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Minnesota State College Southeast
A Technical & Community College

Guitar Repair and Building - Diploma

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.

In the one year Guitar Repair and Building program, you will experience hands-on learning as you progress from basic repairs to the step-by-step process of building your own acoustic guitar.

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.

Beginning with the correct use of power and hand tools, you will gain an in-depth understanding of woods, adhesives, and materials related to fretted instruments. You will practice a variety of common repairs, including acoustic and electric guitar set-up, fretwork, finish touch-up, and neck resets.

In preparation for a career in the field, our students learn how to complete repairs in a timely manner with professional quality and accurately estimate the cost of parts, materials, and labor.

Build your own acoustic guitar

In the second semester, students build a flat-top steel string guitar in the Guitar Repair & Building diploma. You will have the opportunity to build a highly personalized instrument. You will select the body style, tone woods, bracing pattern, neck dimension, and headstock shape for your own guitar. You will determine exactly how it looks by choosing the rosette, binding, and other design elements.

Materials for the guitar build cost approximately $450-$900, 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 finished instruments are displayed and played in concert by professional musicians 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

English/Communications requirement
Choose one 2 credit (or greater) English or Communications course.
2 cr
Math requirement
Choose one 2 credit (or greater) Math course.
2 cr
4 crs
Introduction to Tools
This course covers hand tool preparation and use, and power tool safety, set up, adjustment and use. Time is spent on tool preparation and sharpening and some tools are made. Accurate measuring, marking and shaping using hand and power tools is practiced. (Prerequisite: None) (3 credits: 0 lecture/3 lab)

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3 cr
Guitar Overview
This course covers the identification of guitar parts and materials, adhesives, and abrasives, set up and adjustments diagnosis, some history of the instruments, and a quick overview of other fretted instruments.(Concurrent enrollment in GTRB 1410 and GTRB 1415) (2 credit: 2 lecture/0 lab)

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2 cr
Acoustic Guitar Set-up, Lab
This course covers the diagnosis, set up, and adjustment of acoustic guitar action and intonation. This includes diagnosis, truss rod adjustment, nut and saddle adjustment and replacement, and bridge regluing and replacement. (Prerequisites: GTRB1400 and concurrent enrollment in GTRB1405) (3 C credits: 1 lecture/2 lab)

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3 cr
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)

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3 cr
Guitar Electronics
This course covers basic electronic concepts and relates those concepts to the electric guitar. Basic component design and function will be discussed as well as electronic schematics and diagrams common to guitar design, repair work and guitar modifications. (Prerequisite: GTRB1400, concurrent enrollment in GTRB1405 and GTRB1425) (1 credit: 1 lecture/0 lab)

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1 cr
Acoustic Guitar Neck Resets
This course covers diagnosing and performing neck resets on acoustic guitars. (Prerequisites: GTRB 1400) (2 credits: 1 lecture/1 lab)

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2 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
Guitar Acoustics
This course will be a study of the elements of the design of an acoustic steel string guitar, concentrating on the design and material choices that affect the sound of the guitar, but also discussing playability and esthetics. The course will include a brief look at some other acoustic string instruments such as classical, and archtop guitars, lutes, and basses. (Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in GTRB1405) (1 credit: 1 lecture/0 lab)

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1 cr
Acoustic Construction Lecture
This course will cover the steps in building a flattop guitar, either steel string or classical. (Prerequisites:GTRB1400, 1405, 1410, 1420, 1425, 1430, and concurrent enrollment in GTRB1445 and GTRB1450) (3 Credits: 3 lecture/0 lab)

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3 cr
Acoustic Guitar Construction Lab
In this course the student will build an acoustic steel string guitar. (Prerequisites:GTRB1400, 1410, 1414, 1420, 1425, and concurrent enrollment in GTRB1440 and GTRB1450) (6 credits: 0 lect/pres, 6 lab, 0 other)

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6 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)

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4 cr
Guitar Finish Application
Students will apply a finish on the instrument/s they build, in Acoustic and/or Electric Guitar Construction classes. (Prerequisites:GTRB1400, 1405, 1410, 1420, 1425, 1430, and concurrent enrollment in GTRB1445 and GTRB1450) 1 Credit (0 lecture/1 lab)

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1 cr
Guitar Repairs
This course covers a variety of repair work including structural crack repair & headstock breaks. General shop repairs will be discussed and students will estimate time and pricing for all repairs on actual instruments. Students will also keep track of time spent on task each class day. Course work will be divided roughly 50/50 between assigned projects and repair work on instruments to achieve the required amount of points. (Prerequisites: GTRB 1400, GTRB 1410, GTRB 1414, GTRB 1415, GTRB 1425) (3 credits: 0 lecture/3 lab)

Download the Course Outline

3 cr
35 crs

Total Credits Required for this Major: 39 Credits

Estimated Costs for this Major

Approximate Tuition/Fees:$8,369
Minimum Tool Cost:$3,225
Estimated Total:$11,739


Career Opportunities

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


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

Electric Guitar Building CERT

Guitar Development and Production DIP

Instrument Close Ups

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


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WINONA CAMPUS | 1250 Homer Road | Winona, MN 55987 | 507-453-2700

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