Arthur Smith banjo necks are made from the best New England sugar (rock) maple or native black cherry. The wood is cut under our own supervision from the finest logs in the area and is dried to the lowest ideal moisture content. For optimal stability, the necks are all laminated from two pieces of book-matched wood with one, three or five center laminations of natural wood. To further insure straightness we use a two-piece neck rod which is adjustable at the heel. Thus we can carve the necks thinner than in the old days of no rods, for faster, easier playing and reduced hand fatigue.
To compliment the center laminations in the neck we use at least two contrasting veneers of maple, cherry, walnut, or mahogany under the peghead, fingerboard, and heel cap. Depending on model and customer preference these last three parts are rosewood or ebony. The Maple Leaf and Shelburne banjo fingerboards are bound with either grained white ivoroid or tortoise shell plastic.
All the banjos are fretted with nickel-silver fret wire. For maximum sound we chose a 27 inch fret scale rather than the shorter scales used by most other modern manufacturers. This allows for a higher tension on the strings, yielding a clear, bright tone. Medium gauge strings are used as they give the best response in the instruments.
The pearl work is exclusively of our own design and is cut and inlaid to the closest possible tolerances. The Northampton and Maple Leaf models and many of our custom necks bear the symbol of the company, the maple leaf. Pearl dots mark the fingerboards of the simpler instruments and in the more elaborate banjos a variety of pearl patterns are available. Finally, all Arthur Smith banjos are fitted with a solid ivory nut and fifth string pip.