A Variety of Learning Options Tailored to Suit Your Guitar Building Interest

Flat Top Course

This course is a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of five weeks long, and begins with joining tops and backs. We will be bending sides by hand on an iron, shaping braces and carving necks with hand tools, fitting a mortise-and-tenon neck joint. The only prepared parts used are slotted fingerboards and ready-made kerfing. Wood choices are rosewood, mahogany or maple (and possibly other exotics depending on availability) for backs and sides, and Sitka, Engelmann or European spruce for tops. Style options are: small parlor guitar, OM size, my F3 size 16", Dreadnought, or your own design if not TOO freaky!

This time frame allows for a degree of flexibility in the complexity of the project, as well as individual differences in experience and skill. For instance; if you wanted to build a non-cutaway simple design and everything went smoothly, there would be time to seal and prep the guitar for finish, and perhaps start to apply finish. On a cutaway or other more time-consuming project, there may not be time to start the finishing process. At any rate, finishing is not part of the course per se, since it involves a good deal of waiting. The options for getting finish on I prefer to deal with on an individual basis.

There will be ample opportunity for consideration of different bracing techniques and other design options, my preferences and others. Some woodworking experience and familiarity with hand tools is sometimes helpful but not required; a beginner's mind, willingness, and patience will be your most valuable allies.

Cost for this course is $4200. plus materials. (typically $350.- 400, including case.) I require a non-refundable deposit of $400. at least two months in advance of the scheduled starting date; so I can acquire materials and know you're coming!

Archtop Course

This course is a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of six weeks. We begin with joining wedges for the top and back. Similar to the flat top, the only prepared parts are kerfing and slotted fingerboard , This would normally be a 17" guitar similar to my "Virtuoso" model. This instrument has wood binding and no plastic or mother-of-pearl. Other options are possible, for instance a 16" version or something similar to my "Solstice" model; a carved-top electric. Materials would be maple with light to moderate figure and Sitka or European spruce.
Ample discussion of plate graduation and bracing patterns are part of this process. We luthiers are an opinionated bunch so you'll get my views, as well as what I know of others' opinions and methods.
Again there is some flexibility in this time frame; in this case to allow for individual differences in working speed. A large part of the time involved here is devoted to carving the plates, and it takes time to acquire a "feel" for the work. This schedule should allow for making a bridge and ebony tailpiece and perhaps starting on the finishing process; but if necessary, (or if you prefer) ready-made parts could be used.
Cost for this course is $5400. plus materials (typically $450. - 500, including case.) Also required is a deposit of $400, a minimum of two months in advance of the starting date.

Electric Course

This would be either a fully hollow, carved top and back guitar like my "Solstice" model; with a time frame the same as the archtop; or a semi-hollow, flat back carved top model similar to my "Skylark", which could be completed in 3 to 5 weeks, the same time frame and pricing as the flat top. Materials could be $350 and up, depending on wood options and electronics. Deposit requirement is the same.

Finishing options

For any of these instruments, finishing options are:
1. Take the guitar without finish.
2. Instruction in finishing, two or three days, typically $300 - $400.
3. Have me spray finish, $200 - $300.

With either 2 or 3, you would leave with an instrument that was finished except for final sanding and polishing.

Kit Guitars, Repair Workshops

In addition to my comprehensive building courses, I offer courses in building kit guitars, as well as one or two day workshops in various aspects of repair. You could build a guitar from a kit obtained from Stewart- MacDonald, LMI, Martin or somewhere else. Typically these take 7 to 10 days, and I charge an hourly instruction rate of $40./ hr. I have had a number of students who have built these; with some modifications they have made exceptional guitars.

If you'd like assistance with some aspect of guitar repair, (refretting, neck resets, bridge R&R) I'm available on an hourly basis at $40./hr. Typically, refetting is a one-day job; a neck reset is parts of 2 days.

I'm also available on an hourly or daily basis if you are building on your own and get stuck on a particular aspect. Say, you're having trouble fitting the back, or setting the neck angle, or getting those fret ends to stay down. Let me help you for a few hours or a day and you'll be on your way again.