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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

7189 reviews in the archive.

Chris Cioffi

Submitted by Juggernaut626 on 7/13/2016

Overall Comments

     In late 2011, I bought a nearly mint, hardly played, 1980 ODE model C, and began using it as my main stage banjo. Four years and a few hundred shows later, I had worn deep canyons into many of my frets. At this point, the banjo was experiencing buzzing, intonation issues, and it was generally difficult to play.

     I spoke with a banjo buddy of mine about my struggles with the ODE, and he recommended that I send it to Chris Cioffi in Springfield, TN. My friend insisted that Cioffi was very knowledgeable of Ogsbury style banjos, and proceeded to show me his OME top tension that had recently been worked over by Chris. I was stunned...... the banjo rang with beautiful tone from top to bottom... The action was incredibly easy, but the part that really caught my attention was Chris' flawless stainless steel fretwork.... I WAS SOLD.

     I called Chris one afternoon, and inquired about having stainless steel frets installed on my ODE C. I also asked if he would do a general setup on the banjo. Mr Cioffi was very pleasant to speak to and said that he could fit me in after a few months.

     I sent my banjo to Chris on my birthday, and soon after, Chris sent me a quote for the work that I had requested, and also with a number of recommendations for additional work that needed to be done. I approved everything that he proposed.

Here's a shortlist of what he did:

Re-fretted w/ stainless steel frets --- re-glued delaminating rim --- neck set --- filled in and re-drilled holes for lagbolts in rim ---  new head --- new bone nut --- cleaned all metal hardware --- new 5/8 bridge --- refit tonering to rim/sand excess finish impeding contact between ring and rim --- re-glued loose neck binding --- cleaned/re-lubed all tuner pegs --- new 5th string capo spikes on 7, 8, 9, 10 --- Finish touch-ups on neck and resonator ---

     I found the price for this work to be very reasonable, especially for the high quality of work that I received.

     When I got the banjo back, I was blown away by the improvement. First of all, the banjo looks brand new! The metal parts, which had been dulled and dirtied by the Florida humidity and beachtown elements, shined more clearly than they had when I bought the instrument! The sound of the banjo improved DRAMATICALLY! The banjo's tone is now deeper and wider than it has ever been! Finally, for the first time EVER, the banjo is a dream to play... The fretwork is beautifully done, and I don't feel like my left hand is fighting with the ODE as before. I have received COUNTLESS compliments on this banjo since Chris has worked on it. It used to be a good banjo, now IT'S A MONSTER!!!   

BOTTOM LINE 

Chris Cioffi is an incredibly talented luthier. If you need any work done on your banjo, Chris will do it... and do it EXCEEDINGLY well! Speaking with Chris about banjo setup is like talking to a banjo scientist. I am thoroughly impressed by his staggering amount of banjo knowledge. Seriously, If someone said that Chris Cioffi graduated with his Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Banjo Studies, I'd buy it... 

I've been around, and I've met many people claiming to know banjo setup... claiming to be banjo experts... while yielding unimpressive to mediocre results. Chris Cioffi, on the other hand, is the REAL DEAL, people...

P.S. I've had the pleasure to play one of the few Cioffi banjos in existence. The one I played is owned by a friend of mine, and is a mahogany wreath raised-head banjo. It's everything that I've come to expect from Chris' fine work... Exquisite balanced tone, beautiful craftsmanship, and effortless playability...  

- Isaac Taylor

  

  

Overall Rating: 10

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