Builder Introduction

Aaron Foster Queen City Guitars

Who I am and How I Build

My Background

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, 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.  I currently build my guitars in a small shop in Oakland, California, working almost entirely with hand tools, carefully crafting each instrument.

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 guitar is a complex machine.  Each style can be carried through a wide range of voices by the luthier, through countless choices in its construction.  I find it immensely helpful to have a clear, but evolving idea of the kind of sound I want to coax from the guitars I build.  I approach each instrument with a definite idea of the kind of sound I want, while also  remaining open to new experience and insight about the guitar to better arrive at the "best" tone.

        "Best" tone, being highly subjective, is of course a difficult thing to pin down when discussing a guitar, .   I want to bring out a sound which is at once lush, but clear, with distinct separation of each note and a fast response.  I appreciate guitars which sing in the softest dynamic ranges, but I want to build in the headroom for a dynamic range which is as wide as possible.

         There are many ways I seek to bring this out in each guitar.  Solid linings help to firmly secure the tops of my instruments and to stiffen the sides of the guitars, so that the energy from the strings stays in the top and can most effectively set it to producing sound. I build every guitar with attention to how the top, back,and guitar as a whole work together to produce sound.  My goal is to produce a guitar in which every component is working in harmony.

          I like to build lightly braced, responsive guitars, with bridges placed towards the sweet spot in the center of the lower bout.  I tend towards shorter scale lengths, always with light strings in mind and focus on making the top best able to react to, and transmit the energy of the strings.  As I generally build with finger picking first and foremost in mind, I find this direction in top construction beneficial in many ways.  Rather than relying on heavy strings and tension to create volume, which can choke a guitar when it is not being heavily strummed, a lighter, more responsive top will still create a clear and beautiful tone with the softest touch while being capable of producing just as much volume (the responsive top is easier to get moving after all) and is easier to find a balance in the bass and treble ranges of a guitar.  A top can be both loose enough to create a vibrant bass, even on a small body guitar, and braced to be stiffer in targeted areas allowing for a crisp and brilliant higher end.

        A lighter top will also lend itself to a faster attack and clearer distinction between notes.  I find that a top built to work cohesively as a whole, balancing stiffness and mass, will have plenty of sustain while building for responsiveness creates an instrument with full, lush tone that retains a great deal of clarity.  I think this is beneficial in many styles of playing, not only in letting faster musical passages shine through, but also in strumming chords and chord changes.  A guitar that is responsive to the player is a guitar that will in turn more easily fulfill its purpose, to turn the players musical ideas into music.