Hellcat The peak of evolution

The modern metal music scene is very alive, with more variety, bands and skillful players than ever. And yet, the most important aspect hasn't changed one bit since 1980's, the decade of my musical awakening. Hard rock and metal music is all about big emotions in play. And that's what the Hellcat is for - a power tool that can handle all that energy without folding.

Signature

Juha Ruokangas - Master Guitar Maker

Hellcat Classic

Metal guitars are a species of its own - and the Hellcat is how I've envisioned the perfect weapon for the style, covering a wide array of sounds from the crystal-like cleans to the meanest of distortions.

Hellcat Deluxe

My trusted wood recipe of spanish cedar and arctic birch is a killer combination in the Hellcat, shifting the colour of tone deeper, with excellent string-to-string definition even with heavily layered distortion.

Hellcat Artist

Most players don't need such effortless access high up on the neck as the Artist offers. But some do. And when you need to put the pedal to the metal, there's nothing stopping you with the deeply sculpted Artist neck-thru-body joint.

Making the Hellcat

Metal music can be sheer brutal power - but it is often also technically challenging with high-precision rhythmic patterns, razor-sharp riffing and complex melodic textures that require extreme coordination and focus from the player. And on such high level, it is only common sense that in order to get the job done right, the guitar needs to be up to par with the player.

This is where
the making of your
dream guitar begins

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Wild flame

Grading arctic birch is challenging, because the figuring can be so wild. Sometimes there are clearly ‘flamed’ pieces, but most of the time it’s some sort of a mixture of quilt, flame, curl, burl or some other patterns that don’t even have a name. Simply put, each top is genuinely unique.

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Rigidity

Certain wood species are extremely responsive and vibrate strongly. Responsiveness is great - but in certain parts of the guitar, such as the neck, it needs to be controlled. Fretboard adds a laminated structure to the whole length of the neck and makes the neck more rigid and improves sustain.

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Good wood

Essentially, this is what happens to wood in thermo treatment: Stability increases – ability to absorb moisture decreases – cell walls harden – resins crystallize – stiffness increases – pores clean up – sound velocity increases – color deepens – weight drops. The treatment doesn’t change bad wood into good wood, but it does make the good stuff even better.

The work of our hands
making music in your hands

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Key role

The set-up plays a key role in defining how your guitar feels to play. Some prefer super low action, while others might find such a guitar difficult to play - they need the instrument to fight back more. There is no right or wrong regarding string height or gauge. It's your choice, and we can make it for you, no matter what your preference.

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Stainless Steel

This is the modern fret material, that has slowly become the favourite of many master guitar makers around the world due to its durability and smooth playability. When expertly installed, stainless steel frets will last for a lifetime. Stainless steel has become over the years the most popular choice in my guitars, and for a good reason, too.

Playability

How does the instrument balance when I play sitting down – or when I stand up and hang the guitar on my shoulder? Which neck shape is the best one for me? How should the control layout be? You might have the answers to these (or other) questions regarding playability - but if you don't, the good news is that I've been there before, countless times, and together we will find the right answers and choices for you.

Built for life

Our purpose is to create the ideal tools for your art of making music. To achieve this goal, each of our guitars is individually handmade to the highest standard by one of us, the Ruokangas team, using the finest materials in the world. No serial production methods or automated processes are involved in the making.

The perfect instrument
electrifies your creativity

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Overdrive

In metal music the guitar signal is typically processed a lot, and the player often desires heavily layered overdrive sound. And yet - as in any electric guitar - a healthy unplugged sound is the best starting point to get there. With the choice of pickups we can then tweak the tonal characteristics and make sure your amp likes the signal too.

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Deep dives

A locking vibrato has a specific role to play in a guitar. Typically the player wants to go extreme - and the tuning must hold. This sets great demand for the whammy bar quality. I've learned to trust Japanese design and engineering of Gotoh - they’ve done their field work, eliminated all the weak spots – and designed simply a better product.

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Personalized

I have drawn over the years countless custom inlays ranging from monograms of the client through ornamentation, symbols and motifs of all kinds to more intricate compositions of inlaid pearl, metal and wood. I am grateful that you keep giving me new challenges so I can explore this exciting art form further, while you get your guitar personalized in a unique way. My custom inlays are always one-offs - if you order it, nobody else will get that exact design.

Trial by fire

Any touring guitarist is familiar with challenges that life on the road sets to all the gear. It's somewhat manageable if an amp breaks down, but when it's your number one axe... it sucks. My long experience working with musicians has taught me to never cut corners. My guitars are made to withstand the hard use, traveling in different climates. That, if anything, is the true trial by fire to the quality of any guitar.

Matias says

Ruokangas guitars kick ass!
– Matias Kupiainen

Channeling emotions

Music changed my life already as a child. I learned at an early age to channel my emotions - be it positive or negative - through music. As I track back my life, I realize that music has guided my way substantially - including the fact that I got swept off to the path that eventually lead me into becoming a guitar maker. There was never a choice. It all just came along in a very natural, yet unyielding way.
– Juha Ruokangas