NK Forster Guitars
by Nigel Forster
My interest in building guitars began when I started guitar lessons with my grandfather, Charlie Ferguson, in the early 1980s. He had some great guitars and a few books (there were only a few books then) about making. Then I began messing about trying to fix them. At 17, my teacher asked me what I'd like to do for a living..."make guitars" was my answer. He put me in touch with Stefan Sobell who was just a few miles out in the countryside. I went to see him and after a week long trial, he have me a job. That was in January 1988.
I built my first guitar during my apprenticeship with Sobell. It was a mahogany and European spruce Sobell Model 1 or Model 0, I forget which. Stefan didn't have much faith that I'd do a good job and the materials he gave me were pretty poor, the top vas very weak, yet despite that it turned out pretty good. I gave it to my grandfather as a thankyou for teaching me to play. When he died, I got it back. Now an old pal of mine Paul Hetherington has it. It's a nice enough guitar, it sounds like a Sobell.
I'm always experimenting. Sometimes it's a big change, sometimes a little one, but always something. Of course I have favourite models (the Model C and D) and I love working with the best woods like Rio, but basically I do the best work I'm able for the next customer who wants it, and when it's done, that's my new favourite instrument.
Some of my guitars are custom built for clients, but often folk have no idea what they want, they just want one of mine! So we decide the spec together. Other times the qualities they want and the model they want are at odds, and that can take some unravelling...but it's fun.
Everyone is different, some folk are very specific, others very laid back - One of my new customers (he's bought two Forster's in the last 6 months) ordered a third and simply specified the woods, scale and tuning he wanted, the rest is up to me, it's nice when folk do that.
To be quite honest most customers come to me not because they have a clear idea of what sound they want, but because I have a clear idea of what sound I want. So really, a part of my job is just having to find like minded people, which makes working with them pretty easy and enjoyable. That doesn't mean I'm dead to their ideas, far from it, but sonically, my work has certain qualities and for a collaboration to work, we both need to have shared taste in that department. But that's not so hard, lots of people want a clear, powerful instrument.
Find out more about NK Forster Guitars on the website: www.nkforsterguitars.com