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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!

6773 reviews in the archive.

Chris Cioffi

Submitted by Ichiban Jo on 11/3/2017

Overall Comments

In short, Chris Cioffi is a master luthier.  Contact him now if you are in the market for luthier services and rest assured that your instrument will be in the world’s most capable hands.  I am a recent client and am amazed by the result of Chris’s work on my original Goldstar GF200 every time I play it.  I was initially skeptical that an instrument could be so drastically improved, but after watching a few of the available Youtube videos that addressed his Goldstar improvements and reading reviews about the work that comes out of his shop, I decided to engage him to do the work on my instrument.
This man is a perfectionist and nothing leaves his shop unless it meets his standards; that’s a good thing because as an incredible musician and craftsman, they’re likely a lot higher than yours.  His initial assessment of my 200 pegged it as an average instrument with potential; the result of his expertise is an instrument worthy of the industry’s most respected hands.  I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sound may fall into the same category, and everybody is looking for that pre-war sound (I’m getting a little tired of hearing that term), but if this banjo falls .005% short of whatever perfect is….I’ll save my hard earned dollars and giggle knowing that I get to play a truly phenomenal instrument.  Can you seriously tell yourself that you’re done looking for your “keeper” banjo?  I can…I’m done.  Thank you, Chris.

The work accomplished essentially amounts to the reconstruction of an instrument.  Here’s a list of most the work performed..

Complete disassembly, evaluation, reassembly

New head

New bridge (selected by Chris for optimal tone match to this instrument)

Neck reset for proper fit, angle, etc

Remount lags in neck heel for proper neck-to-pot geometry (I’m a woodworker and his work is impeccable)

Refit rim to tone ring

Refit rim to flange

Repaired several delaminated flaws in binding

Reassembled/rebuilt/lubricated tuners 

Metal parts cleaned/buffed

Planed and Re-fretted neck with stainless.  (a truly masterful piece of work)

New polished bone nut and prewar-style 5th string nut

New spikes

Remounted/installed new L brackets for resonator

Repaired damaged and delaminating resonator

The last item on the list warrants an explanation.  Shortly after I purchased this banjo, I noticed some damage to the resonator.  It had been dropped at some point in its life and wouldn’t seat correctly with the pot.  I wondered for years what may have happened and why the existing fix was so substandard.  After having the instrument for a while, Chris offered his explanation of what probably happened and how someone attempted to repair it.  I’ve no doubt that he’s right on the money in his estimated account of the damage.  I kidded him and said he needs to list his occupation as “Forensic Banjologist”…In actuality, it’s a worthy title.  The resonator now fits perfectly and shows no previous indication of delamination.

I have no doubt that one of the key ingredients which separates an average instrument from a priceless sounding and coveted creation is the heart and soul of the human who created it.  Maybe that’s the “IT” that people are always looking for but can’t explain.  My original Goldstar had all the right ingredients but never had the “IT” that banjo players are perpetually in search of.  After spending some needed time with Chris in Tennessee, this “Goldie” finally has the undeniable “IT”.  My banjo received the same attention as one owned by any professional.  I’ve got an older Goldstar GF100 that will be making the same trip to Chris sometime soon.

In conclusion, if your banjo needs work and you’re looking for a professional luthier, stop looking.  Set up an appointment and get your banjo to Chris for some heart and soul.  I noticed that after reading most of the luthier reviews on this site, scores of “10” are commonplace.  Why can’t I rate my review an “11”?  Please contact me personally if I can offer any further details about my experience or why this is the best place to take your prized possession.  I couldn’t be happier with the service and level of professionalism offered by Chris Cioffi.

 

BJ Williams

bjwilliams1@gmail.com

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Ichiban Jo on 2/15/2012

Where Purchased: Direct from Mike

Overall Comments

Effective, Ingenious, A true "must have" !
Wife wonders why I don't use it all the time, son says it's the single greatest improvement to my banjo...
If decibels are your problem, this mute is the solution. Works perfectly! No question here, I'd buy it again.

Overall Rating: 10

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