880 hours – 5 months
February 13, 2017 – June 30, 2017
August 24, 2017 – January 26, 2018
Tuition – $10,950
The Guitar Making and Repair Course consists of practical and theoretical training in acoustic and electric guitar construction and repair. The school offers two five-month (880 clock hour) courses each year, beginning in February and late August. Classes are held Monday through Thursday, from 8 AM to 6 PM and Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, except holidays, with one hour lunch, and mid-morning and mid-afternoon study breaks.
The curriculum revolves around each student building a minimum of two ‘project’ guitars, including an acoustic steel string and an electric guitar or 4 or 5 string electric bass. Throughout the course lectures and demonstrations are given for each phase of the construction process. Following the lecture and ‘demo’ students proceed with that part of their guitar making project. Printed handouts and the student’s notes provide instructional aid, along with the Roberto-Venn instructor team who provide group and one-on-one hands-on training. By course end the printed handouts comprise a comprehensive guitar-making manual for future reference.
In addition to hands-on training, weekly quizzes and quarterly tests allow the staff to monitor the student’s progress and understanding of the guitar making process.
The school workshop is divided into four quads, with each student having their own workbench. Class size ranges from 30 to 40 students, with seven to ten students in each quad area. At various times throughout the course students receive instruction from all instructors and staff, with an average ‘Student to Teacher’ ratio of 6 to 1. Each quad area is equipped with specialized tools, jigs, and clamps and managed by one instructor ‘pit boss.’ The ‘pit boss’ is an advisor who provides close supervision and monitoring of students in each quad.
Power woodworking equipment is located in a Ramada covered area adjacent to the workshop. Students are taught safety and use of this equipment for all milling, sanding, sawing and routing guitar operations. In addition to power equipment and quad tool inventory provided by the school, students used their own personal tools, designated in the required Student Tool List.
Building the Student Project Guitars
Students may choose from two steel string acoustic body styles: dreadnaught or OM, using the school’s templates, patterns, and molds. Students may design their own headstocks, bridges, rosettes, and inlay patterns, subject to instructor approval, or use the school’s existing templates. The electric guitar or bass will be a solid body, flat top instrument, in the students’ choice of set neck or bolt-on configuration. Templates of traditional body styles are available, or the student may design their own, subject to approval.
The finest air-dried woods are made available for the students’ instruments. Wood choices include: mahogany, rosewood, ebony, maple,walnut, spruce, cedar, myrtle, bubinga, koa and other woods. No pre-made or ‘kit’ parts are used for guitar construction. Machine heads,bridges, pickups, and other guitar accessories and components are obtained from leading manufacturers such as: Schaller, Grover, Gotoh, EMG, Seymour Duncan, Sperzel, Hipshot, and others leading manufacturers. Both acoustic and electric guitars receive a clear nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Translucent colors and sunbursts are offered for the electric instruments.
Both project instruments are built simultaneously during the course. A third instrument may be started in the second month, depending on the students’ progress and satisfactory completion of the core requirements.
In addition to guitar construction, sessions are given in: milling and wood selection, guitar design, tool use and maintenance, scale and template derivation, guitar repair, finishing (lacquer, oil, stain, sunburst, and re-finishing), guitar electronics, pickup design and construction, tremolo installation, care and preservation of stringed instruments, and related subjects.
During the five month course time is devoted to specialized training in guitar repair and the ‘start-up’ aspects of establishing a lutherie business. This will include special guest lectures from industry professionals, graduates and faculty. Students will have an opportunity to do work on their own instruments as well as instruments provided by the school, for the purpose of refining repair techniques and skills.
Becoming a Professional
During the course, students participate in identifying and searching for a job in guitar making and/or repair. Students receive assistance in writing a resume and cover letter, and can select prospective employers from lists compiled by the school. Graduates of the Roberto-Venn School work for almost every major guitar manufacturer, as well as smaller custom shops, in the United States and around the world.
Sessions in small business management are also given, to prepare graduates for operating their own lutherie shops or for work in existing music stores. Road touring “tech” work is also covered.
We cannot guarantee job placement, but we are confident that graduates of the school have the basic skills necessary for seeking entry level positions.
Student work is evaluated throughout the course and graded on a percentile as well as a letter grade basis. A “Luthier Certificate” is awarded to each student who completes their project instruments and meets all minimum requirements for graduation. Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery is an accredited member of ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges).
For students with little or no previous woodworking experience, or for those whose skills may have “rusted” from disuse, we offer a three-day Tool Use and Maintenance Seminar. This meets just prior to the beginning of the semester, and is a great way to get acquainted with the program.