Luthierie Camp

Upcoming Camp Dates:

Luthierie Camp

July 26 -July 31, 2015
Pick Your Instrument Camp (F4, F5, H4, H5)

For more information or to obtain a registration packet, please email Kali Nowakowski, Camp Director.


Siminoff Luthierie Camp Features

Siminoff Luthierie Camp features four fast-paced 2- and 5-day programs at our shop and training facility in California’s Central Coast region midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each attendee has his/her own workspace in our 1700 sq. ft. fully-equipped facility. The content has been meticulously geared for beginning and advanced luthiers and teaches the various phases of constructing acoustic string instruments.
Programs consist of hands-on, lecture, and shop demonstrations that are led by Roger Siminoff and assisted by members of his production team. Roger has been designing, building, and writing about acoustic string musical instruments for more than 50 years and is considered a leading authority in the area of mandolin construction.

Roger, an award-winning author, founded Pickin’ and Frets Magazine, has authored nine popular books on string musical instrument construction and repair, holds six domestic and two foreign musical instrument design patents, and has consulted for several major instrument manufacturers. Two of Roger’s books are heralded as the leading texts on mandolin construction. His second book, The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual is used as a textbook for the Mandolin and Mandola Construction programs.
We currently have four programs: Mandolin Construction (Program A), Mandola Construction (Program B), Tap Tuning (Program C), and Fixtures and Production Tools (Program D). To maintain a high level of instructor-to-camper interaction, Programs A, B, and C are limited to six campers. Program D is limited to eight campers.

Program A, F5 Mandolin Construction:

Attendees will gain hands-on experience of the many facets of mandolin construction and will leave camp with an assembled “white wood” instrument ready for binding, inlay, coloring, and finishing. In addition, discussions, lectures, and demonstrations will take attendees through the various stages of building a mandolin from evaluating wood before it is cut to a finished and strung mandolin.


The program will begin with the basics of acoustics and how a mandolin produces sound and tone. From there, campers will study the stages of wood selection, part preparation, using templates, rough cutting of parts, shaping of necks, soundboards, and backboards, attaching peghead veneers, installing truss rods, installing scroll strengtheners, shaping pegheads, heat and steam bending of ribs, preparing necks with dovetail and V-joints, preparing f-holes, tap tuning, attaching tone bars, assembling rims and blocks, attaching kerfed lining, attaching soundboards, attaching necks, and attaching backboards. The campers will also get a full understanding of fretting, binding, and inlay.


Each attendee will receive a copy of The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual prior to Camp. This book will serve as a workbook for the class.

Lastly, the course will discuss coloring, staining, and shading, and will focus on the basics of finishing including sprayed and hand-applied methods. Closing discussions will include final set-up and bridge fitting. Each attendee will leave with an assembled and ready-to-finish F5 mandolin. Evening programs will consist of lectures, open-shop time, and discussions.


In the interest of time, campers will work with components of a Siminoff #700 mandolin kit. Demonstrations and lectures will show how these parts were made, including several variations of each process. The attendees will then return to their bench to work with the already machined and prepared part.

By the end of Camp, each camper will have a fully assembled instrument ready for binding routing, nut and corner point attachment, inlay, and finishing.

The program fee includes five full days of training, continental breakfasts, lunches, dinners, a #700 F5 mandolin kit, tap tuning service, and the text book, The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual.

Campers are provided with complete details prior to Camp including local housing information, directions to Camp, mandolin/mandola kit contents, options selections, and more.

For a complete photo essay on this program, please visit the web log (blog) of one of our attendees, Bade Millsap, at

Program A, F5 Mandolin Construction: $2,895.00 (five days)

Program B, H5 Mandola Construction:

The syllabus for this program is identical to the F5 mandolin program except that campers will build an H5 mandola from a #720 mandola kit.

Program B, H5 Mandola Construction: $2,995.00 (five days)

Program C, Tap Tuning:

This two-day program explores the virtues and techniques of adjusting the structure of acoustic string musical instruments by tuning their parts. Presentations and demonstrations include: understanding the attributes of a tuned structure, tap tuning equipment, tuning the body of an instrument, deflection tuning, and production tuning.

The program fee includes two days of training, lunches, and three text books (The Art of Tap Tuning, The Luthier’s Handbook, and Siminoff’s Luthiers Glossary).

Program C, Tap Tuning: $795.00 (two days)

Program D, Fixtures and Production Tools:

This is a two-day program that focuses on the design, preparation, and usage of production tools, patterns, and fixtures used in instrument construction. The program is intended for builders who make multiple instruments of one kind. Discussions and demonstrations include how to make and use templates, fixtures, pin routers, custom sanders, flush-bearing routers, shapers, shaper forms, pattern carvers, and drilling fixtures.

The program fee includes two days of training, lunches, one set of instrument templates, fixture drawings, and two text books (The Luthier’s Handbook, and Siminoff’s Luthiers Glossary)

Program D, Fixtures and Production Tools: $795.00 (two days)

Here’s what some attendees said about Siminoff’s Luthierie Camp (Program A):

A must if you would like to build or learn about F5 mandolins. Intensive, honest, accurate, and fun. — Mike Kundracik

The knowledge presented and the completed instrument exceeded my expectations by 200%! — Annette Slikker

This was an immersion into the craft of mandolin construction. It is not how to build a kit. It is an incredible learning experience. — Bade Millsap

It is my belief that all luthiers, regardless of their level of experience need to do continuing education. I have built a lot of guitars, basses, and banjos, but no mandolins. I knew a week with Roger Siminoff would give me the best mandolin information available. Where else could I see, touch, and learn from Lloyd Loar’s personal F5? — Chris Jenkins

Luthierie Camp Video

Click on the arrow above to run the video. Or, click the link to download the Siminoff Luthierie Camp Video to your favorite multimedia video player.

Information download (PDF document):
Click here to download class application for Program A/B

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