Shackleton E100 will weigh max 3lbs but will punch a big sound!
Here in the den at The Great British Banjo Company we’ve just had the very first detailed production meeting about the E100, the very special Shackleton banjo which will be making the unique journey in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton across the Antarctic from November this year.
If you’re new to the story, here’s a quick re-cap. Shackleton set off to cross the Antarctic in 1914, and he would have been the first expedition leader to achieve this. But his ship became first stuck in and then crushed by the pack ice in the Weddell Sea on the Atlantic side of the continent.
Shackleton’s great achievement then (for of course he failed to cross the Antarctic or even to get onto the mainland) was to get all of his men home alive against incredible odds.
Famously the expedition members entertained themselves with a banjo which Shackleton insisted on saving from the sinking ship, saying: “We must have that banjo, it is is vital mental medicine.”
That story, those men, that banjo, inspired us to create The Shackleton, which is now winning reputation and customers all over the world.
But we were inspired to do something else as well: to team up with the amazing team who are going to commemorate and bring to life Shackleton’s ambitions by traversing the Antarctic on foot exactly 100 years later.
In November this year the ITACE (Imperial Trans Antarctic Centenary Expedition) set off to attempt Shackleton’s planned route.
In achieving this fantastic journey they will become the very first adventurers to complete this route.
And if that wasn’t enough they are taking a Shackleton E100 banjo with them.
In fact the banjo will be hauled (and played) by expedition member Stewart Stirling.
We’ve promised Stewart that we will provide him with a banjo which is full size and which plays and sound like an excellent instrument (we ain’t messing around with some piddly little travel instrument): but which has three important characteristics:
- It weighs a maximum of 3lbs (1.36kg);
- It is super durable and unaffected by extreme temperatures (which can be 55 degrees below zero);
- It can be played without fingers sticking to metal parts (a real danger in Antarctic conditions).
- It’s a big challenge: but we’re on it, and the E100 is already shaping up to be something pretty special.
There are no proper pictures to show you yet, but I can tell you a few little things.
It will be based on the same design aesthetic as the ‘normal’ Shackleton banjo: including the asymmetrical slotted headstock. It will also utilise the hand-laminated multi-ply rim that we’ve created for the Shackleton: but this time in a delicious ‘white’ birdseye maple, and the superb Schertler tuners, with ebony caps.
But in other ways the E100 Shackleton will be very different. for a start it will be a limited numbered-edition of 100 instruments. One is going with ITACE to the Antarctic. One will be given to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grand-daughter the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton to auction for charity. One will go in our company archive, and just 97 will be for sale.
The skins (featuring a distinctive commemorative design) will be signed by the members of the ITACE expedition.
Most significantly of all though, the E100 will have a carbon fibre neck, and several other carbon key components, including an innovative skin tensioning system.
That’s all we dare tell you for now. We will be announcing prices and inviting pre-orders soon. The Shackleton E100 will be ready to ship in November this year… just as the fantastic ITACE team set off on their epic expedition!
But to keep in touch with developments, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and visit us regularly on this blog.
Picture shows the ITACE team in training.