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 making and repair. 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

Ian Schneller

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Courses and Registration Details

For full course descriptions, schedules, fees, and registration details, please select a class in our full list of Chicago Workshops and then click REGISTER.

The CSGM Newsletter announces the school’s schedule and news and is delivered by email. To receive the newsletter, please enter your email address in the Newsletter Sign Up box. You can use the link. given or find it in the lower right hand corner of this web page.

Courses are offered throughout the year. The new schedule for upcoming courses is released every six months. Class start and end times may 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 or continue working on their project on their own schedule either on their own at home or with guidance from the instructor at the school in our Open Workshops.

Courses are scheduled on consecutive days, consecutive weekends, or as One Day Seminars. We offer extended immersion courses and workshops during the summer months. Extended course programs are designed to provide a solid foundation for the aspiring guitar service technician, luthier, or amplifier technician, providing the extra time to learn and work on complex projects with instruction and guidance from an experienced professional.

Our popular summer courses and seminars offer an outstanding value for an immersive making and learning experience. Here the ambitious student can make large strides toward developing advanced skills within a short period of time and see a complex project through to fruition.

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 guitar making and repair courses provide a good groundwork for anyone interested in building their own custom guitar.

Electronics courses 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 student’s desired focus, we offer suggested bundles of curriculum to suit their specific needs. Classes listed in bundles are not necessarily in a specific order.

We can also accommodate a special request for private courses for one or more persons in a group or a family.


“ 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

Ian, I wanted to share some thoughts concerning the Guitar Tech Program I just completed. First off, outstanding job concerning everything…what a great program! The first week was worth the price of admission for the whole program. The following three weeks just completely blew my mind and were an added bonus. I’m very glad I made the investment and spent the time with you and everyone else there. Your teaching style is awesome. I enjoyed your authenticity and passion, it made the whole course real on so many levels. I appreciated the informal approach of the class structure, it allowed for applied hands-on learning to take place. The environment was awesome as well, what a dream space you have to be creative in. Thanks again for everything,
– Ken Jackson

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 the amp 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). It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I got a great amp out of it too!”
Ryan Schissel



Ian Schneller

In 2005 Ian Schneller created the Chicago School of Guitar Making, establishing the area’s only school of luthiery. He created the school’s entire curricula and teaches all luthiery and Tube Amp Making courses. Since its inception, Ian has given hundreds of courses and workshops, tutored more than 2000 students, and trained dozens of interns and 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.

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.