& The Chicago School of Guitar Making
BY CHRIS BURGESS
The Specimen Guitar Shop, owned and
operated by Ian and Nadine Schneller, is
the home of both Specimen Products and
the Chicago School of Guitar Making. More
than a luthierie and a repair facility, the
Specimen shop is also a gallery and an artist’s studio. I recently visited Specimen for
a tube amp building seminar, and found a
Midwestern haven where esoteric creativity
and invention meet traditional techniques
and handcrafted quality.
If you’ve ever visited their website, you
already know that Specimen offers quite an
impressive array of intriguing and engaging
instruments, from the nearly traditional-
looking aluminum guitars, solidbodies
and archtops to the custom offerings they
affectionately call “Singletons” and more
unconventional creations, like electric
ukes, mandolins and even an electric lute.
Schneller also repairs all manner of stringed
instruments and amplifiers, and even builds
his own guitar and hi-fi stereo amps, along
with a variety of custom high-fidelity horn
speakers (you’ve seen them if you’ve seen
Andrew Bird recently).
Schneller routing the body of an Ultra Luddite model
Visit Specimen’s website at specimenprod-
ucts.com, and head to premierguitar.com
to see video tours of Specimen’s gallery
and projects in progress.
This Specimen Royale Premiere features a two-piece, hand-sculpted basswood body, mahogany neck, Alaskan-cedar-burl
headstock veneer and sculpted aluminum “diver’s helmet” finial, a one-piece ebony bridge and ebony fretboard with pearl
inlays of rippling flags, colored dots and side markers, a faceted and machined aluminum tailpiece, Lindy Fralin humbucker,
four Grover Imperial tuners and two geared banjo tuners—and finished in pale blue nitrocellulose lacquer.