There was a time when the banjo was reserved for country and bluegrass musicians but the popularity of the instrument is growing, with more and more people picking up a banjo for its beautiful sound, accessibility and versatility. The Great British Banjo Company are happy to be at the forefront of the banjo resurgence in the UK.
Although brick and mortar music shops have been struggling since the recession, the global guitar and fretted instruments (including banjos) market is estimated at $1.3 billion. Distributors and retailers alike report (and manufacturers back them up) that the one area of growth in the whole sector is in acoustic/folk instruments, including banjos and related instruments.
Notwithstanding the challenges to the music instrument retail industry as a whole, there are numerous, consistent and strong signs of growth in the acoustic sector, and in the banjo sector in particular. All of the major manufacturers and distributors are increasing ranges and raising production volumes (doubling and more in some cases). Even firms which have not been involved with banjos for many years are now throwing resources into the banjo sector. The leading American manufacturer has just celebrated the building of its 100,000th banjo.
Whilst every other mainstream British banjo brand sources its banjos from Chinese factories, The Great British Banjo Company is proud to be the only company actually manufacturing in Britain. The company is the first in more than sixty years to build banjos in volume in the UK, a move which demonstrates how much the popularity of the instrument has risen.
Managing Director of The Great British Banjo Company, Simon Middleton, commented: “The idea of manufacturing banjos in Britain even just a few years ago would have seemed crazy, but there is a real surge in demand from players of all ages. Banjos are cool again and we have been overwhelmed by the interest in our product.”
The banjo is being played by bands in folk, rock, country, pop and other musical genres. Not to mention being the instrument which defines the sound of bands like Mumford and Sons.
The rise in popularity of the banjo is further evidenced by the huge success of The Great British Banjo Company's Kickstarter campaign, which is in the top 2% of all Kickstarter campaigns having raised almost £50,000 with 150 advance orders for the Shackleton Banjo – named after the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton who called the banjo 'vital mental medicine'.