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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: New Shop Services Announcement

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tubeandplate - Posted - 07/10/2009:  09:19:03

I am pleased to announce that I am ready to offer quality maintenance, set up, repair, and restoration services beyond my local area to anyone who cares to inquire after them.

Some BHO members know me and my work, and some other BHO members know my work, but don’t know it’s mine.

My 25+ years experience as a player, collector, and repair and lutherie hobbyist was put to the test and augmented in a production/scheduled environment during my 3+ years at Huber Banjos working with my friend Steve Huber almost every day.

Among other things, my responsibilities there included final assembly and set up, neck sets, tonering/rim hand fitting, fretwork, final inspection/QC, and many other construction and repair tasks. I performed this work on new Huber banjos as well as many other banjos ranging from student grade instruments to original pre-WW2 Gibson flathead five strings. Given my worklogs, I worked on well over 500 banjos as a conservative estimate while there.

Many customer and professional/endorsee compliments were directed towards the quality of my work, while not one complaint concerning anything related to any of the tasks I performed on any banjo I worked on during my time there was ever voiced.

During this time, I became personally and professionally acquainted with my friend Robin Smith, and did a fair amount of consulting, troubleshooting, and various occasional work for him as well.

I continue to do occasional varied work for both Steve and Robin, and I also take advantage of their excellent parts and services as I need them as well.

I have been privileged to work with both Steve and Robin as well as to gain their trust and friendship. Both have been of great help and encouragement as I moved towards opening my own shop. Both have also graciously extended themselves as professional references on my behalf. I don’t know of two individuals who would have had more exposure to my character, work ethic, and abilities, or who I would rather choose as references.

I also enjoy working on vintage open back banjos that are my other passion as a blossoming classic/parlor fingerstyle player and collector.

My prices are competitive, my waiting list is short for the time being, and I treat every banjo for what it is…the owner’s investment of some financial worth, if not prized possession that took a considerable amount of savings to be able to own.

If you have general questions about me or my services, or just want to get acquainted or re-acquainted, this thread is a good place to do so.

I welcome inquiries, as well as any pricing for specific projects, by telephone at:



Chris Cioffi

Banjorb3 - Posted - 07/10/2009:  09:31:36

I don't personally know Chris, but after speaking with him on the phone for well over an hour last night regarding his knowledge of a stolen banjo I was owned (see July issue of BU), he could not have given a higher first impression. His credentials are outstanding. Good luck, Chris, in your new venture. Hope to meet you face to face next time I'm in the Nashville area.


banjodr - Posted - 08/20/2009:  19:57:19

I can personally vouch for Chris as he has teamed up with me on ideas for different set ups and neck sets. He is the archtop setup man also. And a great picker. Don't hesitate to use him if you have the need.

Stay Tuned! gDGBD

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/21/2009:  06:30:57

Ken-The Five Fickle FIngers of Fate for Five strings affect banjos over the years in odd ways, don't they??? Those situations have a way of introducing us to more nice banjo folks, too, as me getting in touch with your situation did. This is as much or more fun/rewarding than the banjos themselves, to me. Drop a line anytime.


Thanks for the kind words, Dave!!! Thank you also for trusting me with some of your nice old banjos, as well as new ones and your cool projects.

I've enjoyed your approach, conversation, and ideas on building/fixing banjos, too.

You ain't no slouch when it comes to weilding the finger picks yourself!

Chris Cioffi

Edited by - tubeandplate on 08/21/2009 06:36:03

DJMorgan - Posted - 08/21/2009:  07:22:37

Hey Chris, welcome to the BHO. Good to see your finally up and running. Best Wishes to you on this endeavor.

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/21/2009:  07:35:48

Thanks DJ! Befriending you now.....

Chris Cioffi

Arthur Hatfield - Posted - 08/24/2009:  07:25:41

Chris glad you got your shop ready I know you have been working on it for quite a while. Hope you the best in your endeavor. I know from seeing Huber Banjos in the years that you worked there that your work is top notch. If some of you need repair work give Chris a call. He is definitely not new to the banjo repair and building, but just opened his new shop.

Arthur Hatfield

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/24/2009:  08:16:05

Hi Arthur! I don't know what to say....THANK YOU for the kind words.

You're no slouch either, building or playing the banjo!

I'll be up for a visit as soon as I's on me if we go into town!

Chris Cioffi

pipefitter61 - Posted - 08/24/2009:  08:37:10

I've known Chris for some time now, and can say that he's an absolute stickler for getting things "right" A great picker on top of that. Should have plenty of business coming your way Chris! Good luck!

iluvearl - Posted - 08/24/2009:  11:38:00

Chris: you've had my banjo for 3 years now ; when will I get it back?...Oh, my bad ...wrong repair shop...Just joshin' you Chris; glad to hear you are up and running. We can all use another banjo repair shop that that knows banjos in and out and knows how pickers think. got a binding problem that needs your touch; I'll call you off line!

After all this time, you''d think I''d be better by now!--iluvearl

vtyankee5 - Posted - 08/24/2009:  15:52:55

Having Robin Smith & Steve Huber recommend you tells the tale of a great builder/luthier & person to those who do not know you. I see your endeavor in to the independent instrument world as plus for the banjo player. And, a loss for Huber LLC.

The best will always do well

Joe B

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/25/2009:  08:01:36

Hi Ed-Thanks for the nice words! I enjoy your picking, too! Pipefitter? How 'bout Lickfitter? How many banjos do you have now?

Dan-Yeah, 3 years and I've got 1 out of the 22 frets done so far!

Yippee! Binding repair! Bring it on!

Hi Joe-Thanks for that. I have been struggling about the idea of taking a second job to help out along the way of getting started here in a public way (I've been doing local work for a while on my own). I actually started a second job recently, but I've had enough banjo inquiries and work coming in that I thought I better concentrate on this so that I can give the best/quickest service I can instead, so I just quit the other job. That's kind of a scary situation as I don't have much of a waiting list yet, but we'll see. I'm either doing this all the way or not doing it.

Undoubtedly in this economy, that might mean some tough going here, but I'm committed to this, and I hope the concept you mention is true. Working on banjos is the one thing in my life that I have realized the last few years that I am actually good at, and enjoy immensely.

Besides working on the banjos themselves, the other most enjoyable thing I'm discovering working on my own is that I now talk directly to the clients/customers......THAT is refreshing and I've been meeting and working with some REALLY great people so far. THAT is fun to me!

Chris Cioffi

PyrPups - Posted - 08/25/2009:  17:05:02

For the many of us that don't know Chris, let me put a face into the equation. With credentials backed by Robin Smith and Steve Huber, one fine luthier is now on the loose. Chris is seen here in Robin Smith's shop getting the finishing touches on a custom Kel Kroydon KK11 Cello banjo that Robin built for me. Being the pain that I am, I wanted steel strings and a standard scale length, tuned a full octave lower. Chris and Robin went crazy coming up with the right combination of string sizes to make it all work. Ended up with all five being wound with the first and fifth .020 JD's! Thanks to Tom Mirisola for having all the custom made hardware for the 14" pot come to be for this project. I understand Chris and Charlie Cushman had a ball with this unusual monster! I wish Chris all the success in the world with his future endeavors. The banjo community has yet another superb luthier at the doorstep. Good Luck Chris!


tubeandplate - Posted - 08/25/2009:  18:33:28

Hi Kerry-Thanks for the really nice words....WOW that was got that thing only a very little while after I was down there with the Robster fooling with it!

As you can see by my expression, I was going crazy trying to play a "classic" banjo piece, "Sunflower Dance" on the Cello Banjo ('Lo 'Jo????)-seemed appropriate since most original cello banjos are from the classic banjo period for banjo orchestras at the turn of the last century...

You should have seen Robin's face when I played it....I think he expected "Follow The Leader" or "Dear Old Dixie" out of me at the time....

Charlie must have played it after I left as we weren't there together....shame...I would have loved to hear Cush' chow down on one on that about context shifts.....

Anyway, I"m going crazy playing it....Robin was the one going crazy with the strings and set up....he just kept looking at me over his glasses with raised eyebrows every time I said "I think it needs heavier strings".....LOL

That cello banjo sounds a lot like a piano in a big echo-ey auditorium with a high ceiling, don't you think, Kerry????

Sounds like the right person ended up with the right banjo.

Kudos go to Tom Mirisola and Robin Smith for putting this project, along with another very similar one together. Pretty kewl. Now if we can just get Huber to make a 14" tonering....I won't mention Tom M. for that, or sure enough, he'll belly up to the bar and do it

Only problem is, the pictures really shows off my bald spot.... The thinner my hair gets, the shorter I cut it.....

Glad you like that one, Kerry. I think you got a really fun one there to get inspired with!

Chris Cioffi

Edited by - tubeandplate on 08/26/2009 11:04:54

fitch5string - Posted - 08/25/2009:  19:03:20

I would also like to add my endorsement of Chris. Since I no-longer do repair and restoration work, he came along at a good time. I will certainly recommend anyone that contacts me to Chris. Anyone that has been under Steve and Robins' wing has to know what they are doing. Good luck Chris !

Hand-Crafted Professional Banjos

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/26/2009:  07:34:34

Cliff-Thank you for that endorsement! I'm honored and humbled by your words, as you are a well thought of craftsman!

I am hoping during your time of change, that you will emerge from your reorganization with an even higher level of offerings and quality than the great standard you have already become known for! I'm looking forward to your new banjo line as you told me about....

Cliff, thanks for your support, time, and communications with me, and Godspeed on your progress and work in the meantime! If there's anything I can do to help you during this time, let me know.


Edited by - tubeandplate on 08/26/2009 07:35:47

Mopick - Posted - 08/26/2009:  10:32:28

I have not met Chris, but I have talked to him extensively on the phone and by e-mail. I contacted Charlie Cushman to "set up" my Gibson RB-3 1994 re-issue. Charlie gave me Robin's phone number so I could talk to Robin about fret work before Charlie could do the set-up. But after seeing Chris' post a couple of months ago about setting up a new shop and he mentioned that he worked with Robin and Charlie. I called Robin and just asked him about Chris. Robin said he is a perfectionist. I thought, "This is the guy for me." I called Chris that very day and after talking to him I realized that he knows banjos and understands banjo players.

Chris, I'll be sending my banjo. I've been putting it off for the reasons we discussed, but I see that I need to get on the ball before you get too busy. I have enjoyed our conversations and I see a relationship forming here that goes beyond banjos and lasts for the rest of my life.

I live in the mountains.....
The mountainous region of Central Florida.
Sugarloaf Mountain; 312 feet above sea level.


tubeandplate - Posted - 08/26/2009:  11:03:40

Randy-Don't worry, your place in the chronology of projects is already reserved.....just send it when you are ready....and....

Perhaps you should have waited to get the banjo back instead of making your public judgement about me based on my hot air alone....

Regardless, thanks for your kind words, and yes, it seems we will be staying in touch after your banjo leaves here. Thanks for trusting me with it.

My wife and I had a discussion about the shop and life the other night; she said I am happiest and at my best when I'm working on banjos....this only gets augmented by working on banjos owned by nice, good people.

BTW....if anyone reads this post, I would highly recommend you click/find Randy's (Mopick) bio and blog entries on his's life related and not necessarily banjo related, but I am finding out that the BHO is one of the best set up forums for interacting with people on levels that transcend "just" the banjo and start to inform conversations in which people can relate to each other for reasons they started playing the banjo or what the banjo means to them.

After all, things in life are just vehicles for interaction, activity, etc...the banjo just happens to be the BHO members' choice of poison. If we're all sick, maybe the BHO is our 12 step program....

Chris Cioffi

Edited by - tubeandplate on 08/26/2009 11:13:01

trapdoor2 - Posted - 08/26/2009:  11:45:08

So, Chris, do you have a brick 'n' mortar storefront/workshop or do we have to stop by your house in order to pick some classic 1890's tunes? You're only 2-1/2 hrs north of time I'm headed to Nashburg, I might just see if I can drop in.

Congrats on the leap into self employment! I keep that option in the back of my mind for retirement, etc. Here's to your success!


"If banjos needed tone rings, S.S. Stewart would have made them that way."

tubeandplate - Posted - 08/26/2009:  11:50:18

Marc-Thanks for the well wishes....we'll see how it goes!

Actually, it's a metal building, but yes, a physical shop.

I am open for shop business in person by appointment only......


you want to stop by to play some classic banjo....Ossman tunes, Brooks and Denton duets, that sort of thing.

If that's the case, knock on the house, find me in the back pasture, in the shop, on the tractor...heck, knock on the outhouse door, and I'll run and get the Thorobred and we can tune up!

Only thing is, I'm PRETTY SURE you have a better command of the repertoire than I will for quite some time......

Chris Cioffi

GPettigrew - Posted - 09/22/2009:  12:13:41

Chris set up my "thin rim" bowtie 500 and turned it into a CANNON!!! Count me as a very satisfied customer.. Good luck to you!!

tubeandplate - Posted - 09/22/2009:  12:40:24

Thanks Greg! I'm glad we could get back in touch....this hangout has been really good for me getting back in touch with folks I'd have a hard time finding any other way.

Keep in touch, Greg! Glad you are enjoying that Mastertone!

Chris Cioffi

PyrPups - Posted - 09/22/2009:  12:52:21

Hi Chris!

Glad to see that banjos are filling your shop! You definitely have a deft touch where set up is concerned. I know there will be a lot of happy pickers in the future. Tom is having a couple of extra heads made for the Cello banjo. This way I can experiment without the fear of splitting the head. I've got the head quite tight right now and it has really come to life. It really booms on the low notes...makes the bass player work hard! Playing head to head against a banjo tuned normally is a blast...two octaves of pickin' all at once. Synchronized, it's an impressive sound that catches everyone's ear...they can't figure out where that low fill is coming from. Quite frankly, it adds another dimension and doesn't clash with another banjo in a song!

Best of luck to you in the future! We can't make NashCamp this year but will be down next year...we'll be sure to look you up!


Yes Sir! He's my "blankety-blank" Buddy! You Betcha!

tubeandplate - Posted - 09/24/2009:  17:39:17

Hi Kerry!!!!!

Sounds like that thing is really doing well in your hands and you are enjoying it!!!

Methinks you have discovered what the 1880's-1890's orchestral banjo players were into with what you are now experiencing with the 'lo 'jo.....

Watch out,'s a slippery slope to the classic banjo realm from where you are poised!

I hope you can come visit sometime, and of course, I insist you bring the Cello with you so I can see how you've dialed it in.....I would REALLY like to play it after you think it's at it's best.

Glad the head situation is working out...That Tom is a wonderful fellow...put him up to something and he just clocks in and rolls up his sleeves....

Chris Cioffi

robinsmith - Posted - 10/26/2009:  15:11:36

I have been playing mando and dobro in bluegrass bands for about 40 years. Recently I decided to start playing banjo. I started reading forums on BHO a few months ago and asked Chris to advise me on banjos, their pricing and Calton cases.
After looking at a few banjos online and based on Chris’ counsel I chose on ebay a 1996 Gibson RB4 that looked pretty grungy and played a lot but the price seemed right. He had advised me on others that were overpriced and I chose not to purchase them.
When I initially received it in a rather dilapidated original case I decided to purchase a Calton case and Chris pointed me at George Gruhn. Now I had a case in which I was comfortable shipping it in.
My first impression of the banjo was that it was played a lot and very dirty. The up the neck sounds were not consistent with what I thought a banjo of this quality should be. It looked OK. There were no major cosmetic issues. It was just very dirty. In further conversation on the phone and via email I decided to send it to him for set up.
After Chris got it and evaluated it we talked further and decided he would do the following; a complete fret job/level the fretboard ,new bon e nuts, a neckset involving moving the neck's position, clean up, speed neck, some minor lacquer touch up and repair around the truss rod cover screws, and general set up with all work geared towards maximum tone and playability
What I got back after three weeks with Chris I was blown away. It looked like a brand new banjo and the sound far exceeds my expectations. His work is truly masterful, thorough and shows he is a complete nut job perfectionist.
His advice on packing it for shipment was very thorough and based on his experience of shipping many banjos when he worked with Steve Huber. I followed his advice on shipping it to him and got it back so well packed I think it could have been dropped out of an airplane and would have survived the hit.

At any rate I highly recommend Chris for any work on your banjo and I am happy to discuss it anytime.

~pikit wilson~

corcoran - Posted - 10/29/2009:  06:58:49

I'll chime in on this.

I visited Steve Huber's shop in June 2003 and spent a lot of time with Chris, picking, talking banjos, and learning from him as he went about his tasks in the shop. Chris is a real pro and an expert on construction, setup, and maintenance of banjos. Plus he is very enthusiastic and likes to share his knowledge and experience. Oh, and he is one hell of a picker too.

Chris and Steve pulled apart and then reassembled my prewar Gibson, and I learned a lot from that experience. Near the close of my visit, I decided to order a Lexington from Steve, and Chris was the luthier who ended up assembling it. He did a great job, and he is one of perhaps three craftspeople (including Steve Huber, of course) who I trust with my banjos.

I recommend Chris enthusiastically for any work that needs to be done on a banjo.


bowfinger - Posted - 11/04/2009:  11:15:14

Tubeandplate = Chris Cioffi (615)382-1376

I just got a banjo back from Chris. He did a good bit of work on it. He cut a new neck notch, plugged & re-drilled lag bolt holes, buffed the neck and resonator. He did a complete neck reset, fingerboard plane and re-fret, and replaced the Mastertone block. The fret work and fingerboard work is great. It got a new nut also. I was just about to scrap the neck because it had so many "small" issues. Chris fixed them all. Now it plays clearly all the way up the neck.

I colored and lacquered a used neck and a new RK resonator. Chris Cioffi cut the neck notch and drilled the reso-bolt holes. for me. An issue came up because of the quality of the RK resonator. But Chris was very upfront and solved the issue. That's where experience comes into play with working on instruments!

This banjo looks exquisite too. It's like better parts came back than I sent. It just looks great. He is easy to talk to and work with. I highly recommend Chris Cioffi for any work you have for your banjo. When I get a few minutes I'll post new pics of my completed banjo.
Thanks Chris for a great job.

PyrPups - Posted - 11/04/2009:  15:35:01

Hopefully more people find out about this "TRUE JEWEL" to hit the banjo market. A real craftsman is within reach of the banjo picker. The worksmanship is second to none, honest and fair. It is a tough time in the economy right now for most all of us and an exceptionally tough time to start out on your own and I wish Chris the best of luck. If you've been holding back on things that bother you like a buzz, refret or any other problem with your axe, now is the time to search out Chris...


Yes Sir! He's my "blankety-blank" Buddy! You Betcha!

tubeandplate - Posted - 11/05/2009:  18:12:13

I mentioned this earlier in this thread, but I am so humbled and smitten as I strike out on my own by all the people that have said supportive things about me here, AND that I have had the honor of working with on their banjos, that it's hard for me to find the words.

I don't know if it's "beginner's luck" or if this is the way it's going to be from now on, but I have worked for THE BEST people I could ever hope for so far.

Robin, you are a talented painter and musician; your detailed thoughts about my work on your banjo are not only appreciated, they are meaningful to me, as have been most of our communications. Thank you for your company.

Michael, THANK YOU for chiming in. Getting all the help I can get here starting out is something I have had to rely heavily on by hoping folks familiar with me and my work from my "previous lives" would comment on for me here, and you have said
much on my behalf. I really appreciate you extending yourself like that. Thank you.

Glen (bowfinger) is a nice fellow from my "home" state that Cliff Fitch recently referred to me since Cliff quit doing repair and restoration work. Glen, when I got your project in here, I took it upon myself to prove to you that you didn't need another neck if you'ld give me the chance to prove myself to you, which you did. I'm pleased you are happy with the results, and even more pleased that you have been able to share your reaction to my work so freely....I'm trying hard to let people who have seen my work do most of the talking about my work, and you've made that easy. Thanks!

Kerry, I take your post as the answer to my email. I am blessed that not only are there people like you, but that I'm getting to meet and know them.

If this is how making a living is going to be with my little endeavor here, I'm in for a very satisfying time of it.

I have MUCH to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


Edited by - tubeandplate on 11/05/2009 21:23:27

TN_Picker - Posted - 11/23/2009:  09:07:52

I’ll chime in here as well as I have now had some experience with Chris and his work.

Chris and I discussed some things I wanted done to my banjo and came to agreement on the things I knew I wanted and he said he would take a look at everything once he received it from the brown truck.

This big thing that prompted he & I talking was the fit on my Yates v33 ring. This Cox rim was cut for the Burlile that was originally in this pot and the new Yates ring had a larger ID, which made for a very sloppy fit. The easy, but naturally more expensive thing to do is simply get a new rim, but I hate doing stuff like this if something can be saved and the outcome be as good. Chris built the rim up by laminating some maple and then turned this down to fit the new ring, he also turned the rim so that the flange had a better fit.

He did a neck reset for me which got rid of the 11/16” bridge that was necessary at the time to keep buzzing away, with that, he recut the resonator notch and put in new felt. I like a lower bridge than an 11/16” as, to me; I think they sound better overall with more texture and bottom end. I also got Chris to make a new bone nut & pip for this neck.

To finish things up he did a complete setup including a new head and picked a bridge that brought out what he thought was the best sound with this combination.

I got the banjo back this morning and am extremely pleased with the results. I would believe that the ring & flange fitment would have the most impact on the sound but it is more likely everything involved. This banjo has an awesome 3rd & 4th string and still sounds brilliant in the highs.

If you have any doubts or are hesitant in sending a banjo to Chris for work please feel free to stop by and pick on mine and witness what he can accomplish as the end result.

Chris will definitely make a good impact on our little community!

humphammer - Posted - 12/07/2009:  19:33:06

Howdy everybody--Ken Riddle here, from the hills of East Tennessee. I have been a lurker here for a long time but tonight I had to register and post something about Chris.

A few weeks ago my early 1960's Boston Vega Earl Scruggs model was getting a little long of tooth and not playing up to snuff. I called around to some people that I know about having her worked over and was sent to Chris by Robin Smith. As some of you know, the old Vegas are a bit tedious and cantankerous and do not respond well to being treated like a flat top Gibson. I told Robin what I had and he told me to go to Chris. He could not have been any more correct!!

I have a few instruments, some of them good ones and I have had work done by some of the best in the business. I honestly have to say after picking up my Vega that Chris did the best job I have ever had done on a total overhaul that I have ever had. I am just thrilled with it and could hardly put her down to post this. The work is just exactly right, the finish is superb, and the setup just what I asked for.

I spent quite a bit of time with Chris before I left the Vega and was most impressed with his what he told me and the enthusiasm he had for this type of instrument. He had a good shop and some of the work he was doing was very impressive. I was so convinced he could handle it, I told him to just "have at her like she was his and do it right". I never could have dreamed it would come out as nice as it did, and for a VERY reasonable price.

I have some more work for him, and some more after that. If I was you all and needed anything from a setup to an overhaul of a great older banjo I would send it on over to Chris because before you know it he is going to have a waiting list all the way back to the Cumberland River!!

Thanks so much Chris and if any of you want to see or play the old Vega to check his work and are in the neighborhood please get in touch with me. I will be happy to show the Vega off!!

Keep a pickin'!!
Ken Riddle

tubeandplate - Posted - 12/12/2009:  11:34:27

Bryan (TN Picker) and Ken.....I REALLY appreciate you fellows giving me the opportunity to work on your banjos, and I appreciate even more both of you inviting others to see my work on your banjos for themselves....that is very gracious of both of you, and I thank you for the support!!!!! Thank you both for the nice posts!

Ken....nice to work on something a little different, and a classic, too.....Love it!

I wanted to mention to anyone reading this that I will be on David Pericone's internet web radio show on Sunday (tomorrow) night at 8pm central time called "Banjo Talk".

It is an interview/talk format dedicated to bluegrass banjo setup, use, etc...(but I think delves into other related things often enough) and callers and emailers during the show are welcome and encouraged. I have not been on this before, and I'm looking forward to it.

Cliff Fitch and Glen (bowfinger from a few posts above) both recommended me to David as a guest for his show, and I really appreciate both of them for that.

SO........if y'all need some holiday cheer in the form of something to laugh at that involves the banjo, you might enjoy tuning in tomorrow night to hear me make a fool out of myself! As soon as David says "banjo", I'll likely just turn into a windbag....

Oh, and if anyone wants to call in and talk with me, I'd love some company!

Just go to to hear the show, tomorrow evening (Sunday) 8pm Central.

Merry Christmas!


tubeandplate - Posted - 12/13/2009:  20:28:26

Just finished up being on David Pericone's "Banjo Talk" internet web radio show tonight. He has "knighted" me as the new "official" Banjo Talk resident luthier, and I think that means I'll be on again sometime in the future.

I REALLY appreciate and enjoyed David having me on the show tonight, and I want to thank Cliff Fitch and Glen Tison for recommending me to Banjo Talk.

I hope I get to be on again, and suggested to David that we might possibly do a 2 hour show sometime on assembly and set up and other parts/materials related banjo stuff. If enough people listen and are interested, David might go for that, and it could be a really fun and informative show.

I would love to do something like that if enough people wanted to have it aired, and hopefully would participate by calling in with questions and/or discussion points. It could be a lot of fun for everyone.

I would say we had half a dozen email questions for me tonight, mostly about set up issues and concepts, and we went over an hour by about 15 minutes. A 2 hour show would be easy if not many more folks were interested and participated.....just a thought.

I REALLY enjoyed this!!!!!!!

For those interested, David will be archiving tonight's show so that anyone can go to and hear tonights show anytime they want.

David's banjohangout homepage that has info on "Banjo Talk" is:


"Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!!!!"

Chris Cioffi

Edited by - tubeandplate on 02/10/2010 12:53:23

banjodr - Posted - 02/10/2010:  16:34:59

Papa Bear....glad to see you in "the suite" last weekend. I want to come see the jig ....Foster

tubeandplate - Posted - 02/10/2010:  17:58:28

Dr. Dave!!!!!

Great seeing you again at "Da Suite"!

I meant to stay longer, but I ended up hanging with Bev and Arthur Hatfield in their room till like 2 AM...great fun....met Steve Gill in person which was a treat...he just made me a Granada Delux resonator for a banjo I've been commissioned to build, and it's BEATIFUL! Caught up there with Kenny Ingram and Ed Stacey, too.

Oh, and caught up there with Greg Rich after not seeing him 15+ years...gosh, time flies....well, THAT'S a whole 'nother story for another thread somewhere else....

Anyway, yes, glad to see you again....doesn't happen often enough. Come by sometime....

I have pictures of the "jig" you mentioned on my pictures section of my homepage... look for the pictures with my shop cat 'Jo....he's sitting on the neckset fixture I told you about way back. I've been using it here in the shop for about a year and a half....done a bunch of them on it (everyone on this thread that has commented about my work had their banjos done on this machine here) a treat...

Look at it and let me know what you think. I have plans to make another generation of it....much more involved, but just for fun. I love making fixtures! Robin Smith makes fun of me for making my fixtures look like furniture instead of just "knocking them out".....

Drop a line, Dave.....

Chris Cioffi (aka Papa Bear)

Edited by - tubeandplate on 02/10/2010 17:58:56

vtyankee5 - Posted - 02/15/2010:  06:54:40

Any chance of getting your show up on the archives? I'd like to listen to your show on Banjo Talk.

pipefitter61 - Posted - 02/15/2010:  17:56:00

Chris, It does me good to see you as your "own" man, makin a go of it. If my recommendation means anything in the banjo world you're welcome to use it at will!!!! I'll call and stop by some time buddy. Tell Christy I said "howdy"


tubeandplate - Posted - 02/15/2010:  20:53:25

Hi Joe-Thanks for your interest in the show....I asked David Pericone (the host) if/when the show would make it into the archives, and he told me a couple weeks after the show. I'll have to check and see if it's up, and remind him....I'll tell him "we're getting requests" thanks to you!!!!

Joe-I really appreciate your interest!

Hi Ed-I REALLY appreciate your words and your recommendation! That's very gracious of you. Yes, I would LOVE it if you could call and come by sometime.

I guess this is a good time for a little update for everyone....I've spend January making lots of shop improvements....some out of state trips to buy equipment, and getting rid of some other stuff that wasn't helping me work efficiently. Ed, this is one reason I played so badly in Arthur's suite at hands are sore and worn out from all the equipment moving and rearranging!

This has delayed my progress on a few jobs, but everyone seems to be very understanding, and I'm excited as the shop gets more efficient and pleasant to work in....hopefully, that will just make work on folks' banjos that much better and hopefully quicker, though, I think I've done pretty well so far on both counts. Just always looking to better things around here.

SO...Ed, I'd be glad to have you come by and see what I've been up to....

Let me check on that show archive for you, Joe...thanks!



Edited by - tubeandplate on 03/05/2010 19:43:00

PyrPups - Posted - 02/16/2010:  03:06:36

You go Chris! Having a ball with that KK Cello! Using it for back up work on certain songs and the "fill" it provides on some of the old traditionals is unreal! Keep up the good work. Give Rob Smith our best the next time you bust his horns!


vtyankee5 - Posted - 02/16/2010:  08:06:25

Thanks we want pictures of your shop.

tubeandplate - Posted - 02/16/2010:  19:29:20

Hi Kerry-GREAT word on the cello banjo! I love it that you dig it! I busted Rob's horns just today over a's our weekly ritual...sometimes the horn busting goes the other way, though, too....

Hi Joe-Thanks for the request. I was looking down on the shop floor from the attic area over the rooms I built which at the moment is becoming hardwood and packing material storage...I was just thinking doing this yesterday it would make a nice shop pic for my homepage album...BUT the place needs a little more cleaning up before I'm ready to show a pic of it....BUT, your request is appreciated, duly noted, and on the list of "todo's".....

And speaking of that, I think Ed called and left a message today to take me up on my invitation to visit...I think I'll be embarrassed for a visit in it's current order of "cleanly orderliness", but it will give Ed something to "bust my horns" about in the future, as Kerry says.

You guys are all aces.....I really appreciate everyone's encouragement and keeping tabs with me here on the ole' shop thread!

Oh, and Joe, I will answer your email tomorrow, and I did email David Pericone about the "Banjo Talk" archive potential for the "Chris Cioffi" episode. No word yet...I'll keep you posted....



Edited by - tubeandplate on 03/05/2010 19:43:22

pipefitter61 - Posted - 02/18/2010:  07:29:30

Got a chance to see Chris' shop yesterday. Spent about 3 1/2 hours out on the farm. Had lots of conversation bout the "old" days, and why things are what that are. And some about how we wish they could be! Saw some really nice looking wood waiting to be someone's "baby" and a certain style 6 that is going to get a new lease on life! (trust me it looks FABULOUS) Someone is gonna be VERY happy! No "horn bustin" here big boy. I would KILL to have a shop like that at my disposal...

tubeandplate - Posted - 02/19/2010:  10:13:15

Hi Ed-I REALLY enjoyed your visit....been way too long. THANKS for the kind words on the shop and the projects. You came by at this time that the tail end of the shop rearranging and re-outfitting spasm of January and early this month took place. It's no where near where I want it, but it's getting better. Nothing like a little business coming in since the summer when I opened up to show the weak spots around here that needed "editing".

Nevertheless, thanks for your nice post.

As far as what you said about talking about "the way things could/should be"....well, I'm working on that in my little corner of the world, at least...

Ed, I hope you come by again soon....

...Oh, and I need to ride up with you to Arthur's sometime soon in the worst way...

Chris (aka Big Boy)


Edited by - tubeandplate on 03/05/2010 19:43:48

tubeandplate - Posted - 03/07/2010:  19:13:47

I just wanted to pass this thread of interest to me (of my authorship) on to all my friends who stop by in this, my shop thread, from time to time.

Please see this:

Thank you,


tubeandplate - Posted - 03/10/2010:  21:33:35

Well, this thread was intended as an introduction to me and my new shop and the services I offer. I started it not long after I signed up for the wild ride that is the Banjo Hangout (thanks, Eric!), and since I started this thread, I have not only had the honor of clients from my past life and my new one chiming in, but the privelege of reconnecting with some old friends, and making some new ones.

All in all it's been very gratifying, and heartening to realize that there are still good folks out there, and humbling to be able to find and interact with a few of them. This does me good.

I intend to keep this thread up, not only so folks needing highly personal attention from someone when working on their banjo, but also to keep the "crew" informed of my activities, and also, to share things I find along the way that may be of interest to said "crew".

So, here's one along the way.....

I have been honored to meet and get to know Mickey Bill Porter of Porter Custom Calls (Turkey Calls) and previously of Porter's Musical Repair. Bill is a craftsman of the highest order, and EXTREMELY knowledgeable about banjos....especially the great depression era (I find the term "prewar" to be overused and misundestood in it's implications these days, unlike when I grew up playing in the 80's) Gibson banjos, and also, what makes a banjo tick in general.

A while back, I answered a post about why tube and plate Gibsons from the 20's had the "hide glue square" on the rim under the neck heel. I had loved, owned, and worked on so many of them that I had noticed that it was due to how they were made, and shared my shop notes on this and some pictures in answer to this posted query, to a gratified thread gathering back in April.

Bill had seen that, and got in touch with me, along with Clarence Hall as well (and the "family" circle of old friends who had never met tightened in a comfortable way around me), and now, we seem to find excuses to stay in touch, lo these hundreds of miles apart.

I have to say, Bill was a professional banjo parts dealer and repairman in the dawn of the great days of converting tenor Gibsons. These were the days of C.E. Ward, Larry Richardson (my HERO), Faulkner, Siminoff, Janzenger, Tom Morgan, Rual Yarbrough (my HERO), and others who are "infamous" to banjo geeks now. This was when Bill Sullivan was a tyro at this sort of thing.

Anyway, Bill (Porter) was among the first to really compare on a detailed level, and analyze seriously prewar tonerings, rims, etc...(he made a Doctorate level study of inlays as well) and he also sought out for inquiry then still living previous Gibson employess from the days that the then brand new Bucker Jungmeister took the Gold for the Aerobatics Competition at the Berlin Olympics and before. He was successful in all these endeavors.

Long story even painfully if not irritatingly longer , Bill was kind enough to post my tube and plate info on his website (as well as a link to this thread), and I had forgotten until now that the page they are on have some of my friends on it, as well as some of the best straight, honest talk about prewar Gibson "stuff" I've ever seen.


If anyone wants to find out a little more about old Gibson stuff, or just wants a nice diversion to a very pleasant and varied website by a great fellow, I thought I'd post this link.

There's lots of stuff on this site, and this link is to the Gibson page (my rim stuff is about 1/3-1/2 the way down).

Sorry to go on, and thanks for tracking me down and initiating a nice friendship, Bill!

I humbly submit to you for your enjoyment direct from the mind of the beautiful, and the talented Mickey Bill Porter :

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Edited by - tubeandplate on 03/10/2010 21:57:54

Mopick - Posted - 03/11/2010:  04:25:40

That's a great site Chris. Well it's official. We will be at your house (shop) sometime in the morning of Saturday, April 24 to drop off my banjo for the long awaited tune up and repair. Deb wants to know how early we can come by, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. We won't be there before the rooster crows.

We will be coming through on our way from Florida to Arkansas, Deb saw that it was only 10 hours to the Nashville area and she said, "Well we could drive to Nashville on the first day and be there on Saturday morning. That would only put us 4 hours out of Paragould." Boy does that sound like a BG song....Fours hours out of Paragould. LOL.

We have been talking about this for so long now, well since you made your announcement back in July. I told her I wanted to get my banjo up there for you to work on. She knew I have been planning on this, but like most banjo pickers, I didn't discuss what all we talked about you doing to the instrument. She finally asked me last night what the bottom line was going to be, and I told her your estimate. She was a little shell shocked for a minute, but I told her my banjo was sick and needed some attention. She's OK now, I'll probably be able to sleep in the bed again sometime in the next 4 or 5 days.

But seriously, we are looking forward to this trip. Debbie's aunts live in Paragould and Conway Arkansas. They are in their 80's and we want to visit them before something happens to either of them. And my mom lives in Little Rock, so we will make the loop and stop back by your place on the way back to Florida.

I really appreciate you setting aside a block of time to give some TLC to my banjo, and working around my schedule so I don't have to ship it. And I'm especially looking forward to meeting you face to face. I can't wait.



Edited by - Mopick on 03/11/2010 04:32:40

BPorter - Posted - 03/11/2010:  14:23:49

Chris, thank you so much for your kind words! I noticed a good spike of about 11K hits on site so plenty of BHO members do read and view the external links provided.

My bride of 42 years and myself are going to the Big state of Texas for some R&R to see our latest grandson and when we return, will get back on my personal banjo project before the grass cutting season begins...grin if you must on the yard work!

It has been a pleasure to talk with someone of your experience Chris who is opened minded and enjoys finding out answers to things as well.

Look forward to meeting you in person and until then, will keep the phone line and emails going.

Have a great Day!

tubeandplate - Posted - 03/11/2010:  15:00:35

Good thing Randy, as my "Paragould Roosters" don't wake up until the crack o' noon, and they're REALLY cranky if you wake them up before they get to crow on their own.....

Plan sounds good...we'll just talk about "how early" before you get here....

Don't commit a figure to Dear Ole Deb...remember, I haven't seen your banjo....there may be more to do......

Bill, glad you could drop in! BE CAREFUL going to's a foreign country down there you know......oh, and the lawnmower...PLEASE don't remind me.....


Mopick - Posted - 03/12/2010:  06:12:51

Originally posted by tubeandplate

Don't commit a figure to Dear Ole Deb...remember, I haven't seen your banjo....there may be more to do......


You just put me back in the doghouse. Here is an e-mail I got from Debbie this morning.

Dear Lord,

I pray for Wisdom to understand my man; Love to forgive him;

and Patience for his moods.

Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength,

I'll beat him to death.



tubeandplate - Posted - 03/12/2010:  08:33:55

Randy-Does your wife know my wife? They've got the same prayer book...


Edited by - tubeandplate on 04/27/2010 18:49:17

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