The Arthur E. Smith Banjo Company was founded by Mark Surgies and Kathryn Spencer, two old-time banjo players experienced in the repair and building of banjos and guitars. In 1973, disheartened by the scarcity of good four and five string banjos and appalled by the staggering costs and mediocre workmanship of domestic and imported instruments, we began “Arthur Smith” with the philosophy that quality was still desired by the American musician. We felt a need for a fresh concept in instrument building which would combine playability with old-time sound and style. Now in 1978 we feel we have achieved this goal and are known all over the country for our fine banjos.
Our instruments appeal to that segment of the banjo-playing community which is looking for a well-crafted, fully guaranteed, American-made banjo. Suitable for folk music, old-time string-band music, New England or Southern square-dance music, or any other style where a clean sweet sound at either a soft or loud volume is desired, the Arthur Smith banjo is unique in both workmanship and design. The only direct comparison of our instruments that can be made is to the banjos produced by the A.C. Fairbanks, Vega, S.S. Stewart, and Orpheum banjo companies at the height of the banjo making era from about 1890 to 1920. Arthur Smith banjos are in no way copies of pre-existing instruments. However, the peg head shape, pearl work, marquetries, neck laminations, and neck shape are closer to the elegant late-Victorian masterpieces than anything else made today.