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Minnesota State College Southeast
A Technical & Community College

Electric Guitar Building - Certificate

Career Area: Musical Instrument Repair & Building
Program: Guitar Repair & Building
Campus(es): Red Wing

Students from all over the world come to Red Wing to learn how to repair, design, and build guitars.

Students in the first-year Guitar Repair & Building program have the option to design and build an electric guitar as part of their program.

Most of the coursework in the 18-credit Electric Guitar Building certificate is part of the Guitar Repair and Building program, including electric guitar set up and fretwork.

No previous woodworking experience or musical ability is required, but successful students are detail-oriented, highly motivated, and have the ability to sit at a workbench and stay focused on their work all day.

Design and build your own electric guitar

You will have the opportunity to build a highly personalized instrument. In Electric Guitar Design, you will plan and blueprint an electric guitar or bass using a bolt-on neck design. In the construction class, you will make templates and build a complete instrument to your own specifications -- choosing the exact tone woods, neck dimension, headstock shape, binding, finish, and other elements that you want.

Materials for the guitar build cost $450 or more, but it not necessary to spend more than the minimum to build a very high quality, excellent sounding instrument! At the end of the year, the electric instruments are displayed at the annual Student Guitar Show.

Our graduates are in high demand, working in music stores, independent repair shops, and instrument manufacturers. Many go on to our second year diploma, Guitar Development and Production.

Apply now for admission to MSC Southeast
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Career Field: Engineering, Manufacturing & Technology
Cluster: Manufacturing
Pathway: Maintenance, Installation & Repair
Recommended high school classes and basic job/program skills

Download the Program Plan


1) 1000 level (minimum) General Education courses required unless specified

0 crs
Electric Guitar Set Up, Lab
This course covers the diagnosis, set up, and adjustment of electric guitar action and intonation. This includes diagnosis, truss rod adjustment, nut, bridge, and saddle adjustment and replacement, and bridge replacement. (Prerequisites: GTRB 1400) (Concurrent: GTRB 1414 & GTRB 1425) (3 credits: 1 lecture/2 lab)

Download the Course Outline

3 cr
Electric Guitar Design
In this course the student will plan and blueprint an electric guitar or bass using a bolt-on neck design. (Prerequisite: GTRB 1400 and concurrent enrollment in GTRB 1414, GTRB 1415, GTRB 1425) (1 credit: 1 lect/0 lab)

Download the Course Outline

1 cr
Electric Guitar Construction
In this course the student will design, blueprint, make templates and build an electric guitar. (Prerequisite GTRB 1400, GTRB 1414, GTRB 1415, GTRB 1425, and concurrent enrollment in GTRB 1450) (4 credits: 1 lecture/3 lab)

Download the Course Outline

4 cr
This course covers fretting techniques used in guitar repair and building. Students will prepare and radius a fingerboard, prepare and install frets. Fret leveling, crowning and polishing is also studied to complete a fret job. (Prerequisites: GTRB 1400 and concurrent enrollment in GTRB 1414, GTRB 1410, and GTRB 1415) (3 credits: 1 lecture/2 lab)

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3 cr
Introduction to Finishing
This course covers finish touch-up techniques including burn-ins, padding, brushing and graining techniques. Finish application techniques covered will include: hand applied color, hand applied finishes, sunbursts, french padding as well as sprayed nitrocellulose lacquer & shellac. Color theory and color matching will also be practiced. (Prerequisite: GTRB1400) (Concurrent enrollment in GTRB1440 and GTRB1445) (4 credits: 1 lecture/3 lab)

Download the Course Outline

4 cr
15 crs

Total Credits Required for this Major: 15 Credits

Estimated Costs for this Major

Approximate Tuition/Fees:$3,862
Minimum Tool Cost:$425
Estimated Total:$4,287


Career Opportunities

  • Music Stores
  • Repair Shops
  • Guitar Makers
  • Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Career Information


Program graduates will be able to:
  1. Diagnose, adjust, and repair, set ups, action, and intonation.
  2. Identify and understand parts and materials, and their use and characteristics.
  3. Safely and accurately use hand and power tools.
  4. Design and build a string instrument.
  5. Diagnose, estimate costs, and perform most guitar repairs.
  6. Perform finishing processes and touch up.
  7. Use the math, communications, and computer skills needed in lutherie.


  • Unique in length and comprehensiveness in the United States
  • Additional career for musicians and teachers
  • No previous musical or woodworking experience necessary


Brian Boedigheimer
Brian Boedigheimer received his diploma in Guitar Repair and Construction from Red Wing Technical College (now MSC Southeast) in 1994. For 12 years he provided service for music stores throughout the St. Croix Valley. He also worked on designs and built electric guitars with the Benedict Guitar Company. In 2003 he attended the Wood Finishing Technology Program at Dakota County Technical College. Currently he teaches full-time in the Guitar Repair and Building Program and in his spare time he designs and builds his own line of instruments.
Stephen Rossow
Steve Rossow earned diplomas from the Guitar Repair & Building and Violin Repair programs in at MSC Southeast 2002. He apprenticed with luthier John R. Waddle in Saint Paul, under whom he studied violin making and restoration. Returning to MSC Southeast as a full-time instructor in 2010, Steve designed a curriculum for incorporating CNC work into guitar making and teaches computer-aided drafting and CNC in second year guitar program. He also teaches in the Violin Repair program.
David Vincent
David Vincent earned his certificate from the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery, and then worked as a repair technician for 6 years at E.M. Short’s Guitars and Wichita Violin Shop in Wichita, Kansas. He has taught at MSC Southeast since 1984. David has built more than 50 instruments and helped students build over 600 instruments. He has made the guitars that are the first place prize for the Minnesota Flatpicking Guitar Championship since 2009.


Other Majors in the Guitar Repair & Building program

Guitar Development and Production DIP

Guitar Repair and Building DIP

Instrument Close Ups

Learn more about the musical instrument repair programs on our Red Wing campus at


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RED WING CAMPUS | 308 Pioneer Road | Red Wing, MN 55066 | 651-385-6300
WINONA CAMPUS | 1250 Homer Road | Winona, MN 55987 | 507-453-2700

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