• Roger Siminoff Announces Retirement

    Amy Sullivan and Kali Nowakowski to Expand Straight Up Strings Division.
    Roger Siminoff Announces Retirement
    Atascadero, Calif. — Luthier, Orville Gibson and Lloyd Loar historian, inventor, and acoustician, Roger Siminoff, has announced that he will retire this month and steadily phase out Siminoff Banjo and Mandolin Parts.

    Amy Sullivan and Kali Nowakowski, Siminoff's stepdaughters, will continue to own, manage, and develop the Straight Up Strings brand and product line.

    Siminoff has been designing, building, playing, and researching musical instruments for more than 50 years and has had an extraordinarily distinguished career. His contributions to the field of luthierie are many.

    He holds six U.S. Patents for musical instrument designs and has developed several devices for structural tuning, string tensioning, and pattern carving. He has served as a consultant for many leading musical string and acoustic instrument manufacturers and has authored hundreds of articles and numerous books, including: Constructing A Bluegrass Mandolin, Constructing A 5-String Banjo, Constructing A Solid-Body Guitar, How to Set Up the Best Sounding Banjo, The Luthier's Handbook, The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual, Siminoff's Luthiers Glossary, and The Art of Tap Tuning (all published by Hal Leonard).

    His extensive research and writing on the life and work of Orville Gibson and Lloyd Loar have made him an expert on these renowned artisans. "It is safe to say that Siminoff is one of America's foremost authorities on string instrument design,” says Nowakowski. "We are excited to bring Siminoff's latest and greatest innovation [Straight Up Strings] to musicians and luthiers alike," notes Sullivan.

    "We've had a great run for the past 56 years," says Siminoff. "With Amy and Kali, the string business is in good hands, and my retirement will allow me to get out of the shop and spend more time pursuing my other interests." Siminoff enjoys spending time traveling in his Airstream trailer, restoring early Jeeps, and leading a local cowboy action shooting club. He also has plans to author more books and release an instructional DVD.

    Sullivan and Nowakowski worked with Siminoff to research, develop, and bring Straight Up Strings for guitars, banjos, and mandolins to market. Nowakowski has a communications background and has led the company's customer service and online presence since 2007. Sullivan's background in marketing and product development closes the loop to provide a strong business environment for their new direction.

    As co-owners, they will continue to drive growth of Straight Up Strings brand and product line, which will also include Siminoff-exclusive products via an online store. These offerings will include Straight Up Strings, mandolin and mandola plan drawings, templates, and Siminoff’s many books. While Siminoff has remained the company's face, Sullivan and Nowakowski have owned, managed and significantly grown the string business since 2013.

    Existing inventory will be sold via the website while supplies last. For volume discounts on existing Siminoff inventory, luthiers should contact Kali Nowakowski. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Roger Siminoff regarding the sale of equipment, including a steam-bending machine, custom carving machines, and specialized jigs.

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    Comments 8 Comments
    1. dchernack's Avatar
      dchernack -
      A loss to the mandolin community at large... however, an enormous victory for those of us who like to pretend to know a thing or two about luthiery! Best of luck Mr. Siminoff.
    1. Clement Barrera-Ng's Avatar
      Clement Barrera-Ng -
      Congrats on the retirement and best of luck. Now I really wished I had gone to one of his build camps before.
    1. JFDilmando's Avatar
      JFDilmando -
      Roger was my banjo instructor in NJ, back when I was a lad... I would travel over from Brooklyn on the train, and we would meet at a mutual friend's house.... first instructor I ever had that actually was able to teach this dolt anything. What he instilled in me helped send me on a musical trip that still continues.... the banjo was left by the wayside some years ago, but my mandolin fills the hours.... I hope he knows the wonderful impact he has had on many lives. He along with Doc MacLeod, who has passed, were instrumental in my development... and I am so very appreciative.

      Thanks, Roger.... and an instrument case full of best wishes for you
    1. Larry Simonson's Avatar
      Larry Simonson -
      Roger's first edition of 'Building a Bluegrass Mandolin' which I bought 40 some years ago has been an inspiration to me and I am sure many others. For that I am very thankful. Roger was a pioneer in trying to unravel the complexity of mandolin mechanics with his 'Tech Talk' publication in Pickin' magazine in the 70's. While some may disagree with some of his theories, this is the normal course of events when difficult puzzles are being tackled. I wish him well and I thank him.
    1. DataNick's Avatar
      DataNick -
      Congrats Roger! Hope to see you next year at The Great 48!
    1. fscotte's Avatar
      fscotte -
      Roger isn't vanishing, he's just closing the parts shop and perhaps the school. Looks like you'll be seeing more books and a DVD as well.
    1. Michael Lewis's Avatar
      Michael Lewis -
      We all owe a debt of gratitude to Roger for the trail he blazed for many of us. His mandolin construction book has given many of us fits of confusion, frustration, and finally we see the light and make our way around any and all obstacles in the way of making a great instrument.

      It has been my great pleasure to know Roger and benefit from his special trove of knowledge, his participation in the Loar Fests held in Bakersfield, and his participation in the Luthiers Pavilion at the Calif. Bluegrass Assn. Father's Day Bluegrass Festival in Grass Valley. The mandolin world is a better place because of Roger.
    1. jonwints's Avatar
      jonwints -
      You have made the right decision once more.
      Retirement for you is just a new dynamic direction.
      Best wishes from your Australian fan.
      Warmest Regards,
      J Wintle