The Unicorn sums up my career in so many ways. The special wood materials I’ve learned to love so much, my trademark constructional features, the tonal fine-tuning, the aesthetic and ergonomic balance - it’s all there - entwined with tradition, reinventing the roots. A guitar that at first glance may appear conventional, yet when experienced, turns out to be quite exceptional.
Juha Ruokangas - Master Guitar Maker
I’ve been nuts about guitars since a kid. It took 15 years as a professional luthier until I dared to challenge myself and create the solid body single-cut electric I had always wanted. I’m so very proud how it turned out.
One of my greatest passions in designing a guitar is to make it sound transparent so there is no barrier between the player and the instrument. The Artisan is right there - a true communication tool for your soul.
Some say rock music is from the devil. I don’t know about that, but there sure is something devilishly seductive in mean, stripped down rock’n’roll - and that’s exactly what provoked me to create the Unicorn Supersonic.
After fifteen years as a professional luthier, I went back to my first love of electric guitars, challenged myself and started from the beginning to create the single-cut electric I had always wanted.
The Unicorn tops are all made from arctic birch because of its unparalleled tone, and appearance that is unlike any other guitars. Figured arctic birch is not readily available, so I need to hunt it down the hard way - I trek in the forests, hand-pick the trees I want, and the logs are cut exclusively for me. It’s a lot of work - but I’m stubborn enough to walk the extra mile.
We all belong to a continuum. We draw from the past - but luckily we can renew ourselves, too. Establishing the use of Spanish cedar in electric guitars is one example of my personal renewal processes. By doing so, I wish I have not only generated a new tradition, but also succeeded in contributing a little to the ongoing evolution of electric guitar.
Quality of tonewood means everything to me, because it essentially dictates whether or not a guitar has the potential to become a great musical instrument. Thermo treatment is not a magic trick - it doesn’t change bad wood into good. But it is the best method to make sure my hand selected tonewood is all game to begin the transformation into a great guitar.
"I love the tactile satin back and neck of the Unicorn. What a wonderful, wonderful guitar!"
- Richard Bolt (Thailand)
"The Unicorn chords sound unbelievably refined and all frequencies are perfectly in harmony."
- Gitarre & Bass (Germany)
"Simply awesome. Thank you very much for this new piece of art!"
- Vincent Beinis (France)
"I am very happy with my Unicorn Classic and I am sure, that she is on the next level above of the rest of world!"
- Manni Schwebel (Germany)
"I am very satisfied with my goldtop Unicorn. It might very well be, that this is not my last Ruokangas guitar."
- Dietmar Ley (Germany)
"I love this guitar. You are amazing. Unplugged, it just rings..!"
- Jim Pallotta (USA)
"The Unicorn Artisan is unbelievable and just blows me away. This is indeed the best guitar in the world!"
- Oliver Rauscher (Germany)
"A better sounding and playing guitar simply can not be built!"
- Tonequest Report (USA)
"Now I know what they mean by the phrases like piano-like-low-end and three-dimensional character..."
- Krk (Finland)
"The Unicorn sounds and plays amazingly! There's something in it that other guitars haven't had since the 60's!"
- Nicolas Kerjosse (France)
"The Unicorn growls and has assertiveness - but nevertheless doesn’t lack elegance."
- Gitarre & Bass (Germany)
"You are certainly forging a unique path both in terms of guitar building style and guitar building philosophy!"
- Tony Fay (Dublin Ireland)
"The Unicorn has loads of twang, a clarity that isn’t usually found in a humbucker-equipped guitar."
- FUZZ Magazine (Sweden)
"Thank you for this magnificent instrument - for sure the finest I’ve played. Plays beautifully right out of the box."
- Chris Latvala (Canada)
"I immediately fell in love with the Unicorn. I knew it was the one. As I plugged it in, it was just magic!"
- Franck Michaud (Israel)
"In addition to the warmth and clarity, the Unicorn has excellent mids, adding strength and body to the sound."
- Riffi Magazine (Finland)
"The Unicorn will without a doubt give its owner precious moments of playing for the rest of his life."
- FUZZ Magazine (Sweden)
"When I played a Ruokangas guitar for the first time, I discovered another world!"
- Nicolas Kerjosse (France)
I strive to make my guitars as limitless as possible regarding the sound. An electric guitar is an acoustic instrument - and an exceptionally good electric guitar must have superb acoustic properties in order to deliver the richest, liveliest and most characteristic possible sound when amplified.
The purpose of a carved top is not only to please the eye, but also to contribute to the sound. Every structural detail matters - the angled neck together with the bridge and tailpiece create a solid foundation for the energy of the strings to transfer to the carved top and the whole body of the guitar in the most vibrant way.
During my years as a repairman I got so tired to fix broken headstocks, that I decided to do mine better than that. I want my guitars to last from father to son. The Unicorn has the steep vintage style headstock angle, but I revamped the construction completely, making the neck super strong.
Playing comfort consists of a number of variables. The body shape of a guitar plays one of the key roles in defining the playability. I improved the Unicorn balance dramatically by shifting the body waistline slightly lower, making the guitar a joy to play regardless if you stand up or sit down.
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.
We use a lot of time to do the fretwork - more than most would consider sensible. It takes forever just to do the dome shaped fret ends like we do them. But then again, that's what our job is about. The best playability can only be achieved when every detail is thought out and executed to its full potential.
It takes years for a luthier to master the art of making a flawless nut to a guitar. It starts from selecting the right material, and in Finland, the number one choice is moose shin bone. It keeps the tuning best, breaks strings the least, outlasts synthetic materials or metals, and gives unique clarity to the open notes.
A great guitar finish feels right, looks right and protects the wood right. A great guitar finish must be thin and hard to not dampen the sound of the guitar. Instead of blindly repeating what was done before me, I've trusted my own intuition and experience, done my own research and found the best finishes for my own guitars.
We make heavy duty tools for serious players. It doesn't make a difference if it's the most stripped down model or top of the line eye-candy - every Ruokangas guitar is top notch, right out of the box.
In the world of boutique guitars, Ruokangas sets the bar as a standard by which all boutique guitar companies should be measured against for making an outstanding product. I am a very proud owner of these instruments.
– Jay Jay French
I have consciously decided not to take part to the ongoing industrial race for cheaper labour and bigger profits. Our ambition is simply to live our lives making guitars, cherishing the tradition of handcraft. Why? Because we love it. It's a good life.
– Juha Ruokangas