Last Update: 07/26/12

Welcome to:
David Schramm's
An online classical guitar making course

Online Apprentice is sponsored in part by:

Online-Apprentice II-"Make a Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar" CD-Rom
was released on May 15, 2008!

$39.95+$5.00s&h Payment Options

Online-Apprentice I-"Make a 1937 Hermann Hauser Style Guitar" CD-Rom:

$39.95+$5.00s&h Payment Options

Summer 2008
Online-Apprentice III: Build a Lattice Braced Australian Style Guitar.


Welcome to "Online-Apprentice," a free online guitar-making course for the novice and experienced woodworker. There is no fee for enrollment. Our current projects are a 1976 Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. style Classic Guitar and an Australian style lattice guitar inspired by Greg Smallman. Participants are responsible for expenses incurred and appropriate safety precautions. Each month we'll have 2-3 online lessons that will require a commitment of 1-3 hours of time per lesson. A private newsgroup has been set up for registered participants to discuss their concerns, challenges, and questions. The limit is 60 participants. At the end of the course, lessons will be compiled onto a cd-rom that will be made available through this web site. The project guitar will be auctioned off on ebay.

The idea for this course came about after reading some articles written by Kevin Aram in the old "Guitar International" magazine titled "Making a Torres Guitar." I knew there were a lot of folks out there who wanted a more intimate relationship with the guitar. They wanted a greater understanding of it. What better way then to build their own guitar. When I was in my senior year at California State University, Northridge I began to build my first guitar. I built it in my dorm room with a limited amount of handtools. Little did I know at that time that lutherie would become my profession and that experience an inspiration for this course.

I also credit Frank Ford of and
David Van Edwards who's web sites were an inspiration for this course.

Help Support Online Apprentice.

Online-Apprentice II Project: 1976 Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. Classic Guitar

The Online Apprentice II course features the use of the Guild of American Lutherie Plan #46 "1976 Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. Classic Guitar" drafted by Tom Blackshear. You will need to purchase GAL Plan #46.I also recommend you purchase issue #68 of American Lutherie which features this plan and an interview with Mr.Blackshear.

This installment of Online Apprentice is geared for, but not limited to, those with some experience building guitars. I recommend going through the first course before attempting this model. Some of the techniques are more advanced and require more expensive tools and machinery. Our goal will be to build an exact replica.

Summer 2008 Project: Australian Style Lattice Guitar

This is an advanced course which will use many new guitar making techniques. The cost in tools and materials can range from $1,500-$2,500+. You will need a good vacuum clamping system which will be discussed in the lessons. I am currently drafting a set of drawings that can be purchased.

Online Apprentice III Index of lessons.

Getting Started

I recommend that you read Roy Courtnall's book "Making Master Guitars" and William Cumpiano's "Guitarmaking-Tradition and Technology". This will get you familiar with the process.

  1. Complete the registration form

  2. Wait for News Group invitation.

  3. Purchase GAL Plan #46.

  4. Purchase materials. Materials can be purchased as you go. The "Bill of Materials" page will give you an idea of the materials that are needed.


Q:What is the tuition for the course?
A:There is none! I know it sounds crazy. This course is supported by T-shirt sales, participant donations, and the sale of the project guitar to the highest bidder on EBAY to help cover my expenses. See Support page for details.

Q: How much are materials?
A:The average material cost is $350. Costs can vary and depends if you purchase all materials at once or on a purchase as you go basis.

Q:How much are tools?
A:That depends on what you already have in your tool box. Some of the tools you may already have. A "tools" link has been provided at the bottom of this page. I do not recommend that you go out and purchase all these right away. Each lesson will be prefaced with tools required for the job. Of course there are some specialty tools that will be needed. My guess would be $500-$1,000+ spread out over the year.

Q:Are there any other costs?
A:There is the possibility of unforeseen costs. You might need to purchase other materials for making jigs and fixtures that will aid in construction of the instrument. Some of these materials can be found as scrap at construction sites or cabinet making shops, but please ask before you take! It's always a good idea to practice on scrap before working on the real deal.

Q: Do I need woodworking experience?
A:No, but it will get you off to a good start. This is not a woodworking 101 course. If you need work on your woodworking skills or woodshop safety issues there are plenty of books that cover that topic. I will not be teaching basic woodworking, although I will give you some hints and tips. Most work on a guitar has to do with making good joints and a little woodcarving.

Bill of Materials-This link will take you to the list of materials that you will need to construct your guitar. A list of vendors in the USA is also provided.

Special Tools

The John Gilbert thickness sanding disc is one of my most used tools for thicknessing tops, backs, sides, necks, veneers, etc. They can be special ordered from Greg Matonis, John's son-in-law who owns and makes Gilbert tuning machines.

Inside a 1978 Miguel Rodriguez Jr. Guitar.
How to sharpen your cabinet scraper.One of your most important tools.

Samples from "Online Apprentice II-Make a Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar" Cd-rom
Released on May 15th, 2008.

A.Preparation and Planning

  1. Making the templates
  2. Make the Solera (work board)

B.The Neck and Head

  1. Prepare the neck blank.
  2. Neck/Head scarf joint.
  3. Dimension the neck blank
  4. Head veneers.
  5. Cut out head outline.
  6. Drill and slot the head.
  7. Ramp the slots.
  8. Glue up heel block.
  9. Slot and carve the heel block.

C.The Plates

  1. Joint the plates.
  2. Join the plates.
  3. Thickness the plates.

D.The Rosette

  1. The Rosette.
  2. Rout rosette channel.
  3. Clean up.
  4. Final thicknessing of soundboard.
  5. Cut out the sound hole.

E.Bracing the Plates

  1. Prepare the brace blanks.
  2. Brace the soundboard.
  3. Brace the back.

F.Side bending

  1. Prepare and Bending the sides.

G.Sound box assembly

  1. Glue the soundboard to the neck shaft.
  2. Fit the sides.
  3. Make and attach the tail block.
  4. Make and Attach the Top Linings.
  5. Install the Sides.
  6. Trim and taper the sides to final height.
  7. Attach back linings to the sides.
  8. Prepare the lined edges to accept the back.
  9. Prepare and insert the end graft.
  10. Make the bridge block and upper face brace caul.
  11. Fit the back.
  12. Glue the back on.
  13. Prepare all binding and purfling materials.
  14. Rout the binding and purfling ledges/Fit and glue the bindings.

H.The Fingerboard

  1. Dimension fingerboard billet.
  2. Saw the fret slots.
  3. Taper the fingerboard to final outline.
  4. curve the end of the fingerboard to match the soundhole.
  5. Glue the fingerboard to the neck shaft.
  6. Install the frets.
  7. Level the frets,bevel the ends, and Polish the frets.

I.Final Carving and Refining

  1. Finish-carve the neck.

Materials Tools Links Help

Schramm Guitars Home page.