Roger Siminoff signs off

Amy Sullivan and Kali Nowakowski with Roger SiminoffRoger Siminoff, noted luthier, historian, acoustics researcher, and author, has announced that he will be retiring this month after 56 years working for the benefit of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. He will be winding down his banjo and mandolin parts business in short order but his strings business, Straight Up Strings, will continue to operate under the direction of his stepdaughters, Amy Sullivan and Kali Nowakowski.

Over the years, Roger has received six patents for musical instrument design and has developed a number of tools and measuring devices in common use among guitar, mandolin, and banjo builders. His many luthiery instructional manuals include such titles as 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 from Hal Leonard. Dozens or articles under his name have appeared in Banjo NewsLetter and Pickin’ magazines.

He is also an expert on the lives and work of both Orville Gibson, the founder of the Gibson musical instrument company in 1902, and Lloyd Loar, perhaps the most significant designer who ever worked for Gibson back in the 1920s. Roger has meticulously researched their histories and has published the findings on his web site.

Straight Up Strings has been his most recent passion, born of his belief that equalizing the longitudinal string tension and their lateral loads across the bridge is necessary to achieve optimal tone and responsiveness in fretted stringed instruments. Their guitar strings are designed to compensate for the various torque loads on a fixed bridge instrument (guitar), and to equalize downward force on moveable bridges instruments (banjo/mandolin).

As co-owners of the company, Amy and Kali will continue to operate the business and expand the types of strings and other products manufactured under the Straight Up Strings brand. The pair have extensive experience in marketing, product development, and communications, and Roger has every confidence in their ability to maintain and grow the business.

“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 is looking forward to more time traveling in his Airstream trailer, pursuing his fondness for restoring early Jeeps and his interest in shooting. But he won’t completely turn his back on the bluegrass world. Several more book titles are in the pipeline, plus at least one more instructional DVD.

Well done, Roger Siminoff! You’ve earned your rest.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.