BA (Hons) Musical Instrument Craft (Guitar Making and Repair)

By Newark College
World class craftmanship at Newark
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The BA (Hons) Musical Instrument Craft (Guitar Making and Repair) is a highly specialised, practical, programme that was established in 1994 and is situated at the heart of the Newark College campus.

The course teaches the craft of making classical and steel stringed guitars and aims to equip students with the knowledge and practical skills that will enable them to be guitar makers in their own right.

The programme runs over three years and by the end students will have had the opportunity to build a minimum of three guitars of contrasting designs.

The tutors work as experienced professional guitar makers who teach part-time and are able to bring their considerable skills and experience as well as their understanding of current business practice and construction techniques to the course.

The course has close links with players and other makers who visit to lead special workshops and discussions, as well as providing students with valuable feedback and comments about their work.

Visitors have included internationally renowned musicians: John Williams, John Etheridge, Clive Carroll, Paul Gregory, Steve Hicks, Mark Ashford and Pierre Bensusan. Visiting guitar makers have included Paul Fischer, Gary Southwell, Peter Barton, David Reid, Stephen Sedgewick, Rosie Heydenrich and N.K. Forster.

We have strong links with many luthiers across Europe and have collaborated with guitar makers from Finland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and France as part of the Leonardo Guitar Research Project. Although the research into non-tropical woods is now complete, the connections and approaches continue to influence the way our students make their guitars. Watch the overview video here.

Newark has a lively international community of instrument-making students, most of whom are also musicians, which new students may find very supportive.

Full-time students should apply directly through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). It may be possible to study on a part-time basis, consult with the College at the time of your application.

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Typical course structure

  • Year 1
    • Anatomy and Design

    • Basic Techniques

    • Workshop Practice

    • Making Specialist Tools 1

    • Historical and Contextual Studies

  • Year 2

    Core Modules:

    • Applied Acoustics

    • Problem Solving

    • Making Specialist Tools 2

    Optional modules:

    • Basic Repair Techniques

    • Advanced Construction Techniques (Classical)

    • Advanced Construction Techniques (Steel String)

    • Finishing Techniques

  • Year 3
    • Business Practice

    • Advanced Craft Techniques

    • Professional Standards Test

    • Final Major Project Preparation

    • Final Major Project Realisation

  • Part-Time

    More information about the part-time option for this course can be found here.

Validated by the University of Hull

Additional information

  • Entry Requirements

    A minimum of 48 UCAS Tariff points from the following: GCE A and AS Levels with at least one subject at A Level. BTEC National (Diploma or Extended Diploma) in a relevant subject. Scottish Higher / Advanced Higher with at least one subject at Advanced Higher. We consider experience and practical skills in lieu of A Levels/BTECs.

    Plus: GCSE English – grade C/4 or above and GCSE Maths – grade C/4 or above (Level 2 Functional skills is not taken as an equivalent). 

    EU and International applicants: NARIC confirmed equivalent of 48 UCAS points IELTS with an overall score of 6.0 and a minimum of 5.5 in each component. Equivalent English language qualifications may be acceptable for applicants requiring a visa.

    Other Entry Requirements

    Successful interview

  • Assessment & Progression

    The assessment methods typically used throughout the programme include: assessment of practical work supported by a portfolio of notes and research.

    Following completion of this programme students may wish to pursue further academic study in music or seek employment or self-employment in the industry. Students can be introduced to these opportunities throughout their undergraduate programme.

  • Course Fees

    Full-Time Per Academic Year Home Students - £8,500

    Full-Time Per Academic Year International Students - £9,500

    Tuition fees will remain unchanged for the duration of a student’s continuous enrolment. Additional compulsory course costs can be paid for using the Career Degree Bursary.

  • Career Degree Bursary

    The Career Degree bursary was established in order to enhance our Higher Education students’ academic programme and support their studies - helping to make our students more employable, industry prepared and equipped for life as a graduate.

    The Career Degree bursary is made up of two components:

    1. A bursary of up to £500 for full-time students and up to £250 for part-time students over the course of their higher education programme to support any aspect of independent study, such as equipment, books etc.

    2. In addition, course coordinators will be allocated an additional payment to spend each academic year on enhancements that will support the development of employability skills and progression to graduate level employment. Students are encouraged to discuss ideas on how this can be spent with their tutors.

    There is no cash alternative. Students who wish to access opportunities in excess of the Career Degree Bursary may do so at full cost to themselves. Please see the full ‘HE Terms and Conditions’ for details of additional library and printing costs associated with this programme.

  • The Graebner Crisford Prize

    A cash prize of £1,000 will be offered to one outstanding graduating student in each pathway on the Musical Instrument Crafts degree.

    The prize is from a generous donation from The ACH Crisford Charitable Foundation who set up the scheme to support our learners and recognise the unique nature of these courses. The award will be judged by staff.

    Newark College are grateful to the Trust for this new collaboration and hope our learners will benefit hugely from this.

  • The Hiscox Prize for Guitar

    Hiscox Cases kindly sponsor our annual celebration event held to recognise the achievements of the graduating violin and guitar students. The Hiscox Prize for Guitar recognises and rewards outstanding craftsmanship by a graduating Guitar making student with a prize of a classical guitar case (STD-CL).

  • What Our Students Say

    Dennis Tolz | Graduate of Guitar Making, 2007

    "In 2005, I finished high school in Berlin and one day that year I met one of Newark’s guitar making students in a music store. Spending a lot of time playing the guitar, I was extremely interested in what he told me about the musical instrument making classes at the College. We stayed in touch and a few months later I visited him and the College to take a look at the place myself. I was immediately hooked and decided to take the entrance exam.

    So, in the summer of 2006, I started learning how to build classical guitars under the tutelage of Roy Courtnall, James Lister, and Mal Brady at Newark College. Not knowing anything about instrument making and very little about wood work in general, they taught me everything I needed to know to build my first three guitars from scratch using mostly hand tools. All of this happened in the wonderful atmosphere of a small workshop with roughly 10 students per year.

    But most important for my time in Newark was the large, multinational, group of people from all ages and walks of life, who met in this small town in the middle of the UK and formed a wonderful community that threw incredible parties almost every week. All of us united by the idea to become instrument makers.

    This experience really shaped my life and I am very grateful for that. Without the Guitar making course at Newark I would not be where I am today."

    Read more alumni profiles on our Alumni page, here.

  • Terms and Conditions

    This course is validated by the University of Hull. The validating institution is responsible for awarding the qualification at the end of the programme. Students on validated courses are OfS registered, funded and taught at Lincoln College and it is the responsibility of the College to manage all aspects of this provision. The validating institution maintains an oversight of the programme throughout the academic year and must be satisfied that students are being taught in line with the required academic standards of the awarding institution.

    For full details and information of the responsibilities and conditions of study of both Lincoln College and the validating partners please see the T&Cs and Policies sections which can be found here.

  • Attend An Open Day

    Attend one of our Career Degree Open Days to find out more about our degrees. To register please click here.

  • Michael Watts 2023 Visit

    Professional musician, Michael Watts, visited the School of Musical Instrument Crafts in June 2023 to review and play some of the students' hand-made guitars. Watch Michael's YouTube video to see more.

  • Lincoln College University Centre

    The School of Musical Instrument Crafts degree programmes, part of Lincoln College University Centre.

  • James Lister
  • Manuel Aragon Gimeno

Meet Our Skilled & Experienced Tutors

Our tutors bring considerable skills and experience as well as their understanding of current business practice and techniques, making our courses highly valued to students.