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.
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 or, in the case of the Guitar & Bass Setup and Electronics Weekend Seminar, we cover all of the Setup curriculum plus some basic electronics. 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.
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.
GUITAR REPAIR CLASSES
We currently offer five courses covering different aspects of guitar repair:
Guitar & Bass Setup and Maintenance
Guitar Electronics Workshop
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 Guitar Building, Guitar Design & Theory and Constructive Techniques Workshops.
GUITAR BUILDING CLASSES
We currently offer three guitar building courses, two focus on electric guitar building, and one on building acoustic guitars. 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.
Acoustic Guitar Building Workshop
In this workshop students build a 000-style acoustic guitar from a kit. 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.
All courses are taught by Specimen owner / luthier Ian Schneller. He has been designing and building his own line of custom guitars, tube amplifiers and audio horn speakers for more than 25 years. Ian 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 300 Specimens for customers worldwide.
Our school administrator is Nadine Schneller, co-owner of Specimen Products. Nadine manages all registrations, updating the web site, and communication with current and prospective students. Nadine also manages all marketing and advertising for Specimen Products.
Ian is assisted in many classes by Chester Ong. Chester specializes in fret work, tube amplifier building, and guitar electronics. Chester also works at Specimen assisting Ian in building custom Tube Amplifiers, Horn Speakers and is operations manager for Specimen’s Repair Shop.