The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery was founded in 1975, and is the longest running guitar making school in North America. Students have traveled from every continent except Antarctica to attend. Over 2000 graduates of the school have branched into employment and entrepreneurial startups in guitar making, guitar repair, road tech work, and many other lutherie related occupations.
The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery is located at 1012 NW Grand Ave in the heart of the downtown Phoenix art community.
The core course taught at Roberto-Venn is a five month, 880 clock hour program designed to teach the basic skills for a career in guitar making, guitar repair, and other related professional opportunities. During the five month Guitar Making & Repair Course students learn guitar construction techniques, build a minimum of one acoustic and one electric guitar, and complete basic guitar repair and setup operations. Courses and workshops in tool use, amplifier construction, effects pedals, pickup winding, advanced guitar electronics, finishing techniques, and other lutherie related subjects are also offered at the school. Go to Courses for complete course descriptions.
History and Founders
The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery was founded by John Roberts, Robert Venn and William Eaton in 1975.
John Roberts (1921 – 1999)
John Roberts began his guitar making adventure in the jungles of Nicaragua, as an executive pilot for Robinson Lumber Company in the 1960’s. With the dream of building a yacht he enlisted the help of the native Mikito people to gather a large supply of rosewood and mahogany. When his wife Dottie developed eye problems they decided to return to the states, and John shipped the wood to Phoenix, Arizona, to start an import hardwood business. Local guitar makers Carl Samuels and Ron Carriveau discovered John and convinced him that he should be making guitars with this beautiful and rare wood. His new friends taught him the acoustic guitar making art, which he soon began passing along to others through his new business venture, Juan Roberto Guitar Works. The idea for a guitar making school evolved out of this apprenticeship cooperative.
Robert Venn (1926 – 1991)
Robert Venn began making and repairing guitars in the 1950’s in Bakersfield, California. Mentors and collaborators Gene Moles and Semie Mosley (Moserite Guitars) were influential in Bob’s early career. He was one of a handful of guitar makers in the 1950′s and 60′s to wind his own pickups and use wooden pickup covers aesthetically matched with the highly figured hardwoods he used in the body and neck of his instruments. Bob was also an expert with sunburst and color finishes. As a custom guitar maker Bob built or repaired instruments for fine guitarists such as: Phil Baugh, Maurice Anderson, Tom Morrell, Bud Isaacs, Norm Hamlet, and Tiny Moore. Bob moved to Mesa, Arizona and joined with John Roberts in 1973, bringing electric guitar expertise to the partnership.
William Eaton, Director
William Eaton built his first guitar as an apprentice to John Roberts at the Juan Roberto Guitar Works in 1971. A continued friendship evolved into discussions about a new venture. In 1974 William wrote a business plan for a guitar making school, while acquiring an MBA degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The plan became the blueprint for the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, which John, Bob, William, and Bruce Scotten incorporated and founded in 1975. William added new elements of stringed instrument design and innovations, and has created multi-stringed, one-of-a-kind instruments at the school since 1976. His innovative instruments and harp guitars have appeared in exhibits, magazines, books, museums and posters. Eaton is a four-time GRAMMY nominee, records with Canyon Records, and tours nationally. For further information about William Eaton visit www.William-Eaton.com.