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The story of the FIRST OF THE TITANS - "THE ULTIMATE BANJO"

(By Syd Payne, designer and manufacturer of all the titanium parts and tone ring)

I started to play the five-string banjo in the early fifties, and then stopped to pursue a career in engineering, but my interest in the banjo never faded.

Now 48 years on I have started to play again. I still have my pre-war Clifford Essex and a modern Stelling banjo. However, I soon realised that the Stellings, Gibsons and Deerings etc. all have one thing in common, they are all far too heavy.

Having 50 years of experience working with special materials I asked myself “Why are banjo manufacturers 100 years on still only using brass components? What’s wrong with using high technical materials, after all they have ventured out and tried different types of wood successfully.

I decided to redesign the banjo by using Titanium instead of Brass and to combine old and new ideas to capture the best qualities of Old Time and modern instruments which has led me to produce a dual purpose instrument with all the qualities of the modern and pre-war banjos.

The result was a high quality banjo with removable flange and resonator.  It can be played open back or blue grass. The performance of this instrument was so pleasing that I invited some of the top banjo players to play it and here are some of their comments.

 

COMMENTS

John Dowling - World Champion Banjo player. Winner of USA Blue Grass World Championship.

“Wow! Dynamite tone and so much volume.  I have got to have one.  Is it for sale?”

Stuart Williams - Player and Tutor, Six times English Blue Grass Champion.

“I have played all makes of banjos, pre-war to modern and this banjo is unbelievably the best. It sounds deep, rich, full and bright, with sustained accuracy. The instrument is so well balanced. I must have one!”

Bernie Shaw - Professional Banjo Player and Composer. He plays a pre-war Vega and a Paragon.

“This banjo has everything and sounds better than my Vega and Paragon put together. Would you sell it? You have a world beater here!”

 

TITANIUM FACTS

Titanium was discovered by William Gregor in England in 1790. It first became available as an engineering material over 150 years later. The largest consumer of Titanium continues to be the Aerospace industry. In contrast, industrial use has tended to focus on the valuable corrosion resistant properties of pure Titanium and to exploit these in the widest possible range of applications for chemical, petro-chemical and process engineering industries. Other properties make it suitable for acoustic and ultrasonic applications and for surgical implants in the human body.

Natural choice

The unique combination of Titanium’s physical and mechanical properties made it a natural choice for this banjo, e.g.: -

• Corrosion resistant

• Less than half the weight of brass, Density = 0.163 lbs/in3

• Velocity of sound in Titanium = 20,100 ft/sec

• The effect of thermal expansion is markedly lower.

Specifications

Weight approx. 7½ lbs.  with resonator about 4½ lbs. lighter than a Stelling.

Width of nut 1¼ inches.

Finger board - Ebony.

Peg head - Ebony overlay.

Neck, pot and resonator - curly maple.

Colour - Blonde.

Titanium parts - commercially pure, cold rolled and inert welded.

Tone rings - Brass - tubular cold rolled, welded and nickel-plated.

           "       - Titanium - commercially pure, cold rolled and inert welded.

Titanium tailpiece adjustable six ways - up, down, left, right, in and out.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The birth of this Banjo would not have been possible without the skill and manufacturing input of James Bowen, “Griffin Banjos”, makers of fine instruments.

AND FINALLY . . .

In ancient mythology Griffins were always guardians of hidden treasure and the Titans were magnificent, all-powerful and conquering.

The treasure is here,

the Titan is here,

and I can assure you there is nothing mythological about this Banjo.

 

THE WORLDS FIRST TITANIUM BANJO

THE “TITAN”

 

Recent Media Coverage of TITAN BANJOS

bulletA section entitled "UK banjo builders" in publication ukbluegrass.com refers to TITAN Banjos as "An innovative range of lightweight titanium banjos made by Syd Payne and James Bowen".  Read it here (opens in new window).

 

Send mail to webmaster@titanbanjos.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 02 November 2013

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