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Chicago School of Guitar Making

Welcome to the Chicago School of Guitar Making! We teach classes in guitar building, guitar setup and repair and tube amplifier building. 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 1000 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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Class Schedule

Classes are offered year round. We release the schedule of new sessions every three months to give students ample notice. To see the most current class schedule, visit our Classes & Seminars page.

Classes are scheduled to meet weekly or as weekend seminars. The weekly classes meet weekday evenings or on Saturdays. Our weekend seminars provide the same curriculum as our weekly courses but condensed into a weekend format. Our 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 when any new classes are opened. 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.

Facility

Our school is located in our shop, Specimen Products. 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.

Curriculum

GUITAR REPAIR CLASSES
We currently offer six courses covering different aspects of guitar repair:
Guitar & Bass Setup and Maintenance
Fret Work
Guitar Electronics
Bone Nut & Saddle Making
Guitar Finishing & Relicing
Advanced Guitar Repair

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 our Acoustic Ukulele Building, Guitar Design & Theory and Constructive Techniques Workshops.

GUITAR BUILDING CLASSES
We currently offer three building courses, two focus on electric 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 also 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.

Electric Guitar Building Classes
Our Guitar Design & Theory 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.

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.

TUBE AMPLIFIER BUILDING WORKSHOPS
In our Tube Amp Building Workshop students build their own tube amplifier based on Fender’s revered line of Tweed Amplifiers and Marshall’s 18-watt line. For those interested in home stereo building, we are now offering Hi-Fi Stereo Tube Amplifier Building classes.

Staff

Courses are taught by Specimen owner / luthier Ian Schneller or Specimen staff members Richard Phillis and Pete Mueller.

Ian has been designing and building his own line of custom guitars, tube amplifiers and audio horn speakers for more than 25 years. He began creating his Specimens while completing a Master’s Degree in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While there he started building instruments for fellow Chicago musicians including a full-line of indestructible aluminum guitars. He soon expanded his operation introducing several new models of guitars, amplifiers, and audio horn speakers. Ian has built more than 500 Specimens for customers worldwide.

Richard Phillis is Specimen’s lead finishing tech. Through years of training and experience, Richard has become an expert in finishing Specimen’s Horn Speakers and Tube Amplifiers and he assists Ian with finishing Specimen’s custom guitars. Richard assists Pete in our production department building horn speakers and tube amplifiers and is an assistant guitar tech in our repair department.

Pete Mueller is Specimen’s production shop manager and assistant guitar tech. Pete started at Specimen after taking many classes at the school and then completing an internship in the shop. Pete is responsible for managing production of Specimen’s horn speakers and tube amplifiers and is an assistant guitar and tube amp tech our repair department.

Our school administrator is Lauren Stenzel. Lauren manages all registrations, updating the web site, and communication with current and prospective students.

Ian is assisted in many classes by John Asta. John specializes in fret work, tube amplifier building, and guitar electronics. John also works at Specimen assisting Ian in building custom Tube Amplifiers and Horn Speakers, and in the repair department.

Classes & Seminars

Fret & Re-fret Workshop ~ Weekend August 23 & 24
Aug 23, 2014 -
Aug 24, 2014

Bone Nut & Saddle Making Course ~ Augsut 25, 26 & 27
Aug 25, 2014 -
Aug 28, 2014

Design & Theory + Blueprint Course ~ September 2, 3 & 4
Sep 2, 2014 -
Sep 4, 2014

Guitar Building ~ Martin 000 style - 4 Weekends Sept 6 - Oct 19
Sep 6, 2014 -
Oct 19, 2014

Guitar Building Workshop ~ Monday September 8 - 29
Sep 8, 2014 -
Sep 29, 2014

OPEN WORKSHOP ~ 15 Weeks - Monday Evenings Sept 8-Dec 15
Sep 8, 2014 -
Dec 15, 2014

Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass + Strings - September 9, 10 & 11
Sep 9, 2014 -
Sep 11, 2014

Design & Theory + Blueprint Seminar ~ Weekend September 13 & 14
Sep 13, 2014 -
Sep 14, 2014

Fret & Re-Fret Workshop ~ Weekend September 13 & 14
Sep 13, 2014 -
Sep 14, 2014

Effect Pedals Building Workshop ~ September 16,17, 18, & 19
Sep 16, 2014 -
Sep 19, 2014

Effect Pedal Building in ONE DAY ~ Saturday Workshop Sept 20
Sep 20, 2014 -
Sep 20, 2014

Advanced Guitar Repair Workshop ~ September 23, 24 & 25
Sep 23, 2014 -
Sep 25, 2014

~ Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass + Strings ~ Weekend September 27 & 28
Sep 27, 2014 -
Sep 28, 2014

Fret & Re-fret Course ~ Sep 30 - Oct 2
Sep 30, 2014 -
Oct 2, 2014

French Polishing Techniques - Mondays October 6 - 27 at 7pm
Oct 6, 2014 -
Oct 27, 2014

Guitar Building Workshop ~ Monday October 6 - 27
Oct 6, 2014 -
Oct 27, 2014

Guitar Electronics Installations & Upgrades ~ October 7, 8 & 9
Oct 7, 2014 -
Oct 9, 2014

Theremin Building Weekend ~ October 11 & 12
Oct 11, 2014 -
Oct 12, 2014

Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass + Strings - October 14, 15 & 16
Oct 14, 2014 -
Oct 16, 2014

Fret & Re-fret Seminar ~ Weekend October 18 & 19
Oct 18, 2014 -
Oct 19, 2014

Hi-Fi Stereo Tube Amplifier Building ~ Weekend October 24, 25 & 26
Oct 24, 2014 -
Oct 26, 2014

Tube Amp Building ~ Weekend October 24, 25 & 26
Oct 24, 2014 -
Oct 26, 2014

Bone Nut & Saddle Making Course ~ October 28, 29 & 30
Oct 28, 2014 -
Oct 30, 2014

Advanced Guitar Repair Workshop ~ Weekend November 1 & 2
Nov 1, 2014 -
Nov 2, 2014

Guitar Building Workshop ~ Monday 7pm November 3 - 24
Nov 3, 2014 -
Nov 24, 2014

French Polishing Advanced Techniques ~ Monday Evenings November 3 - 24
Nov 3, 2014 -
Nov 24, 2014

Finishing & Relicing Workshop ~ November 4 - 7
Nov 4, 2014 -
Nov 7, 2014

Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass + Strings - November 8 & 9
Nov 8, 2014 -
Nov 9, 2014

Setup & Maintenance for Guitar, Bass + Strings - November 11,12 &13
Nov 11, 2014 -
Nov 13, 2014

Bone Nut & Saddle Making Seminar ~ Weekend November 15 & 16
Nov 15, 2014 -
Nov 16, 2014

Advanced Guitar Repair Course ~ November 18, 19 & 20
Nov 18, 2014 -
Nov 20, 2014

Finishing & Relicing Weekend Workshop ~ November 22 & 23
Nov 22, 2014 -
Nov 23, 2014

Guitar Building Workshop ~ Monday 7 pm December 1 - 22
Dec 1, 2014 -
Dec 22, 2014

Theremin Building ~ December 1, 2, 3, & 4
Dec 1, 2014 -
Dec 4, 2014

Tube Amp Building ~ Weekend December 5, 6, & 7
Dec 5, 2014 -
Dec 7, 2014

Effect Pedals Building Workshop ~ December 9, 10, 11, & 12
Dec 9, 2014 -
Dec 12, 2014

Guitar Electronics Installations & Upgrades ~ Weekend December 13 &14
Dec 13, 2014 -
Dec 14, 2014

Advanced Guitar Repair Course ~ December 16, 17, & 18
Dec 16, 2014 -
Dec 18, 2014

Effect Pedal Building ONE DAY Workshop ~ Saturday December 20
Dec 20, 2014 -
Dec 20, 2014