Build A Guitar!

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 D28 style or an OM style guitar with a headstock inlay of your own design. We offer mahogany or rosewood and are currently expanding our collection of exotic tone woods.

Spencer Strickland, Josh Reese and Marty Howard organize our guitar building workshop. Wayne Henderson visits 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 and the school that honors his craft.

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 $5500 and can be subject to change with the rising cost of supplies. Please fill out a registration form here.

Lodging is extra, with several affordable options available.

Tuition includes: 

  • Custom assembled guitar parts by our instructors: East Indian Rosewood back and sides, spruce top and Mahogany neck. Certificate of Authenticity and Certificate of Course Completion.
  • 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 $1000 which will cover supplies, instructor fee, and all 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.

There is an informative article by Dogwood Guitars of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, “Why Buy a Handmade Guitar” explaining the difference in quality (and experience) in purchasing a handmade guitar, created just for you, and a factory made guitar. Of course, here at The Henderson, it is more than building a guitar, building YOUR guitar, it is an experience for a lifetime, and it does introduce you to a level of understanding. We hope to see you in Marion, Virginia!

About the Inlay Process

Josh Reese leads the inlay process and begins the process with a drawing or a sketch that works with your request. The drawings start out with a basic idea and moves to more refined and simplified version.  Once the idea is completed it is adjusted for size and placement and the different pieces of inlay are decided upon before they are cut. 

Once the pieces are cut, they are prepared and laid out on the peg head veneer.  The headstock veneer have pockets cut out to fit the final inlay in its entirety, but each piece needs to fit together, be sanded and adjusted to fit like a puzzle into the pocket.   This job can be very tedious and can take a magnifying glass to adjust each one into place. 

Some inlay designs from previous workshops: