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Straight Up Strings: Balanced Mandolin Strings Announced

By Siminoff Banjo and Mandolin
June 8, 2014 - 12:30 pm

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Straight Up Strings: Balanced Mandolin Strings Announced

Straight Up Strings: Balanced Mandolin Strings Announced

Atascadero, Calif. — Most musicians assume that strings are just strings, and that everything possible has been done to improve them. And for years, mandolin players have been correct in this assumption. At the same time, they'll concede that there is an imbalance in tone, sustain and clarity between the outer pairs of strings (over the posts) and the inner pairs of strings (over the more flexible center of the saddle).

This is a result of near-universal acceptance of the 2-piece moveable bridge, and has been assumed to be an unsolved flaw in bridge design.

Straight Up Strings by Siminoff are designed to combat this challenge through compensated down-pressures on the strings, a brand new development for moveable bridge instruments.

Throughout two years of testing, Roger Siminoff of Siminoff Banjo and Mandolin Parts, measured and calculated the optimal down-pressures for each pair of strings, along with unique plain-to-wrapped ratios to compensate for the ability of the outer strings (E and G) to more effectively interact with the soundboard, and the inherent dampening effect of the floating inner strings (A and D) which have no posts through which to drive the sound. The result is improved string-to-string balance in tone, clarity and sustain.

"I can hear every note of every chord," commented an hours-long tester of the medium gauge set. Mandolin players who range from ecstatic to curious to dubious are welcome to stop by and test them at the Siminoff Banjo and Mandolin booth in the Luthiers' Pavillion at the California Bluegrass Association's annual Father's Day Festival in Grass Valley, CA on June 12-15, 2014. Roger Siminoff will also be at the booth to discuss the process and technology.

Roger Siminoff, developer of Straight Up Strings and formerly of Pickin' Magazine and FRETS Magazine, has been focused on strings for over 25 years, and was a driving force in convincing the major string manufacturers to post string gauges and loads on packaging.

Straight Up Strings are currently available in medium gauge as single-, 3-pack, and 6-pack options. Shipping June 16, 2014. Email amy (at) with questions or feedback.

Additional information

Straight Up Strings by Siminoff - Balanced Mandolin Strings


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Reader Comments

June 08, 2014 05:20 PM
What an interesting and needed concept. I watched the video with interest and it seems like an idea worth trying. I hadn't know of this difference in access for the middle string pairs to the vibration through the bridge posts. Sure makes sense. Thanks for the posting!
John Flynn
June 09, 2014 08:29 AM
It is certainly an interesting approach and Mr. S is truly an expert. My questions would be:

Would this idea not also be true with a two-footed solid bridge, since the G and E courses are closer to the feet?

According to this idea, the most prominent strings on a mandolin should be the G and E courses. I don't find that to be true. For every mandolin I've had, and most I've played, the mids (D and E courses) have been strong relative to the treble and/or bass. Some also have decent bass, and some also have decent treble, but it is rare that they have BOTH a G course and an E course that can stand up to the mids. Usually one is weak and sometimes both are. It just seems to me that the theory here does not stand up to my, admittedly unscientific, observation. If I'm missing something, I'm happy to be enlightened.
June 09, 2014 08:36 AM
I for one am super excited about this product. Pre-ordered 3 sets from Simonoff and I'll be stringing up my 5's on return form vacation, Good Lord willing! I have for some time now been mixing 2 sets of strings on my main axe with great results. BUT, I have string waste this way which drives me bonkers. This new set is very close to the variety I am making now & the price is similar. Super stoked to try them. Thank you to Roger Siminoff for the great data and the new product.
Jeff Hildreth
June 09, 2014 08:51 AM
I am awaiting someone else's evaluation and observation rather than the source advert.
I am forwarding the "white page" info to an engineer friend, see what he thinks.

I take it this new "invention" would be a change in string gauge ?
June 09, 2014 09:40 AM
I've never made a mandolin that I thought the G and E strings didn't have the same quality of sound as the A and D pairs. And I've never heard anyone say that this was a universally accepted flaw. I will be interested in trying a set or two.
Richard Moore
June 09, 2014 11:06 AM
Seems like a simple gauge tweak to me.
June 09, 2014 06:52 PM
John F: You are right in your finding - that the "...mids (A and D courses) have been strong relative to the treble and/or bass." I agree and I don't suggest otherwise. And this is exactly the reason that we have increased the load on the E and G strings. Your "admittedly unscientific" analysis is absolutely correct! smile

Jeff H and Richard M.: Simple change in string gauge? Yes, a change in gauges, but the real change is in the core-to-wrap wire relationships (size wise). Some folks may read our specifications and consider the reported gauges *only*. What is important is the size of the core wire and the size of the wrap wire since there are many ways to make up any specific gauge.

Testore: This is a great point. The key here is that the tone we hear from our instruments is something we become very accustomed to. String imbalance could be considered an instrument's idiosyncrasy, but not necessarily optimum. Consider the banjo bridge, which is probably one of the worst designed bridge systems in use today. You have three strings over feet and two strings over arches, and the string-to-string balance is not great, but it is very much what banjo players are used to. Gibson's 1921 patented two-post adjustable bridge was a great departure from the one-piece - as well as from the interim one-piece with movable saddles - bridge. The two-post adjustable bridge does what it is intended to, and the two separate feet do, as Loar described "… allow greater freedom for this sort of [rocking] motion." But the location of two pairs of strings near the posts and two pairs of strings in the middle of the saddle leave a bit to be desired. It may sound "normal" but can be improved.
Jeff Hildreth
June 09, 2014 08:31 PM
Gauge equals tension. Granted there are ways to make a string.. gauge being secondary to tension.. then there is flexibility.

I believe we are all saying the same thing..
change all the gauges,tension, flexibility etc to balance between outside and inside.
However, I am still focusing on the two point theory and the existence of the "condition" to be "needs" to be corrected.

Curious to hear users reports. Based on that , I'll try them. Tried about everything else over the years.

Are there any before and after videos/audio?
June 13, 2014 01:56 PM
I've just tried a couple mandolins with the new strings. Yeah, I like them enough! Very nice top end, the G feels like it may be a tad soft under the ear BUT not from the listeners perspective. The bottom is just fine. Certainly a quality product.
July 17, 2014 03:19 PM
These are excellent strings! I got them a week or so ago, and put them on my Heiden F5 a couple days ago. I was a little skeptical just because I always find myself returning to D'addario sets (the Thile two sets combo thingy). I am really impressed with the Straight Up Strings. If anyone has a table comparing downward pressure of exp 75's and 74's with this set I'd be interested. The A string is the best I've played. I've always missed the wound 'A' of the FT74's and Thomastik sets. No longer, this A is very firm and easy to play. Ditto on the D string. Tonally the strings are very crisp clear and warm. My only wish would be that they came coated like the EXP's so I wouldn't have to replace them as often. Okay the other wish is that Mr. S produces a Mandola set soon! Really great set of strings.
Cheryl Watson
September 02, 2014 06:18 PM
A few days ago, I strung my Williamson F5 with some Simonoff Straight Up medium gauge strings. I decided to give these strings a try out after a friend of mine reported that they sounded great, were easy on the fingers, and had lasted for a month of hard play and were still going strong.

My Williamson is a very good sounding mandolin to begin with, having a clear, refined tone with a good depth and volume. The one small fault is has might be that it could be more even-toned. It seems to have a very wide range of frequency range from the "lows" to the highs, and perhaps a bit scooped midrange.

The Straight Up strings did change the response, and for the better. The lower end has been somewhat reduced, the midrange seems more complex and less scooped, and the highs are a bit less shrill. Overall, tone is more even. It still sounds like the same mandolin, but with a more even tone.

These strings also feel great under my fingers; very silky and yet they still feel very solid. They are easier to play than the EXP77s that I usually use, but feel more substantial than J73s (which I used on this mandolin before the EXP77s). These strings also have very good volume and very good sustain. I'll have to see how long these strings last, but so far, so good. I'm very pleased!
October 29, 2014 05:37 PM
Any other opinions from those who have tried these strings ?
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