Early registration is open for Summer Workshops at the Chicago School of Guitar Making.

Click to see/enroll in CSGM Courses     Download: Calendar CSGM 2015


We are pleased to announce our 2015 Summer Workshops.  This June and July, we offer a wide range of intensive workshops, at a discount when you register early.  Early registration ends 5/2/2015.

This summer we are excited to add our new Tube Amplifier Diagnostics & Repair Seminar to the menu – along with the chance to combine it with the Tube Amp Building Workshop at further savings.  In addition to our summer schedule of intensive guitar building workshops, we are offering several short courses as well, including Set-up and Maintenance, Guitar Finishing & Relicing, Guitar Electronics UpgradesEffects Pedal Making and Ukelele Building.  All of our workshops are hands-on and closely guided by your instructor.

I invite you to peruse the summer menu and call our school with questions.  Now is your chance to take Chicago School of Guitar Making courses and come away with your handmade guitar, ukelele, tube amp and knowledge of tube amp repair!  Enrollment is limited.


Ian Schneller

Combined: Tube Amp Building + Tube Amp Diagnostics & Repair – 2 weeks

An exceptional opportunity to learn the principles and practices of tube amp diagnostics and repair and then hand build either a Tweed Style guitar tube amp or a Hi-Fi Stereo tube amplifier. In addition to a hand-built point-to-point amplifier ready for a custom finish, students will leave with the knowledge and ability to service the amp themselves.

For complete details and to register online click here> Combined: Tube Amp Building + Diagnostics & Repair

July 14 – 24, weeknights 7pm – 9:30pm

$1233 tuition. Amp materials cost is additional and varies according to kit choice.

Take $100 off for registering before May 2, 2015.

Acoustic Guitar Building – 2 Weeks

Construct your very own Martin 000 style steel string acoustic guitar of either Rosewood or Mahogony from an excellent kit under the watchful eye of the instructor. The Stewart- MacDonald kit uses top quality woods and can produce instruments which rival even the greatest luthier builds. Students will have a complete guitar ready to play and ready for custom surface finishing.

For complete details and to register online click here> Martin 000 Summer Workshop

July 13 – 24, Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Course fee: $3615 for Mahogany, $3665 for Rosewood includes tuition, instruction and all materials.

Take $100 off for registering before May 2, 2015.


Electric Guitar Building – 3 Weeks

Build a sonically superior, high quality traditional style electric guitar to your personal specs this summer. This slab body electric guitar build will feature a non-adjustable steel reinforcement in the neck, yielding a guitar with superior longevity, stability and tonality. Daily lecture/demonstrations will cover the instrument’s design theory and construction principles and students will be guided through the skills and methodologies required at each stage of the construction. Students will have a complete guitar ready for custom surface finishing.

For complete details and to register online click here> EGB Summer Workshop

July 6 – 24. Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Course fee: $3990 includes tuition, instruction and all materials.

Take $100 off for registering before May 2, 2015.


Download the Calendar CSGM 2015


ICA "Calla" a new and very special edition Specimen audio horn & sat sub woofer

ICA “Calla” a new special edition Specimen audio horn speaker & sat sub woofer



ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 10 Calla


Sonic Arboretum, which opened Wednesday at the Institute of Contemporary Art, features work by sculptor Ian Schneller and songwriter Andrew Bird. PHOTO BY STEVE FRIEDMAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Most artists don’t record in canyons.

But Andrew Bird did, and it can be heard being played through over 30 colorful, Dr. Seuss-like speakers at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The exhibition, Sonic Arboretum, on which he collaborated with sculptor and instrument-maker Ian Schneller, opened Wednesday.

Bird, a primarily indie-folk musician, recorded himself playing the violin, along with the occasional whistling and sound of flowing water in the Coyote Gulch canyons of Utah.

Deviating from Bird’s usual singer-songwriter material, the recording is a 50-minute-long nonstop experience. If you had to slap a genre label or two on “Echolocations: Canyon,” as it’s called, you would have to call it avant-garde. It’s melodious, but the bouncing, reverberate echo effect of the exhibition makes it just as much about stylized ambiance as it is about composition.

But one genre doesn’t quite do it justice. The piece often breaks into segments that feel more like the score to a Hayao Miyazaki film than anything else. (I’d like to quickly take a step back from this piece to formally request a Miyazaki-Bird collaboration.) The oscillation between the feels of scientific exploration of echoes and the visceral, driving nature of the arrangement gives the piece a depth worth talking about.

Schneller’s role in the exhibition is not to be shoved aside, however. He was the one to meticulously place each of the 30-plus speakers made from recycled newsprint, dryer lint, baking soda and more on all four sides of the museum room.

The smaller details too, make what he accomplished technically impressive. To get all of the speakers to play the track at the same exact time, a multitude of iPod nanos have to be synchronized at a level of precision that is beyond human capability. To work around this, Schneller took the route that only a sculptor-instrument-maker would take: he created a device that hits play on up to ten iPods at a time, at the exact same moment. It’s called the Nano Sync, and it wouldn’t be art if it wasn’t as colorful and visually stunning as the rest of the audio equipment in the room, would it?

All together, the sonic and visual components come together to form a surreal experience. Whatever you’re thinking about when you walk into the exhibition, your mind will probably entirely lose sight of it in the process of calibration.

How much you get out of Sonic Arboretum also depends on how much time and attention you give it. Because there’s more art outside both entrances to the room, it’s easy to walk in, listen for a minute or two, and then continue on with your museum tour. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that approach. You have enough time to appreciate the visual aesthetic of Schneller’s artful speakers and get a general sense of Bird’s music, even if it’s on a relatively superficial level of understanding.

But if you want to stop, sit down on the bench in the center of the room and close your eyes, you can do that too. (And you won’t be alone, chances are). You can try to picture yourself sitting down cross-legged in a solitary canyon in Utah while a renowned musician plays his violin not too far away, if you’d like. Or you can let your mind wander and let Bird’s music be a backdrop to your thoughts.

As is the nature of modern art, there is no one expected outcome, as cliché as it sounds. There’s no specific way you’re supposed to think or feel when you walk out. It’s considerably liberating in a sense.

The installation, Sonic Arboretum, has been around since 2010, but it previously featured Bird performing live through the sound system. The pre-recorded “Echolocations: Canyon,” is the first of its kind in an “Echolocations” series. To follow in the upcoming years are “River,” “City,” “Lake” and “Forest.”

You can guess where he will record each one, but not where each one will take you when you hear it.

Sonic Arboretum is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art through May 10.

West Gallery
SONIC ARBORETUM: Sculpture by Ian Schneller /
Sound by Andrew Bird 

Feb. 4 – May 10, 2015

Sculptor/instrument-maker Ian Schneller and composer/violinist Andrew Bird collaboratively produced Sonic Arboretum, an installation of colorful horn speakers and sound that is looped and layered to generate a symphonic field.

The Institute of Contemporary Art is an art museum and exhibition space located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. The museum was founded as the Boston Museum of Modern Art in 1936 with a mission to exhibit contemporary art.






ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 34 install 2   ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 5      ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 11 Ian      ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 15 ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 14  ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 21 ipods ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 20   ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 31 ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 30  ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 29    ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 25   ICA_Sonic_Arboretum4   ICA_Sonic_Arboretum1  ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 34 install 3   ICA_Sonic_Arboretum 33 Nano sync

SPECIMEN Audio Horns at Garfield Conservatory 2014

An assortment of different Specimen horns seen in the Show Room, Garfield  Conservatory, Chicago.

Among them are Ian Schneller’s new singular new horns, which featured the premier of new music by composer Glenn Kotche at the Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago.

Protea, Hornlets, Hornling, Eremurus, Liatris, Calla, Liederhorn designed by Ian Schneller, produced by Specimen Products.

“Eremurus” and “Calla” Specimen Audio Horns graced the Mosaic Fountain, Horticulture Hall, Garfield Conservatory, Chicago

“Calla”, “Protea” and “Eremurus” Specimen Audio Horns, Show House, Garfield Conservatory, 2014



Here is a video made by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago surrounding the 2011 Sonic Arboretum at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.


I will present brand new Sculpture/Sonics: Aero Dynamisms April 11- May 31 at the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago.


One system will present music through a choreographed duet of spinning horns (creating an acoustic phase shifting/Doppler effect ) and two rafts of static horn speakers connected to 10 channels of single-ended tube amplified audio from iPod Nanos via my nano-sync apparatus.

Nano Sync Apparatus by Ian Schneller

Another system, is comprised of 8 beautiful, never before seen individual horn shapes powered by a single ended 8 channel triode powered electron tube Octoblock amplifier.

Specimen Octoblock Tube Amplifier

The music is mixed to 8 channels – and emanates from the 8 horn shapes, each representing different members of a chamber orchestra. This system presents a new type of compositional tool via a Mac Book Air.

Sound content for both systems will be new compositions by Glenn Kotche with performances by eighth blackbird and Kronos Quartet - pre-recorded as digital data on iPod Nanos and separate compositions on the laptop system.


This installation will create a spatial sonic atmosphere imbued with a phantom chamber orchestra playing music through sculpture.

Specimen Aerosel horns on tour with Andrew Bird at Chicago's Auditorium Theater

The digital technology feeds directly into 1940′s eratube technology/topology, marrying the past to the present.

Specimen Custom Line Pre-Amp

The stunning contrast between the two technologies represents time travel and creates quite a beautiful sensation through a brand new type of aural presentation that can only be experienced on location.

Specimen Aerosel horns on tour with Andrew Bird at Chicago's Auditorium Theater

The show runs through May 31 and I dare say, that a visit apart from the opening for a more private experience should provide an astonishing and playfully surreal experience.


Aero Dynamisms opens Friday  April 11  5-8 pm.

Packer Schopf Gallery
942 W. Lake St. Chicago IL 60607

Featuring eighth blackbird and Kronos Quartet.

Packer Schopf Gallery April 11  – May 31, 2014

Artist’s Reception: Friday, April 11, 5 – 8 PM

We are so excited to premier new music by Glenn Kotche at this solo exhibition in Chicago at Packer Schopf Gallery this spring.  Kotche’s dynamic music will showcase the sonic capabilities of Schneller’s Horn Speakers and Tube Amplifiers and give lift to the movement and beauty of Ian Schneller’s pirouetting Aerosel sculptures.

Ian Schneller will present his Aerosel sculptures with his unique sound installation of sculptural horn speakers and handmade tube amplifiers  – integrating early electronic  technology with modern digital components to create an aural and visual atmosphere that can only be experienced on site.


Mark your calendar for Friday April 11  5-8 pm.   Come to celebrate the opening with us – or check out the show by May 31 to experience Aero Dynamisms and talk with gallerist Aron Packer about this unique exhibit.

Packer Schopf Gallery
942 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60607


Sonic Vignettes at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater on Vimeo.

Please join us for the opening reception of Ian Schneller’s newest sound installation:


Elgin Arts Center
September 24, 2013
5:00 – 7:30 pm

This exhibit will include a unique sound installation of horn speakers, tube amplifiers, and spinning Aerosel sculptures. The horn speakers are powered by tube amplifiers that are connected to ten Apple iPod Nanos containing the entire musical score Andrew Bird composed exclusively for the Sonic Arboretum. This co-mingling of 1940s tube technology with modern digital components creates an aural and visual installation that can only be experienced on location. The exhibit will be controlled by Ian’s newest creation, the Nano-Sync Apparatus, which when activated will simultaneously start all 10 iPod Nanos. Ian and his team will be demonstrating the Nano-Sync Apparatus at the opening reception.

For those of you who missed the 2011 Sonic Arboretum exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this is a rare opportunity to see Ian’s special sonic installation and to hear compositions by Andrew Bird that are unavailable anywhere else.

The exhibit runs September 24 – October 29, 2013 at Elgin Community College Art Center in Elgin, Illinois.

This new combo amp in the works is for amplifying stringed instruments. The cabinet follows the construction details of both the Specimen Tube Amps and Horn Speaker bases. It also uses the engine turned sub-plates for convection cooling found on Specimen’s Octoblock and the slotted side panels that were first used on Specimen’s Fifty-watt Tube Amp. You could say it’s a clever combination of several Specimen innovations all rolled into one beautiful package.

This project stemmed from a request to revisit the original Horn Amp Combo I made about fifteen years ago. This model will use the splendid Eminence 8-inch guitar speaker rear-loaded with a vertical horn. The obvious follow up to this project will be a symmetrical pair of hi-fi mono blocks with a 6 1/2″ Fostex speaker.

All that’s left to do is apply the finish to the amp and horn, wire up the amp and machine the back panel. More pics soon!

Since the Gimbal Horns are going to be hanging from the ceiling, utmost care is required for the design of the support mechanisms. Its mounting hardware is machined from aluminum rod stock. Simple details like this contribute to the structural fortitude of the final product.

In order for the mounting hardware to be flush fit to the cylinder, I created a special fixture that cuts the matching radius of the cylindrical compression chamber, ensuring a perfect fit. An indexing plate is attached to one side of the cylinder so that a hardened steel pin can fit through a press-fit bushing in the yoke and determine the horizontal orientation of the horn. Holes are transferred from a template and drilled into their respective parts.

Below is a slideshow of photos taken during the building process. Check our my other Blog posts for more information and photos about this newest Specimen.
Gimbal Audio Horn Speakers taking shape, part 2
Gimbal Audio Horn Speakers taking shape, part 1

The Gimbal Horns are so named because they are adjustable on two axes. They are ceiling mounted and this exploits a part of interior architecture that is often overlooked.

These horns are being made in our usual fashion – bending recycled newsprint over a steaming iron using a mandrel. The panels are then glued together and reinforced with dryer lint. Special alignment fixtures assure correct orientation of the mounting flanges. The cylindrical compression chambers are laminated together using birch wood wrapped inside a jig using an inflatable ball as a clamp. This forms an extremely rigid platform for the driver and horn.

Here is a slideshow of photos taken during the building process. More info and photos about this project can be found in my other Blog posts:
Gimbal Audio Horn Speakers taking shape, part 3
Gimbal Audio Horn Speakers taking shape, part 1