During the 1970s and early ’80s he built banjos from his shop near Oklahoma City. These were true shop-built instruments, as Piper never went in for full-scale production. He was an early innovator in the use of block rims in banjos (as was Chuck Erikson in California), a practice that is far more common now than it was in the 1970s.
Imperial Banjos flew a bit under the radar, though they did advertise in Banjo NewsLetter, where Ty had a regular column on banjo construction. Piper had his loyal customers, and was a fixture in the Oklahoma music scene until he moved west in the mid-1980s.
He was also a founding member of the Greater Oklahoma Bluegrass Music Society, an organization that endures to this day.
His funeral will be held this afternoon at the Sunny Lane Funeral Home in Del City, OK at 2:00 p.m.
The family has requested donations to the American Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.