Build a Guitar!

Spencer Strickland, Josh Reese and Marty Howard organize our guitar building workshops. Wayne Henderson attends as his schedule allows.

Our wait list averages around 50 people, with an average 2 year wait to get into a workshop.

We only take a person OFF the list if they ask to be taken off the list. It is chronological, so the person who has been on the list the longest is the first to be called when we are ready to fill the next workshop. We now have two set weeks for 2 separate workshops; the week of St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and the second week in November.

There is also a reconvene which we call a “put-together get-together” about 2 months after (May for March workshop and end of January for November workshop).

Cost for the workshop is $4500 (and subject to change each year as supplies get more expensive). This includes:

  • Custom assembled well sourced, high quality guitar parts put together by those that know best.
  • Guitar case 
  • Spencer Strickland’s famous “spray and buff” finishing process (which he often will film for you)
  • All your inlay supplies for your (personally) custom designed headstock inlay mother of pearl and/or abalone.


$1000 (non-refundable BUT transferable) deposit is required immediately upon acceptance to hold your place,(this also purchases our wood and supplies prior to workshop). The balance is due at workshop. Some make payments up to the actual workshop, which is fine as long as it is paid in full. Wayne wants to keep it affordable and we agree, so we keep it reasonable. We are paying 4 generations of Luthiers to be here, which is awesome in and of itself. If you pay by PayPal or Credit card, you will assume the fees, because of this, many pay with check.

About the Workshop:
Everyone gets together for one week (beginning on a Sunday afternoon preparing sides and backs, finishing Friday afternoon. At the end of the week, your guitar body and neck are taped off and prepared for Spencer to take them and buff/finish/buff…

We ask that you think about your headstock design before the class and send your sketches/ideas Josh or to Catherine. WE work up the comps for you and then Josh will work with you to create a phenomenal inlay for your guitar. (These are pretty awesome).

Because of the time restrictions of this class, customization of your guitar is limited to your inlay design and the shape of your headstock (no special features like a volute). Everyone creates a D28 Martin-Style Guitar with a spruce top, Indian Rosewood back/sides, Mahogany Neck. Getting into complete customization hinders class progress and creates stress and complications for our instructors (Wayne included). Be mindful of the hours that can be added with custom designs and ideas in an already full week of work with about 12 hour days.

You are fed well throughout the week, breakfast, lunch and a late afternoon snack to tie you over to dinner, which is on your own in our awesome little town.

What Wayne has for breakfast!

“Put Together Get Together”
THEN everyone reconvenes at an agreed upon weekend (usually about 2 months later) and for the next 2 days, you put your guitar together, string, tune, and then the jam begins. Wayne plays everyone’s guitar “for approval” and it is just a great afternoon of fellowship and fun. Over the years, it has turned into a bit of a reunion, so many of the former students come back to The Henderson this weekend and it’s “old home week”. I enjoy seeing everyone again, it is “our family” reunion.

We used to offer a place to stay but that venue has disappeared and I am now searching for another affordable option besides a hotel. We do have a couple with a small guest house that love to offer it to a couple attendees, it is about 3-4 miles away from town. All they request is that you make a donation to our HendersonJAM program in any denomination you are comfortable with. (Usually it is $100-$200). We have a boutique hotel with a Henderson discount, The General Francis Marion Hotel. It is around $115/night and is about half a block from the school, on main street. Exit 50 (off 81) has a Comfort Inn. Hungry Mother State Park has cabins and yerts for a very reasonable price, it is about 4 miles out of town. Red Roof Inn is about 1-2 miles away and is a newly remodeled budget hotel

Partner Component
In the past we have had spouses that have accompanied their partners and we “found” different activities for them to do. We have decided to offer a more “formal” component of craft choices. We can offer pottery, Letterpress, quilting. If there is a particular interest, or perhaps just general craft projects: mosaic, barn quilt painting, let us know. Cost of the “extra” component is $500 which will cover all supplies and instructor fee for the week (lunch and breakfast is included with Guitar workshop participants).

When you are accepted into the guitar building workshop, you will receive a more detailed itinerary once we get closer to the class.

We look forward to seeing you at The Henderson in Marion, Virginia!

Catherine Schrenker, Executive Director