Builder Introduction

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About the Builder

Every Queen City Guitar is handmade by myself,

Aaron Foster,

in Oakland, California.

Blending traditional construction techniques with innovations from other luthiers and those which arise through the process of building and playing the guitar I strive to create the kind of instrument that surprises and inspires. From hand planning tops, backs, and sides to thickness, to hand cutting the binding and purfling channels with a pair of gramils, I am drawn to using traditional hand tools to create my guitars. I appreciate the intimacy with the work that hand tools can facilitate. The pace of hand work feels most conducive to creating a greater depth of knowledge and appreciation for each piece of wood as I prepare it to be incorporated into the guitar. Not to say that great guitars are not made with more modern woodwoking machines, I simply find myself happier and more focused working with more traditional tools. To borrow a sentiment from Robert Pirsig in Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to build a great guitar requires great peace of mind.

I got into building guitars at 28.  The handwork, my longtime love of the guitar and the constant challenges and learning opportunities immediately hooked me.  I began my education in guitar construction in 2012 just outside of Denver, Colorado at the Red Rocks Community College School of Fine Woodworking, where I studied guitar making and repair, finishing and general woodworking for a year and a half.  I have been honing my craft ever since, eagerly learning new techniques and perfecting my process. 

Being originally from Denver, I got the name for Queen City Guitars from my home town, the Queen City of the Plains.

My Approach        

A great guitar is both a work of art and a work for creating art. Both are important considerations.

I find the physical beauty of a guitar lies in the juxtaposition of the natural elegance of the materials, and the craft that goes into making it. It appears at once wholly natural in its environment and a testament to the diligence of the maker and the whole history of instrument making that it rests upon. Every guitar I build is an exploration of the beauty that lies in this junction. Left to my own designs I tend towards simplicity (not to be confused with a lack of adornment) with an eye towards letting the design accentuate the beauty inherent in the materials and shape of the guitar. Utilizing contrast and congruence, form and material, I aim to draw out the elegance of each guitar.

The primary role of a guitar is not to look good of course, it is to sound good. This focus is brought to every step of the build process, from shaping the heel block (with inlaid feet, top and bottom, to provide added stability to the neck), to the lining (solid strips of spruce laminated to anchor the top and back for optimal sound creation), to bracing and contouring of both the top and the back (to bring out the full tonal range of the guitar). Through countless small steps and adjustment I aim explore the tonal possibilities of the guitar, crafting instruments that are not just loud and responsive, but with deep dynamic ranges, clarity and sustain without sacrificing depth and the immediacy of response. It can be hard not to get to wordy talking about the tone of a guitar so if I had to say it in one sentence I would say my goal is to make guitars that are hard to put down once you have picked them up.