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Guitar and Bass Building – Fall 2017

This workshop gives students creative control over the guitar’s design, shape, finish, and performance qualities. At the end of this multi-step process students will have a wonderful creation that fulfills their own unique vision. Students build their own instrument from scratch. This is a perfect follow up to Design and Theory. It’s also the perfect opportunity to follow up working on acoustic guitar or ukulele kit builds started in another class.


While prior knowledge of woodworking and shop tools is helpful, the instructor will be on-hand at all times for assistance or to carry-out machining procedures for those students with less experience. The main objective of the Guitar Building Workshop is to provide a set of sequential tutorials that will guide the student through the guitar building process. During the course of these workshops, students will build their own electric guitar completely from scratch using raw materials and the time-tested techniques of the instructor. Students will learn how to shape their guitar’s neck and body, install the truss rod, and install all hardware. Our goal is to provide an enriching environment for the burgeoning student with many opportunities for exposure to various techniques and skills.  Whether the student chooses to build a reproduction of a traditional/classic design or chart new territory into an unknown realm, the emphasis will be on making a supremely-functional and long-lasting instrument of beauty. This workshop welcomes both the traditionalist and the experimentalist. During the workshops students will observe numerous demonstrations on various aspects of the building process. The timing of these demonstrations will be dependent upon the needs of the students so that workshops can be personalized to match where each student is within the building process.

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

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.

Electric Guitar 3

Materials and Supplies

The school provides each student with custom workbenches and all tools needed to build their instrument. All building materials such as body and neck blanks, fretboards, truss rods, pickups, nuts, bridges, and any hardware can be ordered through the school or the student can elect to source these materials for themselves. The instructor is available to guide students through the selection of any of needed materials and can order parts at a discount when possible.  However, for those wanting boutique parts, many of these items are only available as custom orders and best left for the student to order directly from the maker.

Mandatory Pre-requisite

Students must complete the Design & Theory + Blueprint Course before they can enroll in this workshop.

Register for the Combined Design & Theory + Blueprint and Guitar and Bass Building and save.


Day Sessions are Saturdays and/or Sundays, from 12pm to 4pm – 4 hours per day

Evening Sessions are Tue, Wed, Thu, from 7pm – 9:30 pm – 2.5 hours per evening


Tuition includes instruction, demonstrations, guidance, handout materials, use of specialized tools, guitar workbench and shop supplies.

$165 for a Weekday Evening – One Day Session (2.5 hours)

$230 One Day Session – Weekend (4 hours)

$450 Three Evenings or Two Weekend Day Sessions (approx. 7.5 hours)


Ian Schneller  Ian is the founder and chief instructor of the Chicago School of Guitar Making. With over 800 handmade instruments bearing his Specimen moniker, he brings a wellspring of knowledge to the classroom with the mission of perpetuating the tradition of handcraft and innovation. He is also a faculty member of the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute and the founder/owner of Specimen Products.

Electric Guitar Building

How to Register:

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

Register Online

Make your selection of the class dates you wish to attend (and if applicable, the type of kit) in Available Dates column on the upper right of this page and click ENROLL NOW.  Enter the required information and then proceed to pay by clicking the Paypal button. Choose your payment method. Complete your payment transaction. Your registration confirmation will be emailed to the email address you provided.

NOTE: It is NOT necessary to have a Paypal account to use their payment service.

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.

Hours of Operation:

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
September 19, 20, 21
Tu, Wed, Th 7pm-9:30
$450.00 (USD)
Sept 19
Tuesday 7pm - 9:30 pm
$165.00 (USD)
Sept 20
Wednesday 7 pm - 9:30 pm
$165.00 (USD)
Sept 21
Thursday 7pm - 9:30 pm
$165.00 (USD)
December 16 & 17
Sat & Sun 12 pm - 4 pm
$450.00 (USD)
Dec 16
Saturday 12 pm - 4pm
$230.00 (USD)
Dec 17
Sunday 12 - 4 pm
$230.00 (USD)
December, 5, 6, 7
$450.00 (USD)


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