New! Effects Pedal Building Workshop Open Now

 Register here.

Design & Blueprint + Guitar Building ~ Combined!

Design your own custom guitar, bass or stringed instrument of your dreams. These workshops give the student creative control over the design, shape, finish and performing quality of an instrument of their own. Whether the choice is to design a reproduction of a traditional electric guitar or chart new territory – the emphasis will be on designing a supremely-functional and long-lasting instrument of beauty.  At the end of the process students will have a full blueprint and a wonderful creation that fulfills their unique vision. No drawing skills or shop experience required. Questions? Please call us 773-489-4830

Design and Blueprint

The Design and Blueprint workshop prepares students for the exciting prospect of starting the actual construction of an original design for an electric guitar, bass, or other stringed instrument.  The student’s goal is to produce a functional, full-scale blueprint of an original instrument design. This blueprint will contain all the relevant design parameters needed to construct the instrument in its entirety.

This workshop includes in-depth lectures intending to educate the student to expertly manipulate every variable of stringed instrument design. Our goal is to provide an enriching environment for the burgeoning student with many opportunities for exposure to various techniques and skills, with tutorials and guidance while working at their own pace under the watchful eye of an experienced luthier and instructor.

Guitar Building Workshop

This workshop gives students creative control over the guitar’s design, shape, finish and performing quality. This is a not a kit assembly workshop – students build their own instrument from scratch using raw materials and the time-tested techniques of the school.

The instructor will be on-hand at all times for assistance and to guide the student through the guitar building process. Students will learn how to shape their guitar’s neck and body, install the truss rod, install all hardware and much more.


Students will NOT be able to complete a guitar build in one guitar building session. Total build time varies greatly depending on the complexity of the design and the working pace of the student. 

After an initial guitar building session, students may choose to register for more guided work sessions as needed, inquire about pro-rated shop access opportunities for working alone or continue their project in their own shop.

Lecture topics include:

  • Design tradition and historic examples
  • Originality
  • Aesthetics
  • Proportion and balance
  • Ergonomics
  • Neck pitch, attachment and geometry
  • Headstock and body design
  •  Truss rod systems and installation
  • Selecting appropriate materials and hardware
  • Electronic circuits and control layouts

Demonstrations include:

  • Transferring patterns
  • Making templates
  • Preparing body blanks
  • Preparing neck blanks
  • Carving
  • Sculpting wood using rasps and hand planes
  • Neck shaping
  • Binding
  • Truss rod installation
  • Fretboard preparation
  • Routing for neck and hardware
  • Pickguard making
  • Proper gluing techniques

Correctly locating bridge and other hardware


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


Register for any of our classes online, by phone or in person. Please note: Registrations are final and nonrefundable. In the event that a student cannot attend a class, written notice must be given in advance to receive a credit to be used on another tuition. Valid credit may be transferred to another course date, or to another student, if so desired.



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.


Select the class dates you wish to attend in Available Dates column. (See the upper right of the this page.)

Click ENROLL NOW. Enter the required information. Pay by clicking the Paypal button. (NOTE: It is NOT necessary to have a Paypal account to use their service.)

Choose your payment method. Complete the payment transaction. Your receipt and a confirmation will be emailed to you.


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


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


The Chicago School of Guitar Making

ADDRESS   1240 N. Homan Ave. Chicago IL 60651

HOURS   Monday – Friday: 12 – 7 pm, and Saturday: 12 – 5


PHONE  773-489-4830

Acoustic Workshop October 2017

Choose Date
Expired January 27, 28 + February 24, 25
Sat & Sun 11 am - 5 pm
$900.00 (USD)
-$100.00 (USD) Combined Courses Discount
May 1,2,3 + May 15,16,17
Tue, Wed, Thu - 7 pm-9:30 Design: May 1,2,3 + Building: May 15,16,17
$800.00 (USD)
-$75.00 (USD) Sale! Discount ends March 31.
July 25,26+Aug 15, 16
Wed & Thursday 11 am - 5 Design: July 25, 26 + Building: August 15, 16
$1,280.00 (USD)
-$200.00 (USD) Early Enrollment - Discount Ends March 31


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