iconic items. And ash is often known the coach builders' wood for its strength and its adaptability to shaping and joinery," said Middleton.

"It is also a wonderful tone wood, just ask Leo Fender. The first Stratocasters and Broadcasters had ash bodies. And we've gone for a block rim for a better tone, greater stability and the integrity of block construction where every join is visible to the eye," Middleton added.

The new banjo will feature a maple neck, but reinforced with carbon fibre rather than more common steel truss rods. The company say that steel truss rods have become the norm but that they add unnecessary weight and imbalance to an instrument.

"Our neck will be light and very stable. It will never need adjusting and it will never change shape," said Middleton.

Another distinguishing element of the Islander OB-01 is the traditional wooden dowel stick: another nod to tradition.

"The wooden dowel just sounds better and looks more in keeping with the old time styling of the instrument. And with the stability of the wood block rim there's just no need for heavy coordinator rods," Middleton added.

The Islander OB-01 is the first model in a completely new range of hand-crafted British banjos: and remarkably the only production banjo being manufactured in the UK.

Up until the 2nd World War, say the company, there were numerous banjo manufacturers in England, but now there are none left except for a few individuals making custom banjos for private commissions.

Middleton explained: "We launched Banjos Direct only last October, as a specialist retailer, and we have quickly become a UK market leader. But we have always had the ambition to re-vitalise British banjo manufacturing. With the Islander OB-01 we are creating superb quality, hand-crafted, genuinely 'Made in England' instruments in small production batches. This enables us to provide exceptional, aspirational, instruments at much more achievable prices than those made to private commission."

The Islander OB-01 is available for pre-order now, with the first instruments available in August. It will retail at £1495.00 including luxury hard case.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Banjos Direct is the UK's fastest-growing specialist banjo retailer and manufacturer, leading the renaissance of interest in the banjo amongst players of every age and background. The Norwich-based company is the UK's leading stockist of USA banjo brands GoldTone and Nechville, and also stocks instruments by Barnes & Mullins, Pilgrim and Tanglewood. It has recently announced its move into banjo manufacturing with the launch of the all-British made Islander OB-01.

Founder and CEO of Banjos Direct, Simon Middleton, is also frontman of English-Americana band The Proposition, whose debut album King Snake, Devil Shake was released in March this year. Middleton is the author of several books on branding and marketing, including 'Build A Brand In 30 Days' and the new guide to personal branding 'Brand New You'.

Find Banjos Direct at http://www.banjosdirect.co.uk.

Email: info(at)banjosdirect(dot)co(dot)uk

Phone: +44 (0) 1603 305800

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