Banjo Builder Allen Hart Plays “Old Jimmy Sutton”

We stumbled upon the banjos of Allen Hart on display at Wintergrass 2012. They were gorgeous instruments and we couldn’t resist asking him to play a tune for us.

Here, Hart plays “Old Jimmy Sutton” on a banjo that was inspired by the instrument in this painting by William Sidney Mount. It is believed to have been made by William Boucher in the 1840s. Boucher was the first banjo maker to earn a national reputation and he was one of the first builders to use a drum-like shell instead of a gourd body.  Like the original banjos of that period, Hart uses real skin heads and actual gut strings.

Allen Hart doesn’t have a website, yet, but you can email him at seahart1 (@) He has a couple of CDs on Voyager Records that you can find here.

If you’re into pre-Bluegrass banjos, don’t forget to check out the Fretboard Journal #24, which has a great article on the stunning, Gilded Age banjo inlays of Icilio Consalvi.

You might also want to check out our Romero Banjos video. Romero builds open-back banjos that look old-fashioned to our eyes but they’re marvels of high-tech wizardry compared to the Allen Hart’s instruments.