Messrs Bowley & Barnes

About Barnes & Mullins Instruments

Barnes & Mullins folk instruments have a highly respected history dating back over 125 years to the inception of the famous musical instrument journal ‘The Jo’, started by Mr Albert Mullins and Mr S. Bowley Barnes in 1894. 

With the ‘The Jo’ and other associated titles including ‘The Troubadour’ spreading the word about all things banjo, guitar, violin and mandolin related, their passion for musical instruments soon led Mr Albert Mullins and Mr S. Bowley Barnes to begin manufacturing their own banjos as well as importing other types of instruments.

Barnes & Mullins banjos quickly established themselves as a staple brand among folk musicians and ensembles in the early 20th Century with ‘Perfect’ models forming the core of their instrument offering.

On 28th May 1914, Albert Mullins was onboard the ‘RMS Empress of Ireland’ when it collided with a Norwegian coal-ship, the Storstad, in thick fog on the Saint Lawrence River, Canada. Tragically, at the age of 40, Albert Mullins lost his life along with 1,101 other passengers that day. He was on the home leg of a 2-year sales trip.

Mr S. Bowley Barnes continued the business, thereafter relocating to Rathbone Place in London, UK and laying the vital foundations for the modern-day Barnes & Mullins Ltd: a multi award-winning British company at the forefront of musical instrument distribution across the globe.

Contemporary Barnes & Mullins instruments comprise a range of high-quality banjos, mandolins and ukuleles that pay homage to the origins of a rich and extensive musical history and that honour the indelible legacy left by Messrs S 'Bowley' Barnes and Albert Mullins.

Not only are you in possession of a high-quality folk instrument by choosing to play a Barnes & Mullins banjo, mandolin or ukulele… you are also weaving yourself into the fabric of one of the most iconic and treasured musical instrument histories.

Original Barnes and Mullins banjos are still sought after today, with collectors seeking them out all over the world.


Pictured: Barnes & Mullins banjo, circa early 20th Century.