First British-made Banjo in 60 years shipped to customers

Posted on 7 Apr 2014 by Callum Bentley

The Great British Banjo Company, the UK's only banjo manufacturer, has shipped its first Shackleton banjos to early-adopters.

S13The handmade-in-Britain banjo is named The Shackleton after Edwardian Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The company, which is Britain’s first volume banjo manufacturer in more than 60 years, funded the development of The Shackleton with a Kickstarter campaign last autumn, which became one of the top 2% most successful campaigns on the crowdfunding platform.

The project generated 150 advance orders and created worldwide media interest. The company has subsequently attracted a further £250k in equity funding.

The company is now delivering its first Shackleton Banjos in two model types to customers and will introduce further models in 2014, including a limited edition Centenary Shackleton banjo marking the 100th anniversary of the start of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition (which will be the first banjo to be played at The South Pole).

The Shackleton is hand-made in Norwich, with a unique specification that highlights the products quality.

The multi-ply rim of the banjo is made under contract by Premier Drums in Manchester, using the drum company’s hand-laminating techniques. This approach, unique in banjo making, gives an excellent combination of tone, strength and finish.

Most of the metal hardware is manufactured by Norfolk engineering companies.

A special version of The Shackleton 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 expedition, which if successful will be the first to complete the route, will be taking a Shackleton banjo with them on the trip. This instrument will become the first banjo ever to be taken across 1800 miles of Antarctica and to be played at the South Pole.

The explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton who carried a banjo on his 1914 Endurance expedition to the Antarctic inspires the Shackleton name. The banjo was rescued when the Endurance sank: with Shackleton famously commanding: “We must have that banjo: it is vital mental medicine!”.

Founder and managing director of the company Simon Middleton said: “We are delighted with the customer response to The Shackleton. People really love the hand-crafted element and the really warm and rich sound.”