Build a Guitar!

Download your application here.

Thank you for your interest in the Guitar Building Workshop at the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts located in Marion, Virginia. This guitar building workshop consists of one intensive week long program, followed by one weekend of final construction of your guitar. The class begins on a Sunday afternoon and continues through the week, finishing the initial build on Friday. You will have the opportunity to build one acoustic Martin-style D28 guitar or an OM style with a headstock inlay of your own design. 

Spencer Strickland, Josh Reese and Marty Howard organize our guitar building workshop. Wayne Henderson attends as his schedule allows, there is no guarantee that Wayne will be at a workshop, although he keeps a watchful eye on our progress and is proud of the luthiers he has mentored.

We hold three workshops per year; the third week of March and the second week in November (2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving) and we have just added a third for the last week of July! After your week of building, there is also a weekend for reconvene which we call a “put-together get-together” about 2 months after each workshop. REconvene dates are determined by instructors and participants.

Cost for the workshop is $5000 and can be subject to change with the rising cost of supplies.

Lodging is extra, with several affordable options available (see below).

Tuition includes: 

  • Custom assembled guitar parts by our instructors: East Indian Rosewood back and sides, spruce top and Mahogany neck.
  • Guitar case 
  • Finishing process of guitar body and neck
  • Inlay supplies for your custom designed inlay featuring mother of pearl and/or abalone
  • Full breakfast and lunch each day (M-F) and snacks/drinks throughout the day.

$1000 deposit is required upon acceptance to reserve your bench. The balance is due at workshop. We will accept payments up to the actual workshop, if you request to pay by PayPal or Credit card, you will assume the fees, because of this, many pay with a check.

Deposits are non-refundable. If you need to cancel your reservation and give more than 30 days notice, you may apply your deposit to a future workshop. If you cancel your reservation less than 30 days before the workshop start date, and your spot is filled by another students, you will be able to apply your deposit to a future workshop.

If you cancel less than 30 days before the course and your spot is not filled by another student, your tuition will not be returned or applicable to another class. Please understand your deposit and tuition will be refunded in full in the case of any course cancellation by The Henderson.

Partner Component

In the past we have had spouses that have accompanied their partners and were interested in exploring some of our other offerings. We now offer a variety of craft choices which may include pottery, Letterpress/Book Arts, quilting, weaving and more. If there is a particular interest, or perhaps a variety of general craft projects: mosaic, barn quilt painting, etc, let us know. The cost of the partner component is $500 which will cover supplies, instructor fee, and meals with guitar workshop participants.

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 for his custom finishing process.

We ask that you think about your headstock design before the class and send your sketches/ideas Josh or to Catherine Schrenker. 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. 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”
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. Over the years, it has turned into a bit of a reunion, with the exception of this year due to the pandemic. Many of the former students come back to The Henderson and it’s “old home week”. We enjoy seeing everyone again, it is “our family” reunion.

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. We try to reserve it for those that have traveled far. Catherine has the information. We have a boutique hotel with a Henderson 15% discount, The General Francis Marion Hotel. It is right around the corner from the school, on Main Street. Please note: YOU MUST CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY TO RECEIVE DISCOUNT, mention you are attending a Guitar Workshop. They will not discount any third party registrations.

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.

There are also 3 local options through Air BnB:

Iris’s Place at Laurel Springs Farm (Marion)

The Lucille in Sugar Grove

The Family Farmhouse in Sugar Grove

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

Catherine Schrenker, Executive Director