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Combined! Design, Theory+Blueprint & Electric Guitar Building

A combination of two workshops to design and start making the guitar of your dreams. No skills required.

Completing this workshop will prepare 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 main goal in the Guitar Design & Theory workshop 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. Whether you choose 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. This workshop also includes in-depth lectures intending to educate the student to expertly manipulate every variable of stringed instrument design.

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

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Electric Guitar Building Workshop

This workshop gives students creative control over the guitar’s design, shape, finish and performing quality. At the end of the process students will have a wonderful creation that fulfills their own unique vision. 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.

Note: Students will NOT be able to complete a guitar build in one session. Total build time varies greatly depending on the design and the working pace of the student. After an initial guitar building session, students may choose to register for more sessions as needed or contact us about our pro-rated shop access opportunity.

Following is a list of some of the procedures that will be demonstrated:

  • 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
  • Finishing

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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 8 students. You can register for any of our classes online, by phone or in person.

Register Online

Select  your class dates in Available Dates column on the upper right of this page. Click ENROLL NOW.  Enter the required information, then proceed to pay by clicking the Paypal button. It is not necessary to have a Paypal account to use their service. Choose your method of payment. A receipt of your payment will appear and your registration will be confirmed by email.

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.

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Choose Date
Sold Out Aug 12, 13 & 26, 27
Two Weekends: Sats & Suns 11am - 5 pm
$800.00 (USD)
Dec 2, 3 & 16, 17
Two Weekends: Sat & Sun 10am - 4pm
$800.00 (USD)


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

Student Feedback

Click here to read student feedback about our school

Mail In Registration

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