History

The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery has been in continuous operation for over thirty years. Students have traveled from every continent except Antarctica, to attend.  Since its founding in 1975, over 1200 students have graduated.

The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery is situated on a three acre lot in the old world atmosphere of South Phoenix. A collection of buildings and sheds is the unassuming facade for the birth of finely crafted guitar art. The idea for a guitar making school grew out of an apprenticeship program that John Roberts (1921 – 1999) started back in 1969 called the Juan Roberto Guitar Works. Before this, John found himself in the jungles of Nicaragua, flying airplanes for a wood import company. Much of the rosewood and mahogany used at the school was collected with the help of the Miskito Indians and shipped to Phoenix where John began his guitar making endeavor. John Roberts passed away in the summer of 1999. We think of him daily.

Founders

Robert Venn

Joined with John in 1973, and brought custom electric guitar making expertise to the guitar partnership. Bob was one 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 built or repaired for fine guitarists such as: Phil Baugh, Maurice Anderson, Tom Morrell, Bud Isaacs, Norm Hamlet, and Tiny Moore. We miss him.

William Eaton

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’s performing, recording and luthier career visit www.William-Eaton.com.