Come to my shop. I'll show you how.
You can spend a couple of weeks in my New England shop and I'll personally teach you how to make your own guitar -- all materials, tool use, and instruction included. I have taught people of all ages, at all levels of experience-- and all have emerged surprised and delighted with the instrument they've taken home.
TERMS & DETAILS BELOW
LA software engineer Paul Levine took my tutorial in 2014.
"The maple guitar we built [in 2002] was always a great guitar. But in the last year or so it has really seemed to explode and come into it’s own —better balance, richer. Sweet and powerful. It’s the best guitar I own. Flat out. And I thought I’d say so. My oldest and best friend is a very accomplished jazz finger style player [who] recently visited for a wedding and was part of the ceremony. I gave him the pick of my instruments to use. He played them all for hours over several days. Picked the guitar you helped me build - said it was best, hands down. Loved it. I really still cherish the time I had with you and thought I’d let you know how much the guitar had matured. It’s really gratifying to play on it’s own merit, and knowing I built it - well even more so. And it reminds me of that meditative couple of weeks which is good for the soul, even the memory." Steven Granek
My shop is located in Western Massachusetts, in the small city of Northampton, which is a half hour's drive from Springfield, Massachusetts, and one hour's drive North on I-91 from Hartford, Connecticut. Northampton is a beautiful New England college town (Smith College, with Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College and UMass nearby) with great restaurants, a lively nightlife and a lot of top live-music acts coming through town.
A NOTE FROM THE TEACHER: Luthier-training schools often advertise "little or no previous experience is required." This is not such an offering. After 30+ years of teaching my craft, I've become proficient at mentoring students with a wide range of capacities and experience. That said, shaping and assembling a fine guitar by hand in two weeks may not be a realistic goal for everyone!
This is a tutorial for students with some previous experience working with cutting tools in their hands; with good to excellent natural or corrected vision and good close-up focus; and the stamina to stand (not sit) at a worktable for 6-8 hours a a time, for eleven days. If otherwise, my tutorial will not be a good choice for you.
2 week Session, one to one
You will be working under my direct supervision, in my shop, solo: no other students at the same time; and follow my instructions and movements, as you watch me work on a guitar I'm making for my own shop -- while you follow along on your own guitar in a step-by-step fashion. We can both work on a classic, steel string, flamenco or requinto guitar: it's your choice. No one else in my studio but you and me.
Assembling the guitar from dimensioned materials. Extensive discussions on guitar acoustics, history, design and technology are included.
During the 2 week session, you will create a completed, strung up-- but not lacquered--guitar from dimensioned plates and some partly-shaped materials furnished by me (or obtained elsewhere by you). You can then take the completed --but unfinished, "in the white," instrument home to finish or have it professionally finished at an extra charge.
Tutorial sessions usually begin on Monday and end on the second Saturday after that, with the weekend in-between free. So most learners choose to arrive on the Sunday before the beginning Monday and leave on the Sunday after the ending Saturday (because the ending Saturday is a full work day.)
My tutorial schedule was fully booked through 2020. See 2021 schedule below.
My shop was closed for the last 9 months of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So all my confirmed 2020 tutorials are being moved to 2021. This means that alas, I cannot accept any new tutorial students for 2021 sessions.
All new tutorial inquires will have to be for a two-week session in 2022. Due to my other commitments, I can only accept new 2022 inquiries for the months of March, April, May, June, September and October. You can ask for the soonest open two-week session or specify a two-week period which is the best for you and I will do my best to fit you in for that time.
Chris Shaltis proudly displays his sycamore OM which he just completed after a two week one-on-one tutorial with William in November 2014.
2 week Session, one to one: $6000. teaching fee, including tool use.
If I supply the materials, the cost would be an additional $450 to $1100 or more, depending on materials and fittings you've selected. You can bring your own case or purchase one from me at my cost. During registration, I will send you a list of the basic material options: the tone-wood, hardware and case upgrades, that I can supply and their cost. If you choose to bring your own materials, I will need to evaluate them one month before the start date to determine if they are suitable for the tutorial.
Securing local lodging is the learner's responsibility. I can suggest some comfortable commercial lodgings at various rate levels nearby.
Optionally, you can choose instead to stay in a comfortable, private, smoke-free guest apartment in my own home (which is 1/2 mile from the workshop), which is available for $90 a night and which consists of bedroom, living room, private porch, kitchenette and private bathroom. Linens and continental breakfast are included. Pictures here. My home and the apartment is a fifteen-minute walk to Main Street in Northampton and fifteen-minute walk to my studio in the opposite direction. My wife will be your host.
If you arrive on the Sunday before and depart the Sunday after the two-week session, that would be 14 nights @ $90=$1,260 total. You'll need to reserve our guest apartment in advance with a 50% deposit (see Registration).
You should know that we have one small pet, a Schnauzer-Shih-Tzu mix. I hope you're not pet-allergic.
VEHICLE: Renting or bringing your own vehicle is optional. If you don't have your own vehicle, I can pick you up and drive you every day to the shop and back. I can also drive you upon arrival from the airport and back on your departure, as long as you use the nearest one, which is Bradley/Springfield (BDL) in Hartford CT.
There are often more applicants than slots available. As a result, learners can only be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. "First come" means: whose deposit arrives first.
If you wish to sign up for the 2 week one-to- one course, my instructor's fee will be $6000. I require a $1000 retainer, (refundable only as described below), which must be included with a signed letter of agreement that I will send you after we settle on the details. The signed agreement and check must arrive back to me as soon as possible, or you may find that the slot has been made unavailable by another deposit which arrived sooner. The retainer will be applied to the course fee. $4000 will be payable on the first day of the course and $1000 at the end.
I need to receive the materials fee four weeks before the start date, and one-half of the housing fee (if you're staying in my guest room) at signing time, although I have been flexible with that in the past.
REFUNDS AND CANCELLATIONS:
The Letter of Agreement that we will exchange will specify dates and the instrument's specifications, but most importantly it will specify that you've read and accepted my refund and cancellation policy.
As far as refunds and cancellations, if you cancel a reserved session, whether I return the retainer or return it in part will be at my discretion, and will depend on several factors, including how close to the start date you cancelled; if you've cancelled for an emergency situation; if I can find a person on my cancellation list that can jump in to your spot; or if we can't find a mutually acceptable rain date. "I just changed my mind" won't work. Remember: I've pushed aside three weeks of paying work (it takes me almost a week to prepare everything for your upcoming class) to accommodate you! That's what deposits are for!!!
I reserve the right to be able to cancel for good cause. Now, IF I have to cancel, your deposit/retainer can apply to another course at another mutually agreeable time, or will be refunded within 15 days, as you prefer.