Luthier, Acoustician, Inventor

Roger H. Siminoff

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Biography: Author (musical instrument construction):

Roger H. Siminoff has been designing, building, playing, and researching musical instruments for more than 40 years. The combination of these talents, coupled with his love of writing, has made Siminoff one of America’s foremost authorities on string instruments and their design, a leading music journalist, and a highly respected inventor. Siminoff has authored several hundred articles on instrument construction and repair, musical acoustics, performers, and the history and craftsmanship of musical instruments. His research and writing on the life and work of Orville Gibson and Lloyd Loar have made him a highly-respected expert on these renowned artisans.

After attending Parsons School of Design (NYC) where he majored in industrial design, Siminoff founded a graphic arts company in New Jersey that specialized in photography, art and design services, and printing. With creative facilities readily available to him, Siminoff channeled his banjo expertise into writing an instruction book for bluegrass banjo playing (5-String Banjo, Bluegrass Style, 1972). The publication quickly became a success, and a bound-in offer triggered the response for what was to follow–the creation of a monthly music magazine that focused on bluegrass and old-time country music. In February 1974, Pickin’ Magazine made its debut; within two years it was hailed as the most influential publication of its kind.

In 1979, Siminoff was invited to join GPI Publications in Cupertino, CA to launch FRETS Magazine. As the magazine’s founding editor, Siminoff helped build FRETS into a viable music publication, boasting an unprecedented international circulation of more than 30,000 within a two-and-a-half year period.

Siminoff has authored numerous texts on the art of musical instrument construction. These include, Constructing a Bluegrass Mandolin, Constructing a 5-String Banjo, Constructing a Solidbody Electric Guitar, How to set up the Best Sounding Banjo, the Luthier’s Handbook, The Ultimate Mandolin Construction Manual, and his latest work; The Art of Tap Tuning (all published by Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, WI, available at luthierie supply companies, book or music stores, or directly from Siminoff).

For a complete listing of Siminoff’s music writings, see Siminoff Bibliography.

Biography: Music Acoustician and Luthier

Roger H. Siminoff has been designing, building, playing, and researching musical instruments for more than 45 years. As a teenager, Siminoff showed an early interest in things both musical and mechanical. One of his first luthierie projects was a pedal steel guitar made with linkage from model airplane parts. Following that, he constructed a complete five-string banjo after which he produced numerous five-string necks to convert four-string instruments to the popular bluegrass models followed the steel guitar.

By the early 1960s, Siminoff was building custom banjo necks and parts for musicians in the New York metropolitan area. And, before the end of the decade, his mail-order parts business, Siminoff Banjos, was providing banjo and mandolin parts to instrument makers around the world. .

Roger has consulted for many leading musical string and acoustic instrument manufacturers both domestic and abroad, and has developed numerous devices for structural tuning, string tensioning, and pattern carving. On-site training has included instructing in the art of tap-tuning as well as training on various techniques of antique finishing, including hand-shading, and building grain contrast.

Biography: Inventor/designer

Roger H. Siminoff has been designing, building, playing, and researching musical instruments for more than 45 years. The combination of these talents, coupled with his love of writing, has made Siminoff one of America’s foremost authorities on string instruments and their design, a leading music journalist, and a highly respected inventor.

Having branched out into the building of mandolins in early 1970, Siminoff conceived and built special carving machines to do the exact shaping of instrument necks, and mandolin tops and back plates. To bend wood for banjo rims and mandolin sides, he developed a unique steam chamber long enough to roll a 12’ length of 1/4″ maple into a single seamless banjo rim. By 1973, he had developed a multi-axis truss rod system to counteract the forces of string tension on musical instrument necks. For this design, he was awarded a U.S. Patent in 1974 and later licensed the patent to Gibson Incorporated.

At that same time, Siminoff had several other musical designs in progress. These included the invention of a guitar tuning knob with a fold-out fast-wind crank for which he was granted a U.S. Patent and several foreign patents. The knob, dubbed the “CRANK,” was licensed to Gibson and then to Schaller (W. Germany), a world renowned manufacturer of tuning machines. A unique nut, with adjustable-action supports for each string earned Siminoff another U.S. Patent, and it was subsequently licensed to Dunlop Manufacturing. A few more patents were granted for inventions to help reduce the frustration and inconvenience of changing strings: he developed two methods to change instrument strings without cutting, twisting, or knotting them. One design, a string with a special pin at its peghead end, was licensed to Gibson under the name “GRABBERS.”

In early 1984, Siminoff was granted another U.S. Patent; this one for an unusual modular guitar. It features interlocking parts that permit a musician to snap together an instrument to suit his or her tastes in much the same way a photography assembles camera bodies and lenses. Two years later, another patent followed, this one for a universal mounting system for tuning machines.

Biography: Consulting

Roger H. Siminoff has been designing, building, playing, and researching musical instruments for more than 45 years. His unique expertise is in the art of structural tuning, production carving, string winding, and antique finishing.

As a consultant to Gibson, Siminoff assisted in reissuing several instruments originally produced by the company in its earlier years. Among those were the Earl Scruggs model banjo (a replica of Scruggs’ personal Gibson Granada), and the reintroduction of the famed F-5 mandolin (as first produced by Gibson in the mid 1920s). The re-issue, dubbed the F-5L after its creator Lloyd Loar has been enthusiastically received since making its successful “comeback” in 1978.

Consulting for several other instrument manufacturers, Siminoff has been responsible for the development of special hand-finishing techniques, improved structural and acoustical designs, production machining and pattern-carving of wood parts, string winding and tensioning technology, and compatibility “tuning” of the acoustic properties for production instruments.

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