Become a Guitar Repairer: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a guitar repairer. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in instrument repair technology.

Should I Become a Guitar Repairer?

Guitar repairers - also referred to as guitar repair technicians, string instrument repairers and luthiers - fix guitars and other stringed instruments that have been damaged. Professionals examine stringed instruments, identify major equipment problems, attach new parts, adjust tension settings, re-string instruments, clean components and tune instruments. Tact and patience might be needed when dealing with demanding or unrealistic customers.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma (minimum), associate's degree, vocational diploma or technical certificate
Experience Customer service, woodworking and instrumental music experience preferred
Key Skills Problem-solving, strong listening skills, customer service, decision-making, highly organized, good people skills, knowledge of stringed instruments and woodworking tools, working knowledge of electric stringed instruments and ability to play instruments for tuning and repair purposes. Manual dexterity, ability to lift heavy objects, good hearing and good eyesight are also beneficial.
Salary $33,150 is the median annual salary for musical instrument repairers (2014)

Sources: O*Net Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

To enroll in vocational or undergraduate degree programs related to guitar repair, individuals usually need high school diplomas or GEDs. Additionally, educational requirements for apprenticeship programs in this field may also include the equivalent of high school diplomas. High school classes that can prepare students to become guitar repairers include woodworking, mathematics and musical theory.

Step 2: Learn to Play Guitar

Before learning to repair guitars, it is recommended that individuals learn how to play guitars. Students may be able to take basic guitar classes while still in high school. People can also pay for private lessons or take guitar classes at junior colleges or universities. Guitar classes for beginners teach students about strumming guitars, interpreting chord structure, using guitar picks, tuning guitars, playing with other instrumentalists and techniques for playing solo.

Step 3: Complete Vocational Training

Potential vocational training programs include guitar repair and building, band instrument repair technology, guitar repair technology and luthier fundamentals. Certificate or diploma programs may focus predominantly on guitar repair coursework, and these programs can be completed in usually less than two years. Earning associate degrees in any of these fields will take at least two years and will require students to complete general education courses. Possible guitar repair classes may include woodworking fundamentals, instrument construction, steel strings, finishings, electric guitars, fretwork and acoustic guitars.

Success Tip:

  • Learn about different stringed instruments. There are several different types of electric and acoustic guitars, but there are also other stringed instruments, including violins, ukuleles, cellos, bases and banjos. Although guitars are relatively more common, learning how to repair other stringed instruments may make professionals more marketable.

Step 4: Find Entry-Level Employment

According to the BLS, in 2014 the highest paid repairers worked for performing arts companies and postsecondary education institutions. Guitar repairers can also find employment at guitar manufacturers, musical instrument retail stores or through working for independent clients. Theaters and other venues that show live music and plays may also hire guitar repairers. Entry-level work in a local venue may not start out with a high salary, but working through the ranks in one place will help get higher-paying positions after gaining some years experience.

Step 5: Consider Joining a Professional Organization

Organizations for luthiers offer career advancement and professional development opportunities. For example, the Guild of American Luthiers offers its members networking, conventions and connections to online classes. It also publishes quarterly issues of the American Lutherie journal to help members stay abreast of the field.

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