Specimen custom instruments are handmade by luthier Ian Schneller in his Chicago workshop, Specimen Guitar Shop. Most are custom electric guitars and basses created from traditional materials, but some also feature unusual materials such as as phenolic, aluminum, bell brass, masonite, and exotic woods.
Some Specimens are one-of-a-kind instruments created either to fulfill a commission or our own interests, while others have developed into our standard models. Custom guitars like the Pippin, Maxwell and Luddite became a series of electric guitars built around common design features. The Aluminum Series includes instruments made from machined aluminum and includes guitars, basses, ukuleles, and mandolas. The Ukulele series includes electric ukuleles ranging from traditional to modern. And the Singletons are unique one-of-a-kind instruments including an electric upright bass, electric violin, electric tiple, mandolin, and guitars inspired by the 1960s Silvertone.
All Specimens instruments are handmade in our Chicago workshop. We handcraft our instruments using traditional techniques (hand rasping and carving, etc., no CNC machines) and we choose to use a classic nitro-cellulose finish like that found on most high-end custom guitars. For the most part, none of our guitars features an adjustable truss rod as this is our preferred format. In the case of commissioned instruments, we are happy to use the customer's preferred choice of truss rod, hardware, finish, etc. We are also happy to provide consultation and recommendations.