~ Forster Guitars ~
Nigel Forster was taught to play guitar at age 13 by his grandfather Charlie Ferguson, a well-known musician from the Tyne Valley, Northumberland. From the beginning he was hooked. He became fascinated with the variety and tonal range of the instrument. He really enjoyed both playing and listening to guitars, so it wasn't long before his interest turned to how they worked.
Walking home from school Nigel would often drop in at the Hexam Violin shop and talk to the owner, an engaging fellow named Nial Cain. It was obvious the he loved his craft. The shop had a wonderful smell of wood and varnish and was overflowing with all manner of instruments and tools. It was there that Nigel got the notion that making instruments would be a pleasant way to spend a working life.
When he was 16 a school teacher told him a local guitar maker was looking for help. The luthier's name was Stefan Sobell--Nigel had never heard of him but asked to visit. After meeting Stefan suggested a week's work experience as a trial and a week later offered Nigel a job.
Nigel's formal apprenticeship with Stefan Sobell began at the start of January 1988 and lasted until November 2003 with occasional interruptions.
Even during this lengthy stint Nigel was still unsure that making guitars was what he wanted to do for a living, so during one four year period he worked just part time for Stefan while studying for an Arts Foundation course followed by a BA (Hons) degree in three dimensional design at the University of Northumbria. After completing this degree Nigel returned to working full time for Stefan. He was working as hard as ever, but was now a great deal more capable than before. Not only had his time at the University opened his mind to many aspects of design, it also introduced him to some very skilled, old school machinists - the course technicians. They taught Nigel more about machining that he had ever have learned by making guitars alone.
Nigel eventually set up his own workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2004 and he's pleased to say he's never looked back. He makes around 15 instruments a year - mostly guitars but also bouzoukis, citterns and mandolins for clients in Britain, United States and further.