Guitar Making Course

making the guitar neck and heel

Our guitar making course teaches you to make a classical guitar, using traditional tools, and perfecting the skills and techniques that have enabled luthiers over the centuries to build the finest stringed instruments. We emphasise the use of non-tropical woods which produce superb guitars.

What can you do on the course? - we usually begin with selecting a design and choosing suitable tone woods. Then you will make the work board ('solera') and other devices needed. The guitar itself includes making an inlay or rosette to go around the sound hole, the soundboard must be joined together and the fan strutting prepared and attached. Then the neck, head and Spanish heel / foot are constructed and the machine heads fitted. Once the ribs or sides have been planed to thickness and bent to the outline of the guitar body, they are glued onto the sound board with small blocks called 'tentellones'.  The back is prepared and fixed to the sides, leaving the fingerboard, frets and finally the bridge to be completed. Spanish classical guitars are traditionally finished with French Polish, which is the ideal varnish to enhance the beauty of the wood and does not inhibit the vibration of the soundbox.

You will work in a purpose-built, humidity-controlled workshop in Lincoln (United Kingdom), and our unique one-on-one tuition ensures that you achieve as much as possible in the available time - never a wasted moment!

One-to-one teaching by Roy Courtnalla guitar maker with many years teaching experience (and author of the book "Making Master Guitars".

The course is suitable for complete beginners or those already working on a guitar and who want to come along to focus on specific areas such as making the solera and other essential jigs, rosette making, soundboard construction and strutting, making the neck, bridge, back, fingerboard, fretting, assembly techniques, French polishing and more.

Read more about the Course

Course Length and Fees

kerfed linings being glued to guitar sides

The length of the course varies from one day to one month, or longer and is entirely flexible to suit what you need. As we teach one-to-one, the course dates are arranged individually to suit you, and can be almost any time of year, but please arrange the dates well ahead as we do get booked up. To make a complete guitar from scratch takes most people at least one month and often a lot longer. (We work 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday. Tea, coffee and lunch provided free of charge.)

One day course: £150.00  
Five day course: £700.00 (Monday to Friday)
Four week course: £2,500
Longer courses by arrangement

Course fees do not include materials, which can be supplied at cost price or you can bring them yourself. To avoid wasting valuable course-time on basic timber preparation, backs and sides should be obtained ready-sanded to thickness - for this we recommend purchasing from Luthiers Supplies (David Dyke) or other sellers who offer this facility. We can advise you exactly what to buy -please ask.  

carving the heel

carving the heel

After French Polishing

After French Polishing

Your Tutor

guitar end block.jpg

Roy Courtnall began teaching on this one-to-one basis in 1990, helping students from all over the world to get started in guitar making.

He was also commissioned by Newark College of Violin Making to set up and supervise a new course in Classical Guitar Making at the college. Over the years Roy brought in other makers to teach with him, including Tony Johnson, James Lister and Adrian Lucas. The course soon became established as a leading teaching facility in the United Kingdom, with many ex-students going to to become successful makers.

rosette ready to inlay

rosette ready to inlay

heel carved with wedge-joint

heel carved with wedge-joint

after french polishing

after french polishing

"Almost fourteen years ago a copy of Roy Courtnall's book 'Making Master Guitars' fell into my hands. This was a very inspiring moment in my life. With this great guide to lutherie I constructed my first guitar and shortly after decided to join Roy's course at the International Guitarmaking School in Newark.
With Roy I have learned how to make true classical concert guitars. His tuition and guidance were essential for the successful outcome of my first instruments. Roy's teaching style is calm, authentic and gave me confidence to start my own business as a luthier. I'm grateful to have had the chance to learn with Roy Courtnall and I'm happy to see that he is still teaching young guitar makers today."
(Christian Koehn, Luthier - Berlin)

Roy Courtnall's Lincoln Minster model concert guitar

Roy Courtnall's Lincoln Minster model concert guitar