Setup & Maintenance for Guitar and Bass

Learning the elusive craft of setting up a stringed instrument for optimal playability and tonality will reward every musician with a greater understanding and appreciation of their instrument. This course explains the fundamental mechanical operation of the guitar and all other stringed instruments, including all types of guitars and bass guitars (acoustic and electric). This is an excellent introductory course that offers a wealth of information. Armed with this information, you will be prepared to handle many unpredictable circumstances that for most musicians would be show-stoppers. Students are encouraged to bring their own instrument. Whether or not you decide to perform your own maintenance in the future, taking this course will enable you to deal confidently with the local luthier and to have the best interests of your instrument in mind.

Specimen July164


The class offers lecture and demonstrations, and varying amount of hands-on bench time (see below). This course will address different instruments, playing styles and the pros and cons of various products and hardware.

Topics include:

  • String height
  • Intonation/saddle compensation
  • Neck relief
  • Neck pitch
  • Truss rod adjustment
  • String break angles
  • Selecting string gauges and types
  • Height of strings at nut
  • Nut and saddle making
  • Fret wire
  • Tuning systems
  • Various vibrato systems
  • Bridges
  • Finish care
  • Tooling


Weeknights: Three consecutive nights, 7pm – 9:30pm

Two Day, Saturday and Sunday: 12pm – 5pm

One Day, Saturday: 10am – 5pm


Weeknights, 7.5 hour workshop, $275

Weekends, 10 hour workshop (Lunch included), $385

One day, (Lunch included), $250

Tuition includes instruction, course materials, use of an individual guitar workbench with specialized tools and the necessary shop supplies for this course.

Setup Class

Which class is right for you?

Both the weekday and weekend seminars include more hands-on bench time and are perfect for those who enjoy learning by doing.

The one day seminar is primarily lecture and demonstration and is good for those adept at taking notes.

Student testimonials:

“Very informative and easy to understand. You guys rule, probably will see more Chicago Music Exchange employees coming through! Party on!” – Raymond

“Learned a lot in two days. Both instructors were very helpful and knowledgeable. Shared a lot. Exciting, professional. Would advise to take this course and many more” – Joel

“I genuinely understand the process now and feel confident practicing on my other guitars” –Colleen

“Very explanatory and helpful. Covered it all” – Halley

Setup ClassSetup Class


Ian Schneller Ian is the founder and chief instructor of the Chicago School of Guitar Making. Ian teaches Design & Theory + Blueprint CourseSetup & Maintenance for Guitar and BassElectric Guitar BuildingTube Amp Building and Champ Tube Amp Building. He is also a faculty member of the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute and owner of Specimen Products.

Pete Mueller Pete is a guitar builder and repair technician at Specimen. Pete teaches Electric Guitar BuildingLap Steel Guitar BuildingSetup & Maintenance for Guitar and BassBone Nut & Saddle MakingGuitar and Bass Repair and Fretting Workshop at the Chicago School of Guitar Making.

Richard Phillis Richard is a guitar builder, repair technician and surface finisher at Specimen. He teaches Effects Pedal BuildingGuitar ElectronicsElectric Guitar BuildingLap Steel Guitar BuildingGuitar and Bass RepairSetup & Maintenance for Guitar and Bass and Finishing Techniques at the Chicago School of Guitar Making.

How to Register:

Registrations are limited to 10 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 and choose your method of payment.

NOTE: It is NOT necessary to have a Paypal account to use their 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
Expired November 8, 9 & 10
Tue - Thu 7pm - 9:30pm
$250.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
Expired January 17, 18 & 19
Tue - Thu 7pm - 9:30pm
$275.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
Expired March 4 & 5
Sat & Sun 12pm - 5pm
$385.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
Expired April 11, 12 & 13
Tue - Thu 7pm - 9:30pm
$275.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
June 6, 7 & 8
Tue - Thu 7pm - 9:30pm
$275.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
July 8 & 9
Sat & Sun 12pm - 5pm
$385.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount
August 14, 15 & 16
Mon - Wed 7pm - 9:30pm
$275.00 (USD)
-$25.00 (USD) Early Registration Discount


Classes are taught by Specimen owner Ian Schneller, or guest instructors Richard Phillis, Pete Mueller or 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

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