The Shackleton British banjo raises specification and confirms 2014 pricing

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The Great British Banjo Company has announced the final specification and 2014 pricing for its Shackleton Banjo models, which the company claims is the best value hand-made banjo available.

Slotted prototype headstock of The Shackleton banjo

Slotted prototype headstock of The Shackleton banjo

One of the best value quality hand-made banjos available anywhere.

The Great British Banjo Company has announced an improved specification and confiemd 2014 pricing for its hand-made British banjo, The Shackleton.

The Shackleton models will now feature Grover or Schertler tuners, depending on the model, comobined with Remo skins, D'Addario strings, and hand-made rims made by Premier Percussion.

The Shackleton range starts at £495 including VAT.

When The Shackleton Banjo was announced back in August via a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, the instrument's key claim to fame was being the first large-production banjo to come out of Britain for more than half a century.

But the small English company that makes the Shackleton, appropriately named The Great British Banjo Company, has raised its own bar for 2014 by declaring the Shackleton to be one of the best value quality hand-made banjos available anywhere.

The company set out last year to manufacture an affordable British banjo, and they funded the development and first wave of production via a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised nearly £50,000. The campaign became one of the top 2% most successful Kickstarter campaigns since the crowd-funding platform was launched. The company received over 120 orders during the campaign and the banjo has continued to sell strongly despite even the first customers having to wait until late January 2014 for delivery.

Since the campaign the company has further improved the specification of The Shackleton, to a point where founder and managing director Simon Middleton claims it to be one of the best openback banjos available for under £1,000 or more.

In fact the standard Shackleton with maple and birch rim retails at £495 (including VAT), and the Shackleton Oak Special with burr oak finish costs just £595 (including VAT).

"We think these banjos are extraordinary value for money," said Middleton.

"There is simply no other quality handmade banjo anywhere available at this price, let alone one manufactured in Britain."

The Shackleton has achieved its price point whilst being made in Britain because the company has adopted a radical approach to manufacture.

"Instead of building a factory, which would have been impossibly expensive, we have collaborated with existing manufacturers, though not necessarily the ones that people would expect," Middleton explained.

"The rims of our banjos for example, are hand-laminated to our design by craft drum builders at Premier Percussion in Lancashire. They sound and look superb and have fantastic strength. The necks are drawn in Sheffield by CAD engineers, then cut in Norfolk, and hand fretted and finished in our Norwich workshop."

Several of the metal structural components are also manufactured by small engineering companies in Norfolk.

And the company have ensured quality across the final instrument by upgrading all key parts to industry-leading brands. The banjo skins are USA-made Remo Rannaissance, whilst the strings will be USA-made D'Addario.

Tuners will be Grover Sta-Tite 97 Series on the standard Shackleton and Swiss-engineered Schertlers on the Oak Special.

And it's not just the approach to manufacture which is innovative. The design of The Shackleton Banjo features a highly distinctive asymmetrical slotted headstock.

Slotted headstocks are usually the preserve of very high end luxury instruments, and The Shackleton design makes the instrument instantly distinguishable from every other affordable banjo in the marketplace.

Middleton added: "We could have used generic and relatively cheap strings, skins and tuners, which would certainly have saved us money. But we wanted to create a banjo which was not only British, but also of a very high level of quality for its price."

The Great British Banjo Company will introduce further models in 2014, including a limited edition Centenary Shackleton banjo marking the 100th anniversary of the start of Shackleton's Endurance expedition, and the unique high-tech E100 Shackleton, one of which will be taken to the South Pole as part of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition which will be walking right across the continent on Shackleton's planned but never-completed route.


The Great British Banjo Company is a privately owned company based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Tel: 01603 305800

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Simon Middleton

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