Guitar Building School and Training Program Information

Guitar builders, commonly called luthiers, make guitars from start to finish, cutting, finishing and assembling the instrument. Some luthiers also build other stringed instruments, such as violins or mandolins. Some luthiers are self-employed while others work for larger companies or guitar factories.

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Community colleges, technical schools and for-profit career schools offer courses, workshops, seminars and training programs in guitar building, with longer programs resulting in certificates. There is no standard curriculum and no certification is required to enter this profession.

Schools with Guitar Building Programs

The following schools offer various programs in guitar building:

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Austin Community College Austin, TX 2-year, Public Continuing Education Courses $2,550 (In-district); $9,210 (In-state); $11,340 (Out-of-state)
Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ 2-year, Public Class $2,046 (In-state); $7,830 (Out-of-state)
Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical Winona, MN 2-year, Public Certificate and Diploma $5,618
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI 2-year, Public Class $349
Red Rocks Community College Lakewood, CO 2-year, Public Certificate $5,188
American School of Lutherie Portland, OR Private, for profit Classes $2,800 (Electric and bass); $3,800 (Acoustic)
Chicago School of Guitar Making Chicago, IL Private, for profit Classes $800
Palomar College San Marcos, CA 2-year, Public Certificate and Associate's $1,338 (In-state); $7,078 (Out-of-state)
Northampton Community College Bethlehem, PA 2-year, Public Certificate $1,275

Sources:*National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and School Websites

School Selection Criteria

Prospective students may refer to the following considerations before choosing a guitar making program:

  • Students interested in becoming luthiers must consider their skills in terms of working with wood, plastic, and metal, in order to build different types of guitars.
  • Since programs can last for several months or a year and cover all areas of guitar-making in detail, individuals should consider how much they want to invest in their education.
  • Because individual instruction and attention is an important part of the learning process, prospective luthiers may want to seek schools that have a low student-to-teacher ratio.
  • Some programs require materials fees in addition to tuition and application fees, so students should factor this into their expenses.

Guitar Building Courses

These programs may be in the format of a seminar, workshop or course and may last from two days to six months. Students learn the basics of guitar building and are able to seek entry-level employment as a guitar maker or as a stringed-instrument repair technician. Short 1-2 day courses and workshops sometimes focus on a specific topic, such as inlay design, guitar repair or specialized tool use. Week-long courses may focus on small shop production, contemporary guitar making or advanced guitar design.

Certificate Programs in Guitar Building

Certificate programs can last from six months to one year and courses are taught sequentially starting with repairs and tooling and ending with guitar design. These programs are for those who desire a career in the guitar building industry or who want to start their own business. Courses include tools, adhesives, common repair procedures, wiring and bridge installations. Students must successfully build a guitar in order to graduate.

While there is no standard professional certification required for a career in guitar making, individuals will still benefit from participating in courses where they can gain hands-on knowledge on the craft of building a guitar. Various programs can be found at local community colleges and continuing education centers.

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