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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!

6989 reviews in the archive.

Chris Cioffi

Submitted by Rainor on 10/12/2018

Overall Comments

It all started with the need for a fret job on my 1995 Rich & Taylor JD Crowe banjo.  There was no one locally (Edmonton, Alberta) that had banjo specific experience and, as timing would have it, we were planning a vacation to Nashville in January 2018.  So I researched banjo luthiers in Nashville and it didn’t take long before I started seeing many referrals to Chris Cioffi.  The more I read the more I was convinced that if I was going to take my R&T all the way to Nashville for Chris to redo the frets he might as well do a complete overhaul to get the absolute best out of my banjo.

If you want someone to rush through an overhaul and do what he can in the limited time available don’t bother contacting Chris.  Chris is a perfectionist to the highest degree and will not compromise the quality of his work for ANY reason.  Chris will do what he does (some call it “magic”!)  in the time that it takes him and he will not rush or settle for anything less than perfection!

Before I got to Chris’ shop he said to plan for 3-4 hours.  Huh, 3-4 hours to drop off my banjo?  Well, Chris likes to pull your banjo apart piece by piece in front of you commenting on what issues he sees and explains what should be done to make your banjo sound its absolute best.  It was a great learning experience for me and left me knowing exactly what and why he was going to do specific adjustments. 

What Chris did to my banjo…

  • Installed stainless steel frets.  Very smooth and will never wear out!
  • Moved lag bolt holes on the rim over about 1/8”.  It had caused the neck to be out of alignment.  Chris says every little thing matters!
  • New nut, 5th string pip, and railroad spikes.
  • Did a speed neck.  I wasn’t too keen on this but the neck needed refinishing and Chris guaranteed me I wouldn’t be disappointed.  He was right silky smooth and looks great!
  • Hand fitted the tone ring (Kulesh Big 10) to the rim.
  • Polished all metal parts as well as repairs to minor dings in the wood.  Looks like new!
  • Refitted the resonator.  

Aside from looking spectacular the sound is better than I could have expected.  Nice growl on the 4th and clear bell like all the way up the neck. 

A couple of months after getting the banjo back I contacted Chris about a tuning issue I was having.  He immediately gave me some things to try and very quickly we worked out a minor adjustment that fixed the problem.  Once you’re a customer of Chris’ you’re a lifetime customer and he will do whatever it takes to keep you happy.

Granted I don’t have any experience with other banjo luthiers but seeing, and hearing, the result of Chris’ work and getting to know him personally I highly recommend him.

Sorry for the long winded description but if you’re looking for someone to overhaul your banjo this is probably the information you want to know.  If you’re not looking for someone then congratulations for reading this far! J

Overall Rating: 10

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