The Chicago School of Guitar Making

Welcome to the Chicago School of Guitar Making. Here you can learn instrument repair, design and making directly from a professional luthier in their workshop. We also teach tube amplifier electronics. CSGM was founded in 2005. Since then, thousands of students have enrolled in CSGM classes. Many have started careers as Luthiers, Guitar or Amp Technicians, and craftspeople of all stripes and scopes.

To schedule a tour of our school please call 773.489.4830 or write to [email protected]

Ian Schneller

COURSES        CALENDAR        ABOUT         FAQ

Workshops are offered throughout the year.  A new schedule is released every six months. Class start and end times will vary with each course.

Classes and course programs are offered with a varying number of completion hours.

Longer courses offer more hands-on workbench time, giving students a greater opportunity to practice the lessons learned and develop skill with guidance from the instructor. Shorter courses are perfect for those who prefer to practice on their own at home.

Courses are scheduled on consecutive days or evenings, or as  One Day seminars, and also as extended day time immersion workshops during summer. Evening courses meet during the week and are offered September through May.

Extended course programs are designed to provide a solid foundation for the aspiring guitar service technician,  luthier and amplifier technician and offer a chance to see projects through with instruction and guidance from an experienced professional luthier.

Our popular summer courses and seminars offer an outstanding value with an opportunity for an immersive making and learning experience. Here an ambitious student can make use of the extra time and guidance available to see a complex project to fruition, and make large strides toward developing advanced shop skills within a very short time.

The school is located at Specimen Products, 1240 N. Homan Ave, Chicago IL, 60651.

The school’s workshop is outfitted with luthiery workbenches stocked with all of the specialized tools and supplies necessary to complete any of the projects underway in our classes.

Guitar workshops are part of our foundation curriculum and are structured to teach students the essentials of guitar design, construction and repair.

All of our foundation courses provide a good groundwork for anybody interested in building their own custom guitar.

Electronics workshops teach the fundamentals of audio electronics circuits and the construction techniques used in any electronics assembly or repair project. In addition to offering the student work space, tools and guidance to see them through a chosen project, these workshops prepare the student to approach electronics projects mindfully, from the perspective of an electronics professional.

Depending on the students desired focus, we offer suggested bundles of curriculum to suit their specific needs. Classes listed in bundles are not necessarily in a specific order.


“ I was only 19 years old when I signed up for an acoustic guitar workshop at Specimen. When I showed up for our first class, I was the youngest man in the room, but no one treated me any differently. Ian and his various students and assistants were incredibly helpful and non-judgemental on my understanding or lack there of, when it comes to the craft. I spent nearly 2 years working on my guitar with the careful guidance and trust of Mr. Ian Schneller who instead of hovering my work, gave me the tools and explanations to slowly make it my own. Stepping in when a professionals hand was necessary. But teaching me always. With some breaking in, she sings like a bird, louder and brighter than any of my other guitars and has become my best friend, and with the right care, she should live long after I am gone. I highly recommend this course and experience as a whole. There’s nothing quite like it and everyone there is incredibly helpful and knows their stuff. Thank you so much for the lessons I learned and the product I get to play for the rest of my life!”
Ben Schwalbach


“I took your re-fretting class back in 2008. It was key in allowing me to go full time in the guitar business. I left my corporate job at the end of that year and started doing repairs and lessons in my basement. That grew into a full retail guitar shop with assistants and instructors. Thank you, Ian for providing these classes. You are helping people live their dreams.”
— Alan Morrison, AM Guitar Works


“I will be forever grateful for everything I learned from this course! Never thought a cool summer vacation course would change my life forever.”
Ed Paik

Hi Gentlemen,
GREAT workshop this weekend, it exceeded all my expectations. The playlists and the shop humor were right up my alley too, pitch perfect (ditto for Mike). I was especially pleased that Dane was able to walk out with a killer functioning amp, he is so stoked about that. A great learning experience for him for sure, it really pushed him and it paid off.

For me (as I said when we were leaving), I kind of didn’t expect to completely finish a Princeton Reverb way back when I signed up, but I can now see the finish line and will enjoy the final steps at home (many thanks Kye for jumping in and getting so much done Sunday PM!). If I get totally stuck, or just run out of life-bandwidth I’ll ping back and mail the chassis back to you for professional finalization.

BTW, I was able to finish off my Princeton Reverb after I took the class. Works GREAT, I gig with it every week. I might try to take your Amp Repair class this summer (assuming I can get the time off work).

We shall meet again I bet. Stay cool until then.
—Dave Hill

“I took this class a few years back and I really enjoyed it! Ian, the instructor, was really cool and it was an excellent learning experience. Highly recommended for anyone who knows a little about electronics and wants to learn how to build a guitar amp. I knew nothing of amplifier electronics when I took the course (I was only 19 years old at the time and my only experience at that point was swapping pickups) and it was a challenge, but that’s mostly because I opted to build a Marshall JCM 800 clone (it’s a relatively complex circuit, so definitely not for beginners). Regardless, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I got a great amp out of it too!”
Ryan Schissel

Kye Kennedy

Kye brings decades of experience as an amp and stage technician working for an impressive roster of clientele in Nashville, the mid-south and around the globe. Kye teaches Amp Diagnostics exclusively at the Chicago School of Guitar Making. His extraordinary amp diagnostics curriculum is well thought out and lucid.

Ian Schneller

In 2005 Ian Schneller established the Chicago School of Guitar Making, devising the school’s entire curricula ad teaching all the courses, creating the area’s only school of luthiery. Since its inception, Ian has taught all guitar making and repair courses, giving hundreds of workshops, tutoring more than 2000 students, and training dozens of apprentices.

In 1986 Ian Schneller founded Specimen Guitar Shop as an artist studio where he would design, build and offer his own line of custom guitars and tube amplifiers, and provide custom guitar services and repairs. Later, Ian established Specimen Products as a division of his custom guitar shop to expand into a design and production firm. Here he would create and produce a variety of unique handcrafted items, from whimsical to artfully utilitarian. Specimen Products’s centerpiece is Specimen Audio: Ian’s own designs of handbuilt Hi-Fi Tube Amplifiers and Horn Speakers. Arrays of Specimen Horn Speakers have been exhibited in major museum in the U.S, as Sonic Arboretum in partnership with Andrew Bird.

Ian is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA, and the Memphis Academy of Arts, BA.  Ian has taught Sculpture at SAIC.

Registration & Course Details

For course details, fee and registration, please select a class from our Chicago Workshops.

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