Siminoff Header
Monthly Update 
June 2010
In This Issue
Product Highlights
Luthier's Tip
Quick Links
More About Us

Luthierie Camp
Find us on Facebook
2010 Luthierie Camps...

H5 Mandola Construction:
July 18-23, 2010

F5 Mandolin Construction:
Oct. 10-15, 2010

Please visit our website or email Kali for more information about these programs.
Dear Luthiers,

Seems like every time we go to a festival to show our products, folks come over to our booth and ask "Do you have any Siminoff shirts?"  The answer has always been "Sorry, no" but now we can say "Yes." We've just added T-shirts and caps to our catalog. The T-shirts are olive-colored and have an illustration of the end-view of an F5 mandolin on the front of the shirt, and the back-view of the mandolin on the back of the shirt so they can see you both coming and going! The caps are adjustable (but as you can see, a bit too big for my grandson) and are in brown. There's more info about them in the product section, below.


Many of you had a chance to read the story in Mandolin Café about my involvement in the launch of Gibson's F-5L mandolin back in 1978. We have also posted a PDF file of the article (although this one has only black and white photos) in the free downloads section of our web site at - it is at the very bottom of that page. And, by the way, you will find many more free download documents there that you may find informative.


There has been a lot of interest in the H4 mandola, and we have had several requests for H4 mandola kits. The H4 differs from the H5 in that the H4 has an oval soundhole, an 11-fret neck (i.e., it joins the body at the 11th fret as compared to the 13th fret for the H5), a 4° neck pitch (the H5 is 6°), and the fretboard rests on the soundboard instead of having a fretboard extender like the H5. We have been working for several months to develop the patterns and tooling to build the parts for this instrument and will be officially announcing our H4 Mandola Kit next month. At the moment, we have posted our H4 rosette (which is different from the F4 rosette) and the H4 neck to our on-line store, and we have completed the H4 ProSeries Drawings, which Kali has added to our on-line store as well.


Lastly, a reminder for those of you who may have missed last month's newsletter that you can now follow us on Facebook. Aside from tidbits about the daily goings on at Siminoff Banjo and Mandolin, we are also posting short videos that focus on various luthierie tasks. Please visit us on Facebook.

Thanks for building with us...


I've always felt that I had the uncanny ability to read wood. Before we lay open a board or glue up a soundboard or backboard set, I test my "magic" powers to evaluate the outside of the wood and try to predict what the grain and figure will look like once the board is carved or shaped and the grain is laid open. Usually I'm close. But every once in a while Mother Nature outsmarts me, and we discover natural anomalies that prevent us from selling the board as an A, AA, or AAA grade. Aside from natural discolorations and blemishes, I've discovered insect remains in their little burrowed holes, blind holes in maple that are the remnants of bung holes drilled into the tree to drain maple sap for syrup and plugged back up by bungs left to be grown over by subsequent tree growth, parts of barb wire fencing, nails, bullets, buckshot, and more. Of course, boards with these physical defects are either discarded, used for test instruments or find their way to campfires. (I love camping with music friends and watching their expressions as defective soundboards or necks are thrown into the fire. My wife, Rosemary, and I, and Lynn and Amy Dudenbostel had the pleasure of giggling about that while feeding a campfire in the Great Smoky Mountains.) The boards with natural discolorations and blemishes, however, go into our Seconds box to be sold at festivals or made available to those luthiers who visit our shop looking for bargains. So, from time to time we end up with some soundboards and backboards that we can't put in our kits or sell as first-line boards.


We have about two dozen soundboards and backboards in our Seconds box, and they are available at very good prices (50% discount). The Seconds are carved to the same graduations as our regular boards, and aside from their cosmetic blemishes, they are perfectly usable. In most cases, these blemishes are invisible when the boards are stained and shaded. There are also a few boards where there was a machining flaw in the figure on both halves of the board, but all of our Seconds are usable or easily repairable. If you are interested in seeing our list of Seconds, drop me an email and put "SECONDS" in the subject line, and I'll send you a list. And, if you see something on the list you would like to see a photo of, I'll be glad to email you one. Please note that because of the price reduction and handling costs, Seconds are sold as is and are not returnable.

Product Highlights

Luthier's Shirt· Luthier's T-Shirts - Our luthier's T-shirts are of made of high-quality olive-colored cotton and are silk screened on the front and back. The front of the shirt boasts a front-end-view illustration of the F5 mandolin, and the back of the shirt shows the butt-end (as if the mandolin is going through the shirt). Shirts come in adult S, M, L, XL, and XXL, are part #2110 and are $14.95 plus P&H.

Cap· Luthier's Caps - You don't want to be dressed in one of our shirts and not be wearing a cap! Siminoff luthier's caps are brown and are beautifully embroidered with a front view of the F5 mandolin. Caps are adjustable for a wide range of sizes. The caps are part #2100 and are $13.95 plus P&H.


DH4 Drawings· H4 Mandola ProSeries Drawings - The latest addition to our ProSeries Drawing sets is the H4 Mandola. As a result of its oval soundhole and unique soundboard, the H4 delivers a full, rich, deep tone. This set features 19 pages and includes numerous "variations" so that you have the option to build an H4 mandola with more contemporary features such as the 13.5° peghead pitch of the H5 rather than the 17° peghead pitch of the H4, the full fingerrest of the H5 vs the scant fingerrest of the H4, and more. All variations are clearly indicated as to the differences and options. The H4 Mandola ProSeries Drawing set is part #DH4 and is $34.95 plus P&H

Luthier's Tip: Repairing Ribs

Rim bending is not a project that stirs every luthier's spirit. Even for those of us seasoned benders, we occasionaly get a piece of wood that has a mind of its own and either doesn't want to bend the way we want it to or cracks when and where we don't want it to. One way to get closer to good results is to ensure that the grain of the wood (as seen from the end of the wood) lays as flat as possible as shown in "A." Grain on the bias ("B") is fine as long as it doesn't approach grain going across the ribs as in "C." Ribs that have grain in the "C" orientation are very difficult, if not impossible, to bend.


If you end up with light-to-mild cracking across the ribs, it is better to try to close the gap first rather than just trying to sand it out. Successful closure can be done with cyanoacrylate glue (Crazy Glue®), some wood cauls that are prepared to the shape of the curve, wax paper, and two 3" C-clamps.

Repairing Ribs 

Prepare the wood cauls to the right curvature. Sand both the female and male faces of the cauls smooth. Cut two pieces of wax paper about 3˝ x 3˝. Test fit the cauls on either side of the rib and set the C-clamps to the approximate opening (so you don't have to spend a lot of time turning the clamps after you have applied the glue). Run a bead of cyanoacrylate glue down the joint, put a piece of wax paper on either side of the rib (over the glued area, of course), position the cauls, and tighten the clamps securely. The photograph shows only one clamp, but it is ideal to use two clamps so that you fully tighten the cauls on top and on bottom (apply a clamp from either direction so you have full access to each clamp's turning lever). Allow the glue to dry for 15 minutes. Remove the clamps and cauls, peel away the wax paper, and sand the glued seam smooth. The joint should be virtually invisible and will become more invisible as you sand through the upper few grain layers of the wood.


Usually, these cracks occur in the tight bends, and it is in these areas that ribs are typically shaded darker than other areas, so the seam will become even more invisible.

Product of the Month: Loar-style Mandolin Machines

Loar-style machinesHere is a one-time offer to help you put the right machines on your mandolin. We are very proud of our Loar-style mandolin machines, and until the end of July we are offering these machines at a special discount. These machines are very close replicas of the machines that were installed on Loar-signed F5 mandolins and feature: correct length shafts, 13mm diameter real mother-of-pearl buttons, slotted button screws with washers, slotted backstrap screws, slotted black-oxide round-gear screws, machined eyelet-size bushings, correct turning rotation of the knobs, and 16:1 gearing. And, we use Gotoh backstraps and gears to take advantage of their great gear cutting and the hidden Delrin and spring-loaded washers that provide smooth post turning. These machines are normally $279.00 (nickel or gold), but if you purchase them before the end of July you can save 15% for a cost of $237.15 plus P&H. So, until July 31, 2010, if you enter promo code loar4july when you order a set of our Loar machines, you'll get a mega savings of $41.85! The gold set is part #301-LG and the nickel set is part #301-LN.

Loar-style Mandolin Machines
June's Product of the Month: Buy one set of Loar-style Mandolin Machines and get 15% off! Not valid with any other offers or promotions. Use the coupon code loar4july when ordering online.
Offer Valid: June 30, 2010 through July 31, 2010