BARE YOUR TEETH
SHARPEN YOUR CLAWS
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.
Juha Ruokangas – Master Guitar Maker
MAKING THE HELLCAT
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.
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.
Essentially, this is what happens to tonewood when thermally aged: Stability increases – ability to absorb moisture decreases – cell walls harden – resins crystallize – stiffness increases – pores clean up – sound velocity increases – color deepens – weight drops. Thermal ageing doesn’t change bad wood into good wood, but it does make the good stuff even better.
I am happy
What an amazing guitar – the sundance color fits perfectly! I am very happy that I finally own one of your guitars!
The Hellcat is a sleek “RPM machine”. When you pick it up and start playing, it’s soon obvious what it is made for!
One day I might need another guitar – and it will certainly be a Ruokangas, too!
It plays itself
The Hellcat is so effortless – it practically plays itself. I can play and plan to play exactly what I want.
For fast fingers
The Hellcat is an invitation for fast fingers and bending strings..!
I swear your Hellcat almost sounds like a bass-guitar – such a fat tone! Also, the pickups are a dream!
Let the force be with you because the sustain is indeed there already.
Feel young again
The Hellcat is a supreme guitar. It begs to be played and makes an old man feel young again..!
My Hellcat is the best guitar I have ever encountered in 25 years of playing. It is just perfect!
The finishing and setup of the Hellcat are flawless. Everyone will envy you when you’re on stage with this cat!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ruokangas guitars kick ass!
– Matias Kupiainen | Stratovarius Homepage
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