The story of the FIRST OF THE TITANS - "THE
Payne, designer and manufacturer of all the titanium parts and tone ring)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dowling - World Champion Banjo player. Winner of USA Blue Grass World
Dynamite tone and so much volume. I have got to have one. Is it for
Stuart Williams - Player and Tutor, Six times English Blue Grass
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!”
Shaw - Professional Banjo Player and Composer. He plays a pre-war Vega
and a Paragon.
banjo has everything and sounds better than my Vega and Paragon put
together. Would you sell it? You have a world beater here!”
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.
unique combination of Titanium’s physical and mechanical properties made
it a natural choice for this banjo, e.g.: -
than half the weight of brass, Density = 0.163 lbs/in3
Velocity of sound in Titanium = 20,100 ft/sec
effect of thermal expansion is markedly lower.
approx. 7½ lbs. with resonator about 4½
lbs. lighter than a Stelling.
nut 1¼ inches.
board - Ebony.
- Ebony overlay.
and resonator - curly maple.
parts - commercially pure, cold rolled and inert welded.
rings - Brass - tubular cold rolled, welded and nickel-plated.
" - Titanium - commercially pure, cold
rolled and inert welded.
tailpiece adjustable six ways - up, down, left, right, in and out.
of this Banjo would not have been possible without the skill and
manufacturing input of James Bowen, “Griffin Banjos”, makers of
AND FINALLY . . .
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
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