Acoustic Guitar Building Weekends ~ Fall 2017

This hands-on workshop offers students the opportunity to build their very own acoustic guitar under the watchful eye of an experienced luthier in Specimen’s fully equipped workshop. Presentations and demonstrations will inform the hands-on application of the tools and the theories that constitute fine luthiery. Students will work towards building either a Mahogany or Rosewood Martin-style 000. And now, for the first time, we are also offering a Martin-style Dreadnought as an option. Students will be introduced to the unique process of luthiery while effectively establishing a skillful approach to woodworking.


This class offers the opportunity to work in an fully equipped guitar work shop and learn advance woodworking techniques as well as shop safety, while building a beautiful acoustic instrument during an uninterrupted schedule. 

This class is formatted as part lecture and part demonstration with lots of hands on work. In depth demonstration of each step will precede students working on their instruments.  Working from a kit of roughly formed components and pre bent sides, this course is designed both for students with little to no experience and also those with intermediate experience. Our goal is to cast a wide net into the realm of woodworking, with a finished guitar as proof of application.


Choose between a kit with Rosewood or Mahogany sides. Call to reserve your slot and register or register online on this page.


A few of the many tooling demonstrations include:

• Clamping and gluing

• Caul making

• Sanding and scraping

• Chisels and knives

• Rasps and files

• Handsaws

• Routers and router bits

• Band saw

• Table saw

• Drill Press

• Belt sander/spindle sander

• Specialized guitar tools

• Fretting tools

While not mandatory, we also recommend that students take our Fretting class to obtain complete precision in this step of the building process.

We will not cover finishing techniques in the course.

Students have the option to have their guitar finished for them by a Specimen/CSGM professional or apply the finish themselves.

Workshop Materials and Supplies

Everything needed for building the guitars will be included in the kit and provided by the School.  We will go over the tools necessary for a home shop throughout the course for those interested in taking the art to a private space. The kits come with an in depth instruction book

Useful handout materials will also be provided.

Each student will be given class time occupancy of one of Specimen’s unique guitar workbenches, as well as storage for materials outside of class. 


4 full days, 10am – 5 pm, over 2 separate weekends

This class will run Saturday and Sunday over two separate weekends.  The building procedure starts with a sequence of specific steps, alternating between neck and body work. Once these begin to take shape, students tend to work at different paces, but we all start at the beginning and move forward together. This class will get most students off to a good start on their build and some through a good portion of the build by the end of the two weekends. It should be noted that there is no way to complete the build during these two weekends. In order to finish making the guitar, more time will need to be spent either in additional classes, with pro rated shop access at the school, or on the students own.

Open Shop access is available with different options and rates, either for unguided access to the facility and tools or with instruction or guidance from an instructor.  Many students come in and receive one or two hours of instruction and then basic access for the balance of that day. This helps keep the fees at more manageable level and allows the student to work at their own pace more easily.  Taking advantage of the the specially designed workbenches, tools, and the expertise of Specimen/CSGM luthiers is a special opportunity.


Enrollment is limited to 6 students. Due to the lead time necessary to order kit materials, this course registration generally ends 15 days prior to class start.


Tuition fee: $1680 + Kit, tax and shipping:

Tuition includes instruction, hands-on workshop with dedicated guitar bench, use of specialized tools and the shop supplies necessary for the completion of this project.  Tuition also includes a catered lunch and refreshments each day of class. 



Ian Schneller is the founder and chief instructor of the Chicago School of Guitar Making. With over 800 handmade instruments bearing his Specimen name, he brings a wellspring of knowledge to the classroom with the mission of perpetuating the tradition of handcraft and design innovation. He has shown his work in a variety of museums around the country and is a faculty member of the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago


How to Register:

Registrations are limited to 6 students. You can register for any of our classes on-line, by phone, or in person.

Register Online

Select your class dates in Available Dates on the upper right on this page.  Click ENROLL NOW.  Enter your information, then proceed to pay by clicking the Paypal button It is NOT necessary to have a Paypal account. Choose a payment method.  Your purchase receipt will appear.

Register by Phone 773.489.4830

Call us if you prefer to register over the phone with your credit card. We will send you a confirmation via email, or by snail mail if you prefer.

Register in Person

Come by the shop during business hours and enroll using cash, credit card, or a personal check.

Business Hours:

Monday – Friday: 12 – 7, Saturday: 12 – 5

Map our location


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

Choose Date
Expired May 20 & 21, June 3 & 4
May 20 & 21, 10am - 5 pm + June 3 & 4, 10am - 5 pm
$1,680.00 (USD)
+$493.00 (USD) Mahogany 000 Kit
-$100.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
Expired May 20 & 21, June 3 & 4
May 20 & 21, 10am - 5 pm + June 3 & 4, 10am - 5 pm
$1,680.00 (USD)
+$525.00 (USD) Rosewood 000 Kit
-$100.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
October 7, 8 & 21, 22
Sat & Sun 10 am - 5 pm
$1,680.00 (USD)
+$578.81 (USD) Mahogany Dreadnought Kit
October 7, 8 & 21, 22
Sat & Sun 10 am - 5 pm
$1,680.00 (USD)
+$626.22 (USD) Rosewood Dreadnought Kit


Classes are taught by Specimen owner Ian Schneller, or guest instructor Kye Kennedy. The course description will state who the instructor is for the given class


All classes are held at Specimen located at 1240 N. Homan Ave. in Chicago, Illinois. Click here for a map

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Mail In Registration

Please download this form if you want to register for a class by mail