Now for our models:
Northampton with its 1/8” brass tone ring and pearl maple leaf in the peg head was the most consistent of our banjos. Could be any wood and have a one, three, or five piece neck with colored or plain laminations, with or without marketry.
Maple Leaf with the 3 piece tone system, one spun brass with two brass inserts, one round and one rectangular. For the neck, same as for the Northampton.
Shelburne- Here’s where things get dicey as they changed a lot over the years in terms of appointments. Marks’ forte was designing inlay, so lots of inlay got designed. However, though we constantly tried to improve sound and the dimensions and spinning of the tone ring changed over the years, all Shelburnes had the Maple Leaf tone system as described above. They also always featured the Bacon internal resonator-this would be the defining feature of the Shelburne. I describe them as best I can below; you may have an AE Smith that doesn’t fit exactly into these categories, so regard yourself as lucky and call it anything you like!
Shelburne l was the simplest, with dots and a maple leaf in the head stock.
Shelburne ll had a fancy head stock and dots in the fret board.
Shelburne lll had a plain fret board (dots) and a back strap.
Shelburne lV had fancy inlay in both head stock and fret board.
Shelburne Professional had the works with fretboard and peg head inlay and usually inlay in the back strap and heel cap.
Colrain was the first “Shelburne” professional and as far as I can tell we only made one, maybe two with this designation before the name was changed to the Shelburne.
Catamount was our final bluegrass banjo; these would feature a “Mastertone” style tone system. These show up only in the 1980 catalog and price list and depending on inlay style could be a #0,1, or 5.
There are threats of bluegrass banjos being ready or almost ready for sale in our newsletters, but none ever show up on another price list. We did occasionally put full resonators on both our Northampton and Maple Leaf banjos.
Deerfield l and ll bluegrass banjos are mentioned in the April 5, 1979 newsletter and two prototypes, one #ll five string and one #ll tenor are listed in the production book but these are the only two that were made.
Signet/Cygnet was made in the later days of the company, first showing up in the April 5, 1979 newsletter and the May 1979 price list. This was a basic banjo with a Maple Leaf decal on the peg head and two metal coordinator rods in our attempt to produce a less expensive instrument. This was also advertised as available with full resonator
Reproduction necks were made for many different rims, usually to convert a four string into a five string banjo. We made many Vega-Fairbanks necks for different models in all degrees of fanciness, and at least one neck each for a Slingerland, Orpheum, Paramount, and Gibson rim. In a sort of reverse process, we made many A.E. Smith necks for old rims.
Custom four-string necks were also made on occasion and we made a few A.E. Smith tenor banjos.
As to be expected in a small shop we customized many of our banjos. Options in the price lists include heel carving, inlay, engraving and back straps as well as the now-rare Arthur E. Smith T shirts.