Masters Program – Term 1


Guitar Repair Classes

As most new luthiers will tell you, repairs are the backbone of their business. To ensure your success and your cash flow, you have to know how to tackle the most requested repairs. With our twenty-plus years of experience doing business with music stores, players and collectors, we’ll teach you how to serve these customers.

CLASS: REPAIRS 1 – Fretting and Fret Dressing – 8 hrs
First we’ll focus on fretting techniques. You’ll be introduced to the fret jig, which simulates string tension on an unstrung guitar to allow for faster, more accurate fretwork.

Topics covered:

  • Truss rod designs
  • Flattening fretboards
  • Re-fretting bound fretboards
  • Compression fretting
  • Hammer-in fretting
  • Gluing in frets
  • Routing fret slots
  • Dressing frets
  • Adjusting truss rods
  • Repairing loose frets
  • Selecting fret wire

CLASS: REPAIRS 2 – Finishing Techniques – 2 hrs
In repair work, it’s important to be able to refinish both electrics and acoustics. You’ll learn the finishing techniques used by the manufacturers, plus the necessary woodworking skills to restore damaged guitars.

Topics covered:

  • Repairing dents
  • Finish sanding
  • Applying wood fillers
  • Spraying custom colors
  • Spraying a sunburst
  • Spraying metalflake finishes
  • Wet sanding
  • Buffing finishes

CLASS: REPAIRS 3 – Acoustic Repairs – 10 hrs
Many repair people today acquired their skills on electrics, but unfortunately have neglected the acoustic market because acoustic repairs are usually more advanced. Here we will focus in-depth on acoustic guitars and their unique problems.

Topics covered:

  • Neck resets
  • Bridge re-glues
  • Repairing cracks
  • Humidity problems
  • Re-gluing loose braces
  • Repairing bridge plates

CLASS: REPAIRS 4 – Guitar Setup and Maintenance – 10 hrs
One of the most useful and challenging subjects of the program. Every repair job requires some amount of setup to enhance or maintain top performance.

Topics covered:

  • Electrics
  • Troubleshooting before setup
  • Neck evaluation
  • Truss rod designs
  • Making bone nuts
  • Back-filing nuts and bridges
  • Fitting and replacing intonation saddles
  • Identifying fretboard radius
  • Setting up tremolos and locking nuts
  • Choosing proper string gauge
  • Acoustics
  • Troubleshooting before setup
  • Fitting bridge pins
  • Replacing and refitting bridge saddles
  • Making compensated saddles
  • Making bone nuts
  • Identifying fretboard radius
  • Choosing proper string gauge

CLASS: REPAIRS 5 – Guitar Electronics – 4 hrs
A basic knowledge of guitar electronics is essential. You’ll learn how to rewire, repair and modify the most popular guitars.

Topics covered:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Soldering techniques
  • Replacement pickups
  • Wiring out of phase
  • Tapping pickups
  • Splitting coils
  • Eliminating humming problems
  • Installing acoustics Piezo traducers style pickups

Guitar Construction: Building an Electric

In this portion of the building course you’ll focus on the most successful electric guitar of all time: the bolt-on-neck design. In almost any music store, these guitars outnumber others five-to-one.

CLASS: ELECTRIC 1 – Body – 8 hrs
Wood choice and body design play a large part in the tone of an electric guitar. Play several solid body guitars unamplified, and you’ll notice distinct differences between various wood types. A solid body that sounds good acoustically generally will sound good amplified. We’ll look at the different woods used to make electric guitars, and the effect of different body styles on tone and sustain.

Topics covered:

  • Body styles
  • Wood choice
  • Neck joints
  • Fitting neck to body
  • Finish sanding
  • Installing body hangers for spraying

CLASS: ELECTRIC 2 – Neck – 8 hrs
Just as wood affects the body, when making a neck you have to pay attention to wood choice in order to have a good sounding guitar. You’ll learn what makes a neck sound and play great.

Topics covered:

  • Wood choice
  • Scale lengths
  • Fretboard radius
  • Tuner installation
  • Truss rods
  • Finish sanding
  • Installing neck hangers for finishing

CLASS: ELECTRIC 3 – Finishing – 24 hrs
You’ll finish your electric guitar with the same methods used by guitar companies in the 50’s and 60’s — techniques that have stood the test of time. See how to get a two-tone color high gloss nitrocellulose finish that has a vintage look.

Topics covered:

  • Body wood stains
  • Spraying techniques
  • Custom colors
  • Sunburst
  • Metalflake
  • Clear coats
  • Wet sanding
  • Buffing

CLASS: ELECTRIC 4 – Electronics – 10 hrs
Now that you’ve assembled a great guitar you have to choose the best pickups and wiring harness. For our student electrics we use Lindy Fralin pickups: very high quality hand-wound pickups designed to our specifications of wood choice and body style.

Topics covered:

  • Pickguards
  • Grounding plates
  • Pickup installation
  • Wiring volume pots
  • Wiring tone pots
  • Wiring switches
  • Wiring output jack
  • Bridge and string grounding

CLASS: ELECTRIC 5 – Final Assembly – 30 hrs
Learn how to assemble and set up an electric guitar to factory specs. Our methods make the job much easier, and cut your set-up time in half — skills you’ll use every day.

Topics covered:

  • Pickguard placement
  • Bridge placement
  • Setting neck
  • Tuner installation
  • Installing strap bottoms
  • Fret dress
  • Nut
  • Bridge set up
  • Action
  • String tree placement
  • Pickup height
  • Intonation
  • Final buff and polish

Guitar Construction: Building an Acoustic Steel String

Whether you want to build or repair guitars, it’s important that you know how they’re assembled. This part of the program takes you step-by-step through the building process and gives you a real understanding of acoustic and electric guitar construction. We’ll cover only the most beneficial information and repeat as few procedures as possible. Upon completion, you’ll have hand-built a flattop acoustic guitar and a bolt-on-neck style electric as examples of your work. These finished instruments are an excellent way to introduce yourself to potential employers and customers.

CLASS: ACOUSTIC 1 – Body – 80 hrs
The heart of the acoustic guitar is the body. The tonal quality of the finished instrument reflects wood choices, bracing patterns and body styles. All of these elements will affect clarity, balance, projection, warmth and overall tonal character.

Topics covered:

  • Guitar layout and design
  • Selecting wood
  • Matching top sets
  • Matching back and side
  • Joining tops and backs
  • Thickness sanding
  • Bending sides
  • Cutting rosettes and soundhole
  • Fitting sides to mold
  • Parabolic sanding
  • Gluing in head and end blocks
  • Fitting kerfing
  • Shaping side braces
  • Scalloping back braces
  • Scalloping top bracing
  • Assembling body
  • Binding and purfling

CLASS: ACOUSTIC 2 – Neck – 40 hrs
The neck is what the player eventually identifies with more than anything else. We’ll look at how the neck affects the tone, feel, and playability of the guitar.

Topics covered:

  • Scale length
  • Making the fretboard
  • Binding fretboards
  • Peghead designs
  • Peghead overlays
  • Tuner layout and fitting
  • Truss rod installation
  • Gluing fretboards
  • Shaping necks and heels
  • Neck sets
  • Fretboard markers
  • Leveling fretboards
  • Fretting
  • Side markers
  • Peghead inlay
  • Heel cap
  • Inlay

CLASS: ACOUSTIC 3 – Finish Work – 40 hrs
Bryan has spent years perfecting acoustic guitar finishes, and will teach you his methods. You’ll learn how to apply a finish that gives the best tone without sacrificing wood protection.

Topics covered:

  • Finish sanding
  • Masking techniques
  • Spray gun operations
  • Wash coats
  • Fillers
  • Clear coats
  • Wet sanding
  • Buffing

CLASS: ACOUSTIC 4 – Setup and Assembly – 40 hrs
Final setup and assembly are the means to well-balanced tone and great playability. Most people consider these to be the most challenging aspects of the course.

Topics covered:

  • Final neck sets
  • Bridge layouts
  • Finish removal
  • Gluing bridges
  • Installing tuners
  • Fitting bridge pins
  • Leveling fretboards using neck jig
  • Fretting
  • Dressing frets
  • Making nuts
  • Making saddles
  • Final setup
  • Final buff and polish

CLASS: VOICING, LEVEL 1 – Advanced Principles of Instrument Design and Construction – 6 hrs
The physics of sound as applied to acoustic guitars. How does a guitar work? Which parts actually produce sound and can be adjusted by the builder?

Topics covered:

  • What is sound, and how does it function?
  • Compressions and rarefactions (the slinky model)
  • Human hearing range
  • How the guitar body works to create sound
  • The physics of a vibrating string
  • Fundamentals and harmonics
  • What is resonance
  • The Helmholtz Resonator, complex oscillator
  • Understanding and using tap tones
  • Selecting materials: density and strength-to-weight
  • Bracing: its function and various approaches
  • Voicing the braces
  • The effects of body geometry
  • How volume and porting alter air resonance
  • How changes in plate size affect plate resonance

Business Plan: Level One – 5 Hours

Many students are great with their hands and good in a shop but handling the basics of everyday business is not on their radar. For this reason Bryan developed three classes to parallel the Technician, Journeyman and Master Programs to assist students make the transition.    

Business Plan Level One is designed to teach students that the basics are just not that difficult. For many, getting started is the hardest part in running a business and even if you intend to work for someone else, basic business will be most helpful.