The Chicago School of Guitar Making

Welcome to the Chicago School of Guitar Making!  We teach classes in guitar setup and repair, guitar building, tube amplifier building and tube amp diagnostics. We are the only school in Chicago where you can learn instrument repair and building from a professional luthier. We are also the only school teaching the craft of tube amplifier building. Since opening in 2005, more than 1,900 students have enrolled in our classes.

Below is information about our classes, facility and staff. For additional information about our school and the classes we teach, please visit our FAQ and About pages.




Courses and workshops are offered year round. We release the schedule of new sessions every six months to give students ample notice. To see the most current class schedule, visit our courses Calendar page

Courses are scheduled to meet either weekly or as weekend seminars. The weekly classes meet weekday evenings from 7 pm to 9:30 pm.

Our weekend seminars provide the same curriculum as weekly courses but are condensed into a weekend format. These seminars are ideal for those who have schedule conflicts with our weekly classes or are not in close proximity to the Chicagoland area.

We send out an email Newsletter several times each year announcing the school’s upcoming schedule and any new classes.  Please sign up for our newsletter by providing your email address in the Newsletter Sign Up box which is found in the upper right hand corner of this web page.


Our school is located at Specimen Products, 1240 N. Homan Ave Chicago IL 60651. . It is outfitted with individual workbenches custom-made for the students. Each workbench is stocked with all the tools required in our classes. Students also have access to our fully-equipped wood and metal shop, and a wealth of specialized tools and supplies.


Courses are taught by Specimen owner/luthier Ian Schneller, Richard Phillis, Pete Mueller, and Kye Kennedy.

Ian Schneller

Ian founded the School in 2005, and for several years taught all classes. Ian now leads the Open Workshops, teaches Guitar Design, Theory+Blueprint, Tube Amp Building, and Custom Electric Guitar Building He is the Chief Instructor of Chicago School of Guitar Making, faculty member of the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute, and owner of Specimen Products, Inc.

Pete Mueller   

Pete is a guitar repair technician at Specimen Guitar Shop.  Pete teaches Bone Nut & Saddle Making, Fret & Refretting Workshops , Advanced Repairs, and  Set-up & Maintenance for Guitar & Bass at the Chicago School of Guitar Making. 

Richard Phillis  

Richard is a guitar repair technician and surface finisher at Specimen Guitar Shop.  Rich teaches Effects Pedal Building, Guitar ElectronicsSet-up & Maintenance for Guitar & Bass, Advanced Repairs and Finishing & Relicing Workshops at the Chicago School of Guitar Making.

Kye Kennedy 

We are pleased to offer the rare opportunity to learn the fundamentals of Tube Amp Diagnostics and Repair with master technician Kye Kennedy.  Kye is a visiting guest instructor who travels to Chicago specifically to give instruction at the school. Kye lives in Nashville, Tennessee.




Advanced Guitar Repair

Bone Nut & Saddle Making

Effects Pedal Building


Guitar Electronics

Finishes Workshop

Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass & Strings  

Setup & Electronics for Guitar, Bass & Strings

Tube Amp Diagnostics & Repair

Tube Amp Building

Hi-fi Stereo Tube Amp Building

These courses are part of our foundation curriculum and are structured to teach students the essentials of guitar repair and design. All of our foundation courses provide a good groundwork for anybody interested building their own custom guitar. Students ready to embark on this adventure can enroll in:

Acoustic Ukulele Building

Acoustic Guitar Building – The Martin 000

Electric Guitar Building – The F-Style Build

Guitar Design & Theory + Blueprint

Electric Guitar Building Workshops



Guitar Building Workshops

We currently offer four building courses, two focus on electric guitar building, one on acoustic guitar building and one on building acoustic ukuleles. Familiarity with hand tools and wood working procedures is extremely beneficial in these guitar building classes.

It is recommended that students have completed our Setup & Maintenance Course and Fretting Workshop as an understanding of the skills learned in these classes will be useful in this workshop.

Ukulele Building Workshop

In this workshop students build either a soprano or tenor ukulele from a kit. This workshop is ideal for students who want to go on to build acoustic guitars as many of the procedures and techniques used to build a uke are the same, but the smaller size instrument makes learning the processes easier. This workshop is well-suited to students with previous woodworking skills and are comfortable using a variety hand tools.

Acoustic Guitar Building

Students will work towards building their own Martin guitar style OOO in either Mahogany or Rosewood. This hands-on workshop offers students the opportunity to work at their own pace in Specimen’s fully equipped workshop, alongside presentations, demonstrations, and hands on application of the tools and theories that constitute fine luthiery.

Electric Guitar Building

Our Design & Theory + Blueprint and Electric Guitar Building Workshops teach students how to design and build their own instrument entirely from scratch using raw materials. Check out our Student Gallery showcasing students with their finished instruments.



Tube Amp Seminars

In our Tube Amp Building Seminar:  Students build their own tube amplifier based on Fender’s revered line of Tweed Amplifiers. For those interested, we are now offering Hi-Fi Stereo Tube Amplifier Building classes.

In our Tube Amp Diagnostics & Repair Seminar: Lecture/demonstrations are supplemented with hand-out materials.  Options available for the scope of repairs are disclosed, and an emergency repair kit of tools is recommended.  The options will range from immediate repairs to amp restoration to avoid further issues.




Click Here for a list of nearby places to stay during seminars, along with transportation information.